Tagged ‘bird’

Birds Next

November 9th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Mary asked a couple of days ago if she saw the beginning of a bird in the middle of the back piece.

Tricia started that bird ages ago, but before she got any further she realized we needed better pictures before she could really decipher what was happening there. We moved on to other things, and then when she had better pictures she was already planning her UK trip and thought to wait until she could see the motifs herself, in person.

Well, that has happened too, and last I heard she was almost ready to start work on the instructions for the birds. The original stitching in black may have to come out, I don’t know. As soon as we have something to show I’ll take pictures and share them.

One of the other items on Tricia’s plate right now is preparing to teach on December 12th in NYC. This class is one of the programs associated with the Metropolitan Museum’s exhibit of embroidery at the Bard Graduate Center for the Arts. The full description isn’t posted on the Bard College website yet, but you know it’ll be fabulous. Tricia’s going to do a gallery tour and then a hands-on class. You can get more information from wilson@bgc.bard.edu This exhibit is only scheduled to be up from December 11, 2008 to April 12, 2009, so plan your trip to New York now.

And while you’re planning, I’ve got three intrepid embroiderers signed up for another gold-blitz weekend 11/21 – 24; if you can get to Plymouth for even part of that weekend send me a note: jhall@plimoth.org

Who is Doing the Spinning?

October 16th, 2008 by Tricia

There was a mistake on the panel that was very interesting to me. One of the questions I have been working on for the MET exhibit has been the method of manufacturing gold threads. This also begets the question, who was making them. From the research so far, we see gold and silver wyre drawers making the wire and possibly flattening it. Then it seems to be turned over to ‘Gold Spinners’ who put the wire or strip around the silk core thread. We have not found any description of this process yet and the current processes used are a product of the industrial revolution and therefore don’t provide us clues as to the past.

The mistake was a small leaf under the bird’s tail. The buttonhole had been started with a strand of silk with a silver strip wrap. Then it changed to just silk at about the natural point that a 12-14″ strand of thread would have run out and have to be changed. What was interesting is that both the jacket and panel have only silk leaves. No metal wraps. But here we have a mistake…oops…started with the wrong thread. But they never seemed to take anything out if they could help it. Hardly noticeable in the final effect unless you are overly familiar with the pieces.

The ah-ha moment came when I saw that the thread wrapped with the metal strip was the same two color silk (green and yellow) as the rest of the leaf. We have talked in depth before how they achieved this heathered effect with a two color twisted thread. Our hypothesis has been that, at the frame, they twisted the two colors they needed to blend. But now we see that the blended thread is also wrapped. Chris, Lynn and I had a long discussion on this – repeated the next day with Susan with additional thoughts being added.

The wrapped blended thread implies that possibly someone in the workshop was skilled at spinning the silver strip or wyre onto the silk thread. Susan repeated what we all would have originally thought – that you bought the colors and threads that you needed from a third party as we do today. The vertical integration of gold thread or composite thread making with the embroidery studio has been a working hypothesis of mine for years. I especially see a great deal of evidence on professional pieces where there are multiple composite threads such as flat silk, wyre wrapped silk, and wyre wrapped silk purl that are all the same dye lot. Based on inventory records, the threads were a valuable commodity and thus having the flexibility to make what you need as you need it would be economical. But we do see that gold threads were certainly bought pre-made by the crown and then supplied to the embroiderer. Many new questions came from this discussion. Susan posed an interesting question: if the gold thread was pre-purchased by the person who commissioned the piece and given to the embroiderer, how would they know how much to buy and could they insure that the workshop wouldn’t skim off the top?

We talked at length about how we have gone about estimating thread for this project, a very important issue to make sure that we have silk of the same dye lot and that the threads we are having manufactured will be enough. Susan was very interested in the process. We have a lot to think about and these questions will color how we look at inventory and account book records in the future.

And if we were to think that this was usual, while I was at the EG collection, they thought I might be interested in seeing other pieces and brought out two coifs. On one of the coifs, this heathered thread with metal wrap was all over the piece. Nice.

I’ve added pictures of the two-color thread we used to prove how the heathered effect was done for you to reference.

Tricia

Bird – Beak and Feet

October 15th, 2008 by Tricia

We haven’t worked the birds on the piece yet as we had questions about some of the detailing and were awaiting my trip to examine the EG piece closer. The birds on the EG piece are in yellows and greens with blue beak and feet. The jacket has red, green, pink and yellow as the color scheme. But the left over silk that had degraded from the beaks and feet were in a tan color.

The one bird on the EG panel has a complete set of feet and beak. I was happy to find a combination of reverse chain and stem stitch on the feet and a heavy ceylon for the beak. All set, I thought. But when I saw the jacket the next day, there was a beak on one bird. Worked in trellis stitch. The legs were a little different too. Reverse chain and satin stitch at the top to help give the impression of a thigh.

Another thing I noted was the use of the blended thread for the motifs. It shows up in the bird to make transitions between the stripes of color in the body and head. The body is worked in trellis
and the head in spiral trellis. The wings were another spot where we had questions. The wings are made of of segments of stitches worked in different colors of silk and silver gilt thread. The segments are outlined in black. Two birds were worked with heavy chain and ceylon, but the third had more variety with plaited braid and a fly stitch thrown in.

On the EG panel, the wings segments were worked with plaited braid and heavy twisted chain all in silver gilt and silver threads. It is interesting to see how the same overall scheme is used on both pieces and motif to motif but there are slight variations. I am not sure if this is hand differences or just bored embroiderers. The black outline seems to be a combination of stem stitch and reverse chain. Hard to tell if one or both were used as the black thread gets brittle and pieces snap away, leaving just holes in many areas.

To give you some eye candy – here you see the time trial piece I stitched from the book photos of the jacket.  From afar, the stitches on the bird wings appeared to be the braid stitch/knot stitch. Now we know it is different. For all of you who slaved over learning this stitch in the sample kit, sorry!

Tricia

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.

The Gilded Lily

April 21st, 2008 by Jill Hall

Here is a photo of the back of the jacket, taken last Friday, April 18.

The back of the jacket as of April 18.This is the piece Tricia took home with her before our inaugural embroidery session last June. She had to work one of each motif, taking detailed photos of the steps in order to produce that fantastic instruction manual. That’s why she chose this piece, it has the biggest unbroken section of the master pattern. So for a while this piece had the most done on it, but since then the other parts have more or less caught up.

Before that first session she did instructions for several motifs, plenty to get us started, but only the plain silk ones; at the time we didn’t have any GST, it was still only a good idea, remember? CAN you remember before GST? She’s been adding motifs since then, first the ones that used only bisse, redde and carnation as those were the first three colors we got. Since then she’s been keeping ahead of what the embroiderers are doing, adding a new motif pretty much for every new session. Want to join us in May and see what new flower we’ll have?

At some point pretty early on Tricia started to work the bird in the middle of the back and then stopped because she thought there was a lot going on there and wanted some detailed pictures. I just got an email from her the other day, saying she’d been examining some of those detailed pictures and it seems there’s gold AND silver threads in the bird, and did we want to do that? It would mean tarnish eventually, not to mention sourcing the silver and the expense. Of course I said no. Why go to the trouble? The gold will be plenty.

I’M JUST KIDDING. Absolutely we’ll have silver too. We don’t know what “over the top” means.

Of birds, and lace

February 17th, 2008 by Jill Hall

The bird on the blog header is indeed the same as the bird on the jacket, as Mary says in the comments. The bird on the jacket will be a little smaller, though, and the stitches may be a little different. Since we traced and Tricia worked that sample we’ve received more detailed photos of the original. Last I talked with Tricia about the bird she was musing that there might be something more interesting and complicated going on than she’d first thought. She has to study the photos some more, and maybe consult with Ms North at the V&A. I can’t wait to see what she finds out. Of course we’ll share with you too.

robbin workingSpeaking of sharing, tonight I have pictures of Robbin (of the laptop donation) and one of her treasures. Robbin brought in the piece of antique Honiton lace that was her wedding veil.Honiton

I learned that Honiton lace takes its name from the place in the west of England where it has been traditionally made. Honiton is worked in pieces or motifs and sewn to a net ground. Long ago the net was made by hand, but the piece Robbin has dates from around 1900 and the net is likely machine made. Robbin explained that Honiton was made by the cottage system, where workers made individual lace motifs which were then put together to make big pieces of lace. A worker might make one motif, the small flower with leaves perhaps, over and over and over and over.

Robbin bought this piece of lace intending it for her veil and then shopped for a dress to go with it, like the dedicated textile lover she is. Here’s a detail of the veil.

Robbin also brought her lace pillow with her sample lace still affixed. She thought I would like to see it that way, and take pictures for the blog. She was right. I was fascinated to see the lace on the pricking with some of the pins still in, and the bobbins still attached. Robbilaceonpillown was careful to mention that these bobbins are not the kind recommended for working the sample, but she has lots of them and not lots of the recommended (Dutch) kind. They worked tolerably well, she thought, and was willing to put up with their drawbacks as it was less trouble than hunting up enough pairs of the other.

These are the lace bobbins with spangles – bobbin spangles, not the kind of spangles that will be worked into the lace. Yeesh, this is confusing.

© 2003-2011 Plimoth Plantation. All rights reserved.

Plimoth Plantation is a not-for-profit 501 (c)3 organization, supported by admissions, grants, members, volunteers, and generous contributors.