We went to Vienna last week. And although we did a few of the touristy type things, I was especially keen on visiting the passementerie factory of M. Maurer founded in 1863 and suppliers to the Emperor's court (that's Sissi to you and me).
Only a few minutes on foot away from the main shopping street Mariahilfer Straße, lies a quiet road called the Kandlgasse. Through a green courtyard you enter a lovely hallway with many period features. Machines are humming while you climb to the first floor shop area.
The room is filled with braid trimmings, beads, ribbons, cuffs, tassels and uniform accessories. Nice old-fashioned pattern boards with different styles of machine embroidered lettering, badges and medal ribbons are also on display. However, no gold threads in sight. Luckily, the nice lady fetches some sample boards for me. And then I am a little confused...
Not only do they call the different threads different names to what I am used too. After all, that's to be expected given that I usually shop for gold threads in England and this is Austria. No, they even number them differently! Smooth purl #8 thus becomes Boullion glatt/glanz #11 fein. Since I didn't bring a sample, I had to pick my threads by eye. Mental note to self: do make an old fashioned sample card of the threads you have and defend it with your life. Or rather: bring it with you when shopping for gold threads.
The very good news is that Maurer still makes some threads and gold thingies not easily available to us embroiderers! And they are even prepared to custom make threads when you provide them with a sample. How cool is that?
The first thing I absolutely needed to acquire where those little stamped out gold pieces used in some embroideries on church vestments to represent grapes and wheatears. Now Maurer makes many more different shapes, so I will have to return. Such a pity, really. In the meantime, you can lay your hands on the wheat bits and the grapes by visiting my webshop. And don't worry, the dark blob on the grape in the picture above is just my reflection.
I also decided to add gilt plate to my webshop. It comes in different widths starting with 0.6 mm all the way up to 2.0 mm. And I have fancy double whipped plate too. Also available in different widths. Other newbies are some superfine passing thread and couching thread. It is that I still need to do a lot of instruction writing, kit packing and mounting before the show in Osnabrück at the end of September, otherwise I would start playing with these newly acquired beauties straight away!
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A few weeks ago, I visited a most spectacular exhibition at the Catherijne Convent, Utrecht, Netherlands. From their own collection and from the collections of other museums, convents and churches, they had brought together the largest exhibition on medieval paraments I have ever seen. Copes, chasubles and dalmatics were exhibited free standing on a dais so you could have a good look without being hindered by glass. Lighting levels were however still kept modest.
Since only the best was good enough for God, medieval paraments were made of the most expensive fabrics finely embroidered with gold thread and silks. This meant that only the rich could afford to pay for them. One such a lucky bastard (literally: he was the illegitimate son of Philip the Good) was David of Burgundy, bishop of Utrecht from AD 1456-1496. Especially for the exhibition, the golden set of a cope, chasuble and two dalmatics donated by David to the St. Jan church of Utrecht was displayed together again. You couldn't tell that these pieces were more than five centuries old!
And isn't this a delightful example of late mediaval embroidery? The silk embroidery on Christ's face and hair is so expertly done. Unfortunately, the level of lighting was particularly low in this part of the exhibition. This is a detail of a cope shield from AD 1520 depicting the resurrection.
From a completely different quality is the above detail of a late 15th century chasuble. The angel is far less detailed and the gold threads are of a lesser quality. Hence they lost their lustre and became oxidized. After all, not everybody was a rich enough bastard like lucky David.
For those of you who missed the exhibition or simply lived too far away, the exhibition catalogue is a gem. More than 270 pages of embroidery goodness with many detailed photographs and a whole chapter on embroidery techniques by master embroideress Ulrike Mülners. Don't be put off by the fact that the book is in Dutch; the pictures will do the talking. Although I do agree that standard works shouldn't be written in such an obscure language like Dutch. You can order your copy with the publisher. Book plus oversees shipping is just shy of €60 or 69 American Dollars. Not bad at all.
In the coming months, I will show you more pictures of this exquisite exhibition. However, with the show at Osnabrück a mere four weeks away, I am up to my neck into writing tutorials, ordering materials and packing kits. See you next week after a short break in Vienna where my path hopefully crosses more gold threads...
It won't come as a surprise to you, dear reader that I like to stitch. However, there's stitching and stitching. As a professional embroideress who tries hard to make a living, the most of my stitching evolves around you: My dear prospect or recurring costumer. And although I love you all very much, every now and then I like to do a little me-stitching.
Recognize this? Indeed, it is Tanja Berlin's pendant. I loved the idea of turning metal thread embroidery into something wearable. I bought the kit, but didn't like the colours very much. Since I am living in stash heaven that was easily overcome. You see, that's what I often do. Kits are a great way of learning new skills. Even if the design is not exactly your cup of tea. You're bound to learn something from it that can be implemented into future projects. This kit for sure has sparked a lot of ideas! You can buy Tanja's pendant kit from her lovely new Etsy shop.
And you probably recognize this design too. It is Mary Corbet's watermelon gingham embroidery design. Over the years, I have been given so many left-over threads, that is was time to turn at least some of them into a fun piece of embroidery. However, when Mary's blog post came out, there wasn't a scrap of gingham in my stash. As I am living in a beautiful tiny rural village, the fabric shop is 30 km away. And trying to make a living as an embroideress does not exactly pay for a car yet. Health insurance and a modest pension plan are far more important. That left me not so patiently waiting for next day's bus...
The red gingham I bought has 5mm squares. I used two skeins of Anchor #113, three skeins Anchor #225, one skein Anchor 386, three skeins DMC #809, and one skein each of Schürer #20, #2425 and #3093. All perle #5, that is. The brand Schürer no longer exists. Julius Schürer, born 1808, started manufacturing yarn in Augsburg in 1858. The company merged in 1937 with the Zwirn- und Nähfadenfabrik Göggingen. Which merged 20 years later with the Zwirnerei Ackermann. The Ackermann Göggingen AG became the largest European manufacturer of sewing yarn until 1994. The company went bust and the production of yarn was taken over by Amann. In itself a German based global playing yarn manufacturer established 150 years ago.
This gingham embroidery works up nice and quick and leaves you with a pretty useful piece of embroidery. I can see myself stitching hedgehogs on an autumn themed table runner, and snowflakes for a winter one or narcissuses on a spring one. So over to you. What stitching design are you going to make your own in the coming week?
I know, I am a day too early. However, the Dutch government thinks it a lovely idea when its expats travel all the way to Berlin (675 km) to apply for a new passport. So please think of me sitting in a cross country train tonight and have my photograph taken at 8:00h (I'll leave it up to your imagination what I look like after a night with very little sleep...). I will be a very happy bunny again when I'll return at Saulgrub station late on Monday night!
You might mistake the above pictures for a page from an IKEA catalogue. In fact it is my embroidery studio. When we moved here 16 months ago, I set up shop in the original living room of the apartment. The boxes store all my threads: large pink for floss, small pink for perle and the small black and white ones for speciality threads. As my studio is part shop as well, threads for sale are kept in a different place: Langley Threads crewel wool have their own wooden hanging boards made by my lovely husband, House of Embroidery silk ribbons and perle are stored in the blue drawer cabinets, Chinese silks in boxes intended for small screws and what not, whereas all the goldwork threads and spangles are kept in really useful boxes cabinets (a UK brand, do check them out as they have some very clever storage solutions).
As you can see, part of the shelving is still incomplete. I don't know about your part of the world, but here in the South of Germany, it has been really hot in the past few days. So what does one do when it is really hot, yeah you start dismantling shelves... Since the rest of my home looks like more pages from an IKEA catalogue (we have moved so often, it is the only stuff that is easily packed up), I was able to raid them for more shelving :). Alas, as you can see, I need even more. Luckily, IKEA is quite prepared to bring the missing parts to my doorstep in about two weeks' time. Yippee!
As you might have noticed in the pictures above, my studio has two sets of double doors opening onto the balcony. And this is the view from my main balcony: Lake Soier. Now that's a pretty good reason to come to my studio and attend a workshop or course, don't you think? And if you happen to bring your dear husband with you, no worries. Other women seem to park them on the lake side with a fishing rod.
Oh, and this is me in front of 'you-know-what'. We have three of King Ludwig's castles in our back garden. Another fine reason to come to this part of the world. Especially as the castles house a wealth of embroidered soft furnishings. And the interior design of the castles is sure to spark new embroidery ideas.
And this is Timmie the cat. He so much wanted to be in this blog post. Well here you go cyber cat!
So what does your stitching place look like? Where you successful in evicting your partner and/or children from part of the house? Or are you confined to a favourite chair and stitching stand? Do share your stories below!
Wow, what a week it has been! The fox has attracted quite a bit of attention around the globe thanks to Mary Corbet mentioning the project on her website. So here is a very warm welcome to all my new readers. Millie Marotta was also very impressed with the stitched version of her fox. Has anyone else stitched something inspired by Millie's wonderful drawings? If so, do share your story below.
This is the latest kit available from my webshop: Bird Song an introduction to Elizabethan embroidery for the intermediate stitcher. The design uses several different surface stitches and two forms of needle lace along with a little added bling. The piece is almost entirely stitched using the gorgeous hand-dyed perle #8 from House of Embroidery. The background fabric is a pale minty green high quality dupion silk. The kit comes with instructions in either German or English and features over 30 pictures and illustrations.
Also new is this silk ribbon (and stumpwork) beginner's kit: Autumn Bounty. This kit features the equally gorgeous hand-dyed House of Embroidery silk ribbons.
And this is the beginner's surface embroidery kit 'Erica' mentioned in last week's newsletter. A simple, yet stunning design stitched with House of Embroidery perle #12. Both kits feature instructions in German and English. So you are not only learning a new stitching skill, you can also brush up on your languages :).
Please do let me know what you think of these new kits! It is sometimes hard to guess what you, the stitcher client, want. So here is your chance to put me to work. Don't miss it!
Jessica M. Grimm
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