Saturday, May 12, 2012

Searching for Petei

Petei's sudden retirement due to health reasons has left shops scrambling to fill open orders and people who collect various Petei series high and dry. I've already seen several cries for help.  If you happen to have one of these missing items, how about helping these folks out?

If you are hunting for a certain Petei canvas to complete a series, where do you look?  The correct answer is EVERYWHERE.  Online shops often only have a select few canvases on their websites, and those that are shown are often out of date with sold items not removed.  But here are places to start, if you remember that there are no guarantees.

Needle Nicely has posted photos of a series of Petei canvases they have in the shop on their blog.  Remember, many of these may have sold since these articles were posted.

UPDATE:  More Petei canvases, including fairies and stockings, from Needle Nicely.

The French Knot in Texas did a lot of Petei Santas with stitch guides over the years.  They may have a Santa or two in stock still.

Bristly Thistle has some Santas as well.  UPDATE:  Bristly Thistle is now completely sold out of their Petei canvases.  Sorry.

OId World Designs also did several series of Petei designs, mostly in the Children of the World set if I remember correctly.  A few may still be lurking in their stockroom although none are pictured on their website.

Needlenook of La Jolla had a dozen Petei canvases on their website last weekend but they have all vanished now.  I don't know if it is a website problem, or if they all sold, but you can always ask.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Silly me, I forgot about Canvases Be Gone.  Use the search box at the upper right to enter "Petei" to see what canvases are available.  If you have Peteis available on your website or in your shop, please let me know either by emailing me at chilly hollowat hot maildot com or by adding a comment below.  Thanks for the reminder, Dale!

Of course eBay is also a good place to hunt, but remember, you are not the only person looking for that last Alice in Wonderland piece.  It is likely that you'll have to pay a higher price than you are used to for a Petei canvas to complete your set.

The best advice I can give you is to check at your local shop first.  They won't be able to order a Petei canvas for you, but if they have some in stock, you may get lucky.  Anyone who can travel should also check each local needlework shop they visit, just in case. Hopefully online shops will continue to highlight any Petei canvases they have so that folks can pick up the few they wanted.

FINAL UPDATE? PFOS lists all their remaining Petei stock.

Good luck to all the Petei fans out there!

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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Peacocks Class

If you happen to be in the Baltimore area next weekend, maybe you can take the Peacocks class that Orna Willis is going to teach at Bedecked and Beaddazzled.  These are stylized peacocks and there is a choice of colors to play with.  Click on the photos to see enlargements so you can take careful note of the background colors and how they highlight the colors of the peacocks.  Orna Willis knows color and pattern and this is going to be a very fun class.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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You Don't See This Every Day

I don't believe I've ever seen a canvas of a House of Ill Repute before!

There are auctions on eBay right now of a Mr. and Mrs. Santa set being sold separately.  They are each naked except for a strategically placed Santa's hat.  If you are interested, search for Patti Mann Santa Claus.  That should turn up both items.

Yes, there is a needlepoint canvas for every taste, even if you are feeling slightly risque this morning.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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The Road to Woodlawn UPDATED

The Fishing Lady in the Back of the Car
UPDATE:  Kate has heard that her Fishing Lady won an Honorable Mention ribbon and also is noted in the program as a "piece of interest" one didn't want to miss at the show.  Isn't that great?!

A while back I got a note from Kate Callahan with the above photograph attached. With her permission I’m going to quote our correspondence.  Kate wrote:

"I am just back from Woodlawn having delivered my 2 entries for the show.  The first is the large floral pillow that was sold as a kit at Williamsburg years ago. I never bought the kit, but found the artist who had done them (there were two). The second is the Fishing Lady  - the photo is of her (in the back of a car) when I received her last night.  I chose to put her in a lightweight temporary frame, without any 'long term wear and tear protection' in order to show her at Woodlawn and then at ANG’s exhibit in Philadelphia this fall.

Stitches were everything (!) in tent/basket weave with the exception of french knots for the wool of the sheep. Then, added some other knots for the flower in the lady's hair and at her neck line, the buttons of her beau's coat. Finally, on top of the tent stitched foundation, I added the overstitching/outline stitching thru out the entire canvas, referencing the two pieces (Eunice & Sarah) I sent you the photos of. That last part took a long time - about a month - the Lady herself and the woman on the left looked particularly dead......where ever there are lines for detail - stitched on will be able to really see that when you see her in person.

The pillow is categorized as a 'commercial, traditional canvas work' piece - all tent/basketweave.  Those receiving the pieces today confirmed that what I put on the entry form was appropriate.

Then they turned the discussion to the Lady....On the entry form, I checked 'collaboration/rendition' as I had nothing to do with the actual painting of the design on the canvas.  I did the research regarding the background and history of the pieces, found examples that had elements I liked (and some I did not like) accumulated that information and told the artist what I wanted - I cannot draw worth squat!  Then over the years, I continued the research, was terrified of the canvas, and finally decided how I wanted to stitch it and what with, all the colors to be used, all the over stitching and those undulating layers of grass.  I told the ladies in charge of accepting Woodlawn exhibit pieces all of that.

Well, my friend, the net result is that The Fishing Lady on Boston Commons has been entered at Woodlawn as original piece of traditional canvas work. (!)

As you have said so many kind things and really gave me encouragement I wanted to share this piece of news with you.  Additionally, I have copied the 'artist's statement' that I provided for the show. Finished design is 18 inches by 36 inches and on 18 count.  I stitched her w/ silk, wool, and silk-wool blends....I also used some Kreinik metallics - necklace, buckles, buttons, cords on John's jacket, fishing line and highlights on the fish.

Stitches were everything (!) in tent/basket weave with the exception of french knots for the wool of the sheep.  Then, added some other knots for the flower in the Lady's hair and at her neck line, the buttons of her beau's coat.  Finally, on top of the tent stitched foundation, I added the overstitching/outline stitching thru out the entire canvas, referencing the two pieces (Eunice and Sarah) I sent you the photos of.  That last part took a long time - about a month - the Lady herself and the woman on the left looked particularly dead......where ever there are lines for detail - stitched on will be able to really see that when you see her in person."

The Fishing Lady's Official Portrait

Artist Statement for The Fishing Lady on Boston Commons
(Custom painted by Ann Cram at the request and direction of Kate Callahan)

This piece drew inspiration from the linen canvas patterns drawn by Mrs. Susanna Condy, a widowed Scottish immigrant turned school mistress in Colonial Boston. Adolescent daughters of prominent families with connections to Boston attended Mrs. Condy’s school where they worked stylistically related chimney pieces (so named because they were meant to be hung above a fireplace) circa 1738-1760. Thirty-six examples of these tent stitch pictures in various sizes survive and can be found in such collections as The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (Eunice Bourne, ca. 1753) and at Winterthur (Sarah Warren, ca. 1740).

Thematically, these pictures rest firmly in the tradition of English courting scenes which by the mid-18th Century made frequent reference to the pastoral ideals of the Georgian era.  The principal design elements of the Boston chimney pieces include courting couples shown in dominant scale set amidst a splendor of flora, fauna and elegant New England homes, all of which are superimposed upon a rolling terrain incorporating idealized portrayals of country life.

In fact, most of these elements pre-date Mrs. Condy’s finishing school by up to a century and borrow heavily from French and English engravings that were popularly known.  Certain elements, however, relate directly to Colonial Boston.  The Boston elements draw reference to the richest man in New England, John Hancock, shown lower left on horseback, perhaps the greatest catch of the day, and the Fishing Lady herself, sitting demurely on the Commons at the center of the piece, with her own catch securely hooked.

The inspiration for this piece sprang from a visit to the climate controlled vaults holding the textile collection at Winterthur.  My husband stood in front of the piece signed by Sarah Warren in 1740, and said, “Make me one of these.”

My chimney piece hangs before you.  The various elements of its design would all be familiar to Susanna Condy and draw details from several of the canvases completed by her pupils, each unique from another.  This piece is in turn unique in its composition and my stitches a tribute to Mrs. Condy’s efforts towards female education in America.

In the book The Age of Homespun (Alfred A. Knopf, 2001), Laurel Thatcher Ulrich relates
‘...yet for all its deficiencies, female education nourished sensibilities ignored in the classical education offered to elite males’...[young girls were taught little more than embroidery, a bit of French and some drawing]…and in stark contrast, a comparison of Eunice Bourne and her brother William…’William graduated from Harvard College in 1743; Eunice attended an unknown Boston school and learned to embroider.  His name and works are long forgotten; hers hang in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.’


Fishing Lady Sources

After reading the above, I asked Kate several questions.  Here are her answers which clarified some of the above for me since I am no expert on 18th Century American needlework.

"I thought you might enjoy seeing this 'screen shot' that I put together. The new photo includes the two main pieces I used as reference photographs - Eunice Bourne is on the top (that photo was from the web) and Sarah Warren is on the bottom (that photo is from a photo copy from a book I have).  I also accumulated several articles from the web and one copy of an article found in a 1923 edition of Antiques Magazine.  Do not forget that once I had her painted in 1987, I became terrified of her! (I was only 30 after all....! started her 13 year later and put her away for another 10 years when my mother died).

I kept referring to Eunice and Sarah's pieces to try to get the 'feel' of my Lady correct - dare we say 'perfect'?

As regards my color choices....for a while I was very concerned that mine was coming out too vibrant.  Well, when we bought our house in Virginia a couple of years ago, my husband began his adventure of furnishing the place.  He is my interior decorator and was determined to furnish this house (brick Georgian, based on Gunston Hall) with the appropriate antiques and reproductions.  One of my Christmas presents that year (given to me well before Thanksgiving because he was too excited to wait) was an English fire screen (stand and all) of the same period - the subject, an urn of flowers with the requisite bugs, squirrel, etc. on a linen canvas.  Up close and personal, there are a few thread bare spots in the piece and the colors have indeed faded - it is a couple of hundred years old after all.....Now comes the best part, particularly for those of us into traditional, historical, needlework - there is no backing on the screen - nothing covering the reverse side of the stitching. It had to have been there and taken off at some point because the colors the screen was originally stitched in have not faded.  They are vibrant and beautiful.  The colors I had begun stitching my Lady with were not off at all!  Nothing like some positive reinforcement - particularly when trying to recreate the feel of a historic piece - confirming that my 'gut' choices that I began this endeavor with were correct!

It was good that so much time passed before I really got 'into' the project though. All of my 'fiber artist' skills were being honed during that time and much more scholarly information became available from all sources.  In addition, my knowledge and appreciation for the significance of these pieces in art, history and society, sky rocketed.  That is the reason I included that last paragraph in my artist statement - validation for all needlewomen of the ages.....particularly those of us who had halfway decent brains but chose to give up careers to raise the kids vs running a company or corp/having a career.   The stigma of being 'just a mom' was very hard - that William went to Harvard and all but disappeared but Eunice is in the MoFA Boston after attending an unknown school is a my polite way of saying 'so there' to all of the condescending folk I've encountered over the years.  Okay off my soap box :)

As you can see.....this was quite a journey.  Our older son asked 'what is the next BIG thing mom?' to which I responded ' I'm not certain there is another one of these in me....!'  His response - 'That's ok mom.....I think this piece is an acceptable Everest for one's lifetime!'

I would not mind at all if you did an article for the Blog or the Needlepoint Group Facebook page.  I am very curious/anxious to hear what other stitchers out there think of her.   I do not know of anyone else who was crazy enough to attempt something like this. Technically, there are not a lot of stitches (tent, French knots, overstitched details) so for some stitchers she would appear to be rather boring (no beads, wild stitches ribbons, etc. as they were not used back then - like my husband, I am a purist). But the history of this genre of stitching, the schools, teachers, social customs of the times,  Colonial New England, the attempt to re-create a 'work of art' as would have been inventoried in a will 270 years ago - all of that kept my mind thoroughly engaged.  And the end result is, to me, something that is just charming and pleasant to look at.  Most people who see her leave with a happy countenance and the comment that they have learned something new about our nation's history or needlework that they did not know before meeting her.  I cannot ask for much more than that."

Woodlawn Plantation’s needlework exhibit opens today. I have heard there are around 600 pieces to enjoy, each with its own story. Perhaps it won’t be as elaborate and as long a story as the Fishing Lady’s but there is a story nevertheless. I hope many of Blog’s readers get to participate in the conversation with the pieces and their stitchers that the exhibit provides. If not, Kate’s tale of the Fishing Lady will have to do.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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