Monday, April 27, 2009

Goldwork - Plimoth Jacket and More

I have been meaning to post about last weekend's class for a week. Sometimes time runs too fast.

The class was a 2 day class with Tricia Wilson Nguyen , sponsored by the Bay Area Sampler Guild, held at Needle in a Haystack. In theory the class was about a 17th C sampler and we spent 2 days learning 17 different goldwork stitches. However, it was soooooo much more.

Tricia is a fabulous teacher. Her handouts are clear. Her demonstration of stitches clear. Her patience - let us say she has a lot of patience. I first took a class of hers at Sampler Gathering, many years ago. Her scientific background shows through in her interest in getting into the technical details of what makes something work; whether it is the needle, the thread, the path the thread takes, etc. Unfortunately, she only teaches a few times a year, something about family and regular working job. The good news is that she is looking to find new avenues of teaching -- books, web classes, etc.

The sampler , which I will never do, is based on an actual sampler in her possession. She has worked hard on determining how many of these esoteric stitches were done. In many cases the results of the historic stitches were similar, but different from piece to piece. There are multiple plaited braids and "simple" braids. Fun!!!!!

For class we were using a faux version of the #4 passing thread which Bill Barnes of Golden Threads makes for the Plimoth Project. Yes I was able to get a spool of the gilt with silk core as well and will hoard it for the right project. It was surprising to see how well the #4 actually "sews". Yes it breaks and has other issues, but it really makes a difference. We have #370/5 in our kits as well, but while they work, I find them too fine and lacking in metal. I tend to use the 2% gold "superfine" passing when I need to go small for the metal content. Metal makes a BIG difference - faux or otherwise.

As we stitched Tricia told us the history of the Plimoth jacket project and the decisions that were made as the jacket progressed. I better understand the compromises that were made, knowing the process that they went through. I may have made other choices, but I understand. I also really APPRECIATE the fact that we are getting some wonderful threads as a result of the project.

Tricia also brought 2 pieces of the project with her. We were offered the opportunity to sew on either a jacket part or the forehead cloth. We could also just be a spangler. I opted to just sew on a few spangles, but then I love spangles having now sewn on a couple hundred on my own projects. The jacket will reside in the Museum of Boston and a list of the workers, including the spanglers, will be included in the files of the Museum. It would be stretching it to say, my work will hang in a museum, but it will be the literal truth :). Yes I have pictures for a later post.

More soon including pictures of the class work.

PS you can purchase the threads through Tricia's website and support the project or through a couple of the stores around - Needle in a Haystack or Hedgehog Handworks.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Books I Like and Use

No list of books would be complete without Metal Thread Embroidery: Tools, Materials and Techniques by Jane Lemon. It comes in hardback and soft cover; published by Batsford. As some of you have guessed by now I love goldwork! It is all Linn Skinner's fault :)

While most of you know me as a historical embroiderer, I love experimenting with threads and in particular metal threads in modern and historical ways. I have taken classes from Linn, Michelle Roberts, and at the RSN when it was at Perry (now 2x a year 30 minutes away from me but I haven't had time - yet!). However, there is so much more to know and understand. Looking at something historical -- what am I really seeing? Looking at something I did, but I want more depth or detail? The book I go back to for basics, for inspiration, for understanding of the how/technique is Jane Lemon's. I learn more every time I pick up and look at this book.