How was 2019 for me? A bit of a mixed bag. Early in the year, I finished my Pope Francis gothic goldwork embroidery. He was one of the stars during my first solo-exhibition in Roßhaupten in August and in the exhibition organised by the Society for Embroidered Work in London in November. At the same time, I had to stomach the fact that I cannot be recognised as an artist in Germany since my medium is embroidery. And embroidery is a craft, not an art. Basta! Not deterred, I started my new art-embroidery: "On the shores of St. Nick".
Fortunately, I was able to travel a bit to see some spectacular embroidery up close. First up was my trip to Cheb in the Czech Republic to see the famous beaded Egerer Antependium made in the 14th century. I and my husband also visited the Schwalm Museum to see exquisite whitework embroidery and the Dommuseum in Fulda to see spectacular goldwork embroidery on vestments. And we went to Paris to see life-sized goldwork embroideries from Romania in the Louvre Museum. But my best trip was to Trento in Italy to see a temporary exhibition on Gothic and Renaissance embroidered vestments.
Late 2018, I took the plunge and developed four online embroidery courses: crewel embroidery, goldwork embroidery, Schwalm embroidery and Apenzeller fine whitework. They were never popular. Although the few people who signed up for them were very pleased with the products. Unfortunately, I sold so few, that it didn't even cover the expenses for the video hosting platform. I decided to stop offering them before my contract with the video hosting company was up for renewal.
Six students from Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland came to do a five-day embroidery course at my studio in Bad Bayersoien. Another four joined me for a workshop. We had great fun and some spectacular pieces were produced. They all have plans to return in 2020! For those of you living too far away to join me in my studio, I've started to develop new embroidery kits. Something I definitely want to expand in 2020.
What will 2020 bring? More teaching opportunities. It has proven to be very difficult to get potential students to come to my beautiful corner of the world. Although I have Munich airport within easy reach, accommodation is good and cheap and my teaching fees reasonable, students just don't come. I am therefore very pleased to be able to meet many more new students at the Stratford-upon-Avon retreat by the Crewelwork Company in March and the retreat at the Alpine Experience in September. I will also offer embroidery workshops for children and adults at my local open-air museum "Glentleiten" next year.
And I'll kick-off the New Year with travelling to see and study goldwork embroidery. You'll read all about those adventures in my first blog post of 2020! Happy New Year to you all and thank you for your support in 2019. Much appreciated!
Nope, I had not retired for Christmas. I am very busy stitching a new goldwork teaching sample for one of next year's teaching jobs. The first version was unfortunately rejected. And whilst my whole body is aching from sitting behind my slate frame and computer for too long, I did learn a lot from the experience. In the new year, I will put together a document with lots of questions and options for needlework business owners who approach me with a teaching request. It will hopefully ensure that they know exactly what I can and can not offer. And I will have a far better idea of what it is they are looking for. In the meantime, I have stumbled upon a lovely small needlework and hand-dye business from Hungary: Barbaral Creations.
Many of you know that I am a huge fan of the FiberTalk podcasts and video shows. Being a one-woman-show, it can often feel a bit lonely. Gary, Vonna, Debby and Arlene are my overseas stitching buddies. Listening to them chatting away on needlework topics and the occassional Big Foot story, makes for good working vibes. Lately, they are sponsored by Stitchy Box. This is a thread and needlework goodies subscription service in the US.
Some of you might remember that I took out such a subscription two years ago with Nordic Needle. I loved it! And I was totally bummed when they went out of business. I have been on the lookout for a replacement ever since. However, ordering these things from outside the EU comes with a lot of customs-hassle when you live in Germany. So I started searching for an alternative from the EU.
I found Barbaral Creations on Etsy. Barbara lives in Hungary near the Rumanian border. She dyes threads, ribbons and embroidery fabrics by hand. Now that has my full attention. I am a self- diagnosed thread-addict :). I bought her Stitchers Subscription Box Winter/Christmas edition. Be sure to check out here lovely hand-dyed ribbons, silk threads, perle, stranded cotton, trims and fabrics too!
This Stitchers Box contained a cross-stitch embroidery kit for two heart-shaped ornaments. The fabric, stranded cotton and ribbons in the kit were hand-dyed by Barbara. They are slightly variegated and have a lovely vintage feel to them. The embroidery chart was very straight-forward and even comes with thread conversions for DMC. So when the supplies from the kit are finished (which were plenty, by the way), you can still use the patterns using regular DMC stranded cotton.
The kit also contained: a needle, backing fabric, fusible interfacing and toy stuffing. I ended up swapping out the backing fabric for a piece from my stash which was of the exact same colour as Barbara's red-dyed thread :). And I did not stitch the hand-dyed green rick-rack over the seams of my ornaments. They simply didn't need it and I'd rather save the pretty rick-rack for another project.
The pattern and instructions were straight-forward but do assume that you know your cross-stitch, French knots and basic finishing/sewing skills. It took me about two days to stitch both patterns, haul my sewing machine out and finish them into ornaments just in time for Christmas.
What is rather unique about Barbara's Stitchers Boxes, they contain lovely additions besides the needlework. In this case, the box contained a very fine fruit tea called Balthasar. A small jar of honey to sweeten it. And two wooden decorations: a snowflake and a gingerbread man.
I've asked Barbara if she is going to release more Stitchers Boxes and she has confirmed that she will be doing boxes themed: Christmas, Easter, Summer and Halloween next year. This edition was priced at €21 and postage to Germany was an additional €10,90 (this totals at 35 US Dollars or 27 Pound Sterling). In order to be notified in time when a new box is released, be sure to make her Etsy shop one of your favourites!
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