The Embroiderer's Story

Without whom the spangles would not be possible …

March 31st, 2008 by Jill Hall

I know I promised pix of Robbin’s lace work today, but at the time I wasn’t remembering that I wouldn’t be in the office today. I left them in the laptop at the office. Here instead, is the story of the completion of the Spangle Quest in Mark’s own words. The gratitude, though, is seconded by all of us who Love the Jacket.
Hi Jill,

These are the people that helped me make the spangles happen. First of all Paula Marcoux* introduced me to George Greenemyer. He is a sculptor and instructor up at Massachusetts College of the Arts. George had volunteered for the Marine Dept. and Paula thought I ought to meet him. He is a very interesting and talented guy.

Because of research Wendy and Trica had already done we knew a lot about the process of spangle making. While I could make the tools to cut out the spangles I did not have the tools or ready knowledge to make the stock. That was when I gave George a call. He referred me to Peter Evonuk an artist and fellow instructor at Mass Art. Peter manages their metal smithing studio. I made an appointment with him and he was extremely
helpful. He drew and rolled silver wire to replicate the process we needed and then sent me off to a metal plater that some of his students had used. That required a trip to Attleboro to E. Sweet and Sons, Metal Finishing. I met Scott Sweet the President and owner. He was as helpful and knowledgeable as Peter. Before I left that afternoon Scott gave me a tour of his facilities and personally plated the samples of wire that Peter provided me. So back I went to Boston so that we could experiment and evaluate our results. Peter rolled the wire and heated it slightly to compare to the images of originals that Tricia had taken when we went to the MFA. Our results were close enough to encourage us that we were on the right track. So backI went to Plymouth to order silver wire and prepare it for plating. I called Scott once more and he offered to once again help me. We discussed the adjustments Peter and I had agreed upon and he once again plated my stock as I waited. This was enormously helpful as by all rights he should have made me get in line with all his scheduled orders. In addition to this at the end of the day he refused payment for his generous services.

So it was back to Mass Art. Peter and I were ready to make a final trial. We rolled out one nine inch piece of wire into three feet of beautiful golden ribbon. With those results we went ahead and rolled out the rest of my three feet of plated wire into almost 18 feet of stock to make spangles out of. Altogether it took about 15 minutes. If I hadn’t been so pleased with the results it would have been quite anticlimactic. Peter also refused compensation for his help.

All in all it was the knowledge and time that these individuals contributed that allowed my part of this project to be as accurate and special as the rest of the work that has gone into the embroidered jacket. I can’t thank these generous people enough.

Mark M. Atchison
Blacksmith ~ Interpretive Artisan Department

*Paula has been with Plimoth for a long time. I always have a hard time defining what exactly any particular Plimoth staffer does, and Paula’s no different. She’s worked in several different capacities, including colonial foodways manager, marine artisan, interpretive (land-based) artisan, and a bunch of other stuff without special titles.

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One Response to “Without whom the spangles would not be possible …”

  1. Carolyn says:

    I’m sure I echo the thoughts of all the potential Plimoth lacemakers, and maybe everyone involved on this project, when I say I think we have to thank Mark as well!! One of the less-sung heroes of the Jacket Journey! When I looked at the spangles, each one cut twice and flattened, an hour to make about two dozen — my hat’s off to you, Mark.

    Carolyn H.

    PS Warning: the glowing comments do not give immunity from pleas, begging, blackmailing, or any other action that might produce more spangles at a pace to keep the lace going. ;-)

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