Thursday, January 29, 2009

Books I Like and Use - Introduction to a New Series of Columns

Some people, like SharonB, have great bounds of energy and post fabulous stuff. They also do great needlework. I am finding that with so much of my energy going to administration, I stitch a lot less. I still do crafts and some embroidery, but less. Hence I have less to blog about. I have decided that I can still offer items of interest to the needlework world by doing a series of columns on books. These will be interspersed with my more limited blogging about crafts, ega, etc.

I think one of the the key things any embroiderer, historic or otherwise focused, needs is a good library. It need not be deep, but it needs some key ingredients. This series will try to focus on books that I like and use. Hopefully this will spur some of you to increase your library and/or help you spend your money wisely.

I will try to comment on and provide the following:
-Full name and source information on book
-Summary of book content
-How and when I use the book
-What level of ability will get the most use out of the book

This in now way is designed to replace the West Kingdom Needleworkers Annotated Booklist which can be found here . The annotated list is over 200 books and is designed as a quick reference.

With that introduction, I would like to start with a book that is so useful to me as a historical embroiderer that it sits beside my desk.
A Pictorial History of Embroidery
Schuette, Marie and Müller-Christensen, Sigrid
Frederick A. Praeger, New York, 1964
Over the years it has been reprinted with several different titles and in several different languages. It is currently available for around $200 for the Thames Hudson/Art of Embroidery version. This is the lowest I have seen it in some time.

It is divided into 3 sections. The first is techniques and materials. The second is a history of European needlework from early middle ages through the early 20th C. The third section is a catalog with around 500 pictures, mostly black and white, and details about each piece. The descriptions are not exhaustive, but do provide lots of insight into the construction of each piece. It is one of those books that you read parts of again and again. The pictures reveal more and more with each viewing. The more I learn, the more I return to this book for further insight.

It is not a book for the beginning embroiderer nor for the someone who is not willing to do indepth research. This book is a beginning, a middle, but not the end for research into historical embroidery.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Museum Time

While I might want 25 hours in a day, I'm not sure I have the energy for such. We have been trying to get to all the museum happenings before they move on.

Asian Art - Treasures of Afghanistan -- one forgets just how much of a cross road it was during Greek and Roman times. The exhibit wasn't large, but it was exquisite. The glittery bits were fascinating. 4 groups were laid out in the way they were found in the tombs. As many of the smaller pieces were sewn onto the garb, this gave a sense of how the glitz was distributed over the clothing and person during life. The gold was very fine/thinly pounded out and made into fine beads. Hint: the "Tudor" rose is hundreds of years older than we think of it.

San Jose Tech Museum - DaVinci Exhibit
The first part was mechanisms from engineers that predated DaVinci or ones that he studied. Most had to do with lifting items or moving water. DaVinci's models were more studies of how things worked -- for example the use of ball bearing. The models were done in wood with appropriate metal bits and then in all metal. They were in no way to scale. Many Will recognized and could say "they use that on..." a cross bow for example. The last section was more about DaVinci and how he "saw" his world. Since we really forget that when we re-enact that we are doing it with modern perceptions, this was, for me, the best part.

Getty - Tres Riches Book of Hours
O-M-G --- repeat ad infinitum! Nothing we do today comes close! The key is knowing when to layer the pigments and metals as well as the shear volume of bits. We don't really understand their world and how to portray it. They, on the other hand, were incredible innovators. Came out with brain full and eyes fuzzy. Got the DVD, but the magnification is not what I would have liked (sigh).