Wednesday, October 27, 2004

napoleon (92k image)

Did you know that Napoleon surrounded himself with bees? They were not real bees, but embroidered bees and bees woven into fabric and carpets. In the painting above, notice all the bees on his robe and in the carpet. In the school, I explained that Napoleon adopted the bee as his symbol. It is thought the reason was because the bees work in an orderly, selfless fashion for the benefit of the undisputed leader. Sounds like an appropriate symbol for a dictator! I have been encouraging everyone to think about a special "mark" they could use on their work or accessories for their needlework.

Posted by Mary at 09:53 AM CST

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

welcomesampler (186k image)

I wanted to share this little sampler with everyone. This was one of our first projects for the the Mary Beale School of Needlework. It is from my original Pocketbook Needlework. Before I actually started the school, I taught some of the neighborhood girls to stitch on linen this past summer. They all caught on very quickly and loved it! This sampler was stitched by Brittney. When she stitched it this summer, she was eleven. I'm so proud of her work, I wanted all of you to see it!

Posted by Mary at 04:45 PM CST

Saturday, September 25, 2004

charles_75 (125k image)

This is an official portrait of Charles II receiving the first pineapple grown in England. The pineapple was so uncommon and coveted that it would often be displayed on a special pedestal at feasts. It would command a crowning position in the centerpiece on a dining room table in the palaces of royality and the very wealthy. So desirable was this fruit that it could be rented to households for a day. Later, the same pineapple would be sold to a more affluent household to be eaten. This is just one of the interesting tidbits that I will share in The Mary Beale School of Needlework the first day of class. After much thought, I have decided to open up the classroom to all stitchers. Please read the details about this in the social. I have designed a small sampler of Charles II and the coveted pineapple which will be one of the first designs for my advanced stitchers. Hope to see you in class!

Posted by Mary at 03:38 PM CST

Wednesday, September 8, 2004

maternalinstruction (92k image)

Several of you have called and emailed me about my school. I thought it might be a good idea to explain it here in my journal as well as in the social. The first year of the school is geared for girls, 10 years of age and up. I am hoping to teach them a classic approach to the art of needlework (see the curriculum). While this year's curriculum is not specifically for my faithful customers that have bought my work throughout the years, I am planning to offer this curriculum to you in the late spring in my shop. You will be able to purchase ALL of the original Pocketbook Needlework plus the school additions. If you already have my original Pocketbook, then you can just purchase the additions. If some of you have purchased this and were unaware of what I am doing please email me. I hope that when I offer year two through four all of you will sign up. The curriculum for the next three years will be for everyone.

Posted by Mary at 03:15 PM CST

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

schoolgirl (29k image)

I have been working very hard since we have been back from England to get my new "page" ready for the web site. Hopefully, by the end of next week it will be ready! Beginning in September, I am starting The Mary Beale School of Needlework. I am so excited about this new project. It has been in the works for a very long time. The school page will explain everything, but the idea is to teach a new generation how to do classic counted cross stitch on linen. I still haven't forgotten that I need to share my pictures of England with you. They will be in the journal shortly.

Posted by Mary at 01:14 PM CST

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

I have been telling you all that I was going to share highlights of my trip to England with you. I am still trying to fill orders and respond to mail. Throw a couple of college kids into the mix, one of whom just smashed her finger in the garage door this morning and had to go to the emergency room, and things here are busy! Two of my kids aren't even home yet! Anyway, back to England, this picture sums up the whole trip. I am not sure I would add "what a glorious feeling" or even "singin' in the rain". We could just leave it at rain! I must admit though, it wouldn't be England without the rain. When we were first there, I thought I wouldn't go into town because of the rain (we didn't have a car so we walked everywhere). After a day or so I realized if I waited for it to quit raining, I wasn't going to go anywhere! In summary, it rained alot! I promise to have far more interesting details to share with you later!

Posted by Mary at 02:07 PM CST

Sunday, June 20, 2004

waitingonman (302k image)

I hope all of you fathers have had a great Father's Day! It is great to be "King" for a day. No one asks you to take out the trash, mow the grass, or fix anything that involves real work. It's got to be nice! My husband and I went to a wonderful antique show and sale out in farm country. And yes, it was his idea! It has taken me awhile to get used to the way he likes to "shop" at these shows. He goes into each booth and takes a brief glance over everything. If there are any old books or old book shelves he stops, otherwise he moves on to the next booth. I bet we could be in the Guinness Book of World Records for viewing the most antique dealers in the least amount of time! We must have visited over two hundred and twenty five dealers in two hours. That's got to be some kind of record! It is for me anyway. We're taking him out to dinner tonight and then tomorrow he needs to mow the grass. It's getting awfully high!

Posted by Mary at 04:37 PM CST

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

sewinginwindow (88k image)

While I was painting my sun room, I thought about this painting from the Victoria and Albert museum. I couldn't wait to finish the room so I could sit and stitch just like she is doing! I thought this painting would be the appropriate way to announce that "The Sewing Room" is now ready for all of us who will be stitching the Hannah panels together. You will find the sewing room in the Fruitful Labor section of my web site. Scroll down to the picture of the sewing room and click on "enter" and you're there! If you would like to join us in this stitch along, please email me and join in!

Posted by Mary at 11:13 AM CST

Friday, June 11, 2004

flowersinbasket (42k image)

Aren't the colors in this painting rich? As a stitcher, I think it is a good idea to try and keep a notebook of color combinations that appeal to you. I have about twenty such books. One magazine that I am particularly fond of is The Magazine Antiques. My notebooks are filled with pages from the magazine. While some consider it "heresy" to rip up this magazine, I go through mine on a yearly basis looking for ideas and color combinations and then I tear the magizine to pieces! To me, it has everything: wonderful articles on a wide array of subjects as well as pictures of paintings and decorative art for sale. I have been a subscriber for twenty three years! If you would like to see more, go to their web site You won't be disappointed!

Posted by Mary at 08:25 PM CST

Monday, June 7, 2004

ateagarden (122k image)

Last night the weather was so perfect we had dinner outside. It seems as though all of our neighbors feel the same way we do. When the weather turns nice and it's not raining, you want to do everything outside...until it becomes too hot. This spring it only took one day for it to get uncomfortably hot. Apparently, the humidity is supposed to stay with us all week. As I was looking at this English print, the thought struck me that we have come a long way from this scene! The finery and clothes make this print a delight to look at, but in the real world I am sure glad we don't dress this way on a daily basis. Thank goodness shorts, sandals, and tee shirts are the attire for summer these days!

Posted by Mary at 03:50 PM CST

Thursday, June 3, 2004

back[2].lower.left.50 (168k image)

This is a close-up of one of the panels on 17th century casket that is featured in this section. It is owned by Silvermine Antiques in New Canaan,CT. It is for sale and you can find a full description of it if you scroll down to March 10. I think the close-up picture is so stunning I wanted to share it with you.

I also wanted to let you know that I will be taking orders for the hand crafted solid mahogany casket just through July (or August). Murray will make only 50 cabinets. He will be working on this project over the summer. If you are interested in the cabinet or need more information, please email me. As I initially said, this is a limited edition. It will no longer be available once all of the cabinets are spoken for.

Posted by Mary at 02:47 PM CST

Wednesday, June 2, 2004

mapwocean (64k image)

I am beginning to work on my map of "The Knoll" so that you will be able to visit everything. It is so much fun when you can create an imaginary place by the ocean. I will spare no expense since I won't have to pay anything for this glorious place. I have always been intrigued by maps that people create. Several that come to mind are the 100 acre wood from Winnie The Pooh and the map of Narnia created by C.S. Lewis. I shouldn't leave out J.R.R. Tolkein who has produced many imaginary places. He even created languages!! I think I will forgo the new language idea and just stick with the map. I have been looking at a lot of old maps online as well. The map pictured above is one you can purchase. It is from the shop Martayan Lan. They specialize in fine antique maps. Their web site is I like the way this map seems almost more "picture" like.

On another note, my son has now graduated! Our visit to Brown University was wonderful. The weather was perfect. It is traditional at Brown for graduation to be outside on the green so weather is an important ingredient. There was terrible weather in the Chicago area right after we left. The day after graduation the Providence weather was awful so we were grateful for the two perfect weather days we had. If any of my pictures turn out, I will put one or two in the journal for you to see.

Posted by Mary at 05:42 PM CST

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

manfishing (51k image)

No, I haven't gone fishing. I am still here! May is always a busy month. Have you ever noticed that everything happens in May? Everyone graduates, has parties, gets married, returns home, etc. My family always seems to be caught up in several of these happenings every year! This year is no exception! Memorial Day weekend we are all leaving to go to our son's graduation at Brown University in Rhode Island. It will be a quick trip, but we're looking forward to it! That will be our final "May event" then we move into summer mode!

Posted by Mary at 03:50 PM CST

Monday, May 17, 2004

castlephotograph (38k image)

I have just finished doing a massive amount of work in my garden. One thing I can grow better than anyone is WEEDS! Since it started to rain, I came in and decided to look at gardens online for more ideas. I found my favorite garden Sissinghurst photographed by a man named Dave Parker. After visiting Sissinghurst online, I started going to other Dave Parker sites that he has photographed. I have not seen anything online more fabulous than his pictures of gardens, country homes, castles (like the one pictured above), beautiful countryside, etc. His web address is His pictures are inspiring!

Posted by Mary at 01:35 PM CST

Friday, May 14, 2004

girlmakingdollclothes (99k image)

I have been thinking about what I would like to do next. While I have been working on several different fronts, I always come back to miniatures, dolls, and children. I think it is so important for us to pass along our enthusiam for needlework to the next generation. I thought I would do some accessories for the popular 18" dolls (such as the American Girl dolls). My initial idea is miniature sampler stockings among other things. I would greatly appreciate your thoughts. Just email me!

This a painting from the Bowes museum in England. Isn't it sweet?

Posted by Mary at 12:40 PM CST

Sunday, May 9, 2004

motherandchild (20k image)

Happy Mother's Day to you all! I would like personally to thank whoever invented Mother's Day. This is the only day of the year where my word totally rules with everyone in the family. When I say, "can you all help me spread bark mulch in the garden," instead of groans, I get "sure, Mom." When I say, "can I get one of you to help me finish painting some of the trim in the sun room," instead of everyone running in the opposite direction as quickly as possible, I get, "I'd be happy to help. What can I do." Things should be back to normal tomorrow.

This is a painting from the Tate Gallery in London. It seemed appropriate for the day.

Posted by Mary at 03:55 PM CST

Thursday, April 29, 2004

manwstag (349k image)

The weather has been so nice this spring that I have really enjoyed being outside. I haven't even minded the weeding...until yesterday. I went outside and noticed a huge hole dug right by this pitiful vine I have been nursing for two years.This was the first year I thought it actually looked good! Anyway, we discovered that a skunk was trying to find the ideal home to make a nest and have lots of babies! I thought my husband was going to have a breakdown when he saw the holes that had been dug all over our property. Immediately, he bought moth balls, lots of flour,and retrieved several large stones from the garage. My garden was looking so nice until my husband turned our back yard into a crime scene investigation. All that's missing is the tacky yellow tape around the whole garden. Mixing with the wonderful smell of lilac is the stench of moth balls. Even the skunks won't want to be in our yard, but I guess that's the whole idea!

This is a painting from the Victoria and Albert museum. This man was wrestling the stag because it was eating everything in his garden. I guess garden intruders are not a new thing!

Posted by Mary at 03:11 PM CST

Saturday, April 24, 2004

I wanted to share with you some 17th century watercolors from the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford. Aren't they lovely? I think it is so interseting to see how both the needlework of that period and these watercolors reveal the fascination that people seemed to have with nature.

Posted by Mary at 10:24 AM CST

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Many of you who have received my Pocketbook Needlework over the years will remember my imaginary farm/shop/restaurant called The Knoll. I invented it because I have always wanted a farm, but I have never had a REAL one. My imaginary farm has always been located on the coast of Maine. The way real estate is going in Maine, my oceanfront farm is sure to remain "imaginary"! Anyway, I have been missing The Knoll, so I thought I would bring it back to life. Hopefully, over the summer, it will become a regular place to visit on my web site. This time the farm will be somewhat different! I plan to have REAL antiques and decorative accessories (see the antiques below), as well as exclusive merchandise in the shop part of the farm that you will be able to purchase. I hope to create such a distinctive look for my imaginary farm, that when you see something old and wonderful you will think, "Gee, that reminds me of something I saw at The Knoll!"

Posted by Mary at 03:20 PM CST


full descriptionfull description

Just to give you a taste of the "old and wonderful" things that will fill my shop, here are two exceptional pieces available for purchase. These exquisite antiques belong to Silvermine Antiques in New Canaan, CT.

Posted by Mary at 01:54 PM CST

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

I wanted to give all of you that have subscribed to Pocketbook Needlework 2003 (which is also called Fruitful Labor), a little sneak peak at two of the panels that will be part of the eleven panels for the Hannah casket. This side panel is depicting Hannah when she is crying out to the Lord because she is childless. Eli the priest sees her and says, " May the Lord God grant your petition that you have asked of Him" (I Samuel 1).


Posted by Mary at 09:25 AM CST

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Biblical Scene of Rebecca (1660-85)
Bowes Museum, Durham, England

I have mentioned before how much I enjoy the Bowes Museum web site. I wanted to share these two pictures with you. The panels with Biblical scenes are from the same period (16th century), but one is English and the other one is French. I think the differences are interesting! I am almost done with the casket designs. There are eleven panels!! Hopefully, you all will receive the design at the end of February or the beginning of March. The prototype for the casket is also "under construction". At this point, the caskets will be made out of mahogany.

Story of Joseph (1638-1715)
Bowes Museum, Durham, England

Posted by Mary at 02:40 PM CST

Friday, January 30, 2004

Here is another extraordinary 17th century accessory. This is in the Victoria and Albert Museum. I always learn something when I visit their sight. For example, I learned that gloves were worn in the hat or the belt, as well as carried in the hand. Apart from a functional use, the purpose of gloves was to display your wealth and status. They were also popular as gifts. These mittens were created for decorative use only to display the wearer's position in society. I'd say the person, probably a professional stitcher, who made these mittens succeeded in conveying that message!

Posted by Mary at 09:06 AM CST

Friday, January 16, 2004

This is a "looking glass" from England (1660 - 1685). It is featured in the book I told you about, British Embroidery Curious Works from the Seventeenth Century by Kathleen Epstein. Some other looking glasses from that period have hinged doors that are also covered in needlework. I am going to try to find a picture of one to put up in the journal. They are really special! What I love about 17th century embroidery is how full it is! All of the space is covered with people, flowers, structures, tents, and even bugs! It's wonderful! I thought this mirror would be another unique idea for my upcoming designs that are characteristic of the 17th century style.

Posted by Mary at 04:50 PM CST

Friday, January 9, 2004

Oddities from the 17th Century

I am hoping to share with you over the course of the next month or two some wonderful needlework pieces from the 17th century that are a little different. Isn't this tray ( from 1662 ) wonderful? It has the same fabulous look as the needlework caskets, but it is not quite as involved. The designs I am working on now will be able to be used not only for a needlework casket, but other period pieces such as this tray.

About this piece: English beadwork tray,1662. Length 24 inches, 20 inches wide. Wadsworth Antheneum, Hartford,CT.

Posted by Mary at 04:10 PM CST

Monday, January 5, 2004

Happy New Year!

I am looking forward to another year of "fruitful labor" with you in 2004! As I have mentioned, I am working on the final project for Pocketbook Needlework 2003. I have finished designing several of the panels for the casket. I hope to put things up in the journal that are influencing my work as I continue on this project. To begin with, there are several books that a few of you recommended to me that are WONDERFUL. I bought those books and in the process discovered several others. I want to share my
discoveries with those of you who might not have these books. They are:

  • Embroidered Stuart Pictures by Margaret Swain
  • British Embroidery, Curious Works from the Seventeenth Century by Kathleen Epstein
  • The Victoria and Albert Museum's Textile Collection, Embroidery in Britian from 1200 to
    1750 by Donald King and Santina Levy (part of a 3 or 4 vol. series)

I have several other books in my library that I am using. They are also wonderful, but I think most of them have been out of print for a while.

Posted by Mary at 06:27 PM CST

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