Introduction to ‘Slip Stitch’04/08/2013
“Don’t just learn the tricks of the trade. Learn the trade”
James Bennis, Author
Welcome to my blog, ‘Slip Stitch’… Since establishing myself as a Master Curtain Maker, as well as becoming the owner of a specialty workroom, my focus has clearly been centered on creating and stitching items by hand, with a needle, thimble, and thread. My daily work is also my lifelong passion. For all of us who love the art of hand stitching, whether we want to have a successful business or be the best at what we do, it stands that we must look backwards, way back,
to the early masters.
In my shop, many new projects bring an opportunity of discovery, a time to seek out and find the workmanship of one of these skillful practitioners. It is not that the new project isn’t already in knowledgeable and capable hands; it is that I am a traditionalist when it comes to this craft. When searching in the right places, an opportunity exists to discover someone has already invented ‘the wheel’ and the information gleaned is still useful and relevant in the 21st century. The actual search is quite exciting and rewarding in itself, but when discovery is made and the preserved workmanship of centuries ago is actually before you, it is heartening. Through this original, archived work, the early master instructs. Imagine a magnificent lace curtain from the 19th century, lying on a piece of archival acid free paper, in one of the world’s greatest museums or private collections, still in one viable piece! When you appreciate hand stitching, like many of us do, you can spend hours looking at every aspect of its fabrication. Where to begin is the question; making detailed notes, taking photographs to support the notes, examining the textiles, measuring stitch length, thread type, and so on, all ending in total admiration of a master, whose workmanship exist to be our mentor and advisor!
What does one do with such discovery? One must seek out the lessons to be learned from the historic workmanship and apply it to our modern day circumstances. Make your own archives in form of a journal. All discovery will find a way into your fabrications in due time. ‘Learning the trade’ takes on many forms, but as for me, I will take my tutelage from the masters of yesteryear. As a show of gratitude and giving back, we can go about our creative lives stitching the most beautiful heirlooms of tomorrow. In this small way, we pass on the lessons of the early masters, as well as the influences of our own distinct path of experiences, practices, and refined skills, to the next generation of crafters.
A sincere invitation is extended to you to join me on my explorations! On the second Monday of each month, there will be a new and exciting opportunity to learn together!
We will also visit modern day ‘masters’, as well. It is amazing how many artisans, right next door or around the world, continue to make their livelihood through the practice of ancient skill sets. And, it is all made by hand!
Won’t you please come along! Our first pilgrimage is to The Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London, England. Hope to see you there!