Friday, July 14, 2017

Summer Greetings

From Yellowstone National Park
  I hope you all are having a wonderful summer(or winter!). I have been so busy this summer~ we just returned from a trip to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, so thought I would share some pictures with ya'll. It takes us 2 days to drive to the Park from here in southern Colorado. While husband and children think its 'boring', I find it quite enjoyable. Looking over the plains to the east as far as the eye can see its easy for me to understand why my Grandma Tressa didn't like visiting Washington from Kansas...(.there were too many trees for her and she felt too closed in.) I think its beautiful.

  We always spend our first night in Thermopolis, Wy. Its a really neat little place, they have the world's largest mineral hot spring in town, and just outside of town, we stayed at the Fountain of Youth R.V. Park. (above) You can see the hot mineral springs here~ all natural~ in the early 1900s, they were actually drilling for oil right behind where I took the picture from, and hit this hot thermal spring~ the water comes out of the spring 130 degrees f, and flows at a rate to completely replace all the water in the 3 large cooling pools  every 11 hours.  Not only did husband and children enjoy all afternoon, but they had to have one more hot dip in the morning before we left.

 Also in Thermopolis is the Wyoming Dinosaur Center. Its a little gem of a place~ they have one of the largest assembled dinosaur fossils in the US, and if you want to dig around and find an actual fossil, you can go on a day dig~ its all on their website. This little cutie was my favorite of all the fossils there... a bird called Phamphorhynchus sp. , 150 million years old from the late Jurassic period...if you look closely at the beak, just look at all those teeth!!!!  Something tells me it probably didnt eat nuts......

  Walking amongst the assembled fossils really makes one feel small and very insignificant

  Yellowstone is beautiful any time of year, but early spring is wonderful because everyone has their babies out frolicking. Baby buffalo are referred to as 'red dogs' because they are so red.  (There was still snow in the upper elevations while we were there). I love the buffalo, they are my favorite part of visiting the park.

  Second favorite, is Old Faithful Inn.  No...not Old Faithful Geyser, but the Inn itself.  I love it and if they ever had a winter program to be the closed in Innkeeper, IM THERE! 

   Just aside the Inn is Hamilton's Store~ my absolute favorite building, because the front and porch is composed entirely out of natural knotts and burls. 

  We stayed in Madison campground, and mama elk had their new little babies out aside the river. Elk babies have spots just like deer do~ soooooo cute.

 Every day we got to see some Buffalo~ they roam peacefully around the park....but just before we got there, we heard on the radio, some idiot extraordinaire tried to pet one on the boardwalk and got head butted and sent to hospital. Rangers said their havent been any gorings yet this year, but its still early and there are always a few, so REALLY...HONEST~ the animals in Yellowstone are wild creatures~ its not a zoo...they are not tame pets!!!!  

 Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone...spectacular, no picture could ever reproduce being there

  This is above Tower Fall, getting up into the Lamar Valley...hello...Beautiful! Wish you were here!

 Old Faithful Geyser~ just as Grande as ever

 Coming home thru Grand Tetons National Park.  If you have never been to Yellowstone, I highly recommend! 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Museum Monday


    Today we get both a look at some precious bits, as well as a possibly new vocabulary word for you~ 'Fontange'.  If you are interested in early fashion, you may have seen the tall lace head pieces, as seen above, and wondered what they were called. The Fontange is a term used to describe the tall front facing headdress that was popular for a very short time to the end of the 17thc~ apx 1680~1700.  It is named for one of King Louis XIV mistresses, the Marquis de Fontange. She is said to have lost her cap while hunting with him, and the way she hastily tied it up, he liked, so other members of court swiftly followed with the new fashion. Pieces of lace literally jetted upward from the front of the head, and were supported with wire to keep them standing. Many had lappets to each side, the length of which also told the social status of the wearer.  In the engraving above, a young girl is shown wearing a smaller version of the Fontange.

  Above is a painting, done in 1695, of Prince James and his sister, Princess Louisa Stuart. This is so far, the youngest depiction of a Fontange on a child I have found..but if they were so popular with both adults and children..certainly babies would have had their own version.... I have seen just one small bonnet before in a private collection with a Fontange front. Until now, I can say~

   Livy is happily modeling a newborn Fontange for you~ actually, two separate pieces, both from a marvelous 32 piece swaddling set that contains not only two Fontange caps, but two staybands as well.  They are of coarse a bit limp, as I believe they would have been starched to hold them erect when originally worn. Pretty stayband would have also been pin'd to her shoulders close up to the face, to keep her little head from wobbling about.

   Atop this picture is the little cap she is wearing, and below, the stayband.  Many today mistakenly think of a stayband as something worn round the middle, such as a 'binder',  but in the 15-18th centuries it was a band of cloth worn over the head, long enough to reach both shoulders on a swaddled baby, and was pin'd at the shoulders to keep the head still. 

 The stayband still has its original back ties, and as well, one of the little tabs can be seen to the top left~ this was pind to the cap at the back of the babies head. The ties fit directly at the nape of the babies neck.

Since there are no known images(to me) of a swaddled infant with a Fontange cap~ if you know of a source, please let me know!  I am experimenting with the pieces and trying to figure out how they would have been worn, and think I have it correct above on Livy~ she wears a long bib first, with cap over that, and then the stayband on lastly. It is the only piece with tiny pleated trim, as seen above.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

an Heirloom Quality Box on eBay this week

One of a Kind Flemish Slide Top Spool Box

I have been working on a special, Heirloom quality box to offer and have it up for sale this week on eBay~ you can find it here , or click the link in the sidebar to me eBay specials.   I have over 42 hours of work into painting this box, aside from actually making it, and finishing the isnide.  I wanted to make something special, that there will only be ever just ONE of~ so if you like it, feel free to bid on it!  For the hours I have put into it, the start price is a steal of a deal~ I challenge you to find anyone else to produce a nice slide top box and paint it for less~  So many times people will not bid on my eBay auction, and instead ask me to make them one of whatever it is I have offered~ not so on this piece. I will not take orders ~ this is the ONLY one

 If you want something really special and pretty to hold your stitchy needfuls, that no one else will EVER have~ please, go check it out!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Workin My Fingers to the Bone

 My Dayes of Frostbite & Sunburns are over!!!

   I have been working overtime double triple and beyond the past few months, and today, today! I spent my first 'quiet time' painting in my new woodshop! woo hooo!!!!!!  For our 25th wedding anniversary, husband bought me a 10x20 Weather King Lofted Barn...well...I should rephrase that...he wanted to get a 30' long and skinny tube of a building....but I have been pining for a lofted barn for at least the last 5 years, and no Sir...I would not give in! As excited as I was to see it being delivered....I also got kind of overwhelmed~ I had a lot of work to do to get it ready for me. 
 As I work now, my embroidery and wood are all in the same areas~ if I have to do any cutting, sanding, planing ect....I have to dig out my equipment, drag it outside, set it up....then work out in the in the winter I literally freeze my tuccass and fingers off, and in the summer I get the most horrible sunburns!  If its raining, I cant do anything~ so alot of my work sched is dependent on the weather. 
Well....not any more!

  See the dirt to the left of me here under the I am signing for my shop....thats 12 ton of road base that I spread out~ and then my son & I got up close and personal with a 'jumping jack' tamper to get it all level. This stuff is harder than cement once its compacted. 

  The ditch for the new electric ...120 feet long and 4 and half feet deep....and yes, I got to fill it all back in by another 18 ton of road base I got to spread out over the driveway afterwards...took me over a week...never want to see another pile of dirt for at least a couple of years.  

 Weather King makes awesome buildings~ you can even design your own on their website. I chose the lofted barn with the two big doors, so I can wheel  my tablesaw outside onto the deck when I need to cut something big...and  the two lofts above give me plenty of storage~ one side for wood, the other for all my packing/shipping materials. After the electric was finished, next came insulation.

Peg board wonderful pegboards! I have always loved them~ I can hang all my tools and wood so I can seeeeeeee everything~ oh it will be glorious for sure!

In the midst of working on the shop, I have been finishing up prep for class in August~ 54 pages of step by step instructions back from the printer, ready to go! I really am looking forward to getting all my woodworking things into their own space, so I can get back to having my embroidery out full time, instead of piles of wood everywhere...and I mean EVERYWHERE! 

Things getting messy.....but progressing

Nearly done~ got my work bench made in the center, that I can move around, with benches round the walls

Done and varnished! I have soooo much bench space now~ I can work on cabinets and cases and slate frames and boxes all at the same time~ going to be fantabulous. Shelves round the entire shop to put up all my tools
So I finished yesterday, and was supposed to be moving all the equipment in today....but I am painting on a slate frame and palette set and the shop was just calling to me to sit and thats what I did. Its so nice and quiet, I can now sit or stand by my window here and listen to my blackbirds and look for something pretty awesome coming to eBay....after I get my orders finished so I can work on may be able to sneek a lil peek if you look hard in the corner!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Museum Monday!

A c1850 Spit Curl Beauty, p.130
This week's Museum Monday is one of my favorite daguerreotypes. I know her as LRM picture archive 130, aka my Spit Curl Beauty.  Aside from the hand tinting and  2 baskets in the picture, there is just a ton of stuff going on in this view that makes it a favorite for me. This is a  privileged child~ did you know the cost of having a single daguerreotype made was more than what some working class people made in an entire year? She is standing with a proud, erect posture~ holding her basket on one arm, with the toe of one foot kicked out sideways. If you click and view it larger, the folds of her knit stockings can be seen peeking out from under that one pantaloon leg that has crept up a bit. Her sun hat is kicked back on her head and shows off those picture perfect curls~ I wonder how long it took her Mamma to do her hair? 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

One of a Kind Spool Palette on eBay...again this week!

Trying again!

If you liked the spool palette I had on eBay earlier and couldn't see it or bid, I have relisted it this week. I think I got all the problems fixed. eBay is automating so many things, I am finding it harder and harder to 'successfully'  fill out the listing forms. I apologize for my lack of technical finesse. The listing is still being run as no international shipping, only because I cannot figure out how to change it~ so if you are not in the US and are interested in purchasing it, just drop me a line and I can let you know how much shipping will be to you.  
You can find it here on eBay. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Museum Monday!

Have You Ever been Struck by Lightning?

I suppose one may think I'm talking about actually being, physically, struck down by a bolt of lightning. Well...I'm not. For me, every now and then, when something rare and fabulous finds me...(some may call it pure dumb luck)...I call it being struck by lightning. I mean...sometimes, I just have to think,,,what on earth are the chances of finding a certain something....or, like last Museum Monday, another something that was obviously made to pair with a something.... I'm being a bit vague I lets look back to the Museum Monday on 12 Dec of last year....those pretty green kid leather stamped children's shoes, 878.2016.01.  They didn't find me, nor were they donated...they're just a marvelous pair of early stamped shoes! Amazing condition. Rare survivors. Wonderful shoes and I am so blessed to have them.

I have been overwhelmingly busy as of late~ getting ready for class this August at the Bath Textile Summer School....getting ready for a trip to Yellowstone National Park...building a new woodshop so I can make all sorts of fantabulous things for ya'll no matter what the weather is doing outside....and in the middle of this tornado of activity....WHAM! I got struck by lightning!

Let me explain....because its really quite comical when I think about it... I am outside working on the new shop and come in to look up a ceiling fan on the recent trek 100 miles up north yielded no fan suitable for my shop...couldn't find anything under 36" in diameter....but I did find a funky garage fan that was about perfect for what I wanted, but it snapped into some even stranger garage door opener contraption and couldn't be hardwired I am on the computer madly pressing buttons and searching all sorts of weird terms for a ceiling fan...garage fan.....exhaust fan...boxed fan....caged fan....basket fan~ anything! So am on eBay, and  somehow in my fan search, up came a single early shoe, along with a fan! Strange. So me being me, I clicked on it cause the shoe was a nice early shoe....but it was a single, and as a rule, I usually dont bother with a single of anything.....and then, as I scrolled down, they have  the advertisements of what other things seller is selling....and my eye caught a glimpse of something very interesting.....and thats exactly the moment I got struck by the lightning.

Do these look familiar?????!!!!
What are the odds???? How can this be????  I am looking for a ceiling fan.....and end up staring at these shoes!

 I still cant believe it. The red pair is about an 1/8" longer than the green....and that could be due to the fact the sole has flattened out. Note the spring(or curve) in the sole of the green pair above~ both look to have ample wear in the right areas to have been worn. I do not believe these to be show shoes~

 The gilt stamping is not just  similar, it is exact. Absolutely exact in every way, shape and form. Red shoes stamping has less wear than the green and shows more brilliantly.

 One lace is missing, and the other, complete with its brass tips, is only long enough to lace thru the bottom 4 sets of eyelet holes~ which was common for these not to be laced all the way to the top, unless one had particularly spindly legs. I would say that of all the period photographs I have seen showing front lacing shoes,  the majority are only laced halfway up the throats.

 Little angels are placed to be facing up to the wearer when they look down at their feet~

Could I ever hope to find a white pair...or perhaps a blue????  I never thought I'd see a red pair, so perhaps!

Monday, May 08, 2017

Museum Monday

Green Wool Baby Shoes 958.2017.04
 This weeks Museum Monday is a cutie patutie pair of green wool baby booties....I mean, these things are Ka~UTE!  If you have ever studied or admired the early 1840-50 folkart child portraits of the time, these look like they could have just jumped straight off of a canvas with their vivid bright colors and decorative stitchings.

  They are fully lined in a cream figured silk taffeta~ a scrap of  Pappa's waistcoat most likely...and are the usual construction of upper joined with the sole via bound edges of each whipped together.

  They are side lacing, which makes them a bit unique, and retain their original multi color braided lacings with poms at the ends. One could speculate that they could be doll shoes, from their nice condition and small size~ indeed its quite hard to tell period doll clothing from childrens~ but as I was unstuffing these after I bought them, there was a *surprise* tucked tight down into the toe of one of them~

 Kind of a bittersweet surprise....first I found the little curl of chestnut brown hair, and then tucked carefully to the side, was a folded paper~ I was SO hoping for a name, but alas, upon opening it up, it is a carefully cut piece of advertisement that reads, 'Winchester's Hypophosphite of Lime and Soda'. I thought this quite odd....why would someone cut out those words, and place them in the shoes along with a tiny lock of hair?  I looked up Winchester's Hypophosphite and found that it was introduced in 1858, about the same era in time of our little shoes here, and that it was a tonic used to treat pulmonary consumption & lung disorders... One cannot help to assume, that the little angel who once wore these precious little shoes was fatally afflicted~

Monday, May 01, 2017

Museum Monday!

c1820 Girls Gown 92.2000.23

Happy Monday!  I have decided, that if I am going to bring back Museum Mondays...this year, I get to pick the topic, and will share some of my favorites with you...maybe next year can be least favorites...if there is such a thing.  Every now and then, I do random Google image searches to see where photos of pieces in my collection show up...I have found a few in bogus eBay auctions...criminals will lift the pic off my blog and use it to run a fake auction...they dont even bother to block out the watermark on my images!!!!... Then sometimes, I get a pleasant surprise and find something that really gets me with today's piece~ a wonderful, ever so charming, quaint little girls dress. I saw a photo in my search and thought~ is this my dress??? The sleeves are different...and when I clicked on the link that took me to the Met's Museum page...I was really excited!

When I purchased my little gown from its family at Nappa Hall in the UK, it was a dirty crumpled little mess. I had it sent to me across the pond and showered it with love and care and its such a charming, beautiful little gown. c1820, with full little cap sleeves drawn up in thirds, trimmed in pretty little double mull frills~ the gown itself is quite plain....white muslin...but the little mull frills~ all have their edges whipped in pink thread, as well as pink whipping along the top of the growth tucks and front stitchings. 6 precious Dorset buttons adorn the front, with pink accent stitching in their centers.  In an era when clothing was hand stitched at home, before the days of ready made or ready to wear would tend to assume.....that they had a one of a kind gown......but ....then along came Google and its all seeing worldwide search......

This is the Met's gown~ you can see it here
This is no coincidence. Absolutely not. They purchased their gown 13 years before I purchased mine, but both come from the UK, and they are so near identical in construction, they were most likely gowns for siblings. (Other than the sleeves and the neckline/pointe trim being different, they are constructed the same). The Met gown's color is much deeper and richer than mine~ but upon close inspection, I have found my gown's thread to be quite faded~ behind the Dorset buttons and in protected areas, its much darker.  The Met's web page has date of construction about 20 years later than what I believe the age of garment to be~ even so, its always exciting to find a mate~ perhaps one day they can share the same space with each other again
Both full views are large, so you may click on them to see all their details!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Museum Monday on a Tuesday!

Spring ...Sprung...Sprang????

  I have had many readers let me know how much they miss my Museum Monday I will try and do my best to bring them back~ I miss them as well! I love to share interesting little tidbits with ya' how many of you know what Sprang is?  And if you do...can you tell it from netting? After this post today, I hope you will know answers to both of those questions.  Above are two first quarter 19th c miser's purses~ the one on the top, 760.2014.13 is indeed a Sprang example. The purse on the bottom, 759.2014.12, is netting, or more easily put~ knotted. Aside from the above  photo, I have left all my pictures large to you may click on them to really see them up close~

  So why would you care for the difference between 'Sprang' and knotting, or netted work? From a buyers point of view, cost is absolutely the reason. Sprang examples are exceedingly rare, since they can unravel like knitting....and so, are much more costly than knotted pieces~ tho many knotted pieces are passed off as Sprang to those who are unaware of what they are looking at. Sprang is a method of twisting the warp threads together to make a very flexible fabric that has a great ability for expansion. The warp threads are fixed at both ends on a frame, and then twisted in a way that can interlink, interlace or intertwine them....the threads are twisted...not knotted.  There are no knotts in Sprang woven pieces.  We will look first at the purse on the bottom, the knotted an example of what Sprang is not.  Click on the photo above and you will see the mesh is made up of both small and elongated diamonds....and where each and every single thread meets, is a knot.

  Pieces that are made of a knotted netting, can still survive with holes, as seen above. With a knot at each juncture, the piece will not hopelessly unravel

Without a loupe or high magnification, one could mistake this pattern of netting for same pattern in the Sprang technique, as seen above...but note, the Sprang is again twisted....there are no knots.

  Now we can look at the Sprang purse. In both this case, and with the purse above, the design in the finished mesh is dictated by both the weave, and the dye of the thread~ just like modern day 'sock yarn'~ as one knits a sock, colored patterns will appear as one knits along. Its hard to see in ts example~if you go back up to the first closeup of the knotted purse,  and look at the elongated diamonds, you can see where the color of the thread changes inbetween the knots.

  This purse has been worked in fine silk, and when it gets a hole, there is nothing to keep it from unraveling, which is why I dont dare spread or put tension on the weave.  There are are many different, very complicated weave patterns of Sprang~
  I highly recommend 'The techniques of Sprang by Peter Collingwood' if you desire to read further or would like to learn how to do it for yourself.