Monday, July 19, 2010
This past week marked a sad week in my life and a sad occasion for needlework as well: we lost Jennifer Taylor.
Jennifer was a small finely-drawn person who loomed so large in needlework. She had dual loves, embroidery and the computer, and she excelled at both. I met Jennifer at Callaway where for many years she assisted Shay Pendray in teaching Japanese Embroidery. It was the heyday of Japanese Embroidery and classes in those days were full to overflowing with students eager to take on the rigors and discipline of that embroidery form. In later years, after Shay Pendray retired, Jennifer took over teaching Shay's classes at Callaway and she in turn had a new assistant.
I knew Jennifer from our days together at Callaway and I always enjoyed her company. Like me, she was a very early morning person and every year we were there together, we shared a number of very early morning breakfasts, then off Jennifer would go to the rigors of her Japanese Embroidery classes.
For many years before I learned to do it myself, Jennifer took the photographs of my work. In fact, she took my favorite photo ever of my work, the composite of Flora and my cameo pieces now on my classroom homepage for Shining Needle Society.
It was in 2004 and 2005 that I worked closely with Jennifer on EGA's booklet of Audrey Francini's work. Audrey had asked me to write about her for Needle Arts (EGA's magazine) and it grew into a whole event to celebrate Audrey: an article, a book and a one-woman show of Audrey's work at EGA headquarters in the autumn of 2005. Jennifer took all the photographs of Audrey's work, no small task in itself, then she did the layout of the book and saw it through to publication. In addition she composed a totally memorable power-point presentation of Audrey's work which ran consistently through Audrey's show and has been on view many times at embroidery functions over the years.
Of the years I knew Jennifer my favorite time with her the night she showed the power point presentation of Audrey's work at the final banquet at Callaway. She had asked me if I would do a 2-minute introduction. I remember, when the time came, I stood up from the banquet table where I was sitting beside Dorothy Lesher. As I stood up to walk to the podium, Dorothy said to me, 'if you make this too long it will be off with your head!'
I said my 2 minutes worth, then sat beside Jennifer as she showed Audrey's work. A hush fell over the room as moment after moment came up of Audrey's beautiful embroidery enhanced by Jennifer's unrivaled skill with a camera. I don't think there was even a cough in the room. At one moment I looked across at Dorothy Lesher who was totally captivated.
When it was over, Dorothy, long forgetting her threat to behead me, said she could have watched the presentation over and over again hour upon hour. And so could we all.
Good bye, Jennifer, we shall greatly miss you!
Photograph I took of Jennifer Taylor and a piece of her Japanese Embroidery at Callaway in 2008.