Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Have (Embroidered) Casket, Will Travel?


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Next month, from March 12 – March 15, Aiguille en Fête, one of the world’s premier needlework conventions, takes place in Paris at the Expo Porte de Versailles.

The convention and market boasts over 1000 hours of needlework workshops in all kinds of disciplines, with nearly 240 exhibitors showing off their wares. It is a “window on art and textile culture,” and it is well attended by people from all over the globe.

This year, Au Ver a Soie will be celebrating their 200th Anniversary, and their booth at the market will be all about celebrating that milestone.

Joining them will be Tricia Nguyen of Thistle Threads and Lamora Haidar of Access Commodities. These two intrepid ladies are the impetus behind bringing a multitude of beautiful new threads to the US market that are built on foundations of Au Ver a Soie silk.

Thistle Threads 17th century casket and Au Ver a Soie silks threads

Many of you may remember that, back in 2007, Tricia Nguyen spearheaded the Plimoth Plantation jacket project, wherein a 17th century embroidered jacket was recreated with the help of visiting volunteers who were able to stitch on the jacket.

During that adventure, a new thread came to market – Gilt Sylke Twist – and has since remained available. It’s the thread used on the blue flower in the photo above.

Thistle Threads 17th century casket and Au Ver a Soie silks threads

The engineering and creation of this thread and the establishment of it on the needlework market demonstrated to manufacturers that it was worthwhile to undergo the time and expense required to bring other similar, but obsolete, threads back into existence.

Thistle Threads 17th century casket and Au Ver a Soie silks threads

Thanks to the 17th century embroidered casket classes offered through Thistle Threads, which are the result of Tricia’s painstaking research and troubleshooting with all kinds of fantastic threads, the needlework market enjoys a variety of threads that we didn’t have available just ten years ago.

Thanks to Tricia, Lamora, and the folks at Au Ver a Soie, many of these new threads are available across a range of historically accurate colors, built on foundations of different types of silk.

The whole history of this thread development is exciting and fascinating – but it is far too detailed and intricate for me to recount in one article!

Take Note

Today, I just wanted to point out a few things for you to take note of, in case you want to research further, or in case you’re going to be traveling near Paris next month.

First, Aiguille en Fête takes place in Paris next month, March 12 – 15. Tricia will be there, and she’s traveling over with her embroidered casket – and other goodies – for the exhibition. She’ll be exhibiting next to the Au Ver a Soie booth, and she will be lecturing each day at 1:45 on the caskets and materials used to make them, including the threads, their history and re-development. If you are able to make it to the market, there are many, many reasons to do so, but I think, for anyone interested in historical needlework and beautiful threads, this is an exhibit you won’t want to miss!

Second, Au Ver a Soie will be celebrating their 200 year anniversary at the fête and they will have their book available that highlights their 200 years of history, plus the work of many designers who use their threads worldwide. In the book, you’ll find contributions from designers from all over the world, including (among many others) Trish Burr of South Africa, Jane Nicholas and Susan O’Connor of Australia, Nicola Jarvis in the UK, Pascal Jaouen in France, and from me, too.

Thistle Threads 17th century casket and Au Ver a Soie silks threads

And Third, if you have harbored a life-long dream of working with these beautiful historical threads and of creating your own heirloom embroidered casket, you should definitely take a look at Tricia’s Harmony with Nature online class.

It is expansive and huge, covering the history of these embroidered caskets, video and instructions to teach you the methods in stitching and finishing the box, the casket itself (the actual built box), and the hundreds of silk and metal threads, stumpwork supplies, the finishing materials, the hardware, fabric, slate frame – everything you need to successfully complete your own heirloom box.

Since the casket is no longer being made, it’s a very limited opportunity. Yes, it’s pricy, but there’s also a monthly payment option that may make it more achievable. You can read more about it here.

Further Explorations

If you’d like to explore a little more, try these:

Tricia’s Five Senses embroidered double casket video, where you can see the intricate construction of an embroidered casket, secret drawers and all.

Janet Brandt’s intricate World of Possibilities Casket revealed in this video – again, secret drawers and all kinds of fantastic stumpwork elements.

Thistle Threads blog, where you can explore all kinds of curious information about the redevelopment of historical threads, the making of 17th century reproduction caskets, and the like.


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(9) Comments

  1. So fun to watch, as is the one that came after it by the same lady, about a needlework collection. And I don’t know how, but I stumbled upon another casket made by (I think) a Canadian lady, most likely from her class. Luckily I got the link before I accidentally deleted it! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_qK12Qs9f4
    Her work was just stupendous to see. Makes me want to see “more, more”. LOL. Thanks Mary, very enjoyable.

  2. As a shop owner, I’m so thankful for the work Tricia, Lamora, AVAS and others have done to bring such wonderful threads to us. But as a stitcher who gets to use them I’m even more grateful to them. I’m a collector of threads. I love the look and feel of them even before I’ve stitched with them. Stitching brings a whole other pleasure. We are all lucky to be stitching at a time when our thread options have been expanded but such dedicated people.


  3. Dear Stitchers,

    If you’re thinking of going to this convention PLEASE check there are no strikes on.
    I went to Paris in Jan specifically to see the The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries.
    Because of the strikes all the museums inc Versailles were either completely or partially closed, inc L and U.
    The visit of a lifetime, not to be repeated, disappointment doesn’t describe it.
    No public transport either.


  4. Thanks for posting about all of this, Mary! It was the push I needed to sign up for the Harmony Casket class – the payment plan option put it just within my budget if I cut out some other stuff I was less invested in. I am so looking forward to the class and to working on my own piece!

  5. Hi Mary,
    Thanks for this nice article about l’Aiguille en Fête ! As Parisian embroiderer I’ll be there, got my entry ticket already, as every year. Moreover as presently I’m working on a thread painting project with Au Ver à Soie Silk Ovale I’ll be going to their stand to cheack if they have some other colors for my Hellebores, and some other projects I thinking of. Last Friday I discovered a presentation of the conference you are writing about and was considering attenting. After reading your article I’ll definitly go for it and book a seat on the day I’ll visit the fair.
    All the best

  6. Dear Mary

    Happy 200 Anniversary to Au Ver a Soie. Sounds like a great convention I wish I was going all those needlework exhibitors/stalls what a great way to spend time in Paris. This would certainly be a worthy trip think of all those lovely inviting threads and all sorts of wonderful needlework wonders. Thank you for sharing the Aiguille en Fête convention with us and for the photos and links.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  7. I have been looking for the 4 or 5 inch straight edge doilies to add tatting to. If you know somewhere I can purchase them I would appreciate it. Thank You, Lynn

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