There is a Textile Fair happening in the UK on Sunday October 2, 2011. For more information go to the News and Events tab on The Textile Society website.
Winterthur Needlework Conference, With Cunning Needle: Four Centuries of Embroidery is happening October 21 - 22, 2011 in Winterthur, Delaware.
The information for A Gathering of Embroiderers February 15-26, 2012, Williamsburg, Virgina will be up shortly. Check the website from time to time.
The Fries Museum will be launching their new website officially on October 15, 2011. It will contain 444 samplers and they hope to find out more information about similar samplers and the girls who made them.
Lamora Haidar, Access Commodities
We are pleased to announce that we have permission from The Burrell to reproduce the above casket. It will be done as an online class starting late in 2012. It will be worked one panel at a time and there are a total of ten panels. We will only work 2-3 panels a year so this will take a number of years. More information will be posted at a later date.
The following is an interview with Lamora Haidar, co-owner of Access Commodities and the driving force behind some of the fabulous specialty threads we use and will be used in the above casket. We wouldn't be able to do some of the work we do without her. Thank you, Lamora.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and what led you and Isa to start Access Commodities.
In the beginning, as an embroiderer who actively participated in my local EGA and ANG chapters, taking classes opened a new world of techniques and materials to me. As an avid reader of books about historical embroidery, I fantasized about what my work would look like if I had something approximating the real materials. Access Commodities was created about twenty years ago from my desire to acquire more authentically correct threads, fabrics and accessories than I found at the time for purchase.
2. How has the business grown and changed?
People often ask me if business is down because so many needlework stores have closed. When we started, there were many more retailers, particularly those specializing in cross stitch where one could go and purchase a chart, DMC and the fabric for a project and spend under $20.00. Those days are gone and what we have now because of an explosion in education of historical techniques is a sophisticated clientele. Some are willing to spend more on a project because they understand they are getting better materials from Access Commodities. There may be fewer stores in number, but I do not believe that there are less numbers of people stitching these days.
3. Tell us about the development of the specialty threads that you carry.
Trebizond, one of my first specialty threads, was born from all the historical household inventories I was reading at the time as an amateur genealogist. Descriptions of "twisted silk" embroidery, among other things, fueled my desire to find a manufacturer to made this thread which was not available at the time. This was my first introduction into the thread business, where I learned that if you commissioned a manufacturer to make something for you, and to your specifications (instead of using something they already made) you bought the entire run. At the time, I was not interested in re-packaging an existing thread made for knitting. What I wanted was something that performed like an embroidery thread. My research and my own needlework had taught me that if I was having a problem with a thread, it was not my skill level that was inadequate, it was the thread! To put it more succinctly, better materials equals a better experience in stitching and a better end result.
Another thread I am particularly proud of is the Gilt Sylke Twist that was originally made for the Plimoth Jacket. It is such a wondrous glittering thread that makes the silk look like it has been dipped in gold! In order to create this thread and bring it to market, it took a partnership of the designer/teacher, the wholesaler and the manufacturer. I had seen Victorian embroideries with a thread like this back in the early 1990's and filed the idea away as something I would like to try sometime, along with silk-wrapped purls I had seen on 17th century caskets. I could see three big hurdles, the first would be the right kind of silk and second finding a manufacturer/artisan who would understand the technical requirements to re-create it, so that it was actually a thread that could be stitched with. The final one would be the capital to finance it, if we diverted our financial resources to make this. Was this a financial risk worth taking?
But, equally as important would there be an audience for it and would they buy it? No one would tool up and make a small amount of thread for a single project, the R & D costs would make a single spool more than $1,200 +++, especially if a special equipment needed to be designed and built. Bill Barnes, a business colleague who I had met in London the early 1990's at Benton & Johnson, had not only the years of experience as a "thread" man, he had the engineering background to understand what would be required to manufacture something like this. When Tricia Wilson Nguyen contacted me and explained the project of reproducing the jacket, she said it would not be possible if something like the Gilt Sylke Twist (which had not been named yet) could be created. I must confess, every time I hold a spool of this in my hand I marvel at the disparate parts and pieces that came together to make such an incredible thing, which also happens to be an engineering wonder.
4. Where do you see the needlework business going?
You didn't ask me where I would like to see it going. Where it is presently going is now largely influenced by the new technology of the internet which enables one to be in contact with others who have a similar interest. I don't think we have begun to see what impact this will have for the future of the needlework business. I would like to believe that having greater access to product information makes us better consumers. I have also, with my blog tried to introduce to the embroiderer some of the thinking process that goes on with our product offerings.
5. What are you passionate about and what is your personal interest in needlework?
I have been and will always be passionate about textiles, to say this is my life is an understatement. I continue to collect reproductions of period fabric, and spend a great deal of time reading and researching about historical thread manufacturing and thread use. As time passes, I am more and more aware of how lucky and how enriched our lives have become by having access to a dazzling panoply of such fine materials to make our heart's desire, and I worry if it is too much. But then I laugh and remind myself I am the person with over 1,000 different colours of silk thread in my warehouse!
We have a new kit available: Anne Anthony