Wednesday, December 23, 2015

From the Dollys & I ~

Merry Christmas!
May your heart be filled with Love & Joy this Christmas,
and all the dayes after~

Friday, December 11, 2015

New Thread Palette Set on eBay this week!

               Custom Made &  Hand Painted Maple Thread Palettes & Thread Winders
 I have bee pretty busy making & painting specifically for filling custom orders, but I have been trying to squeeze in some neat things in between~ I just got this palette set finished and listed on eBay this week~ for those of you who collect my palette sets, I think this one may be the last to go on eBay before Christmas. It is truly a one of a kind set, the ships wheel thread winder was so difficult to cut out that I am 99.9999999% sure that I will never ever make another one! If you love ships as I do, or whales~ you can check it out on eBay here. The ship is of coarse, the USS Constitution, the very first commissioned Naval ship.
  Thought I would also share some of what I have been painting palette wise~ for those of you thinking of designing your own special one of a kind thread palette...or better yet, if your group or guild is having a special get together or function, think about having me design a special thread winder~ they make wonderful and useful take home souvenirs!  You name it, I can paint it....I think :)  I never thought I would paint the Golden Gate Bridge on anything and I think it came out pretty cool~
  This set was made to match a slate frame I painted earlier this year, the palette my version of a 19th c Audubon engraving
 This set was fun, made to commemorate a trip to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta with a hot air balloon shape palette and thread winders to match the favorite special shape balloons of the recipient...I still cant believe I painted Yoda!
Have a special building in mind?, I can paint those too~ or how about your house? That would be fun!  If interested about having a palette set or special thread winder made, just drop me a line at 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

My 17th c Inspired Stumpwork Flemish Box

 Dutch Tulips & Glittering Gold Scrolls 
 If you love 17th c embroidery & embroidered caskets, you will have no doubt come across at least one or two Flemish cabinets in your studies. They are unique in their construction and typically set up on tall floor stands. The cabinets are made of ebonized hardwoods with elaborate embroidered or lacquered interior decorations. This type of cabinet comes from Flanders, the area of the Southern Netherlands in the late 16th to 17th centuries~ from cities such as Bruges, Ghent, Kortrijk, Antwerp, Leuven & Brussels (just to name a few).  I have always admired Dutch art and textiles~ the scrolling motifs are so unique...and the tulips! (enter a long sigh here:::)  The above cabinet is accession no 77.58 and part of the Royal Museum at the  Rockox House ~ you can view it online here .
  I am making my own version of an Antwerp or Flemish Cabinet and was working up an embroidery pattern as practice for the inside panels~ about this same time, a Dear friend of mine became sick, so I decided to make it up into a box for her.  I am real happy with the results so far, and from the feedback I have been getting, so watch for some little kits and patterns based on this design in the ETSY shop or on my blog in the future!
 I redrew the scrolls and tulips from the Antwerp Cabinet to represent a stylized vase of 'get well' flowers for the top of my little box. The little wood box itself was a gift from another Dear friend that originally held Mr Stanley's Crystallized Ginger. I used Piper's Silks and real gold threads for the embroidery. What is so unique about the embroidery on the Flemish cabinets is their use of the crenelated gold plate for the scrolls. Few of the remaining cabinets have all the gold plate still attached, so it was really fun and rewarding for me to be able to reproduce how the panels would have originally looked when they were new
 The bulk of the flowers are worked in long and short stitch, but there are also satin stitch, burden stitch, needle weaving,  couching and overtwisting.
 The interior is a thickly wadded or 'tufted' silk taffeta
  I am sure I'm not the only one who loves little boxes~ anything can be covered with embroidery!
 The stitching is over a duchess silk satin, with antique gold metal trim on the sides and top, which is also lightly padded~ you can see the slight dome to the top.
I worked two panels testing different colors and stitches on each~ I knew I was making one into a box, but wanted to frame up the other in ebonized wood to see how they would look in the cabinet~ and I must say, I really love the panels against the black! I took a little video to show how these would sparkle in the dim candle lights of the era~ just really spectacular in person!  A few months ago, I was joking that I have finally discovered what was indeed inside the black briefcase in  the movie 'Pulp Fiction' was embroidered like this! The glow is amazing and I cant wait to make up my cabinet!  I do have a wait list running for cabinets, so if you would be interested, just drop me a line or send me a comment with your email address and I will add you~ dont worry, I never publish comments with personal info included in them!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

THE Best Hot Chocolate in Santa Fe

Kakawa Chocolate House
 As part of my Christmas gift to the children this year, I took them to Santa Fe to do their Christmas shopping. WHAT a day~ we had such a great time! They bought their presents for each other in record time....sooooo easily done at the Plaza. I thought I would share with you their unanimously voted number one favorite place of the day( the close second was Dinosaurs & More)~ not only because it is of coarse totally awesome, or that it has been voted the number one chocolate house in all of Santa Fe....but its got a great online website with store so you can order yourself some chocolates if you are not within driving distance!  You can visit the website here . Heck, they even sell their beautiful cup & saucers!!
 The Kakawa Chocolate House is located on Paseo de Paralta~ actually just a quick diagonal walk across the parking lot behind the San Miguel Chapel.....which, is the oldest church in the United States if you didnt know, built between 1610-26....the bell was cast in 1356 if I remember right~ its amazing and worth a trip in itself! In keeping with early Colonial tradition and times before, the Kakawa House is known for their drinking chocolates, or elixirs,  that are organic, and historically accurate. Want to sip a cup of hot chocolate made from a recipe straight out of Thomas Jefferson's journal?  You will want to order the Jeffersonian then. Curious what Marie Antoinette used to drink? Order the Marie Antoinette and find out! Want to light your whole head on fire with chili pepper spice? Go for the Rose Almond. (Im not kidding~ its the hottest they sell...even hotter than the 'Chili' elixir)  I left the pictures of the counters large, so click on them and explore the house!
The children raved over the hot chocolate~ Josh sipped his the slowest, trying to string it out forever~ he kept saying he didn't want it to end. We had the Tzul, which...well, the only way I can describe it is like a pumpkin chocolate, and without the pumpkin. It was really good!  Of coarse I brought home a few bags for the next snowstorm.

So go check out the website, and have fun reading about all the different elixirs and chocolates~ and if you are close to Santa Fe, or are planing a visit, you simply cannot miss it!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

To all our Military Veterans & their Families

Thank You for your Service & Sacrifice

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Slate Frames of the Olde West.....

Custom Painted Slate Frames, as unique as their owners~
  I just had to share one of my latest custom painted slate frames. To me, it so very exciting! When I think 17th c embroidery, or someone mentions an embroidered casket, I immediately think of the English style embroideries~ kings & queens...stags, flowers and animals. Its my favorite period, but also very English! I was absolutely elated when I was asked to make this frame, to coordinate with the making of a very unique & Early American inspired casket that is in the works. There are bison, screech owls, pine trees and long rifles!
  I love a good challenge as well~ I have never painted a screech owl before, and when designing this frame, I drew out three of them in and amongst Jersey Pines
 I love this frame, it screams 'American' to me~ the long rifles in themselves are very iconic in American history. I added gold accents to what would have been originally brass ornaments on the rifles.

 So much fun to paint~ every little creature became its own little personality~ this buffalo scratching on a tree is my favorite of them all I think
 I say it in every note that I write, and I do mean it with all my heart, that it is truly an honor for me to be trusted to make custom slate frames and thread palette sets for my customers. I put myself in each and every one, in hopes it will bring as much joy as possible when the special recipient uses it.

Beautiful tools are a gift that keeps on giving...speaking of such~ if you would like to give, or get, one in time for Christmas, now is the time to order to be sure I can have it finished on time. As much as I would like help, I am a one person business~ just me, just these two hands!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

17th c Sleeven or Gummed Silk Caskets

My class at the Get Together..

 Ever since seeing this casket at the Dallas Museum of Art, I have loved the technique used and wanted to try it. The casket is accession no 1992.12, and you can find it directly here. There is a good photo of it that you can zoom way in close to really get a marvelous look at the silk 'paper' it is made from. I have been researching the ancient technique and its really not paper at all, tho the silk can be cut like a sheet of paper after it is prepared.  It is a relatively basic technique, just very time consuming to make.

  Randle Holme described it in the pamphlet 'The Acedemy of Armory, or a Storeouse of Armory & Blazon' , Chester, 1688....

   "Gum work, is by gumming of several colours of sleeven silk together, which being dry, they cut into shapes of leaves and flowers, and so tie them up upon wyres"

 I believe the method I came up with to make it using ingredients available in the 17th c closely resembles the period pieces.  I had been asked about several finishing techniques  I could demonstrate at the Get Together, so I came up with the above Christmas ornament that crammed as many techniques I could think of into one project. Making this little ornament offers practice in making gummed silk, painting silk satin with watercolours (the background fabric), gluing paper to silk, making paper finishing templates, papering a wood form, mounting silk to a form and applying trim.  As you will see in the next pictures, much fun and frustration was had by all!!
 The girls learned how to prepare silk roving and make small sheets of gummed silk.

 While the silk is drying, we experimented with painting silk satin with watercolours. If you study early embroideries closely, you will start to notice, many of the backgrounds have painted, or lightly tinted elements, all done with watercolours.  Janice's turned out really awesome, it looked like confetti and I didnt get a picture of it!
 Mendy did a great job with hers~ LOVE it!
  Stacey is working on a mermaid embroidery, and brought the mermaid thread palette set that I made her along with it~ its so exciting to get to see my needlework tools being used and loved~ makes me happy!
 Once the gummed silk dries, it can be cut into shapes and glued to the background silk~ think really awesome paper dolls!  I have an extra trinket box and am going to make it up in gummed silk
 The key is to get the roving as thin but as even as possible, with all the fibers traveling in the same direction~ this is what gives the work a very luminous effect. Its really fun to make
 This project is a real eye opener to the care that must be taken when finishing a casket. One needs to always think ahead and keep track of where the glue is at all times.  Mistakes will be made, and those are great ways to gain experience of how to fix them, so if something similar happens on a finished piece of embroidery, there is no anxiety attack and the students will have the tools and knowledge of what to do in that moment .
 The way I look at making an embroidered casket is like baking a cake. One can have a recipe, but unless they put the ingredients together right, their cake could be amazing, or not resemble a cake at all.  One can have a wooden cabinet to cover, and years of gorgeous embroidery finished... but all that will not mean a thing if they cant get the pieces mounted in a clean and orderly fashion. Tho finishing wont take near the amount of time it will take to work the embroidery, or make the cabinet, it does take a good amount of time and simply put, cannot be rushed in any step of the way.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta 2105

Balloons Everywhere!
 As the sun came up I realized that I was standing at the basket of Oons Wiekfe. (I made a point to video this balloon from start to takeoff for the children). First the balloons are laid out on the field
 A large electric fan is then used (it can be seen in the bottom left of the picture) to get the balloon to the proper state of plumpness. The pilots will give them a thorough walk thru to check for any rips or tears in the fabric, and to make sure all the interior cables are not tangled

 With the basket still on the side, the pilot will apply little shots of propane to heat the air and lift the balloon up off the ground...but not enough to actually take off yet. You can only image the heat that comes off a flame this big~ I was sweating where I was standing!
 Every time a balloon successfully lifted off the crowds would cheer and clap~ every time I would turn around there would be all sorts of new balloons taking off~ there were over 500 on Saturday morning when I was there~ and they were all off in a 2 hr period!

 Literally everywhere one looked, there were balloons~ so many balloons! I took over 700 pictures~ so have picked a few of my all time favorites to share.
 There are balloonists from all over the globe at the Fiesta~ Oons Wiefke is piloted by a family from Bristol England, while Humpty Dumpty comes from Kentucky
 I really really loved the carousel, but cant find it in my balloon directory
 Of coarse my all time favorite of all the balloons was the S.S. America from Corpus Christi Texas....I may need to make this one into a thread palette for me!
 So as I turned around, standing at the base of Oons Wiefke, I kept noticing more and more people behind me~ well no wonder, the bees were right there! I think they are the most popular group of special shape balloons at the Fiesta. There is a Mamma, Pappa and a baby, all three separate balloons.  Here you can get an idea of just how huge the balloons are
 Of coarse I had strict instructions from the children to not come home without a picture of Darth Vader (from Belgium). Can you hear the star wars music???? I can!
  Oons Wiefke lifting off, and you can see the Creamland Dairy cow and Wells Fargo stagecoach balloons in the background
 A most anticipated highlight of the liftoff of the bees is that the pilots turn them for the 'Bee Kiss'
 It really was an amazing thing to see~ if you would like to see a time lapse of the day I was there, or any other day of the Fiesta, just go here to their official website~ scroll down and watch the time lapse videos!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

2015 South West Caskateer Get Together

Time for a Road Trip!

  Just got back from the South West Caskateer Get Together~ what a fantabulous time! This is what I had packed to take with me, and hadn't even thought about my clothes yet! We held the gathering in Placitas,  just outside of Albuquerque and only about 30 miles from Santa Fe, NM.   Of coarse I had to stop by Todos Santos in Santa Fe for some chocolates on the way, and then it was up before the crack of dawn to go to the 44th Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.   I have one word to describe that morning.....

  I took the West  side Park & Ride from the Intel parking lot and got to the Balloon Grounds around 4.45 am. It was still pitch dark, but quite a lively small amount of people at that time.  You can see main street in front of the arch there~ where they had all sorts of souvenir and craft booths, as well as food food and more food. I finally learned what Krispy Kreme donuts were...not because I ate one, but because I thought it was coffee for some weird reason and was quickly informed it was not! ha

  The field is a huge huge expanse of grass, laid out in grid form with paved streets in between for the balloonists to find their spots easily. One simply ambles around in and amongst the balloons the entire time they are preparing to take off and land! Its an amazing experience. It was the first time I have been to Fiesta so I was just wandering around in the dark and picked a set of folks to watch~ turns I ended up between two of the most popular special shape balloons there!  As the balloonists arrive they first test their huge burners~ I could feel the heat from them even where I was standing.

 A special treat of going to the Mass Ascension very early in the morning, is to get to see the Dawn Patrol pilots take off in the dark. Not only is it spectacular to see, but this gives the other pilots a reference to see the wind currents, and if the Dawn Patrol gets to take off, usually the rest are good to go for flying that day. The event is strictly regulated and if the winds are above 7 mph or conditions not right, they are not allowed to take off ~for safety of coarse.  I had never seen a hot air balloon at night before

 I had to play with the settings on my camera to try and get a good picture, as I was taking a video in the other hand for the children to see~ it was actually still pitch dark in this picture above. The balloons look like huge twinkling fireflies as they float gently up and around, it really was special to see!

 One of my favorites!
To start the day officially, the Fiesta balloon rises with the American flag as the National Anthem is plays~ a que to get ready, because then things really take off!