Friday, February 20, 2009
Last week I finished a huge textile replication project for the Biltmore Estate. By huge I mean the time it took - 2 years and 1 1/2 months to complete. The individual pelmets, similar to a valance, are not large 21" x 102" finished but they are very rich in color, materials and detail. A "textile replication" is as exact a copy of the original textile as possible. The original panels are not in good enough condition to rehang when they restore and open the Second Floor Living Hall in 2011. My four pelmets will hand in their stead. The top photo shows the panels being lined and backed at my friend Bernie Rowell's studio. The gold cotton sateen is a wonderful tight woven fabric and necessitated keeping my needle sharp with the sand strawberry. The bottom photo shows a finished pelmet, the darker brown velveteen end panels were probably added to the central embroidered panels when the Vanderbilts had them made into pelmets. The brown velvet hangs on the side of the pelmet frame with the entire embroidery panel spanning across the window and drapes that will hang below. It will be wonderful to see them hanging in their glory once again when the Second Floor Living Hall opens in 2011.
2008 was spent hand embroidering the 4 pelmet panels I am replicated for the Biltmore Estate (see last post). It was a wonderful year spent in a time warp of hand embroidery. Using red and white DMC floss and chain and couching stitches I embroidered the appliqued pieces secuely to the gold sateen backing. I modified a large quilting frame to use as an embroidery frame (middle photo) and it turned out to be exactly the size I needed. The back of the panels (bottom photo) are beautiful with a true sense of the stitches, the many many stitches that cover each 21" x 89" panel. When I embroidered I entered a time warp, living in the 21stC but embroidering at the same age old slow speed that women and men have embroidered for centuries. One can only embroider so fast and even in this century of incredible technology, and living in one of the most "advanced" societies I am embroidering at the same pace with a woman up in the Chilean Andes.
In January 2007, I had the incredible opportunity to undertake a replication project for the Biltmore Estate here in Asheville. It was a wonderful job that challenged me, using all my textile expertise and pushed me to new levels of craftsmanship. I began in Jan. by visiting the Biltmore Estate to do a mylar tracing of an original pelmet panel in their collection. The rest of 2007 was spent using thickened MX dyes to color match cotton sateen and cotton velveteen to the original colors (photo on top), gilding a silk-linen rep weave fabric with 24 kt gold, making pattern and pattern boards, using the color coded pattern pieces to cut the original shapes from the dyed cloth and using an archival adhesive, tacking down them to a gold sateen background cloth (photo on bottom).