Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Neues Museum. What can I say?

At first glance this post may seem a bit off, considering the subject of this blog. But actually, it is right in line with the topics otherwise presented here. Craftsmanship. Art. Creativity. So if you have a few minutes to spare, and especially if you are interested in archaeology, I hope you will read what I have to say.

The Neues Museum in Berlin was severely damaged in WW2, but has now been restored and opened to the public. The size of the museum is impressive to say the least, and if you are planning a visit I'd recommend you not to plan on doing much else during that day, since it will definitely take a lot of time to go through. Which is marvellous, yay! A whole day spent around gorgeous archaeological artifacts! *happy dance*

As we walked into this impressive building we were struck by the simple things that makes a visit so much more pleasurable. Like the audio guide which is included in the entrance fee. And like being able to put your coat in a looked after wardrobe for free. So the museum went off to a really good start!

Unfortunately I can't say that the exhibitions were equally impressive. Now don't get me wrong, the items displayed are truly magnificent! So before I get into the problems give me a minute to ramble about the upside of the Neues Museum...The Egyptian section especially contains artifacts that display an astounding degree of craftsmanship. It was truly inspiring, both for me as an archaeologist and as a crafts enthusiast, to see such amazing work! All those faces, of people long gone, created by the hands of craftsmen (or rather, artists!) give me the chills...In a good way, for sure!

Marcus and I also found ourselves fascinated by the different techniques employed by the craftsmen. Neither of us have studied egyptology so our prior knowledge of this specific field is limited, but based on that limited knowledge and our own experiences we just had to play the guessing game. Had it been carved from solid rock? Had it been sculpted from clay? Had it it fact been molded? Marcus especially is very interested in the possibilites of the ancient egyptians molding "rock"... And I think he should post something about it, because I really can't explain the details.

Now, lets talk about Nefertiti. Yeah. Nefertiti. What can I say? Nefertiti. NEFERTITI.

The famous bust of Nefertiti was amazing. Usually when I view great archaeological artifacts I feel an intense happiness, like I feel all warm and fuzzy inside. But when I saw the bust of Nefertiti, I almost cried. Yes, to my own surprise, it really moved me. Both as an artifact and a piece of art. But woah, I really wasn't prepared for that!

Now for the not so uplifting part of this post. If you don't feel like reading negative critique then I suggest you stop here.

The audio guide, which seemed so very handy and great, turned out to be a huge disappointment. After a while I didn't even care about listening. And when I did listen I tended to get a bit upset.

Look at our gorgeous collection! What piece of art this is! Art history this, art history that. Art art art.


This man wrote a book about this. And this. Another man wrote this book. And this man discovered this. And then he discovered this. While writing this. Oh look, here's a great work of art. It was found by this guy, who then gave it to us! Us! Yes, he gave it to us! Aren't we great?

And then there were the instances when I got really irritated. On a wall, there were a whole bunch of scultped faces, all very similar. Very regal. The audio guide enthusiastically talked about how interesting they were, how good the artist was and what they said about style and art history. On the wall right next to them were another collection of faces. They were absolutely breathtaking, all individual, all spectacularly realistic. I felt like I was standing face to face with the real ancient Egyptians! Beeeaaauuutiful!

Then what did the audio guide have to say about them? Of course, the faces were clearly individuals, in contrast to the royal examples on the other wall. Since they were soooo different from the royal artwork the guide concluded that these were much less high standing. In fact, they barely qualifies as art.

Are you kidding me?! Barely qualifies as art?! But hold on, there is more! In contrast to the much appreciated royal artwork, there were "old, ugly and unhappy". I'm not joking, that's what the audio described them as. Old, ugly and unhappy!!!  But Oh My God these were amongst the most beautiful sculptures  I have ever seen! Old, ugly and unhappy?! Are you insane?!

Ok, just breathe...

To summarize... Based on the audio guide and most of the written information the Neues Museum isn't really interested in archaeology, despite being full of such amazing archaeological artifacts. But no, it's all about two things: Art history and the people who discovered the objects on display. No wait, three things: Art history,
the people who discovered the objects on display, and how great the Neues Museum is. In case you had missed it. And oh, I forgot to mention that the actual exhibitions, despite being brand new, appear to have been brought forth from the late 19th century. It was almost embarrassing... Old, ugly and unhappy. Yup, that's a good way of summarizing the Neues Museum. Old, ugly and unhappy.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Medieval underwear from Schloß Lengberg

I just found a reference to a fairly recent archaeological find in Lengberg Castle in Austria, which included a whole bunch of textiles. Have a look at this link, in which it is mentioned that amongst the finds are several "nearly complete linen bras", and one that even has quite a modern look despite most likely having been made already in the 15th century! Now I have been searching for pictures of these bras but I can't find any. If you have any links or other info, please share them with me! I am incredibly curious!

Another interesting link, which I got from a stitch in time, shows a few pictures which are pretty interesting. Check out the panties, also from Lengberg Castle! Perhaps it is actually time to do some medieval underwear, instead of cheating like I have done so far?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Needlebinding with thinner yarn

As you might have noticed, I am rather fond of using really thick yarn when I needlebind. This is for two very obvious reasons: it is considerably faster and the result is fluffier! However, I started out using much thinner yarn, which creates a cloth-like look if worked tightly. Here is a pair of fingerless mittens that I made a couple of years ago (using only hand dyed yarn!). They took way too long to complete but I quite like the result, or what do you think?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Time for Tablet Weaving!

Ok, I admit... the picture of my Ram's horns was just awful. So I figured I could rummage through the cupboards to find a piece and take a new picture for you. And here it is again, my Ram's horns! However, this is the piece that I did NOT choose to sew onto my husbands clothes, and is a bit uneven. 

I am still thinking about using this pattern again, but with different colours... Any suggestions on what would look good? Anyways, I first gotta finish the one shown in the picture below. Once again, it's for one of my darling husband's outfits, a blue-and-red medieval thing made this summer. . Which by the way already has a ribbon made by me, lets see if I can find a picture of it... 

Here is the one I'm working on right now...

And here is the one that I did for the same outfit, last summer... I think the new one is better, or what do you think?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ram's horns

When I looked through blogs I found a gorgeous card weaving in blue, orange and yellow: (http://tabletweaving.blogspot.com/2010/05/rams-horn-2.html)

Now I have already posted an update today and wasn't planning on posting any more today, but seeing that beautiful picture made me wanna show my own ram's horns:

I used linen threads in black, dark red and what in this picture looks like white (when it's really more cream coloured). Never again am I using that thread! It broke constantly and it felt like I spent more time tying together broken ends than actually weaving! *shudders* But I'm still pretty happy with the result... I will have to come back to you with a picture of the finished ribbon, sewn onto one of Marcus' outfits.


When I was a kid I did lots and lots of cross-stitch embroidery. I remember the entire process clearly, from when I sat hunched over my grandmother's embroidery catalogue, dreaming of what I could do, ordering a new pattern and finally getting to start working on it. And (sometimes) eventually finishing it. I think my main problem was that I didn't really know what to do with the finished product, as there was only room for so many framed embroideries on my wall and I really did find regular paintings and posters prettier... Eventually I ordered a pretty white curtain with a printed cross-stitch pattern of roses, thinking that this time I'd actually do something more useful than a framed picture! But as I realized I had no window which matched the size of the curtain my enthusiasm faltered. So I quit, and didn't do any embroidery for years.

But now, the times have changed! Since I became interested in historical handicrafts and clothes I once more found it tempting to start doing embroidery, this time to decorate my Viking and Medieval outfits. The problem was I had no idea how to do anything other than cross-stitches! I attempted to decorate the border of my first Viking Age dress with an improvised back-stitch pattern, with a rather poor result. 

I didn't dare try again until this autumn, when I decided to do some embroidery for my friend's 30th birthday present. As my darling Marcus used the sewing machine to create an apron, a kitchen towel and a kettle-holder, I decorated them with satin stitches (which I had never tried before!). 

The result, which you can see in this rather blurry picture, was ok. Not great, since it became a bit uneven and crooked, but I'm just happy to have done it!

This christmas I have started a new project, and I have an enormous amount of ideas for more... Two friends are getting married this summer and are having a 14th century wedding and me and Marcus are planning to make all new outfits, since 14th century hasn't really been present in our wardrobes so far... And we have made a deal: Marcus will do the general sewing of the garments, and I will decorate them as much as I can with embroidery, ribbons and nice handmade buttons! I have already started with a border for Marcus' collar, using stem stitches, on some scrap pieces of velvet from one of my other medieval dresses.

Once again, it's not great as the stitches are a bit uneven. But I'm improving and hopefully I will not have to be too embarassed about the result. The idea was originally to only do the red pattern and let the grey velvet show in between the lines, but in my infinite wisdom (yeah right!) I drew the pattern with a pen that won't come off and the lines are way too visible. So I will have to fill in the space and cover up the velvet entirely, unfortunately. Anyways, I'll report on the progress as it goes along!

For my next embroidery, which probably will be for my own 14th century dress, I think I will try the Bayeaux style couching, another "new" stitch for me. The only problem is that I've got WAY too many ideas and haven't decided on what to choose... But since the above shown piece takes some time to finish I've definitely got time to decide. But all suggestions are welcome!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Project Sweater

I have an ongoing project which is sloooowly progressing - my needlebound sweater! At first I thought I just wouldn't have the tenacity to finish, since it seemed like such a huge project, but now it's going pretty well and I think it'll be all right.
 This is how much I did the first day, which I felt was ok for a start. Now, after a few months of not working too much on it, the sweater has clearly grown:
The stitch is very simple, running the needle through
1.the two loops to the right of the last loop (on the previous row) from right two left
2. the last two loops, from left to right

I think the result is pretty good, the stitch may be simple but it looks good. Sometimes simple is better!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Needlebound socks for big and small

These grey socks are THE most comfortable socks EVER! As usual, I improvised a for me new stitch and this time it turned out great, or what do you think? The small blue socks are made with the same stitch, but well... they are tiny, made for a baby. Kinda cute, right?

 Interested in trying the stitch? Well, lets see... If I remember correctly it goes something like this:
1. through the stitch directly to the right of your previous loop, from the right
2. through the tiny loop inbetween your previous loop and the one you just went through (it's hidden behind, more horisontal), from above
3. through the stitch before your last loop (to the left), from the right
4 twist the needle and go through your previous loop from the left

Simple enough, right? =)

I find the back prettier than the front side, so I usually turn over the end result. And I should perhaps mention that I generally needle-bind without using my thumb... I find it much more practical! One can do the same stitches either way, though.

Welcome to our site!

Needlebinding. Embroidery. Leatherwork. Card weaving. Sewing historical clothes. The list seems to grow longer for each year. There are so many things to try, so many things to learn! Through this humble blog we wish to share our handicraft adventure with anyone interested, and we hope to get constructive and productive comments and tips from like-minded people!