Thursday, September 22, 2011

Elizabeth 1, a Portrait: my needlepoint design

This morning Queendom Website came alive with portraits of Elizabeth 1.

On my home page is my own version of Elizabeth 1; 'inside' are portraits worked by Carole Lake's and my students at Callaway School of Needle Arts last January.

When I first thought of making an exhibition of Elizabeth 1 portraits, I worried they might all look the same, but surprisingly (considering they were worked from my pattern) they each have their own personalities. I have had a great time clicking through the exhibition and seeing all the variations of them -- it has been a delight!

To see the Elizabeths, travel to my website:
and click on 'Elizabeth Exhibition'.
And enjoy!

Gay Ann

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Book for Thimble Collectors: American Silver Thimbles for sale

For a long time I've been promising to post a sale of my book, American Silver Thimbles.

I did so this morning on my website.

Quite often people write to me with all sorts of thimble queries and I try to answer them as time allows. Over the years, at the top of the list has come the question: 'do you have any copies of your book at a reasonable amount of money?' Finally I decided I have read this too often, so I typed 'American Silver Thimbles' into a book query on and had quite a shock.

The cheapest copy I found was $255.00, the most expensive $350.00.

It was then I decided I had better sell some copies, so I posted them at the book's original price of $47.95 plus $6.00 priority shipping. I am hoping that fledgling thimble collectors to whom I have long promised copies will be able to have a copy now.

American Silver Thimbles is valuable in this sense: it is a record of American silver thimbles from 53 collections at what I think of as the height of thimble-collecting frenzy more than 20 years ago. At just about the height of the frenzy, I visited many remarkable collections, shot so many rolls of film, then stood in a dark-room converted from a bathroom and processed and printed all the photos for the book.

So many of the collections have since been broken up that I look back and think to myself it was a great time to shoot so many thimbles. I doubt I could assemble the collection today.


After I wrote American Silver Thimbles, thimbles were at their height. Good ones were scarce and fetching all-the-time higher and higher prices.

I had never been a singularly devoted thimble collector; I had bought them, but only as one of many needlework tools, and when they continued to fetch higher and higher prices, I gave up looking for them.

For the 20 years that followed my book, I transitioned into teaching needlework full time, and I more or less forgot about collecting thimbles.

Then last November, when I was surfing eBay for interesting auctions to post on my website, I came across some remarkably wonderful American thimbles for auction. I followed along through the Christmas season and was amazed to see the high quality and relatively low prices of the thimbles that 20 years ago had been so sky high in price.

And guess what: I became interested in thimbles all over again. I am at heart a contrarian when it comes to shopping for antiques. I don't believe in shopping for things when they are at the height of fashion.

Last Christmas I began looking back through American Silver Thimbles and just for fun, I began ticking off the thimbles I'd found on eBay. I had a great time! It was just like visiting old friends who has slipped out of my life for a while.

Of course I bought a few of them. I think my favorite finds were two: I bought the Liberty Bell thimble at a fraction of its former price and I bought a very rare Untermyer Robbins thimble of two lions. Finding any UR thimble was, in the old days, a happy occasion; finding a highly decorative one a joy indeed.

An old hobby renewed. Now I look every week to see if some interesting thimbles turn up.

And now I am hoping maybe a new generation of thimble collectors will be inspired to enjoy these tiny little treasures.

Gay Ann

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Busy Busy Busy

Up front I have kept my website going with eBay listings I like and hope will be of interest to my followers.
I've now stripped down my navigation bar to only 2 lines in preparation for new postings.

Behind the scenes MacSoph (my computer) and I are scrambling scrambling. MacSoph's worn out her keys and I've worn out my fingers typing on those keys. iWeb is now swollen to a dangerously large level and MacSoph crosses her keys and I my fingers that everything won't crash.

Up front it looks like nothing's happening.

But things will start to happen soon.

I have a wonderful exhibition coming soon. I can't wait!
And I have some galleries of my own work coming soon.
And soon, too soon, it will be time for Pre-Week.
And then for E-Week itself.
And then for Early Morning Sales.
And E-Week Annex where people can order supplies from Kate.

Yikes! Come on, MacSoph, we have to go back to work!

But up front it all still looks so leisurely.

Gay Ann

Monday, September 05, 2011

A New Adventure

Here it is, in my busiest season (with E-Week just around the corner) and I've started a new adventure:
I am tackling stitching on linen ground.

I've been at it for about 3 or 4 days now and I've learned a lot, with help from my Shining Needle Society Classroom.

Today I had a note from Jane-Ellen Balzuweit offering me a suggestion or two and suddenly into my mind jumped: Idea for an online class at Shining Needle Society, called 'Linen Technique Clinic' and I am hoping Jane-Ellen will lead it.

Jane-Ellen, if you have ever followed her embroidery career, is one of those amazing needlework whizzes who can do anything with a needle and thread and get it to work. She reminds me a little of Carol Algie who has the same talents. They both seem to be able to tackle anything, easy or difficult, and have it come out well.

For those of you who don't know them, you should! Both have taught for EGA for years and years and they are both people I look up to.

Here I am, on a new adventure, and I look forward to help from Jane-Ellen and from other members of the class.

Does this mean I am giving up needlepoint? No, absolutely not. I just have a vision of a sampler I would love to make and it deserves to be on a linen ground. I will write more about it as time permits. For now I am content to doodle on different types of linen and see how I do.

And of course I have too much work to do for E-Week, so I really shouldn't be doing any stitching at all.
But who can live without a needle in her hand at least some time during the day? Not me, that's for sure.

If you'd be interested in taking this class along with me, write to She is the director of Shining Needle Society and she and Jane-Ellen are starting to plan the class.

I can't wait!
Gay Ann