Thursday, July 26, 2007

Boring, Boring, Boring 

If I subscribed to the newish Twitter thingie and posted incessantly about my daily activities lately, you would be bored to very big tears.

Yes, I'm working on web pages and thanks to looking for a book I've done a good bit of tidying up on the bookshelves (as well as dusting).

I've not spent much time surfing but here's a link to a site that may interest you.

Maryann Corey and Patty McGeary founded The Portable Playhouse to fulfill an important need. They wanted to bring crafts to children and found that hospitalized kids needed distraction, loving attention and a sense of accomplishment.

They developed a program for volunteers to take high quality beads and beading supplies to hospitals and treatment centers and work one-on-one with children to complete a small beading project.

There are hospitals on the waiting for volunteers and you can also contribute some funds to help sponsor their efforts. In any event, a good idea and a good read.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Bootstrap Learning 

My business was a "bootstrap" startup for sure. Starting small and finding creative ways to grow that cost very little in the way of cash outlay. This sort of patchwork of a business model can create a rather tattered pattern from time.

A good deal of my technical learning has had to be bootstrapped as well. Working with inexpensive software and hardware, upgrading when possible and learning skills along the way.

It mostly is developed when the need arises. For the new book I'm working on, I needed to create a graphic (a photo) in a round shape. Ummm How to do it with existing software. Finally on the official Microsoft Publisher site I found some tips for tools I'd never used before in the program.

Now the trick is -- Don't overuse the twiddle just because you can use it. That sort of stuff gets old fast. How I wish many folks had never learned how to use some of the flash bang stuff they crowd onto their websites. I'll try to restrain myself.


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Friday, July 20, 2007

Another Designer Blogs 

I've found another needlework designer blog. Give a little read to Melinda Medeiros' Once Upon a Thread which follows her path through the world of needlework design.

You might want a look at her main website as well at Medeiros Needlecraft.

I've missed seeing her designs the last few years at Nashville as I've been rather confined to my own rooms so it is nice to catch up a bit with Melinda's latest offerings.


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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Changing Times 

DMC's announcement of a new group of products it is selling retail from its site makes me pause to consider the question that often plagues designers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers; who should be selling to the end-use customer?

Designers used to sell virtually exclusively to needlework distributors who sold to retailers who sold to consumers. Manufacturers often sold either to distributors or directly to retailers, but not to consumers.

The lines have become very fluid in recent years. One business model which has worked very well for its owners has been Nordic Needle. Started on a kitchen table it now is a retailer, a wholesaler/distributor, a direct importer of special items, and a catalog retailer. Their customer is both the retailers (shops) and the en-use customer.

Many designers find themselves selling directly to consumers, to distributors, to retailers and to catalog retailers.

Shops (retailers) find themselves competing with designers, manufacturers and distributors who also sell directly to consumers. Designers find themselves unable to maintain a business by only selling wholesale and sometimes unsure of the best way to support shops but still make a bit of money.

One thing is certain. Consumers are becoming more and more sophisticated as they shop in brick and mortar shops, on line, from catalogs and at consumer shows.


I'm not sure that the new model is a bad thing. If you're looking for a single designer or a particular piece, especially, why not buy directly from them? If you're not sure what you want and want to browse, or you're looking for multiple designers, then it's time to go to your LNS. It also depends on how much of the business side the designer wants to handle, of course. Being a retailer is a business of its own and should be treated as that.
Personally, I like the new model. The old one with lots of middlemen meant lots of control of what was in the shops. Too often, the local shops aren't interested in stocking what I need, eg silk thread. The best (and only purely needlework shop) in my town only has a couple of sorts of silk thread. The assumption is that everyone uses DMC. Same with designs and patterns, under the old system, I had to rely on the shops to stock what I wanted, which they didn't most of the time. Now I can go directly to the source, which saves me time and money.

This is a difficult issue! The down side to so many suppliers selling direct is that it eliminates the need for the LNS!! However, the LNS doesn't have the budget to carry *everything*, so suppliers may forced to offer up their goods to the general stitching public...
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The Beat Goes On 

Nothing interesting going on here. Just plugging away at revisions of web pages and the new Victorian Pattern book. Making charts from very worn charts that have originals only 3 1/2" x 2 3/4".

Enough to make you cross eyed my dears.


My husband would say, small doses, take lots of breaks and have good lighting. I'm sure you're doing all those things, right???? Such a tiny treasure and bless you for this work that you do.
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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Painters of Costume 

I'm a strange visitor in an art museum. I peer with great concentration at portraits to see if the artist (in my humble opinion) has captured the fabrics, the embroidery, the lace correctly.

It is seldom we have examples of a portrait and the costume worn by the sitter displayed together so we can take a critical look at them in tandem.

One modern example has come to my attention.

The Harris Art Museum and Gallery, Preston England has in its collection a portrait of Marie Pauline Miller. "Pauline in the Yellow Dress was painted by Sir James Gunn and exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1944, where it was bought by the Harris and has been on show in Preston ever since. "

"The painting features the artist’s second wife as the subject and the bright mustard yellow dress worn by her has remained with the Gunn family until their recent generous donation to the Harris Museum and Art Gallery. "

A much earlier example of course is the jacket of Margaret Laton held by the Victoria and Albert where it is displayed with her portrait.

I would be most interested to learn of other examples of museums with portraits and the costume of the sitter exhibited together.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Books, Books and More About Books 

Like many needleworkers I have a love affair with books. Add a passion for history, social history and art and it can become all consuming at times.

One of the many tempting newsletters I get from bookdealers has yielded a useful site with heaps of information about books -- rare, secondhand, ordinary and otherwise.

The Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries, a Division of the American Library Association maintains a page full of FAQs and links to many resources. Some of the questions posed and answered include: What makes a book rare? How can I keep my books in good condition? How do I describe my books?

I love finding so much information packed in a small space in a sensible way.


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Thank You Derek! 

Some years ago I was involved in several projects dealing with needlework copyright infringement. My involvement eventually resulted in my offering testimony to a House Subcommittee concerning piracy of intellectual property using internet resources.

I realized at the time that I was rather a "token witness" to try to balance the perception that sponsors of the legislation were merely promoting the interests of major players in the entertainment industry. That testimony closed my efforts on behalf of the needlework industry, but I was pleased today to see that my testimony lives on in the work of young students who will hopefully shape our future.

For a glimpse of current thought, have a look at the Kansas State University (my parents' alma mater by the way) and their Engineering Honors Student Journal, Spring 07 for Derek Woodman's article Modern Piracy.

Thank you Derek for keeping the interests of needlework designers in print and hopefully, of interest.

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Marbled Eye Candy 

Dean and Linda Moran's site, The Art of Fabric, is full of images of their work and Linda's blog, Marbled Musings, takes you with her on her creative journeys.


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Friday, July 13, 2007

A Little Off Topic -- Or Not 

Considering my previous post about not tossing the beet pickling liquid until I got another use out of it, perhaps not too far off topic.

I was raised by grandparents and parents who lived through the Great Depression in America. It colored their lives, and consequently my life, forever. I'm a firm believer in use up, re-use, re-make, darn it, fix it, re-cycle it. When it comes to crafts, I can't see a plastic thingamajiggie without thinking what I could use it for to give it new life. I adore thrift stores/charity shops and don't tolerate waste lightly. (Don't laugh Catherine) I just jettisoned a stack of charts in Kansas City because they had the old address on them and I didn't want to pay to ship them home. Catherine kindly promised me that they would find a new home.

So, I have been hearing the story of the son of a friend of a friend, Colin Davis, with great interest. I also get very excited about folks who believe passionately in a cause and act on their beliefs and Colin is doing just that. His Ride To Sustain adventure may seem a bit like tilting at windmills using a bicycle as his trusty steed but with enough young people who believe, who knows what is possible? Give his site a little visit and give Colin a word of encouragement if you are so inclined.


Using pickled beet juice to make pickled eggs--and they come out so pretty--is a time honored tradition. I'm pretty sure my father's never thrown out any pickle juice without pickling something else in it!
Anna - a great tradition in my family as well. We also tend to put some thin slices of sweet onion in with the eggs. Good on your Dad!!!
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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Freedom from Care 

Getting ready to turn out some ATC's is a spree of freedom. Normally one thinks about all sorts of things, but mixed media that will be protected in a sleeve and never washed gives one freedom.

I'm about to use a jar of pickled beets for summer salads and when I'm finished with the beets, I'll toss some fabric in the liquid remaining and dye it for use as a ground. So long as I don't use wet adhesives I'd ought to be allright - or if the color runs and spots - then that's just part of the intended design so far as I'm concerned.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Special Exhibit 

Sometimes we tend to gravitate to the larger than life Tudor and Stuart portraits in oil or the exquisite miniatures of these folks. The National Portrait Gallery is offering a special exhibit of early printed portraits of this period.

Thanks to Art Daily and Sylvia Kleindinst who pointed the article out in the Belle Papier group.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Webbing, webbing, webbing 

As many of my readers know - my webpages are sadly out of date and haven't been properly updated for umpteen ages.

We're working on it and actually are seeing some progress. No, nothing uploaded as of yet but layouts roughed in, graphics being found, new graphics created, new items added, redundant items tossed in the rubbish.

Stuff needs done to complete the task. For instance -- one of my alphabet books has never sold well. I admit it's not very glamorous. It's simply several rather quirky alphabets from samplers held by British museums. I use these alphabets frequently in designs and allow (with permission sought) other designers to use them as well. Well, some designers have a bad habit of not asking for permission but when their floss knots for at least 10 years maybe they'll realize I've invoked a medieval stitching spell for wicked snitchers.

I think it may do better if I have a stitched model of at least one of the alphabets, so I'm stitching away on an alphabet firsst stitched by Ann Phipps in 1721. Stay tuned for the final model.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Reading at the Computer 

These days I read craft magazines and needlework trade magazines differently. I read them at the computer.

Not only are the articles usually of interest but the ads are a treasure trove. Virtually every manufacturer, designer or distributor provides website information.

Here are just a few from a read of a trade magazine CNA . They all have project pages, articles and tips to tempt both adults and kids.

Hygloss Products Craft projects suitable for kids and adults. Instructions using common materials as well as their specialty products.

Sakura of America Makers of Gelly pens and Pigma Pens as a particularly good look at visual journals with their Dan Price Notebooks pages.

American Art Clay Co. Offers craft projects and lesson plans that are aimed at arts teachers but suitable in many cases for homeschool projects or summer crafting.

SoftFlex Specializes in beading wire and beading projects. Their School of Design section offers projects, tips and even wedding accessories.

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Software for Everything 

I can remember when the only way to chart any sort of needlework was to use draw and paint programs and very tedious it was.

Now we have software for every kind of needlework endeavor. I found a new one the other day (thanks to SCAToday.)

Technology with the help of a clever crafter has found card weaving. So if you are into card weaving or if you just want to be gleefully amused by seeing a pattern emerge everytime you give the program a little nudge - toddle on over to The Loomy Bin and take a look at A Card Weaver's Studio.

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This is great! Once I'm set up at the new house I'll have to start card weaving again.

As far as the patterns go - I have been looking thorough old mags, and am horrified at the patterns I used to have to work from. The new programmes are not only a lot easier to design with, but the results are SO much easier to work from as well.

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Keep Going Back 

I've written before that one needs to "go back" to websites to find new images and features added by the site holder. But as well, we need to return to favorite books.

I was reminded of this today when flipping through Kay Staniland's Medieval Craftsmen, Embroiderers. I read this some years ago when I first acquired it and have dipped into it from time to time when researching some particular issue. Now, I think it is time to read it again cover to cover. I will look at it and understand it in a different way given the layers of knowledge I've added to my understanding base.

I do always encourage embroidery historians to go back and forth between books and documents and textiles. The big picture is only available to those who don't limit themselves to just one sort of learning.


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Friday, July 06, 2007

Home Again, Home Again 

Back home again in time for the very quiet 4th. It was great seeing all the American flags up and down the street in Kansas.

Now home to do all the little mundane things that make a big pile when you put them all together. Chicago was super. Great to see friends and I have some superb rubbings of tiles and heating grates in the private hotel where we stayed.

Kansas City is always good fun and inspiring. I had a bonus day of thrift stores and book stores. Even window shopping can be fun. And Catherine whipped up a tunic for me to wear in November in magical quicktime.

Fun to go, great to come home.


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