Tuesday, May 29, 2007

British Library Exhibit 

The British Library currently has an exhibit titled Sacred: What We Share. They have created a rich site online so folks can experience some of the sacred texts brought together for the exhibit.

This is a place to lose yourself turning the pages of books and examining the art of the various periods which found its way into textiles as well as onto the pages of books.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

We've Come a Long Way Baby 

Sharon B posts about graphic arts found in Second Life. Gosh we've come a long way since we could first easily upload and/or exchange graphics.

I was a member of CompuServe back in the day and a sysop for one of the content forums (Fibercrafts). We originally moderated message boards using ASCII commands. Amazing!

CompuServe pioneered several communication gadgets for us ordinary keyboard enthusiasts. They made it possible to tap into SpryMosaic, Live Chat Rooms, the start of the social network. They fostered invention of the GIF format, and yes it is pronounced "JIF" folks.

On one of the anniversaries of the GIF's invention, I wrote a bit of doggerel for the inventors:

Oh GIF so sweet
Oh GIF divine
You show me yours
I'll show you mine.

Hooray for all the hours extremely talented folks have invested in making cyberspace so rich for all of us. It is hard to believe how far we have progressed in such a relatively short span of years.


nods. I got my BA in 1977 in Computer Science. ASCII art is fun. Computer Graphics didn't even exist -- and teh intarweb was only for DOD ...
Linn I still like ASCII art! sometimes I find it commented out in web pages (still) I delight in it -
love your little verse almost worthusing on a sampler!
Fibercrafts was such a wonderful community! I am eeternally grateful to you and the others there who gave the rest of us the courage to do 'our own thing' with designs, and then start to make our own.
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Friday, May 25, 2007

Embroidery with a Story 

As the Fine Cell Site says, their embroidery products and commissions have a story. They are stitched by prisoners incarcerated in UK prisons or prior offenders who were part of the scheme while serving their sentence.

Their work is not just hobby quality however. These stitchers are trained to professional workshop level of skill by the Embroiderer's Guild and tutors from the Royal School of Needlework.

They are paid significant sums for their work and thus often avoid one of the worst problems faced by ex-offenders - inability to establish themselves when released from prison. They are also able to use earned funds to assist their families or buy items to improve their quality of life while in prison.

They undertake commissions and will even complete your WIP's for a fee. Get lost in the site, take a look at their quality work, read the comments by tutors, wardens, prisoners and customers and if you feel moved, commission a cushion and provide the funds to train an inmate in embroidery skills.


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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Thinking, Thinking, Thinking 

Dear readers, you may believe I'm getting lazy and just sitting around in this spring weather, but that's not so.

I'm doing some heavy duty thinking about some plans for 2008. Working on the format, location and details of a couple of needlework retreats for next year.

An English friend has promised to visit and do one of the events and I've been discussing another weekend, in a different city with another designer friend.

Of course they will be very historical and a little bit hysterical, and seriously stitchy.

More later - watch this space


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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Medieval Tapestry - Another Fave 

One of my favorite textile arts is tapestry. Medieval, modern, traditional, shocking - whatever.

However, the medieval tapestries with their rich colors, big-screen costumes, gripping storylines set my textile antennae into a frenzy.

The Victoria and Albert Museum (my home away from home) has recently added a micro-site to their cyber world. It features some of the material from a 2003 Gothic exhibit which was extremely well mounted. I highly recommend the catalog of this exhibit.

This site is dedicted to tapestry weaving and is concise but also offers a bibliography and a links list that can take you further and further into the medieval world.

Check it out for a bit of information on tapestry weaving and to see a modern weaver's journey into early tapestry weaving techniques.

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Stirling Castle has a tapestry project underway. They are recreating the Unicorn Tapestries (the ones at the Cloisters since we wouldn't return them) - sort of. The scale is slightly different and there are a couple other key differences, but amazing all the same. Yes we were able to see them working on one of the panels. If you are interested go to their site.
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Monday, May 21, 2007

Coptic Textiles 

As I recently wrote, Egyptian textiles fascinate me because of their cultural diversity. One of the most prolific producers of textiles in Egypt have been the Coptic communities and workshops.

Very early on these artisans formed professional workshops and produced textiles for both the domestic and export markets. They produced export textiles in various styles to please their international customers and wove humble garments for their local communities.

The California Academy of Sciences, Department of Anthropology has a well presented site featuring their history and collections.

Click on the link to their Coptic Textiles Collection and you will find sections covering history of the Copts, weaving technology, stylistic groups, etc.

A good, concise presentation that makes an excellent introduction to these textiles.

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Remind me to take you to the local Rosacrucian Museum when you are here. They had some lovely coptic bits out when I was there last.
Great link Linn - just when I DON'T have time to get lost on a site ...sigh
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Stitchin' in Shelbyville 

Now I live in a small rural community, think south of Nashville, and if I travel a few miles further south, I'm in Shelbyville.

Once a month the Shelbyville Satellite group of the Nashville EGA chapter meets for a Saturday of stitching and lunch. This is the sort of stitching in a group that I like. Very short on formal business (just enough to get by) and very long on stitching, friendship and good food.

This week we started on a group project we need to have finished by November. Christmas ornaments for a tree in a local bank. Each year a different local Shelbyville bank is chosen to have the use of the ornaments during the holiday season. This year's theme - snowflakes in blue, white and metallics. So, I get to stitch something besides a model. What a nice change.


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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Two Schools of Art 

Two very different schools of art in two different hemispheres caught my eye today.

The Minnesota School of Botanical Art offers classes and certificated courses of study. Dedicated to the beautiful art of botanical illustration, their site offers galleries of students and instructors. Be inspired to turn them all into needlework designs.

The Ngurratjuta Iltja NtjarraMany Hands Art Centre in Alice Springs, is another art school and center that inspires their students and artists by preserving aboriginal art and encouraging local artists. Again, their galleries are a delight.

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Hi Linn - great to see Aussie (in the true sense of the word) art being featured.

hope you are over your sniffles or have found some drug to combat the season
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Friday, May 18, 2007

Whine, Whine, Whine 

I've been rather avoiding blogging because it seems all I could do is whine about sneezing, weeping, itiching allergy season; the inability to find a computer file; the boring bits of getting the final polish on a booklet; the searching for things I need in boxes. Got the picture?

Don't worry faithful readers - it will improve.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Love Those Words 

I've been in love with words since a wee child. Early favorite reading materials were Webster's Dictionary and a set of Encyclopedias.

So even if they don't particularly pertain to textile arts (other than perhaps in the sail department), I was fascinated by Julian Dixon's PolylingualTranslating Dictionary and Glossary for Viking Ships and other ancient Sailing Craft.

Thanks to SCA Today for the link.

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Sunday, May 13, 2007


Sharron B recently commented on Layers. I'm thinking on the subject. More later.


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Friday, May 11, 2007

Math Made Beautiful 

It's been some years since I've taken a rummage around cyberspace to look at sites focusing on fractals. These images are the closest I come to thinking math is beautiful. I'm a concept and word person, not a numbers person. There are several sites dealing with fractals where there used to be just one or two. Take a look at a few of them and see if you can't be inspired to incorporate some of their features into designs or craft projects.

For a basic intro to fractals try Jim Tucek of Washington University in St. Louis' page.

For an deeper dive into the subject take a look at The Fractory Be warned, the site uses a dark background. I find dark backgrounds difficult.

Paul Bourke has some interesting images including an interpretation series he calls "Buddhabrot."

You can find automatically generated images at the Fractal of the Day site at Sprott's Fractal Gallery. If you have any red/blue lense glasses around you can get a look at their 3-D examples.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ancient Egypt Textiles 

I'm known to complain about the lack of respect afforded textiles by archaeologists in the past. Modern practitioners are an improved lot however and treasure those grubby little rags and scraps found at a dig.

Archaeology has long been a major industry in what is modern Egypt. And finds range from pre-historic to objects from modern conflicts. Egypt has been conquered and re-cultured so many times it is hard to keep track of the civilizations that have influenced textiles found there. To add to the diversity, Egypt has been a trading hub from time immemorial.

The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, of the University of Michigan - Historic Textiles from Egypt shares some of their collection of Egyptian textiles from the Pharaonic, Roman and Byzantine, and later Islamic periods of Egypt's pre-modern history. Their virtual gallery leads to presentations of past exhibits (1990's). Only three exhibits are currently available but hopefully they will continue to complete the site with images from other exhibits. I'm particularly interested in seeing the needlework exhibit.

From Riches to Rags: Indian Block-Printed Textiles Traded to Egypt is an exhibit rich in graphics and documentation.

The Early Islamic Inscribed Textiles offers only a few graphics but it is worthwhile.

Reconstructing Personal style in Late Antiquityhas interesting documentation but unfortunately rather murky illustrations of some of the items from the collection.

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Wow! What a beautiful way to start my day. Thanks for this link. I´ll be looking forward to needlework exhibit too.
Greetings from Mexico
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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Okay, All Right, Already 

I got the message folks. I've been getting messages from folks wanting a sampler with bands for all of the Tyranical Tudor's wives. Is it the cable network production fueling this interest?

I've put it as number 2 on my list of must do designs. I have to put the polishing touches on the new book of reversible bands from Hans Hofer's 1545 New Formbuch'len so that my friend CK can introduce it at Lillies War. She will have the first copies. I'll release it after that event.

Then the Queens' Sampler, I promise. It will be all blackwork.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Gone But Not Forgotten 

Oh dear, I took a few days off from life in general, including blogging. Did nothing that resembles progress. Watched NetFlix and read novels. No chocolates - not overly fond of them. I'll be back on track tomorrow -- Probably.


I will eat bon bons for you while I read along from a distance.
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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Cinco de Mayo 

The 5th of May celebrates a battle important in Mexican history. A good deal of that country's history has to do with influences caused by colonization and trade routes.

This is reflected in the embroidery of Mexico. Needlework south of the border shows influences of indigenous design, colonial Spanish influences as well as design elements and aesthetics of an early trading partner, China.

These diverse influences are nowhere more obvious than in samplers stitched in Mexico. Scattered on these samplers are endearing examples of local animals. Scorpions, exotic birds, native pigs, monkeys, and the little animal charted here. I have always wondered if it is perhaps an armadillo?

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That's a very glamorous thought, but what about a rat? You know how they are down there...and it could have something to do with luck and survival for them...
Love your blog.
Deb, I'm laughing at the keyboard. I think I've subconsciously been trying to avoid thinking of the rodent family. Thanks for the blog compliment.
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Not a Bad Thing 

When it comes to Martha Stewart we all either adore the woman, hate her or are entirely indifferent to her rush to to take over our daily lives.

However, she does have an extremely talented staff and her online site has some rather simple but well done crafts. Some of them are pretty basic, but with a bit of your own genius could be "taken up a notch" or two or three and become something special. For example, there is a handy looking template for felt baby shoes that would lend themselves to embroidery, applique, textile paints, etc.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

A Book for the Times 

I always advocate immersing oneself in the political, economic and social history of the times when studying embroidery of a particular period.

One of the best books available if you are interested in Medieval English History is Dorothy Hartley's Lost Country Life (ISBN 0-394-74838-7) This is an affordable book that I often turn to if I want to know the mundane, everyday life sorts of things about Medieval England.

It contains a good deal of textile information concerning the wool and flax industry, manufacture of textiles for market and uses of these goods, but all of this is put in perspective with the farming practices, architecture and other interesting subjects of the time. A good read and an invaluable reference.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Use of Space 

I was looking at some plates from Trevelyon's great book and they brought up some thoughts of use of space in design. It seems to me that use of design motifs that crowd the available space and use gobs and gobs of materials (particularly rich/expensive materials) says much more about a statement of wealth than about design aesthetics.

Blackwork designs go from the very spare to the crowded as the ages passed. Crewelwork in England tended to be very thread heavy, but when many of the designs moved to America where materials were more scarce, they became more spare, more wide spaced more delicate.

Early crazy quilts, although full of Victorian excess did not approach the amount of embellishment we work onto examples today.

Question -- is more, more or is less, more? I tend to try to find a middle ground when designing and try not to put every stitch I know, every design I can think of into one work, but that is a personal preference, isn't it?


OK. Give. Where did you see Trevylon's Great Book! I've seen some pages out of it -- it was an article in (racking brain for name ... Burlington Magazine maybe?) Anyway ... I know that the Folger is talking about printing the whole thing. Has it been done?

Like with most things, it really depends on what it's for. And what one's expectations are. For me, the biggest "mistake" I see people making with Blackwork shirts for the SCA is not having enough blackwork, too much which space. But for other projects, its the space that makes it!!

There are two Trevylon's Miscellanies or Great Books. The Folger owns one, one is in a private collection. The Walpole Society (41st volume) has an article by Nevinson about them and some of the plates from both of them. The Folger has published a facsimile copy of their Trevylon. I've seen some of the original pages during an exhibit at the Folger, have used the facsimile in a library and own a copy of the Walpole article.
The Walpole Article. That's the one that I have. So the facsimile has been published. I bet it's right pricey! I'll go check here in a minute.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

All God's Children Got Shoes 

It would seem to me that one of the first items of clothing "invented" by man would be foot coverings. No matter where we live there is some bit of the terrain we would rather not walk on unprotected. We've come a long way folks. Shoes are a big industry, an emotional component of our life, and often a very sensual purchase. Lots of athletes have their lucky shoes, workers have protective shoes, we love our comfy shoes and who can forget babies' first shoes.

There are museums dedicated to shoes. A very large one is the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. Its collection of over 10,000 shoes features footwear demonstrating the history of shoes, ethnographic examples, special exhibits and events and their site now offers photos of the top winners of the International Shoe Design Competition 2000.

In Belgium Shoes or No Shoes brings you an ethnographic shoe collection and shoe art.

In the Netherlands, the Klompen Museum brings you a better appreciation of wooden shoes as utilitarian footwear and as art. And Ziln boasts a shoe museum as well. Crave a little history of footwear - click on Solemates: the Century in Shoes.

Can't visit foreign lands to indulge in your love of shoes? Virtual shoe museums can be found on the web as well. Try the High Heel Shoe Museum. Talk about a walk down memory lane. My first "grown up" shoes had stilleto heels. It's no wonder women my age have feet that make podiatric surgeons crow with delight. Lots of glam graphics on this site as well as links to sites selling shoe themed products (not terribly up to date I fear). And for those folks needing cross-dressing -- large sized shoes with links to sources.

The Virtual Shoe Museum offers all sorts of footwear eye candy. I guess I've been out of touch because I was surprised to find that one of the latest modes of self-expression seems to be charms for your plastic/rubber clogs. You can search for shoe images by all sorts of keywords including shoes used in furniture design, materials used, etc. on these pages.

Want to know what the "trendies" of the world will be wearing on their feet? Check out Y Trends They'll even design some kicks for you.

And if you need to keep track of all the shoe events and news, try the ShoeInfoNet

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