Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Of Thanksgiving and Jackets

  We had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend, and I hope yours was also pleasant.  The Day was spent with family, overeating and conversing and watching a little football.
  Friday, Phil and I headed down to Winterthur Museum so I could view the With Cunning Needle exhibition which currently includes the Plimoth Jacket.  It's been at least 15 years since I was last there and the place has changed some, but it is still a beautiful estate with awesome gardens.  (Gardens, they call them- 1000 acres of trees, shrubs and water features as well as flowers and grasses.)
   The needlework exhibition was amazing.  The Jacket is set up on a mannequin in a lucite box at the entry of the exhibition rooms. It's possible to get quite close to the fabric.  I've been following the blog and reading some other blogs which discuss the making of the jacket, but even with photos, ...well.  The print medium just does not do this garment justice.  Many of the shapes are stitched with Gilt Sylke Twist, a thread developed for the jacket project.  In photos, this doesn't look very impressive.  It has just a hint of "not thread" to it from the gold metal. Up close and personal, the motifs stitched with this thread have a subtle shimmer of gold that adds depth and richness to the piece.  Bees, pea pods and flower petals are two-dimensional. The pea pods curl open to reveal tiny peas fashioned from spiraled gold thread.  I spent a good ten minutes examining the stitching on this lovely piece before I moved on to other items.
    Included among these were samplers dating back to the mid-17th century, an embroidered linen sailor's suit and duffel bag from the early 1800's,  counterpanes, side curtains, pockets and aprons.  There was a large rug loom set up near a display of wool and linen.  Nearby was a collection of linen garments which included a tiny baby bonnet made entirely of the finest linen I have ever seen.  I swear it must have been 200 threads/inch or finer.  The fabric looked like vellum, it was so sheer and so lacking in visible threads.  There was no embroidery on this cap at all; it was just a simple bonnet with a gathered self ruffle at the brim and fine linen ribbons at the chin.
   I'm hoping that Tricia Wilson Nguyen writes a book about the Plimoth Jacket, covering its inception, design, the interplay with various other crafts and suppliers, and its construction.  Much of this is on the blog, but some of the photos are now missing.

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