Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Total Immersion

I spent the day in Blönduós last Wednesday and surrounded myself in textiles. I went to Heimilisiðnaðarsafnið (Textile Museum) first and was there for four hours. (I also visited the week before but found an hour and a half was simply not enough time.) I looked at everything, and I mean everything, very, very closely. I took tons of photos and did some research, thinking, and writing. 

There are many things I love about this museum: the collection is rich and well-curated and organized thematically, presenting a story of textiles in Iceland from traditional costumes complete with jewelry to the production and use of wool to lace and other finely detailed stitched pieces to contemporary works by Icelandic artists. There is also a section dedicated to the collection of Halldóra Bjarnadóttir, an early Icelandic feminist, one might say. She was dedicated to helping women and was also an avid collector of textiles and textile-related tools. You can also touch everything, normally unheard of in museums, but there is a basket of white cotton gloves available as you walk in the door.

Halldóra at 35

About half-way through my visit, I was able to meet with the director of the museum, Elín S. Sigurðardóttir. We had a very nice time talking and getting acquainted. I really liked how she spoke about the importance of patrons being able to touch things on display, that it helps with understanding and appreciation. I completely agree. I also had a great visit with Margrét Arna Vilhjálmsdóttir, who works at the museum and who studied textiles in school. We got to talk a lot about textiles, making work, the museum, and Iceland.

Next I went to Textílsetur Íslands (The Icelandic Textile Center) to work on the Vatnsdæla Saga tapestry, a 46 meter (!) embroidery begun by Jóhanna Erla Pálmadóttir. Jóhanna gave me a short lesson on how to make the different stitches and then set me to work as she sat across from me and also worked. It felt very special to learn from her and to work side by side on her piece. I am going back to Blönduós tomorrow to finish the boat.

Finally, I taught my basic embroidery class at the Textile Center, which I wrote about yesterday. It was so much fun and a wonderful way to end my day of total textiles immersion.

I posted lots and lots of new photos on Flickr.

Thanks for reading.

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