Archive | June 2015

Finally joined Thistle Threads Casket Class

I wrote this post some time ago, and just today, found I did not publish it.  So, after a long delay, hope you enjoy reading it.

After considering making this class choice for a few years, I started the Casket class, Part One this past month.  So far, I’ve accessed the reading material and will soon be receiving the first shipment of threads and fabrics.  Tricia Nguyen warns us there will be approximately 900 pages in her materials and having only read Lesson 1 so far, I am quite intrigued.  She gives a lot of information on historical 17th c. caskets, the people, the designs and materials.  I am fascinated and can’t wait to begin.

Stumpwork panel with a central oval cartouche depicting a young lady gathering a posy

The same day I sent off my deposit money, I suddenly discovered that I knew what the subject of my casket would be.  As most of my desiging ideas come to me in strange or inconvenient places, i.e. the shower or before bedtime, this idea occurred to me about 1 a.m. as I was trying to fall asleep.  Sleep wasn’t happening because my mind kept racing and finally gave up the pretense of sleeping at 4 a.m. and went to the computer and wrote all my ideas down.  Although I was tired the next day, it was a relief to have the design aspect out of the way.

Since these caskets were only being done in Great Britain during the 2nd half of the 17th century, popular subjects for the designs were the two British monarchs Charles I and II and their wives.  Many caskets were done with religious subjects but I don’t have much of an interest or knowledge of these subjects, but do love historical monarchies, and I have no idea why I am so attracted to this subject, but there it is.

As some of my readers know, I have collected dolls houses and miniatures for the past 40 years and am, this very week, auctioning my miniature collection in Chicago at   The preview commenced today and the auction will take place this Wednesday and Thursday, July 23 & 24th.

One of my favorite dolls houses has been what I called Leicester House, a 16th c. English Manor House modeled after three Stately Homes in England.  My favorite monarch has always been Queen Elizabeth I and she and her courtiers will be the subject of my casket, partly in honor of the Queen and partly in honor of my Elizabethan interests and dolls house.

After the auction madness is over, I will start on the casket project and will possibly do a stumpwork mirror as well in the 17th c. style using either Charles I or Charles II and a more typical item from that era.




Picture of a 17th c. Grotto from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Love this picture of a 17th c. grotto with fish jumping out of the water.


I laid awake one night thinking of driving to Sanibel Island on the other side of Florida…West Coast, near Naples to beachcomb and find tiny seashells, which I hear abound there.  Hmmm, luckily I thought about it again and was able to finally fall asleep as I realized I have a local shell shop in the town of Lantana, which is about 10 miles due east of my home.  Smarter option!  A few days later, I found myself near the shore one afternoon and stopped in to see what they had in tiny shells.  Seems they had a lot, so I bought a 99¢ plastic bag of tiny shells, much cheaper, easier and smarter choice.  The proprietor mentioned another customer had been to Sanibel Island, and for some reason, there were no tiny shells there this season.  Can you imagine driving over 100 miles to find out they weren’t on the shore?   I’ll have to see if I can find my old tiny drill to make holes in each shell I want to use.

Now I am fairly done with putting findings, threads, fabrics for my projects in a few plastic drawers right opposite my sofa where I like to do my stitching.  My storage “system” isn’t very elaborate or perfect, but it will be convenient.  I found out about a bead show the weekend of June 26th in Pompano, FL and plan to go to see more yummies. I will first go through my current stash and glue samples of these beads to a card so I can take with me and not duplicate at the show.  I find if I liked it once, I will like the same one again and keep buying it, so I’ve learned to make sample cards. I discovered this with my miniature collecting, I would carry sample cards of wallpaper, paint, fabrics, etc. so I could match and not duplicate my mini stash.




Stitching / Stumpwork to start soon


As a great procrastinator, I have spent the last several months finding, organizing and creating storage areas for my stumpwork projects. Silk threads, silk fabrics, beads, odds, ends and notions now have their place in my plastic drawers.

I have a small trinket box from Tricia Wilson Nguyen’s Cabinet of Curiousities class that I learned to make a base cover with laid paper and then cover with coral silk, ready to have the embroidered top layer.  Think that will be a practice piece with a 17th c. castle on top, small animals and flowers on the sides and back panels to represent 17th century England.

Also found a small stylized wooden mirror surround, about 5″ x 7″ that will have a nautical motif, likely with upright seahorses on either side panel, a grotto with mermaid on the bottom and perhaps a ship, fully rigged on the top panel, with various sea creatures “floating” around.

I am a master creator in my mind, to get these things down on fabric is another story.  But, oh, how I love to design/create.  Keeps me up for hours at night, just seeing it all in my mind.

I have designed and drawn the large mirror surround I plan to do and was going to jump into that first as I am wont to do, but think caution is the right thing, and I will first work these smaller wooden pieces.

While searching through my stash of goodies, I found a packet of four wooden “Split Wren Eggs” that I bought at the craft store, Michaels, years ago with no particular use in mind.  They have stayed in my mind for all these years because I believe they are the right size to use for the base of a human head on the casket or mirror surround.  I couldn’t find them all this time, but am pleased to say I did find the packet.  Once I knew the proper name, I was able to Google it as the company that carried them no longer seems to be in business and Michaels definitely doesn’t have them.  Now that I found them online, I ordered them and should have a good size lot within the week.  They measure 7/8″ long and are under 1/2″ in depth.  Now the problem is, will I be able to carve a little, tiny piece of wood for a nose without cutting my fingers.  I am not very accurate with a carving knife, but will try it.

Next, I will need “Sleeven Silk” which is what was used to cover the wooden forms before decorating.  I think acrylic paint or oil paint might be useful for this, but I will try that out.  Not sure if Sleeven Silk is even made today but will try with what I have available.  This is indeed a question for Tricia Nguyen.  Included are some drawings for my large mirror surround.