Wednesday, April 17, 2019

"QUEEN MARY'S GARDEN" © 2019 Continues - BLOCK 3

When Mary Queen of Scots was born in Scotland in 1542, the country was predominantly Catholic.  Being named the next in line to the Scottish throne at the age of 6 days made an already difficult political situation even more uncertain and confusing.

Scotland was trying to stay autonomous, England wanted to consolidate power, France was helpful to Scotland and was an enemy of England, and Spain was on the edges, threatening or supportive as it suited their needs.

Intrigues, alliances large and small, and regional differences in Scotland, England and France made strong, unified states difficult.  The pro-Protestant movement was quietly growing in England and France and Scotland were mostly Catholic.

The flower of our third block is one of the many in this project that is ambiguous.  While the newly-published Herbals of the time offered more accurate depictions of plants and trees, those drawing these on canvas for embroideries were influenced by whimsy and their own skills.

Canvas preparation only provided outlines.  The stitcher would choose colors themselves to match their own whims and desires.  

This makes guessing the name of the flower and their intentions even more difficult to tease out.

I have called these Yellow Bell Flowers for now.

I have to admit that I, too, have taken some liberties with many of my blocks concerning color as compared to the original sampler.  One is my favorite color.  True blue flowers are not as plentiful in nature.  

Turns out that I am making some whimsical choices as well!

Since I am still making blocks and choosing colors, final block placement will have to wait.

Here are the first three!

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

"QUEEN MARY'S GARDEN" © 2019 Continues - BLOCK 2

Hello!  I am like a member of the ferret family..."pop goes the weasel!"  I come to my senses, realize that it has been a long time since the last post, then "POP," here I am!

"What has she been up to??"  I've been learning some important lessons.

1)  I've learned that poison ivy is not just a short, annoying growth around your can be an invasive vine that covers beautiful hardwood trees.  Who knew? And it is just as toxic in the winter when you can't look for the three leaves.  I have been trying to free some beautiful oak trees, so I've been miserably itchy, ugly, and on steroids (not to mention, in a really CRAPPY mood for the duration).  I have been "rough and tough and hard to diaper."

2)  I realized that my annoying double vision has less to do with the quality of the current pair of glasses, but caused by cataracts.  The cataract in one eye took me from -13 to -18 in my right eye in the matter of months. Hopefully there will be surgery between Riley's college graduation and blueberry picking season.

This may have also been messing with my perception of color and my opinion that none of my camera choices take good quilt block pictures.  Hand sewing has been a very tough task due to fuzzy and double vision.

3)  A wet, windy winter has meant a lot of removal of downed limbs and trees.  I'm also coming to the realization that a lot of the maintenance of this sibling-shared legacy property is going to fall to me and my husband, who still works, me.  

4)  Learning to deal with Father-in-law's continuing to decline from Parkinson's in the Philadelphia area.

5)  Coping with changes around doses and kinds of "crazy drugs" - still trying to find the right cocktail for me.  Some dull my creativity, which is unacceptable and frustrating.  What a roller coaster!

I know you all have a similar list, bless you, so let's get down to business with Queen Mary!

This is a little 5 x 8.5 inch booklet I ordered from England after seeing the above picture on the Internet.  The small, pamphlet-like  pages were published in 1984 by Traquair House, which is where the "slip" stitcheries were found and some are displayed.

The best picture, and only one in color, is the cover.  Oh, how I wish more pictures could have been taken, especially close ups!  I have ordered a few really old, falling-apart books on Amazon that have a few of the same pictures, mostly black and white, and a little more of the history.

Margaret Swain, the author of the booklet (now deceased), saw several pieces when touring the historic great house, Traquair, in Scotland.  She loved embroidery and stitchery.  There was interest in these linens as stitchery patterns.  In fact, several slips were charted for needlepoint in the 1970's.  

They may still be for sale through the Traquair House.

Image result for traquair house embroideries

Reproduction of a Traquair House (Scotland) tapestry by Phillipa Turnbull

Here is an antique slip, trimmed, the edges turned under, ready for stitching on a large bedding or apparel piece.

Embroidered Slip (England), 17th century | Objects | Collection of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

The color on this piece is pretty good...probably put away, out of the light, in the early 1600's until it was needed.

I have used an arrow to point out my first block attempt below.  I posted that block last time.  I wasn't sure what kind of fruit the block was meant to be (as they look reddish-orange), but I made mine purple plums.

I chose to make some of my plums with 2 fabrics, hoping to represent some perspective...not sure if I succeeded.

And now, BLOCK 2 - Orange Cosmos

The rows on top and bottom are cut off, so I had to do some guessing to do on this one...

As they are stitched, I have been placing them on the design wall in no particular final setting.  I will trim the blocks so that there is a small strip of blank space between them.  They will not be touching and on top of each other, as in the original utility sampler.

Some of my blocks will have reverse-appliqued leaves, like below.  They can be worked with the centers appliqued "on top," or even as a solid leaf if wished.

I tried to make leaves or stems that were in the background darker than the foreground, again for shadowing and perspective. 

Mary Queen of Scots, did stitch this kind of flower/fruit slip in later years, but mostly as a young lady.  As an older royal, she had a small team of ladies who made the more utilitarian items while she and her smaller circle worked on medallion wall hangings (I will show some of this work soon).

She was quite the clothing and fashion maven.  Most of the info on her that I have found has been inventories of her gowns, clothing, and bed linens. 

She had a smaller, close group of ladies, including Lady Bess of Chadwick.  They traveled with their lady to and from houses and castles while Mary was under house arrest by her cousin Catherine, Queen of England.  

There could only be one Queen, and Scotland was to be ruled by England and the English cousin rather than Mary, who also had claim to the English thrown.

On to the next block!

In stitches, 
Teresa   :o)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

My new project..."QUEEN MARY'S GARDEN" © 2019 - BLOCK 1

Image result

Mary, Queen of Scots was born in Scotland on December 8, 1542.  Her parents were King James V of Scotland and the King's second wife (from France), Marie of Guise.  She is pictured above at age seven.

Of all six of his children, Mary was the only child to outlive him who was legitimate of birth.

At the age of six-days-old, Mary's father, the King, died.  As he had been on his death bed at the time of her birth, he never even saw his new daughter.  Nevertheless, at six days of age, Mary became the Queen of Scotland and the newest ruler from the House of Stuart.  A Reagent would rule in her place until she was older.

Mary was sent to school in France, where she was taught many things including embroidery and other textile arts.  She loved needlework and had quite a talent for the beautiful variety of complicated and expressive stitches.  

She was a lifelong fan of embroidery and would come to lean on her artistic abilities through her life as a kind of coping mechanism, deriving much enjoyment from its employment. what does all this have to do with quilting?

There was quite a bit of detailed, formal...and to my eyes...fussy embroidery done in England at the time.  Oh, it was amazing workmanship, but quite ornate and what my husband would call "crusty."  The elaborate apparel of the royals was adorned with this high quality were furnishings, tapestries, bed curtains, and religious textiles.

(OK...I couldn't help myself.)

The Tudor era was drawing to a close, the Elizabethan era was rising, and the Jacobean era was on the horizon.

OK, again...what does all this have to do with quilting??

It would be very hard and cumbersome to embroider decorative motifs on very large expanses of fabric for large skirts, sleeves, and undergarments.  This was even more of a problem for wall tapestries and coverings, not to mention the elaborate curtains, panels, and valances that provided privacy and warmth for those fancy beds in cold castles and great stone houses.

Motifs were stitched on evenly woven linen, carefully cut out, edges turned under, and appliqued onto the expanses of silk, linen, wool, etc.

YES!!!  It was APPLIQUE!  THAT is what it has to do with quilting in my eyes.

In the early 1500's, the first "Herbals" were being published more broadly.  These were the first serious book collections of plant, flower, and fruit drawings.  The drawings came from woodblocks.

Women had this flora outlined on linen with black ink, the outline was covered with black silk thread stitches, and the stitchers would fill in all the areas with very fine colorful silk and gold/silver thread.

The flower on the left has had the outlines stitched in black except for the bottom right blossom and leaf veins where the lighter ink lines are still visible. 

The flower on the right has been filled with tent stitches.  The black and white photo makes this difficult to see.

It is also hard to see because the piece looks so "busy."  They filled every space with a blossom, bug, or animal, in all orientations. 

As the linen was evenly woven, their simple stitches were meant to fill the design.  They used a "tent" stitch which we would probably call a "half-cross" or "needlepoint" stitch (also "petit-point" if used on finer-gauged linen).

This is better...a Mulberry slip...

In the detail below, I love how there are ink mark mistakes...they will be covered or, most likely, cut away to prepare the motif for turning under and stitching in place.

You can really see the weave and 'quality' of the linen waste cloth.

In the "Herbals," drawings were made from the kind of plant cutting that you would propagate, so they had roots or a cut stem/branch.  Gardeners called these cuttings "slips."  

From the Tudor Pattern Book...

See the "slip" at the bottom of the stem?

A piece of linen would be crammed full of inked pictures.  If the linen was small enough, the stitcher would not be stuck behind a frame to stitch, perhaps.

Very few of these embroidered efforts went unused.  If there were spares, they did not age well.  Some were found that were associated with Mary, Queen of Scots and her small group of ladies...quite beautiful ones that were stored out of sunlight.  It is not known what they were meant for...the number and variety make fancy bed curtains more likely.  Due to the care taken in their storage, they are quite wonderful and can be seen at Traquair House in Scotland.

One piece containing seventy-two bunched up slips is the inspiration for my new project..."QUEEN MARY'S GARDEN."  The four slips pictured above represent only a small is terribly overwhelming to see all seventy-two, touching on all sides...

I have spent numerous hours drafting these blocks!  While trying to maintain their authenticity, I have made a few changes and additions.  

(There are some things that don't transfer well from embroidery to quilting, and vice-versa.)

I have no idea what most of these flowers and fruits were meant to be, but I don't think it really matters.  It is written that they used whatever colors they wanted, not necessarily the color(s) God intended.

Here is BLOCK #1...


I made my medium fruits plums, as some of the fruit drawings could be absolutely anything!

Every time I post a block, I will give a little more history and project details.  I find Mary, Queen of Scots to be fascinating.

And wouldn't you know...a movie came out last weekend about her relationship with Queen Elizabeth 1 of England, her relative.  Do I have good timing, or what?!?

And yes, there will be a pattern available at some point...getting smarter and working on it as I go.   :o)

In stitches,
Teresa   :o)

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The 2018 Houston International Quilt Festival - Part Four

Hi there!  This post of quilts will be the last of the Houston Quilt Show pictures.  They were not in the contest this year, but were parts of several exhibits, of which I missed about 95%.

(Sorry, no label for this fabulous quilt...)


Well, I think that is all of them.  This last post was a little crazy, but so was I as I was tiring and stumbling around, LOL!  It's been fun for me...I really take advantage of all the pictures to really study the quilts at my own pace.  It's too hard to do that during the show sometimes.

In stitches,
Teresa   :o)