As we are entering week six of the lock-down here in Bavaria, we can look forward to some restrictions being lifted a little in the near future. But we are a long way off normality. And I am not sure we will or want to go back exactly to how things were six weeks ago. For my part: I love the clear blue skies, the fresher air and the lower levels of noise. I really enjoy seeing and hearing more wild-life on our daily walks. But as a small business owner, I can't help but be worried. Will my business survive the storm? Will the small family businesses I order my embroidery supplies from, survive? Will my customers still have disposable income to spend on my products? That's why I decided to write a blog post on all the big and small things you can do to help small businesses during this pandemic and beyond!
As we cannot gather, find other ways to stay in touch with your favourite small businesses. If your favourite small businesses offer digital newsletters: sign up to them! This is a great way to stay up to date with what is going on. These newsletters can be opened and enjoyed when you want to! This is a great way to support small businesses for free. If you are not a subscriber yet, please follow this link to subscribe to my weekly newsletter.
Many small businesses have used the past few weeks to come up with new-to-them digital ways of staying connected with their community. I've started a FlossTube channel for which I make short videos on my medieval embroidery. This is my latest video on my last finish. Please subscribe to my channel, like my videos and leave comments. The Vimeo algorithm loves popular videos/channels and the more social interaction, the wider the reach, the more potential customers I can serve! Thank you very much for your support!
But, and I won't lie, it comes all down to this: buy from us regularly. As international parcel service is severely disrupted, please buy smaller items such as threads, my petite needlepoint kits, most goldwork supplies, fabric and needles and which can easily be put in a padded envelope. Yes, they take longer to reach you, but let's face it: most of us aren't going anywhere soon :). And most small creative businesses have a variety of digital downloads for purchase as well! These don't require any shipping as you can instantly download the PDF. Please browse my collection of embroidery patterns (goldwork, stupwork, crewelwork and Schwalm whitework) or my eBooks on 17th-century silk embroidery from Tyrol and my latest one on the long-armed cross-stitch. Every purchase is very much valued and the survival of my business depends on it now that I can't teach embroidery!
And last, but not least: your support has a knock-on effect. Small business owners tend to shop with small businesses themselves! Not only do I mainly sell products from small family businesses, but when I shop for groceries, household items or clothing, I am almost only buying from independent small businesses. The only exception: cat food and cat litter. When we tried to use an organic brand from our local organic store, Timmie and Sammie were sure we were trying to not so subtly kill them :). Above you see my latest purchase: a hand broom made from wood and horsehair by the last surviving authentic brush/broom binder in Germany. I've been purchasing high-quality brooms and brushes from Volker Kees for years. He is a travelling craftsman and we usually meet at open-air fairs here in the South of Bavaria. He has no website, but can be contacted by email. As I was pretty sure that he struggles to sell his products now that all fairs have been cancelled, I sent him an email and a couple of days later this functional beauty arrived.
Supporting small businesses is something I have been firmly integrating into my life over the past few years. If you did not already do so: please take this pandemic as an excuse to start doing the same. You'll be surprised at how much impact your purchases have!
Goldwork on vestments form the 19th and 20th centuries in particular often incorporates shapes made out of gilt foil. The most common ones are the domes representing grapes or the seals on the book with the seven seals (see picture below). Another common shape is that of a grain which was used to make up a wheatear. It isn't often that you find these pieces for sale nowadays, so I am really pleased that I am now able to offer you a wide selection of these shapes in my webshop! They range from the classic shapes to very finely worked flowers and stars. But first, let's explore their historical uses a little bit with some beautiful ecclesiastical embroidery.
This picture was taken at the 'Goud, zilver & zijde' exhibition in 2011 in Deurne, the Netherlands. It shows a detail of a chasuble by Leo Peters made between 1910-1915. The scene shows the Lamb of God on the book of seven seals of the Apocalypse as described in Revelation. The domed shapes used as seals clearly show the tiny holes in the rim whit which the shapes are attached. Interestingly, the shapes come without holes. They are punched as required by the embroiderer. I use a sharp, sturdy needle and a thimble with a metal piece to punch these holes in. I usually lay the foil to be punched on a large eraser. Working carefully and slowly is key!
And here is a red chasuble (late 18th-early 19th century) from the Church Museum in Vilnius, Lithuania, sporting a bunch of grapes. The bunch of grapes is made up of domes of different sizes. The domes are stitched to a piece of gold-coloured fabric before being appliqued onto the chasuble. Each dome is surrounded by fine purl.
And here is an example of the wheatears from a banner from the 'Onze Lieve Vrouw Parochie' in Arnhem, the Netherlands which I photographed in 2011. Holes were punched into the tips of each shape and then attached. The outer holes also have a tiny little piece of purl stitched into them to represent the spikes.
And here is another lovely example of both the grapes and the wheatears. This is also from a banner photographed in the Walburgis in Arnhem in 2011.
If you are thinking of stitching your own bunch of grapes or even a book with seven seals, there are now four different sizes of domes/grapes available from my webshop.
And I can also help with wheatears :)! From the simple to the exotic.
But I like the flowers best! Think of all the possibilities. And those of you not adverse to a dab of glue every now and then can get very creative with even the tinier ones. Just make sure you test your glue first with your chosen fabric.
Which ones will you choose? Christmas gifts to self are allowed :).
This week I am having fun passing on my silk-shading skills to two very willing students: Mari-jan from the Netherlands and Pauline from two villages down the road. Very enjoyable indeed. If you would like to learn a new embroidery skill in a friendly atmoshpere: next year's dates can be found in the 'learn' section of this website. You can choose from silk-shading, stumpwork, surface embroidery, goldwork, blackwork and canvaswork. These classes take place in my studio here in Bad Bayersoien, Germany. The village where I live provides ample affordable accommodation. Most hosts will pick you up from the train station in the next village down the road. As I put lunch on the table every course day, you probably don't need to go out for dinner at night. However, if you want to, there are several good restaurants in Bad Bayersoien. We also have a well-stocked village shop with a large section of fresh produce and a great bakery. You are not going to starve :). Just let me know if you need some suggestions on how to get here and/or where to stay!
New in the shop are two beautiful 100% linen fabrics manufactured by Zweigart. I already stocked 40 ct Newcastle and 35 ct Edinburgh. These are now joined by 46 ct Bergen and 56 ct Kingston. Both available in their unbleached natural colour.
And last but not least: I received a picture of this beautiful finished goldwork project started earlier this year during the goldwork course by Olga. I think she did a stunning job!
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