Sunday, May 4, 2014

                        THE MERRY MONTH OF MAY

                             Welcome to our May 2014 Blog

                      If thou of fortune be bereft,  And in thy store there be but left

             Two loaves, sell one and with the dole, Buy hyacinths to feed the soul.

                                                  From: Not  By Bread Alone
        Life brings us many hard spots to deal with and financial hardships is one of them.  I've had my share of wondering how I was going to pay bills.  But I saw other way worse off.

Years ago I was director of a large food bank and saw how unexpected happenings can overwhelm people especially families. People who had lost jobs, had health issues (and no insurance), fires, a husband going to jail, etc. I watched  children screaming with joy while ripping open a loaf of bread and stuffing pieces into their mouths.  During a flood situation field workers were washed out of work but who refused to take food unless they helped with packing boxes and unloading trucks of beans, rice, and other staples.  These past experiences stamped themselves on my heart.  So I tried to include something special with each box of food especially the children. 
Little "hyacinths" to feed their soul.

The title verse became a favorite of mine so I hung it in my home office. When times were hard I'd remember to do something unexpected for my family or myself.  Many years ago I found myself wheeling my baby daughter in front on a store window in Rockville Centre, N.Y.  Displayed there were copies of Richard Chamberlain's latest L.P.  $2.98.  I loved him on Dr. Kildare and wanted to hear him sing.  $2.98.  If I dared buy it that meant my food budget would be compromised.  It would be smelts instead of a roast.  I can't tell you how long I stood there but Donna began to fuss so I hurriedly made my decision. I chose the record, a record the two of us danced and sang to many times.  I never regretted "buying hyacinths to feed the soul".  I still own that L.P and on occasion play it and go back in time. 

I've always considered books, "hyacinths to feed the soul" and I've given up getting new jeans or dress, or jewelry to buy a book I wanted.  A little sacrifice seems, somehow, to increase the value of the choice made.  In this May Blog I've chosen some books that have been "hyacinths for my soul".  Maybe you'll find some too.  John Ruskin once said, "Even wise people forget that if a book is worth reading is worth owning."  That's how I feel exactly!

GLASS BEADS: More Hyacinths to Feed the Soul

I've always love glass beads ( have a number of pieces of glass bead jewelry) and I watched glassblowers create small glass objects when I was a young adult.  I was "blown" away. Right now I'm finishing an amazing historical novel, The Glassblower of Murano by Marina Fiorato that not only bring glassblowing in 1681 Venice alive but the city as well. Since I've visited Venice I fell in love with Marina's descriptive prose about the city. My flash back to my trip (not a tour but a romantic visit) got me so excited about my time there I raved on to my daughter Donna that she and her husband Gil must go Venice ( As you approach Venice by ferry the city appears to be a floating fairyland in white and gold. I cried. ) and, I added to Ravenna (incredible mosaic wall murals I didn't want to leave).  Her husband, Gil, does tile and mosaic work.  When I finally took a breath, Donna calmly commented, "It's already on our bucket list."  Well, I might have wasted my breath but at least I was on the right track.

Marina is a master writer, slipping from the past to the present so smoothly you don't get lost. I'm not usually a big fan of going back and forth in time but with her great story line and writing I give it two thumbs up.  What amazed me was that this was Marina Fiorato's first novel and she's so confident and good!  I know her fans will have more great writing to look forward to. She chose what she knew being half-Venetian and a graduate of Oxford University and the University of Venice. In fact, Her wedding was on the Grand Canal and everyone was in 18th century costumes.  I love her style.
In case you don't know where Murano is, it is located on one of a trio of  islands in the Venice lagoon. This place was dedicated to glass blowing in 1291 when the glass furnaces were a great threat to burning Venice, in fact, there had already been serious fires. The above photo are Murano glass blown pieces. 

Our author was pleasantly surprised to discover her family name means "floral" but Fiorato is also a type of glass that features tiny glass flowers enameled and fused into beads. Tiny and beautiful.  Was that an omen about her choice of subject for her first novel or what?                        

She tells the story a master glassblower in 1681, Corradino Manin who goes against the rule of keeping the art of glassblowing a secret and sells his methods and his soul to Louis XIV of France to protect his secret daughter.  The glassblowers of Murano were literally imprisoned on their island in the lagoon. In the present day, his descendant, Leonora manin, leaves London for a new life as a glassblower in Venice only to find her fate inextricably linked with her ancestor's dangerous secrets.  $14.99

Glass is an amazing material.  We can look through it, wear it and have a variety objects made from it. Yet, it is made from common silica sand. Sand!  I find it hard to imagine how so common a natural material, so plain and so gritty to the touch could with the right amount of heat (1700 degrees Fahrenheit)melt to become something that catches the light, is smooth to the touch and yet so functional. Sort of an ugly duckling becoming a swan.  Interestingly glass is neither a liquid or a solid but a cross between them with a crystalline structure of a solid and the molecular structure of a liquid called an amorphous solid. If you've ever seen very old window glass you will see it is wavy with the window top thinner than the bottom of the glass. Glass can be recycled over and over without a bit of damage to its molecular structure.  Today much of the glass made is from recycled glass. 

Several years ago I discovered that lightning can create glass. Not large pieces (that's for Hollywood!) but small tubular pieces called fulgurite. The lightning must strike sand or rock and because of its high energy the lightning can melt the sand or rock with rock "glass" being the rarer.  I am still hoping to find a piece for sale so I can examine it.

In Egypt I discovered old soda bottles, jars, etc. are  constantly recycled into a folk art of sorts.  I fell in love with the ocean blue color in cups, saucers, plates, vases, and hanging glass bulbs. My friend Maria bought me seven bulbs of various sides and a vase that I treasure.

When did glass come to be?  No one knows for sure but glass beads were manufactured in 3500 B.C. and used mainly for jewelry. In the 16th century B.C. glass artisans were making vases and other objects.  In ancient Rome, Egypt, and Greece glass objects were so hard to come by and precious it could be used as currency. 

I've seen Lalique glass and large Chiluly glass pieces displayed at the Phoenix Botanical Gardens several years back and was in awe of this master glassblower.  The glass pieces are very large and the colors In 1968 with a Fulbright Scholarship he went to study glassmaker in Venice.  He observed the glassblowers worked as a team which became critical on how he has worked ever since.  In 1971 he  co-founded the Pilchuck Glass School in the state of Washington. 

His glasswork is proudly exhibited over the canals and piazzas of Venice.  Now that is saying something! Dale Chiluly is now 72 years old and I notice he wears an eye patch.  It doesn't seem to slow his vision of his life and art. 

I've been to Venice and had the pleasure of seeing the incredible glass creations Venice is famous for. Shop after shop of blown glass, delicate and smooth.  Animals, flowers, glassware in wonderful colors: some pale and iridescent others bold and bright in color combinations that are spectacular. These artisans understand color and aren't afraid to experiment. 

I love the wonderful glass beads available to beaders today.  I love the way glass beads capture the light as you turn them, how smooth and cool they feel around my neck or wrist.

\Adams, Kimberley - The Complete Book of Glass Beadmaking - Across the 168 pages in this book are all of the most popular types of beads and the most innovative techniques. Basic instructions explain how to wind and cool the bead, then shape the glass. As skills improve the beadmaker can experiment with enamel; using mica dust to form an iridescent sheen; and applying silver, gold, and copper leaf.  $19.95 

Hemachandra, Ray and Susan Rossi-Wilcox - Masters: Blown Glass: Major Works by Leading Artists - Between the covers of this book you meet 40 glass artisans and an account of their art. These are the leading artists from around the world.  $24.95

Lark Books - 500 Glass Objects; A Celebration of Functional & Sculptural Glass - This book contains one of the most magnificent collections of handmade glass from flameworked goblets, cast vases, blown cups, and fused and slumped bowls, The techniques on display include mosaics, enameling, engraving, carving, and etching.  Wow!  $24.95

Logan, Kristina - 1000 Beads - This book showcases 1,000 unique beads, all handcrafted from a dazzling array of materials - including glass, polymer clay, ceramics, metal and stone.  Our author is the world's leading glass beadmaker. Her work has been exhibited internationally. She has taught in leading schools in the US and Europe and authored the book The Penland Book of Glass.

Wiseman, Jill - Jill Wiseman's Beautiful Beaded Ropes - Here are 24 beautiful beaded rope designs, from simple to outrageously textured, that use such popular stitch techniques as spiral, rope, peyote, netting, herringbone, right angle weave, chevron, polygon weave, and Oglala.  $27.95



Barnden, Betty - Embroidery Stitch Bible: Over 200 Stitches Photographed with Easy to Follow Charts -  If this title sounds familiar you are correct.  This book has been a favorite of stitchers for a number of years now.  BUT it is now available in paperback at a much lower price. Our author includes ways to improve their technique and add new dimensions to their work. Stitches are arranged according to their use, making it a simple task to find the one you need, and each is explained in full with photos and easy to follow diagrams.  $14.99

Doh, Jenny - Stitch Along: 10 Stitches, 20 Projects, 100 Embroidery Motifs - This book features ten prominent designers, Each one shares instructions for three projects; along with ten beautiful and whimsical embroidery motifs for needleworkers to use for their own work. $16.95  Due out in May. Can be pre-ordered.

Hall, Felicity - Stitch Alphabets and Numbers: 120 Contemporary Designs for Cross Stitch & Needlepoint - This book allows you to use the charted designs in a variety of ways to inspire you to create your own unique pieces and experiment with different fabrics such as canvas and aida, and also differing threads and yarns. Each letter and number collection has been designed so you can stitch them separately or combine them to make dates and words. There is also a selection of corner designs and ampersands which can be mixed and matched with each collection.  Book includes materials needed and a chapter explaining the stitches and techniques used.  Gallery of projects for inspiration included too.  $22.95.  Due out in May.  Can be preordered

Xiaocheng, Shao - Chinese Embroidery - Step-by-step guides to over 20 needle techniques developed into over 40 projects by a well-known teacher and designer in Chinese embroidery.  $28.00
Due any time.  

Lathrop, Dominique Siegler - 71 Carreaux De Tapisserie Aux Points Insolites - As you can see this book is in French, The author shares a collection of 71 canvas stitches and samplers.  $39.00

Midgelow-Marsden - Alysn - The Textile Artist: Stitch, Fibre, Metal and Mixed Media - This author shows how to use textile-based and mixed media techniques to create beautiful artworks featuring various forms of metal. There are seven neat projects including a memory lampshade, bauble pods, decorative panels, and a cover for a tablet device. $35.00

Richardson, Cathie - Sketches from Nature: A Book of Hand Embroidery Patterns - 30 hand embroidery patterns with 20 garden and nature inspired watercolor paintings throughout. The patterns include tulip gardens, nature scenes with dragonflies and bees, simple whimsical daisies, antique style garden carts filled with blooming flowers and more. These are great for accenting clothing, quilts, pillows, wall hangings and more. $21.95

A LACE GEM : More Hyacinths to Feed the Soul

I love picking up the phone to surprises and new information. Today was one of those days when Donna LaVallee from The Lace Museum at 552 S. Murphy, Sunnyvale, CA 94086 introduced herself. She was interested in some lace books but the best part was our conversation. I had no idea this lace museum existed. Where have been?  Well now, thanks to Donna I not only learned about this museum founded in 1976 and incorporated as a non-profit in 1981. Not only do they exhibit beautiful lace, they invite lace experts to speak, and set up small exhibits outside the museum such as a current exhibit set up at the San Francisco International Airport in the International Terminal Main Hall Departure Lobby thru June 22, 2014, teach lace techniques, demonstrate lace at fairs, and more.  Visit their website:  (discount code: MV14)

On April 25th, 2014 they hosted the lace expert, Elizabeth Kurella to lecture on identifying lace, valued vintage lace, and launched her
latest book, Youghal Irish Needle Lace for Connoisseurs and Lacemakers.  $35.00

Elizabeth has written many books on lace.  If you want to educate yourself on lace, Elizabeth's books are a great place to begin.

Guide to Lace and Linens - In this book Elizabeth shares her knowledge and techniques for identifying lace and includes a value guide and glossary of terms.  $30.00

The Secrets of Real Lace - Elizabeth shares her techniques for telling the difference between hand and machine-made laces from the early 19th century.  $21.00

Normandy Lace Patchworks, 2nd edition - Elizabeth adds much to the understanding of the innovative patchwork laces of the late 19th century. She includes techniques for creating these laces. $25.00

Whitework Embroidered Lace Handkerchiefs - This is a great study and analysis of early 19th century embroidered handkerchiefs.  $18.00

Anybody Can Mend Lace and Linens - In this book she presents basic mending techniques in step-by-step detailed photos and case studies of mending cutwork, crochet, needlelace, bobbin lace, and other techniques.  $25.00

The Many Lives of Old Lace - This is the story of lace and how it survived centuries of use because of this lace's ability to be altered,salvaged and reformatted.  $20.00

Elizabeth has a new website: Have a peek - it's really neat!

If you are interested in learning more about the Lace Museum check out their beautiful and interesting website:  Maybe you will want to become a member like I am. 

Thanks Donna for a great phone call.


The May/June 2014 issue of Piecework Magazine is the 7th Annual Lace issue.  If you wanted to learn to how to tat, make an Irish crocheted baby bonnet, make a needle-tatted lace edging and corner, or read historical lace articles, etc. this is a great issue for you.  I have loved Piecework Magazine since its inception.  We do have some of this lace issue for sale.  $7.99 and no shipping. 

Painting, Movie and Book Heads Up

I was reading USA Today and discovered a wonderful story about a painting done in 1799 that hangs in Scone Palace in Scotland that has been made into a movie. This is unusual enough, but given the time period this is the first known time for a black person to be given the same billing as a white woman (note the clothing she wears). To the left is Dido Elizabeth Belle to the right is Lady Elizabeth Murray.

Dido was the daughter of a British Admiral and a former slave he loved and when orphaned her father's aristocratic family was brought to their estate and loved as a family member.  This incredible story has been researched and brought to film, Belle, to be released this month.  Dido was raised by her great-uncle, Earl of Mansfield and the Lord Chief Justice of Britain.  His influences later led to the end of slavery in the British Empire.  There is a biography Dido Elizabeth Belle coming out this month as well.  $12.00

Back next month with plenty of mysteries, needlework books, and more, more, more.

Remember ordering is easy.  Just phone us at 1-800-429-5075 or send your order to:  Ruth Kern Books  P.O. Box 35366  Phoenix, AZ 85069.   We accept: Visa, Master Card, Discover, American Express and Checks.   And don't forget to use the 20% discount when you find the secret code in this blog.

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