Dearly Beloved and I drove back home from Winterthur's "With Cunning Needle" exhibit and symposium yesterday and I'm still trying to take it all in--and there's a lot to take in. I'm going to divide this up into three parts because it's going to be horrendously long anyway.
There are no pictures. I am a nimrod. I forgot the camera.
We divided the trip into two parts so we would have time to actually tour the museum and buy books at the gift shop (they have a phenomenal collection of books on decorative arts and American history, BTW). We arrived fairly early on Thursday, the day before the symposium started so we decided to have lunch at the Garden Cafe to fortify ourselves before the tour. As we were eating, Tricia Wilson Nguyen arrived and joined us.
And this is where I got into trouble.
Because Tricia had some of the goodies that will be offered as part of her Online University class on caskets, specifically 17th century embroidered caskets. And she shared. And I, who had pretty much decided I was going to take the class anyway, was absolutely, totally gobsmacked. It is going to be ever so much more wonderful than I had thought. Even Dearly Beloved, who is pretty blase about all this stuff, having lived with me and my stash for years, was impressed.
(So, as soon as I got back to the hotel, I fired up the computer and reserved my spot. A note: it is tacky to talk about money, but I'm going to anyway. This is, at first glance, a little pricey. However, the payments are spread out over 18 months--an easy payment plan, if you will--the materials are of premium quality, and you're not going to have this type of opportunity come along very often. I used to go to EGA's and ANG's national seminars--the price of the casket class is less than I usually spent on hotel and food, much less considering the cost of transportation, the incidentals that come with traveling, and the seminar costs themselves. I decided it's well worth the investment. )
So, after pulling myself together from the glory that will be the casket class, we meandered to the main museum to see the exhibit. The Plimoth Jacket is the centerpiece and it, too, is glorious. The presentation, the accompanying slide show, the whole look of the exhibit itself showcases the skills and talents of the people involved. And, yes, I was one of the embroiderers. I have a few buds and leaves stitched on one of the sleeves. I was in the guinea pig group--we were the first to work on it and gave the committee who dreamed it up an idea of how the work was going to go.
There are other pieces in the exhibit showcasing a wide variety of embroidered objects and placing them in the context of their times. There is a gem of an exhibit catalog available.
We also took the basic tour of the house, viewing many of the rooms Mr. Dupont created from his vast collections of furnishings and other early American decorative arts. The man loved his china and there are cases of beautiful pieces throughout the areas we toured--a man after my own heart. Some of the rooms were set up to display his collections but most of them were used by the family, and, despite the scale of the rooms, you got a feeling that this was a well-loved and thoroughly used home with cozy spots created throughout. This is a gem of a museum, and is on my list of places to visit again. And again.
So, after the tour, we supported the local economy a bit, then went out for an early dinner in preparation for Day One of the symposium. And that will be the next thrilling installment.