Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Volunteer, Decision Portrait Series

(Above:  Volunteer, Decision Portrait Series.  Stitched words:  Stitch identification; 4 to 5 hours a week for 31 years at the Henry Art Gallery.  Xylene photo transfer on tea-stained muslin.  25" x 19" unframed; 31" x 25" framed.  Stitches used:  straight, running, couching!  Click on image to enlarge.)

The Decision Portrait Series has been networking itself all over the Internet.  Jo Reimer, a mixed media blogger in Portland, sent information to her friend Pat Albiston in Seattle.  I got the following message from Pat in my "in box":

"I gave my time to the University of Washington Henry Art Gallery for 31 years (4 to 5 hours once a week during the academic year) to work with a committee to identify the stitches in the Henry Gallery's Textile Collection and to standardize the stitch names. The index includes all the stitch names we found cross referenced to the most commonly used name which leads to additional information.  The committee membership varied over the years but I was there for the entire 31 years.   It was a fabulous experience and friendships developed until we were also a support group for each other.  We were allowed to handle all but the most fragile pieces in the collection.  What an opportunity!

The work is now on the internet.  To see our finished project called The Embroidery Stitch Identification Guide, Google Henry Art Gallery Textiles and Costumes, click on Textiles and Costumes, Resources, and Visit Resource.   We also diagrammed stitches which were not found in publications,  Click on Buttonhole and Vandyke Edge (Variation 1) and on (Variation 2) to see a couple of my diagrams.   The site is self explanatory.  Just for fun you could also explore the Collection Search which includes all textiles in the collection.  Most have photos which can be enlarged."

(Above:  Volunteer, Decision Portrait Series.  Detail.  Click on image to enlarge.)

Of course I wanted this important decision!  That's tireless dedication to a most cherished subject!  What a perfect "volunteer" for an embroidery series!  Then I followed the instructions:  I googled the Henry Art Gallery and found the most incredible stitch identification resource.  Don't google yourself....JUST CLICK HERE!  This is what all those hours added up to......an amazing, gloriously photographed, user friendly, extensive, well researched, and wonderfully FREE resource.

 (Above:  Volunteer, Decision Portrait Series.  Detail.  Click on image to enlarge.)

I had to think long and hard about my approach to this piece.  I knew it needed something to embellish the work with handwork.....something with a little age and someone else's stitches.....something to suggest the work Pat did in handling historic and antique textiles.  So, I snipped out fragments of handwork from several, badly damaged, vintage doilies to create a unique border.

I highly recommend that those involved and in love with fabrics and material check out the Henry Art Gallery's website.  Not only is the embroidery stitch identification guide excellent, but the gallery itself boasts a most impressive textile collection including Jack Lenor Larsen's collection of ethic costumes, the James D. and Stephanie Burns' collection of central Asian rugs, the Elizabeth Bayley Willis' collection of Indian textiles, the Blanche Payne and Margaret Hood collection of Eastern European costumes, the Harriet Tidwell weaving collection, and the Thomas and Francis Blakemore collection of Japanese folk textiles. 


Betsey said...

What a great tribute to one of our tireless volunteers. Thanks so much for sharing -- and for your kind words about our new digital resources!

-Betsey Brock
Associate Director for Outreach and Communications, Henry Art Gallery

neki desu said...

wow! thank you so much for sharing.

(btw you've been spammed w. pseudo japanese gibberish)

Grace Willard said...

I had the privilege of meeting this wonderful woman when I was a work study student at the Henry.

The women who worked on this project were very kind and friendly and I enjoyed hearing their stories.

I helped photograph some of the textiles for the DIG Project - a great learning experience!