Too far behind!

I’ve been terrible about posting on this blog lately. Since my last post so much has happened that I’m not going to bother trying to write it all down. A few major projects I’ve completed are: another factory-scape wall-hanging, a couple of tablet-woven straps (with lettering!) and some twill replicas (the last three all for Arts & Archery).

I’m going to try and keep up with this again – I realized that I’ve missed blogging!

Back to School

Well, the title says it all, really. Tomorrow I begin my 2-3 year journey to art conservation school. “2 or 3 years??” you might be asking. Here’s the story:

In the USA there are 3 schools (that are worth it) that offer art conservation masters programs that include a focus on textiles. They are the University of Delaware at Winterthur, NYU and Buffalo State College. Though art conservation is not a particularly competitive field, getting into these programs is extremely difficult. Each of these schools typically accept 8 – 10 new students each year for the art conservation masters program. (Don’t ask me how many apply because I don’t know. Hundreds, I suspect.)

These schools also have long lists of admisions requirements.  I have compiled a list of the classes I need to take to make sure I meet the requirements of all 3 schools:

Math (prerequisite for chem.)

Chemistry (1 year)

Organic Chemistry (1 year)

French (reading proficiency, NYU)

German (reading proficiency, NYU)

Art History (lots more)


Costume/Fashion history



As you can see, this is a lot of coursework. Probably about 3 years worth. It’s possible I could do it in 2 if I took a full load and took summer classes, but I hope to be doing awesome internships during the summers. (More on that when they come to fruition.)

I’m starting off this “pre-program” program with Algebra and French. French should be interesting since I have had no luck to date pronouncing french words. Wish me luck with both!

My Word Cloud Says…

New Factory Pictures

On my way home from work yesterday I (finally) stopped and took some pictures. I have an amazing view of these factories every time I drive by, though I need to revisit the spot with my telephoto zoom lens and a tripod.

But here are the first few, unaltered and no captions.


The Finished Saddle Mount

I recently uploaded some pictures from my camera, and I realized I hadn’t posted about the final steps of the saddle mount I was making.

After the Ethafoam support had been covered with quilting batting, I draped a pattern out of muslin so when I covered it with the flannel it would fit very snug and hold everything in it’s place. After the flannel, I used the pattern to make another piece out of dark brown velvet that would cover it all and look nice. I had to make sure all my seams were either not visible or if they were to be seen that they were very neatly stitched.

So, I was going to post those pictures that spurred the idea of this rant, but WordPress has decided not to do that today (and I even logged out, waited 2 hours and tried again). Perhaps I’ll edit this again whenever they fix whatever’s broken.

I guess I’ll just make it a Friday post (assuming it works tomorrow), since it’s well after midnight now…

Edit – 5/10/2008

Looks like I can upload pictures again. Yay! Here are the saddle mount pictures:

Pinning the velvet in place. Lots of pins…

Saddle with velvet

The finished saddle mount:

Saddle Mount 2

Factory Project

I’ve had this fascination with factories for quite a while now. To me, they’re beautiful landscapes.

Last year I finally decided to realize one of my ideas. I took my digital camera and headed out to the oil refinery near grandma & grandpa “B”‘s house. I took about 3 dozen pictures before security came and told me to knock it off. (See my flickr page for some of these pictures.)

I thought it would be a really neat project to try and weave one of these pictures, so I picked one and ordered some yarn…

This is the picture I used:


And now, many months later, I have finally finished weaving my textile rendition:

factory weaving

I tweaked the coloring in Photoshop a bit before I chose colors…

Anyway, that’s a tape measure at the bottom, for a size reference. The “picture” area of the piece is about 45″x29″ – pretty close to plan! Now I’ve got to build a strainer (like a frame) to mount it on, stretch some burgundy fabric and stitch it down!

I plan to hang it on the wall for a while and then figure out how/when to sell it. Another benefit to this being done is that now I can start talking to a friend of mine about purchasing this loom I’ve freed up… :)

Couching and Carving

Lately I’ve been working both ends of the textile conservation “spectrum”. I’ve been doing fairly fine couching, and I’ve been hacking a huge form out of Ethafaom.

First, the couching.

Recently I worked on some Chinese silk robes. These robes are covered in elaborate designs featuring dragons, clouds, flowers, geometric shapes and so on. The decorative threads were couched originally, so one of the goals was to match the threads and spacing so that the recent couching was as similar to the original as possible.

Below, a small section of loose threads.

Loose Threads

Note: the straight pins I’m using on these robes are insect pins (size 0 & 00).

Next, the same area, after couching.

Couched Threads

The most challenging part of this is making sure to not catch the robe lining when stitching. This could cause damage to the garment, plus the weight of the lining could rip out the new couching.

This was my first couching on the robes. I’m a little dissatisfied with the spacing of my stitches. I think they could be more evenly placed – more like the original stitches. (Though this will undoubtedly never be noticed by anyone else!)

I have many more pictures from this project on my Flickr page (see right).

The other big project I’ve been working on lately is a mount for a saddle. The saddle is very old and needs to be supported in all areas to prevent further damage, so the mount is rather large. It is perhaps bulkier than absolutely necessary, but this was done to insure that the saddle could rest on this mount without a stand and not fall over.

I started by building the basic form out of 2″ sheets of Ethafoam. This was very hard on my hands as I kept accidentally cutting my fingers with the blade that was easily dulled by the foam. Even though I had taken careful measurements, I found that I had to constantly add/subtract foam to get the mount to fit the saddle correctly. (There are several pictures of the building process on my Flickr page).

Eventually, I ended up with this basic form:

Mount 1

There was still more refining after this: the back pointy end was shortened, the “legs” were shortened by 1.5″, and the “dorsal fin” and all the corners and edges were smoothed and rounded.

The saddle will rest on this form, which will sit on a saddle stand according to the owner’s preference. Since saddle stands vary widely in shape and size, I decided to leave the inside space of the mount rectangular and a custom stand will be built to these dimensions.

Next I added batting to provide extra cushioning to the object. I piled a little extra on the top proper right side to make the saddle “lean” a little to the proper left, since the leg flap on that side had been damaged and hardened into a different shape. This way it would force the flap to rest on the padding.

The batting was basted into place so it wouldn’t shift while I covered the mount in flannel. The flannel, unlike the batting, wraps around the entire mount.

Mount 2

Mount 3

Left: Fitting the flannel. Right: Front view with flannel sewn.

Next I had to figure out a “pattern” for the outer (decorative) cloth. I decided to drape the form with muslin and ended up with 3 pattern pieces. I wanted to have the fewest seams possible, and make sure they wouldn’t show when the piece was displayed.

Mount 4Draping

Left: Close-up of draping underside of mount. Right: Me placing fine-tuning the placement of the seams.

Currently I am working on the outer layer: a dark brown velveteen. I machine-stitched the “front” seam, except for the top point. This area didn’t come out tight enough in the practice muslin, so I decided to it by hand. Except for a small curve at the “tail”, all the rest of the seams will be hand-stitched. I have aggressively pinned the velveteen so that all the pieces are placed exactly how they will end up after stitching. I hope to finish the mount tomorrow, and perhaps I will post the finished result soon!