Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Wanted: This table cloth in any condition!

Two ladies brought an unworked version of this cloth in to show me at my exhibition at Bundoora. A friend who was with them said at the time she also had one, but hadn't looked at it for ages, and thought hers was also unworked. But when she unearthed it from a bag of cloths, she found it was completely finished. She brought it to my place and allowed me to take some photos. It was produced by Womens Weekly magazine at the time when decimal currency was introduced into Australia (1966). I have never seen this design before - on eBay or any other source online or otherwise, so I don't think there will be many around. I would almost cut off my arm to get one of these cloths for my collection! So if anyone reading this knows where I can find one, please let me know!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Third and final week.

My exhibition closed yesterday (Sunday) with a rush of visitors on Saturday and Sunday who hadn't heard about it until they saw the write up in their local paper (I was in three papers).

The visitors included many ladies who write blogs as well as reading mine, and many of them were members of suburban patchwork groups such as Waverley Patchworkers and North Of The Yarra Quilters. They asked if I would like to give a talk at their meetings, and of course I said yes, I'd love to. Other people representing various community groups asked the same, and I'm happy to do it, as long as I don't have to travel too far!

 The Tea And Talk presentation went over very well, I'm pleased to say. Cara, the Gallery Curator, introduced me, and presented me with two gifts from the Homestead - the history of Bundoora and their own limited edition souvenir tea towel.



The gallery staff said they had glowing reports about my talk afterwards :-) The audience were all women except for one elderly man, who I assumed was the husband of one of the ladies. He came up and shook my hand after the talk, and said it was the best talk he'd seen at the Gallery. I thanked him politely, wondering just how many presentations he'd been to...I was told later he is on the board of directors for the Homestead! High praise indeed!   I was delighted that several women brought some of their old linens to show me and ask how they should care for it.  One lady had a cloth and napkins in a box which she had never opened since it was given to her for a wedding gift 50 years ago.  I suggested that we have a look at it, and she was dismayed to find the napkins were torn where the creases had caused the fabric to disintegrate.  I wasn't surprised because I've seen this before.  I advised her to remove everything from the box, dampen and press them lightly, and store them flat from now on.   She assured me she would!

There is a charming little cafe in the Homestead, and after the talk, the audience is treated to a light afternoon tea in the cafe. I asked the manager if I could put some nice cloths on the tables and she thought that was a nice idea.

The sun was shining right into the window when I was taking these photos, so they aren't very clear, but it gives you an idea of how sweet the cloths looked. I told everyone my linens had come home - they looked so right in the old house.

On Sunday morning just before they opened the doors to the public, Donna (on reception) and Mel (cafe manager) came into the gallery with flowers and a card for me.  They said it had been fun having me there to talk to for the whole time the exhibition was on, because usually the artists hang their pictures and come back weeks later when it's time to take them down.  But the girls said it was great to have me there to chat to people about my linens, and give them helpful advice about theirs.  I was so touched!

The whole experience was something that I will treasure for a long time.  It was the first time I've ever had my collection (well, a small part of it!) on show to the public, apart from when I've taken linens with me to do talks to community groups, and I was overwhelmed with the interest the show generated.  Having people offer me their family linens for my collection is a bitter-sweet event, as I would much rather they stay in the families, but if the younger generation are only going to send their ancestors' hard work to the tip, I'm more than happy to rescue it from that fate.  I think I've made a lot of people go home and have a second look at the contents of their linen cupboard.  I hope so.

The staff are already talking about having me there again, along with some other embroiderers, to demonstrate stitching techniques on Heritage Days at the Homestead.  Looks like I'm in for a busy time in the next year or so!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The second week.

This week has been busy and exciting on several levels.  I've had a steady trickle of visitors, who have written some lovely messages in the Visitors Book as well as generous donations for the Embroiderers Guild.  Two journalists have interviewed me and sent photographers out to take pictures of me with my linens to accompany their write-up.  Of course the editors may choose not to publish either of them, so I just have to wait for the papers to come out  (Weekly Review and the Northcote Leader).

Adam from Leader Newspapers spent a lot of time looking at the linens - more time than what the usual photographer would, as they usually just want to take their pictures and move on.  Finally he came over and told me he used to work for the Semco Embroidery company back in the 1980's after he left school.  Semco was probably the biggest embroidery company in Australia in the first half of the 20th century, but they closed about 1985.  Adam said he was a screen printer, and he explained to me in detail how the designs were stamped onto the linens.  It was absolutely fascinating, and an incredible coincidence that he should be sent to photograph the linens that he used to produce over 30 years ago.  He actually recognised some of them in my exhibition.

My visitors have been from various walks of life.   Many are friends, and members of the Guild who know me.  My hairdresser who works in an aged care facility brought some of her elderly clients, and spread the word among the other residents, so some of them came too.   Other people saw advertising in magazines,  newspapers, and on the Bundoora Homestead website, and there are the local people who live nearby and come to see all the exhibitions at the Homestead.  Today one lady rushed in to tell me that she and her husband are moving to the country next week, and she is trying to get rid of stuff she no longer uses.   She said she had some old linen cloths, and asked if I would like them.  Turned out they live only a block from our home, so I stopped off on the way home tonight to see what she had for me.  I came away with some exquisite cloths, which I will be washing and ironing over the next 24 hours so I can post photos of them onto my other blog.  I also have a car full of 'stuff' that she was going to take to the opshop, but when I said I work there, I offered to save her a trip and put everything in my car so I can drop them off.  She was very pleased with that!

Last week I gave a talk to 17 ladies from the Mt Waverley VIEW club, and they all said how much they enjoyed it.  Next week I am to do a presentation to 35 people who have booked into the Gallery's "Tea And Talk" session which most exhibitors at the Gallery present while their display is on.  I was surprised to learn that my talk was booked out weeks ago and there is a waiting list!  I love talking about my collection - why I collect linens, and how to clean and store them.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Surprise visitors to the Gallery.

The first three days of my exhibition had a steady flow of visitors, and I thought the weekend would be busier, but today (Saturday) was the quietest day I have had so far.  But my visitors were very special.  The first surprise was a lady named Sylvia who is a regular on the opshop blog that I follow, and I knew she also collects linens.  She and her hubby arrived and introduced themselves as soon as they walked in.  The funny thing was, I was expecting another blog friend named Sylvia, and not having met either of them before  (or seen photos) I assumed this lady was my friend!   But she cleared up the misunderstanding when she said she was 'Sylvia from the Op shop blog'.  She had a gift for me - two doilies she'd found at opshops - how sweet is that! One was this gorgeous little budgie doiley with hand crocheted edge, and the other was the same as one of mine on display (Brisbane 1932), but mine is not in good condition, so Sylvia found a better one to replace it! 


An hour or so later, I had a call on my mobile from "the other" Sylvia, who had come down from Sydney with her daughter for the day, just to see my linen exhibition!!   They had done their homework and knew which tram to catch, and where to get off the tram, but the park where Bundoora Homestead is located is quite large, and they headed off in the wrong direction.  Luckily I'd given Sylvia my number in case they got lost, so I jumped in my car and rescued them.  In my excitement at meeting them, I took a wrong turn and ended up in a street behind the homestead, so made a quick U-turn with nearly disastrous results.  I hadn't noticed (be truthful Gina - hadn't LOOKED) the Mercedes behind me, but fortunately for both of us, he was alert, and avoided crashing into me.  I felt such a fool and very sorry to have given my friends such a fright, but they assured me there was no harm done, and laughed it off.  Thanks again Sylvia and Susan!

Once back at the homestead gallery, my visitors enjoyed looking at my linens, and I presented Sylvia with some Royalty memorabilia linens that she didn't have in her collection.  In exchange she gave me an unexpected gift - this stunning embroidered apron which I had admired on her blog recently.  I was speechless!!  It is one of the most beautiful aprons I've ever seen, and will have pride of place in my collection.  I can't wait for the next fund raising event we are having for the Guild, where some of my aprons will be modelled by Guild members for an afternoon tea entertainment.  This apron will be first off the rank!


As it was so quiet at the Gallery, I took time off to have a coffee in the cafe with Sylvia and Susan, and we spent a happy half hour chatting about blogging and other interesting topics.

Just before they departed, my third surprise visitor arrived - the MOTH.  He hadn't said anything about dropping in, but it was a lovely sunny day, and he said it was better than moping around the house feeling sorry for himself, so he came over.  He met Sylvia and Susan, and admired my display while I drove them back to the tram stop, then Ken and I went home.  All in all, a very pleasant day.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Preparing for the show.

I had no idea what was involved in putting on a show of any kind, and I am so glad that the responsibility was not with me to decide what to hang, and where to hang it!  I would have probably chosen to plaster as many cloths and aprons as I could fit on to the walls, but the curator at Bundoora Homestead assured me that a good art gallery does not do things like that.  These first four photos are of the gallery bare of display. My linens lay on the trestle table all freshly ironed (you can see the ironing board in the third picture) .  The fourth picture shows the two men who set everything up.  They were very careful with the fabrics, asking me with each item if I was happy with the placement.  They were prepared to use a complex (to me) system of hanging the cloths, but I told them to go ahead and use small tacks - that is how we pin things up at the Guild gallery.



Table cloths, aprons and other large items are pinned on to the walls.

 This is my spot in one corner where I will be sitting for the duration of the show.  I have two UFOs to work on and hope to finish at least one over the next two weeks!






 And the smaller items are safely locked in glass display cabinets.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Starting soon!

I am getting excited!  The exhibition of my  linens opens next Wednesday.  I have been busy working with the Gallery staff, typing labels for each item to be displayed, and notes on cleaning and storing of textiles, to be handed out at the talks I will be presenting.  I'm told both talks have been booked out already, so if you are reading this, and will be present at one of the talks, do come up and introduce yourself!

Not all the linens pictured on this blog will be on display.  The curators came to my home to see what I had, and decided that there was too much to put in their gallery, so I had to cut the number down to about 50 items.  I will be at the exhibition every day, available to talk to people about my collection, and answering any questions. In between chatting to visitors, I'll be sitting at a table stitching on a vintage tablecloth that my mother-in-law started 70 years ago. 

I am hoping that people will bring their own old linens to show me - I love seeing what other people have collected!  I know there are many who do have extensive linen collections, so if you are one of them, please do bring along a couple of your favourite items to share with me :-)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Old Australian stamped linens.

I was recently asked by the secretary of our Embroiderers Guild if I knew anything about Fautley linens.  They'd received an email at the Guild from a lady who was seeking information about Fautleys.  I had heard of them; indeed I have several of their traced linen doilies and aprons, but apart from that I didn't know anything about the company.  I decided to do a bit of investigating, and my first stop was of course Google.  I was rather surprised that there was nothing much at all there except for the Fautley linens that were popping up on eBay!

So I pulled from the shelf my collection of books about vintage textiles and needlecraft.  After looking through a dozen, I finally struck gold in a locally produced soft covered book about vintage Australian brands of textiles.  Not much information, but enough to answer my questions.  T & A Fautley & Sons were makers and suppliers of 'Fautleys Art Needlework' supplies.  They were based in Brunswick here in Melbourne around 1927.  I can't find out when they started business, or when they closed their doors, but at least I know it was an Australian company.

Some other early Australian needlecraft companies around that time were:
Semco - Black Rock, Vic.
Myart (previously known as Myford) Needlework Co., Australia House, Sydney, NSW.
PHC Traced Linen (The Pioneer Handkerchief Co. Ltd), Sydney, NSW.
Cleopatra Art Needlework - Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.
We also had J & P Coats, Anchor, and Clarks, but I suspect they were all imports, like DMC and the others who came along in later years.