‘Spangles’ Category

Oes and Spangs

February 6th, 2009 by Tricia

I have been reading ‘Dressing the Elite’ by Susan Vincent and wanted to share a quote she included in the text with you.  She writes of Francis Bacon’s advice (1561-1626) in his Essays on the costuming of masques with regard to embroidery.

“The Colours, that shew best by Candlelight are: White, Carnation, and a Kinde of Sea-Water-Greene: and Oes, or Spangs, as they are of no great Cost, so they are of most Glory…As for Rich Embroidery, it is lost, and not Discerned.”

I love thinking about that quote when looking at certain areas of our jacket in low light.  I so want a time machine!

We met Susan last week at the Bard Symposium.  A delight she is.  After hearing her speak, I very much wish her book was on tape as her cadence, prose, and pauses make the material dance off the page.  She let us in on her next project, a book on period costume from a very unique perspective of anatomy.  At first I was confused as to how this structure would lend itself to the discourse but after her sneak-peak talk at the symposium on dress accessories – starting with an in depth review of the cod-piece – I can’t wait for the volume!  She brought the mindset of the Tudors alive and at the same time our human frivolity with fashion and function was ever so apparent.


All Lace All the Time

October 1st, 2008 by Jill Hall

The September 26-29 session had the largest attendance since our first session in June, 2007. This session also had a really impressive show & tell on Saturday afternoon.

Today I’ll share Carolyn H’s treasures. First, though, some photos of Carolyn’s protegees. She’s evangelizing bobbin lace, and encouraging newbies to try. My daughter Lilia is only too happy to learn, and this is actually the second time Carolyn has helped her to make lace. I think bobbin lace tools and materials will be coming to our house soon.

Norma also did some, but we didn’t get a photo. And here’s Carli making some lace too. Wendy was jokingly teasing Carli about getting back to real work, and Carolyn was threatening to convert all the embroiderers. That’s Cheryl in the background, stitching detached butterfly wings on the cozy couch.

Carolyn brought some beautiful and poignant treasures to share. Here she is with a lace fan that she made and that her late daughter carried at her wedding. Behind her you can see one of the pieces of the jacket that was retired from service this weekend; nothing remains to do on it except the gold work and the bird.

Here’s a lovely piece of lace with a ladybug motif.

Carolyn introduced us to the joy of collecting bobbins. Apparently there are many different kinds of bobbin lace and each kind or style has a different kind of bobbins. We all know that the toys I mean tools are at least half the fun of a needlework technique.

Some have beads (called spangles, just to make things confusing with the teardrop shaped metal tags), some are made of hollow glass, some are beautiful exotic wood, you get the idea. Here are few in my hand, the left hand one is possibly what bobbins looked like in the early 17th century. As Carolyn said, there’s really very little evidence to go on.

This is possibly the most precious needlework ever. Carolyn’s daughter, who passed away about four years ago, started this piece. Carolyn was nervous about working on it because, as she said, it was very different from anything I’d ever done before. But I managed, OK, I think. She’s too modest. I couldn’t tell where Caroline left off and Carolyn picked it up. What a beautiful gift to her daughter’s memory, to finish this piece despite being nervous about the techniques. I was so glad she brought it to share.

Carolyn brought a present for the Wardrobe Department today. She gave us a copy of Le Pompe, 1559: Patterns for Venetian bobbin lace by Santina Levey and Patricia Payne. When we’re done with the jacket lace, which is getting closer and closer; already 80 inches of the “long piece,” both wings, and almost all of one cuff are completed, she’s planning to turn her attention to some simple white lace for the period clothing of our interpreters. This book will help.

Embroidery Enlightenment

September 28th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Part of the point of doing a project like this is to spread knowledge and appreciation of embroidery and lace making and other needlework. I’ve mentioned before how Laura, our 2007 summer intern, did her first needlework project because of her association with the jacket project, and how others have been inspired to pick up old projects, start new ones, or learn new styles and techniques.

Han, the videographer who was here over the weekend, has been inspired too. He said a few times how much he enjoyed this assignment, and how much he learned. He said that he has seen and admired embroidery before, and thought he appreciated it. But after about eight hours of filming our volunteers, examining their work, hearing about the stitches and the research behind them, filming Carolyn making the lace, and in the photo here Mark making the spangles for the lace.

I wish I could remember exactly how he phrased it, but you could see how much of an impression this whole project made. He said that he not only appreciated embroidery now, he understood it much better and would look at other examples of embroidery with whole new eyes.

I think that’s just as important, maybe even more so, than communicating with folks who already embroider.

PS. Here Mark has set up his spangle-making kit (he carried the tall stump on his shoulder) in our “snack room”, also known as the Colonial Interpretation Department conference room. They kindly hand it over to us for our weekend embroidery sessions. Mark set up here because the wardrobe office was full of 9 embroiderers, Wendy, Tricia, Carolyn making lace, and me trying hard to stay out of the way.

Spangle Threading

September 4th, 2008 by Tricia

Having a ton of people working towards a common goal is really fun. Not something you often get in needlework which is usually a solitary activity. When we have work sessions, there is always something going on that you haven’t seen before and we are all whipping out camera to document the techniques we have developed or discovered. Here is one that we can share.

During the last session, Carolyn came up to prepare more bobbins with metal thread and spangles. We had a nice visit from Mark with more spangles, delivered in his classic rusty can again! We may have to make him some sort of silk fabric covered box to carry these amazing precious ‘gems’ so they come to us in a more proper manner. I am not sure that those who use the nails he makes show the same reverence for his work as us ‘spangle ladies’.

Instead of keeping the spangles loose in a jar, we keep them on safety pins. We put 25 on each pin so we can keep count of how many we have and have used without having to touch them. Even thought the ribbon was plaited with gold, it has been rolled and cut at the edges exposing the silver. When we want to put them on the metal thread, we put the end of the thread through a needle and can easily put the needle thorough 25 at once by holding the safety pin up. Once the pin is removed, they are on the gold thread and it can be wrapped around the bobbin. We use mini-hair clips to keep the bobbins from unwinding and creating a tangled mess.


May 1st, 2008 by Jill Hall

Anne’s leaf.of yesterday’s stitchers and their work.

First, here’s Anne and her leaf, embroidered on the coif. Thanks to Robbin for this great picture.

Here are a couple of pictures of Tricia, Sarah and Susan. I love how Tricia curls up in a chair to work on these big frames. No matter how huge they are, she looks cozy and comfortable, not like she’s wrestling with a bulletin board (which is how I feel, and probably look.)Stitching on April 30th.

UK stitchersWe had another Sarah in stitching yesterday. Sarah R is 11 years old and was in the office trying on period clothing – she’s going to portray a young colonist in the Village occasionally this summer. She was fascinated with the embroidery and Tricia explained just what was going on and why. Then Tricia got her a doodle cloth and some floss, and this is what she did! The bear faceSarah R’s first embroidery and the “S” are Sarah’s, and they were her first embroidery. The Project once again inspires a newbie to pick up a needle.

We’ve got a birthday and an anniversary coming up. May 15 is the blog’s birthday – one year since we started this online community. We’ve got an embroidery and lacing session May 16-19; I think we’ll be having some birthday celebrations!

The June 20 – 23 session is our anniversary – that weekend last year was the first time we gathered to work on the jacket. It seems so long ago, especially judging by the pieces. Back then, those first embroiderers really had to take their courage in hand to make the first stitches on the huge blank linen pieces. And then, after a whole day’s work, or a whole FOUR days’ work, there would be . . . two buds and a trefoil. Or a bud and two leaves. What a leap of faith on all our parts, believing that others would come after and keep filling in, that the Gilt Sylke Twist thread would get made, that the lacers would join us, that the spangles’ mysteries would be revealed. . . . I think there will be some festivities that weekend as well.

There’s still room in both sessions. Email me. jhall@plimoth.org

Lace work

April 29th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Carolyn and Margaret make some calculations.Yesterday, Carolyn and her friend Margaret came to Plymouth to work on winding bobbins. I have lots of pictures.

Quite a lot of time was spent calculating how much thread should go onMore conferring and confirming before cutting. each pair of bobbins. I think lacers come from the same school as carpenters, the “measure twice cut once” school, or in this case, figure twice and double-check the calculations. So this part took a long time and was crucially important though maybe it didn’t make the most exciting photos.

Finding the middle and the end, and winding on.Then the interesting stuff started. Carolyn and Margaret measured quite long lengths of thread, found the center, and then wound each end onto a separate bobbin. This process involved long pieces of nearly invisible thread stretched across the room.

At one point I totally did not see the silver thread and nearly created aMargaret holds a bobbin. disaster by walking “through” it. No harm done, fortunately. Here are pictures of winding, and one of Margaret holding a wound bobbin with the tiny hair clip holding the metal thread securely.

Stringing the spangles.For one set of bobbins they had to string spangles on the thread. Mark left us a tin of about 160 spangles and they used them all, plus 40 of the 50 we had left over from last time.200 spangles.

Here is a picture of Carolyn stringing the spangles, shaking them down the thread to where they need to be (she very patiently did this three times till I could get a decent picture) and one of the loaded bobbins. That’s 100 spangles per bobbin.

Thanks to Carolyn and Margaret for their hard work. They’ll be back to set up the second lace pillow later this week.

Last week we received a beautiful pair of yellow knitted gloves from Megan D and an equally lovely pair of brown ones from Jessica S. Thank you both.

Spangles on the Bobbins

April 24th, 2008 by Tricia

Tricia sent me this post for tonight:

Spangles on lace bobbins with hair clips.I know many of those lacers reading the blog would like to see how we are keeping the spangles on the bobbins. Here you see the spangles on one with Carolyn’s small hair clips to hold the thread in place.

Bryce makes lace.We are also adding pictures of Bryce, our speedy lace maker from the April session and her early progress.

Everyone enjoyed watching her fast hands clicking the bobbins and having the airy lace start to float off of the pillow.

The first piece of real lace takes shape.I started thinking that I would have to get out my own bobbins and learn myself!


Spangle Making

April 17th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Mark in the Crafts Center.Last Friday the embroiderers at our April session got an unexpected treat – Mark was working in the Crafts Center making spangles. Lots of Mark’s work isn’t suitable to the Crafts Center, requiring a big fire like it does, but this work is great for that space.Mark in the Crafts Center cutting spangles.

Wendy and Tricia took photos and also video, I believe. Wendy sent me these photos.

The spangle maker’s work bench in the Crafts Center at Plimoth Plantation.Two tubes of the silver thread for the lace making arrived in the mail from Tricia this morning. Carolyn sent a note that she and Wendy will be down week after next to wind bobbins. Carolyn will finish off the wing piece that Bryce did, and start the next piece so Jill H can work when she comes in May.

Joann G’s embroidery sample arrived a couple of days ago and Kathy sent a big pile of embroidery kits out. Those of you who were waiting for kits, they’re on their way. I think that’s all the news for today.The Spangle Maker’s display.

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