Monday, 30 September 2013

Winner Of The Shepherd's Bush Giveaway Is...

I am delighted to announce that the winner of the darling Shepherd's Bush pattern book is Rosella from Milano, Italy. Congratulations Rosella and thank you to everyone who joined in the fun and who reads the blog. Don't miss next week's very special giveaway will you?

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Elizabeth I & Her People * National Portrait Gallery, London * 10 October 2013 - 5 January 2014 * Free Jigsaw Download

A little known painting of three Elizabethan children presenting what may be the first portrait of a guinea pig will be displayed at the National Portrait Gallery, London, during its forthcoming exhibition Elizabeth I and Her People supported by The Weiss Gallery. The portrait depicts three unknown children aged six, seven and five with a beige, brown and white guinea pig, cradled by the little girl at the centre of the group. It is possibly the earliest-known depiction of this animal in a portrait. Popular in Europe as exotic pets, guinea pigs were introduced from South America by Spanish traders. their way of life.

Elizabeth I & Her People explores the remarkable reign of Elizabeth I through the lives and portraiture of her subjects. The Elizabethan period spanned over forty years and was a time of extraordinary enterprise. The known world was expanding through maritime exploration and trade, literacy increased, cities grew in size and the economy flourished. The new opportunities for wealth creation and creativity in this period also led to the rise of the middle classes. The exhibition includes many outstanding paintings of Elizabeth I and her courtiers including explorers, and soldiers, and enchanting portraits of her female courtiers. Visitors will also come face-to-face with lesser-known Elizabethans including butchers, goldsmiths, brewers, merchants, writers and artists. These will be shown alongside artefacts from the period including exquisite jewellery, books and coins, which give a fascinating glimpse into that age.

To download the jigsaw - Click here next Click Open, then click the .EXE file name and click Run, when you see the jigsaw puzzle, click Play Too many pieces? Try clicking on Trays on the top tool bar to create any number of resizeable trays to sort your pieces ........ you can also click the Cheat button and watch the puzzle solve itself! The software is by David Gray designer of Jigsaws Galore - the powerful jigsaw player and creator for Windows.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Hand Made Market * Oberhausen * 6 October 2013

Oberhausen is just over the border from the Netherlands - northeast of Venlo. If you are in the area don't miss this great event in the Turbinenhalle. Everything for the handmaker and lots of handmade items for sale. The doors open at 11 am and entry is free for children, students and those under 18 - everyone else has to be prepared to shell out the royal sum of 3 Euros. For more details about this event, click here.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Gloves In The Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan

This stunning pair of gloves made between sometime 1630 and 1650 has cuffs embroidered with silver-gilt yarn and coloured silk and edged with bobbin lace in silver gilt and sequins. Their decoration includes flowers, cornucopias at the sides of a vase with ears of wheat and doves set amid the branches on the ground pattern. The outlines of the cornucopias and vases are set off by rows of tiny pearls, while the ground, flowers and leaves are decorated with silver-gilt sequins. The fingers of these gloves always appear too long for modern fingers... and they would have been too long for 17th century fingers also. Often they would be padded to create the illusion that the wearer had long, elegant fingers. However, when it comes to size, I have to say it is completely irrelevant when it comes to museums. The small Museo Poldi Pezzoli is one of my favourite places to visit whenever I am in Milan - often followed by champagne risotto lunch at Boeucc.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

It Hugs Me & The Work of Ffion Capelin

I was stretching my legs in Brighton the other day and came across some rather nice CD covers for a band I have never heard of. I rather like hugs and who could not resist a band called It Hugs Back - who turn out to be quite fun people. However what I really wanted to know is why the stylist for the band had chosen needleworked pictures for the covers. So I contacted the band and was put in touch with Ffion Capellin, who even though I had found her in the middle of nowhere in the Suffolk Countryside was kind enough to answer my questions. My first question was : Can you tell me why you chose needlework-type collages to express the spirit of the band? Ffion replied: For me, designing for It Hugs Back has always been about creating a series of artwork which gives the band a visual identity and makes people look, linger and ultimately listen to the music held within the sleeve! Upon listening to It Hugs Back, you are immediately struck by the endless textures and colours in the music and this has certainly helped with trying to come up with something which reflects them visually. My designs using needlework are purposely quite random and un-perfect looking as the handmade quality to the work is something we really wanted to emphasise - this also has links with the band's own DIY ethos from recording all of their material in a tiny home studio to the releasing of work via their own record label, Safe and Sound. I absolutely love the intricacy and detail needlework can bring to artwork and by just using materials as simple as hessian, tapestry wool and a needle to create a piece, it is amazing how the subtlety of the textures, colour and stitching can all work together to create something quite unique.

Then I asked : How you go about putting a design together? Ffion's response was : Once I know what format the band will be using for their release (whether LP, 7" or even cassette!), I initially think about the colours and materials I would like to work with and then discuss any ideas I have with the band. Colour is an important part of my design process and I have been known to start and stop work a fair few times until the colours work together perfectly! All of my designs for the band are made to the size of the format they will be using so if it's a vinyl LP I have quite a bit of space to work with and can really build up a piece over time whereas for their cassette single designing was quite a challenge as we wanted to ensure the complexity of the usual designs was still there but had to make sure it was represented in a very small way! I find that I work pretty intuitively and let the design develop over time. I certainly try not to plan too much ahead of starting working....which can probably be seen in the chaotic-ness of the designs - any inspiration or design ideas are very much stored up over time and kept in mind for the right moment. It is also worth mentioning that a somewhat limiting part of the process is the capturing of the work so it is actually useable on a record sleeve (which we do via scanning) without losing the essence of its handmade look and feel. With the uneven surfaces, different textures and sizes, the process of scanning in a handmade piece can be a tricky one but with trial and error, we eventually get there in the end.

I saved my burning question to the end - had I discovered a real textile lover? I really wanted to know : Are all your creations needlework inspired? Ffion said : No - they are all certainly handmade but I have experimented with a variety of crafty materials! My very first designs for It Hugs Back were made from paper and then I gradually looked to other art forms for inspiration. I began using needlework around the band's first album release when I wanted to create a shift in visual identity for their next collection of releases. Using this idea was then carried through for the artwork of the band's second album by stitching brightly coloured tapestry wool onto hessian - this process made me truly appreciate the beauty of using needlework as, by pure chance, the intertwining, weaving mess of the back actually looked just as good as the front and so much so we decided to use it as the final back cover to the album!  I feel that whilst most importantly aiming to create a visual identity for It Hugs Back, I have in turn also created one for myself...which is no bad thing! Ffion Capelin  studied Arts Management at London South Bank University but feels that her time in London going to art galleries and craft fairs and generally exploring the world of crafting and the spectacular artists around really inspired her to get to work. She is available for commissions - she has designed flyers and posters for various events . If you would like her to create something for your event or group, you can contact her through It Hugs Back.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

A Collection of 7 Quaker School/Family Books $70 Including Shipping

The following books form an important research resource for Quaker schooling and family history and I am keen that they stay together and go to a good home. They are all used books and have seen a little life so in one or two cases they are not in pristine condition:
Polam Hall - Story of a School by Kathleen Davies. Polam Hall, Darlington was founded by the wealthy Quaker Backhouse family and took on teachers from Ackworth School.
The History of the Mount School York 1785- 1814 : 1831 - 1931 - H. Winifred Sturge and Theodora Clark. The Mount School was founded by the famous Quaker Tukes and had strong links to Ackworth School.
History of the Friends' School Lancaster - Ralph H. S. Randles. The school dates back to the early days of the Quakers and the history starts at 1690.
Charlbury of Our Childhood - Caroline Pumphrey. A delightful Quaker family history.
A Family Affair - Kathleen Binns. A history of a Bradford Quaker family 1900 - 1911 several members of the Binns family attended Ackworth School.
Ackworth School - Elfrida Vipont Perhaps the best history of Ackworth School.
Early Lancaster Friends - Michael Mullet.
I am sorry these books are now sold.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Take Notes of This * Sampler Worked Aged 65 * Spanish Sampler @ Auction

Bridport Auction House has this very noteworthy sampler for auction on 27 September 2013. Worked by Mary Fielding in 1856 she, unlike some more age-coy ladies who may fiddle with dates on their samplers, instructs us straight away to take note of her age when she worked her sampler. She is 65! I have seen a few samplers now, worked by mature women, but this is the first direct example I have seen. It is Lot 108 and measures 25" square. Click here for more details.

Lot 571 at Lyon & Turnbull on 4 October 2013 is a handsome Spanish needlework sampler by Maria Cars Garcia dated 1877. It measures approximate 20" x 22" and its estimate is £150 - £250. Click here for more details.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Free Giveaway * Shepherd's Bush Pattern Book

I am such a fan of Shepherd's Bush designs. I assiduously collected and worked the Christmas Stocking designs - one of whom I remember was for a baby called Christian.

Some years later, I was privileged to be invited to a Shepherd's Bush retreat to talk about Ackworth samplers and in some down time I was introduced to this same Christian who, since time had passed, was somewhat taller than me with spoke with a sonorous basso voice!

This darling set of 3 classic Shepherd's Bush patterns is our free giveaway this week. There appears to be a printers mark down the left hand side of the images, but apart from that the pattern is in excellent condition.

If you would like to enter the draw, then simply click on the flying angel below to enter and I'll announce a winner next week, 30 September 2013. Good Luck!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Stuart Embroidered Mirror * Antiques Roadshow * Sunday 15 September 2013

I was thrilled to see this astonishing Stuart embroidered mirror together with a panel depicting the Judgement of Solomon turn up on last week's Antique Roadshow. Sometime ago we posted about the antique mirror shown in Argo which had been stage set for the Canadian embassy in Iran because the similarity in profile to some of the Stuart mirrors was quite remarkable.  These items may have been influenced by imports via the East India Company, or by the establishment in 1622 of the first English embassy in Turkey.

And the distinctive form of the mirror on the Antiques Roadshow seems to bear this comparison out.

A lute-player is flanked by two architectural motifs which are commonly seen on Stuart panels.

Facing images of a king and queen at the horizontal mid point are also a common feature of these mirrors.

Here you can enjoy some close up detail of the lute-player

And a manor house with smoking chimneys - you cannot fail to notice the parlous state of the silk satin ground which is beginning to shred with age.

In the lower left-hand corner is a rockpool fed by a water spout with a surfacing fish. And to the right you can see the well-known lion, a frequent star of Stuart embroidered panels and mirrors.  

For me, an interesting feature is the rarely seen, more naturalistically, perhaps more modern, lute-player at the base. This mirror was valued at around £15,000 in its present state.

Other examples of mirrors of this style can be seen in the V&A. The one above has a frame painted to resemble lacquer work.
In the other V&A example above you can perhaps see the planned outline for this unfinished embroidery, which again matches the other examples.

The panel of Solomon and the two disputing mothers is remarkable for showing the drawing of the executing soldier's face which remains incomplete. This panel was valued at around £10,000.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Textiles and Intriguing Chairs For Auction @ Christies * 1 October 2013

There are some interesting lots at this forthcoming auction - and not all of them are textiles - there is a surprise later on. But first there is Lot 19 which has an estimate of £2,000 - £3,000

A It is a Charles II needlework picture circa 1660 decorated with two figures in a pastoral landscape with figures in farming and country pursuits and a house with silver coloured windows in the background. On the reverse is a long pencil inscription dated 1894 relating to the panel's origin at Sanderstead, near Croydon. The figure in the tree at top right might be loosely ascribed to Charles II in the Boscobel Oak, but this is a fruit tree and the figure appears to be picking fruit.

Lot 23 has an estimate of £4,000 - £6,000.

A It is a Charles II raised-work picture allegory of Music circa 1660. It is described as a silk embroidered panel of a woman playing a lute, with a house, a lion and leopard and decorated with raised work flowering plants and insects and with late 19th century additions of coral and glass jewels to base.

Lot 24 has an estimate of £800 - £1,200.

A This Charles II silk embroidered and raised-work picture circa 1660 is worked with Biblical scenes including Isaac and Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael, trees, plants, animals and birds, in a later card mount and frame.

Lot 25 has an estimate of £1,000 - £2,000.

A This is a Charles II silk and raised-work picture of circa 1660 with reapplied slips of two figures, animals, birds, plants and trees with a variety of insects. I think it is interesting in that it does not follow the usual deployment of  motifs with the lion and leopard at the base and the birds at the lateral mid-points. It is in later simulated tortoiseshell and gilt frame

Lot 35 is from the collection of Colonel Richard Broad and comes with an estimate of £5,000 - £8,000

It is described as a set of 8 oak-framed and leather-upholstered chairs of the late 19th early 20th century of 17th century style each painted with naive scenes of figures, castles, animals and flowers, each chair with a different combination of images, the backs also decorated.

I think these are intriguing as they are obviously painted to appear like applied work Stuart panels, such as those you have seen above.

All the backs and seats appear to have a different panel and it is quite frustrating not to see them all. Were they copied from existing known panels or were they simply fabricated along the line of conjectured embroideries - I would love to know more if anyone can tell me.

Lot 237  has an estimate of £1,000 - £1,500

A It is a George III silkwork embroidered map of the world circa 1800 Entitled 'THE WORLD with all the Modern DISCOVERIES' surrounded by leaf and flower sprays with ribbons.

It is always interesting to see what the southern hemisphere map contains and I'm sure Vivien Caughley will have some thoughts on it.

Last but certainly not least, though without detail images is Lot 185 below, with an estimate of £1,500 - £2,000. it is a Castello Branco silk embroidered coverlet circa 1800. It is a joined linen panel embroidered in floss silks with cartouches of exotic birds and flowering vines and tendrils withing matching border.

For more details of this sale at Christies click here.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Dolomites Light & Sweet

I have to say I am already missing the brightness and clear air of the Dolomites - beating trails at 9,000 feet is a really special experience. Finding exceptional dining facilities in the middle of nowhere at 9,000 is not only special but life-enhancing. The Dolomites are scattered with refuges which are not the primitive affairs you might imagine. These are clean, bright, warm, service-led facilities that serve varied menus of delicious food typical to the unique culture in which Italian flair overlaps Hapsburg no-nonsense, rib-sticking goodness. I just had to bring some of this home with me and this book with its knitting pattern jacket was irresistible.

From the 3 books available in this range - first courses, main meals and desserts and cakes, I chose - well, you can see for yourself. More for Richard than for me, I tell myself! It is a prettily produced book with recipes in 3 languages, Italian, German and English, so I'll not have to keep checking spoon-size translations all the while.

Each page has recipes and souvenirs from the Dolomites.

And below are the books that got away... just not enough room in my luggage - though I have just discovered that I can buy them on-line from The Light Hunter Shop.

And not just the books - some suitable costume aprons for serving up the dishes too! Click here to visit The Light Hunter Shop.