Saturday, August 18, 2012

Books, Books, Books!

We love our books! Since taking on our new branch of publishing, Julie and I look at books in a whole new way. Before we even really look at the beautiful images and read the interesting text, we have to feel the paper, what is the weight, the finish, and the color?  What kind of cover did they use?  What special touches did they include? What font did they choose? What size book is it? Where was it published? These are things most of you wouldn't think about, but would just know you enjoy this book for more than what is inside.  

We are excited that currently there are several new books on sampler history and research available or becoming available this fall.  We are looking forward to sharing the book we are currently working on with all of you in February 2013!  You are going to enjoy the research Joanne Lukacher has put together on Norfolk Samplers.

Hopefully you have all purchased the new book from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, written by Pamela Parmal, "Women's Work Embroidery in Colonial Boston".  

This book tells the stories of six women and how needlework shaped their lives in colonial Boston.  Those highlighted in this book are names some of us have heard before in the studies of various American needlework histories:  Mary Holingworth English, Mary Turfrey, Mary Fifield Adams, Susanna Hiller Condy, Hannah Otis, and Faith Trumbull Huntington.  It also talks about Boston Samplers and their makers and an area I find fascinating Dye Analysis of the Boston Schoolgirl Embroidered pictures, where they show you the needlework from the front, back and under ultraviolet light. Amazing how technology helps us to learn more and more about the history of these pieces.

We have been teased in several places lately about the upcoming release of the second volume of the Miche├íl and Elizabeth Feller Needlework Collection being published by Jacqueline Holdsworth of Needleprint, due out in September. 

This second volume is said to be the size of two books in one.  I know how beautiful the first volume was, with so many wonderful highlights of the images so you could enjoy the stitches up close and personal. The photography is always so beautiful in Jacqueline's books due in most cases to her special photographer Richard!  If you want to be tempted, see articles in the current Sampler and Antique Needlework Quarterly 

as well as the current edition of Text For The Study of Textile Art, Design and History Volume 39: 2011-2012 The Textile Society. This magazine is produced by the Textile Society in the UK and is well worth membership to receive the wonderful newsletters and publications on various goings on in the textile world.

The other book we are all waiting for this fall is by Dr. Gloria Seaman Allen, who is working on a book about the history of the samplers from the Washington DC area:  "Columbia’s Daughters: Girlhood Embroidery from the District of Columbia".  I know how much we enjoyed her book and exhibit on Maryland samplers, so this too, is sure to be a treat.

Watch for updates from your sampler guilds and favorite needlework shops on how to order these books for your own libraries.  It's so important to support the work of these researchers to keep the thread going and continue to find more and more information about the ladies and their needlework that we all love. 

Lest you think we have nothing on our minds but books, we are busy as little bees in our workshop as well - getting ready to launch some new products for the fall!  Meanwhile - our latest Tokens of Friendship gifts went out about two weeks ago - just a quick tease - 

I won't show an open package just yet, as we don't know that everyone has received theirs yet, and we hate to spoil the surprise for anyone!  We have such a good time designing and making these surprises!  The program has been a great success for us this year, so we will definitely be continuing next year - look for the sign-up in about mid-November!

Happy reading!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Visit to the Foundling Hospital and a Small Pilgrimage

While Becky is on holiday with her family, I'm taking a breather too, so am regaling you with yet another account from my travels to England a few years ago.  This was originally posted in my personal blog.

A quick tube trip to Russel Square brings you within a few blocks of this lovely little museum - and Bloomsbury is such a pleasant neighborhood to walk in. As I came through the door, I found my friend wating for me and off we went to discover the secrets of the Foundling Museum. On the ground floor is a history of the school, and there are many heart-wrenching mementos that the foundling's mothers left with them - just little shiny bits - a pearl button, a gaming chip - some little "treasure"! Those tugged at my heart strings more than anything else, I think! 

In the 1700's, poor children who were not taken in to an institution like the Foundling Hospital or school would most likely be dead before their 5th birthday! Especially those in work houses - they were given dangerous and very unhealthy jobs and were literally worked to death! So when someone like Captain Coram came along he absolutely was saving their lives. 
Hogarth's Gin Lane - a depiction of the harshness of life for the poor.

A look at the school menus seems pretty harsh, and apparently many of the children complained of being hungry, so no doubt the portions were small, but they were nutritious and much better than they'd ever get on their own, so you can only feel happy that the children found themselves in such good circumstances. Only about one third of all children who "applied" to be taken in were, as there were just so many children in need in London at those times. These were the lucky ones!  The children were housed, fed, clothed, cared for and educated - lucky indeed in those days! 

After awhile, it became fashionable to do charitable works, and many people donated works of art and furnishings to the hospital, which wisely kept everything and put the pieces on display, charging admission.  Those pieces are still there, long after the children are gone.  The good works continue, though, as the Thomas Coram Foundation for Children continues to provide help to London's children.  

On the second floor, there is a lot of beautiful artwork displayed (many of the gorgeous pieces were donated to help with the upkeep of the hospital, and the Foundling Museum was London's first public art gallery). Hogarth especially, donated a lot of his works. 

The third floor has a Handel display - here was another benefactor - they even have his last will and testament, which includes his leaving the rights to The Messiah to them - the gift that keeps on giving. According to the guide at the entrance, we missed the concert (first Sunday of every month) by just a few days! 

George Frideric Handel

After lunch, my friend went on to the Tate and other pursuits, and I headed out to find the Kenilworth Hotel. Helene Hanff is one of my favorite authors, and her book "The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street" was largely written there as a journal of her first trip to London! 

Her pure love of all things British shines through in this book, and her affection for the neighborhood in which she found herself was infectious. I decided I wanted to see the exact streets she was writing about, so off I went to find the corner of Great Russell Street and Bloomsbury Street 

Location of the Kenilworth - you can just see Coram's Fields in the upper right corner

(not to be confused with Bloomsbury Place, Bloomsbury Square or Bloomsbury Terrace - all nearby.)

Finally I found it - the genteel, but down-at-the-heels hotel she stayed in is still there, but has been refurbished and is so fine she would never have been able to afford it today!(Helene was a "starving artist" - always made her living as a writer, but never made the kind of money that would allow this kind of luxury.)

Still - I can see the ghost of the place where she stayed and the same streets and outlook.  Had I known how close we were when we went to the British Museum, I'd have dragged Vern along!

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