The Work of our Hands: Then & Now
Symposium 2019 Registration -- to share
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Descriptions of Presentations
Kathleen Staples (3 presentations)
1. The Butler-Downer Coverlet: A Masterpiece of Embroidered Histories
In 2009, Kathy began a study and analysis of an embroidered coverlet that is now in the
Georgia Museum of Art (Athens, GA). This monumental textile reveals an extraordinary
composition: a battle scene with figures of opposing sides and vignettes of military camp
life, all embroidered in hues of blue, berry-red, brown, and cream. Accompanying the
coverlet was a family’s testamentary evidence of a four-generational history of the object,
including the assertion that it was made shortly after the conclusion of the Civil War. My
examinations of the embroidery and design motifs as well as the genealogy of the family call
into question the veracity of the coverlet’s oral history. This presentation will discuss why
successive owners of this embroidery invested this remarkable object with competing, yet
2. African-American Needlework in Colonial and Antebellum Periods
The one subject essential to any discussion of girlhood embroidery in a Southern context is
the contributions of enslaved and free Africans and those of African descent, both as
students and as members of a work force. The richest evidence for these activities is found
in surviving soft furnishings and documents detailing the activities of enslaved females in the
Carolinas and Georgia, and the surviving embroideries and records for free African-American
girls and women in Baltimore, Maryland. The presentation will explore the avenues of
expression available to girls and women living in the early South.
3. Knitting the Thread of Life: Spinning and Knitting in the Early Renaissance
European artists of the 14th and 15th centuries were careful to depict all aspects of their
paintings—from the structure and proportion of the human body to the textures and colors
of objects—quite carefully. Many of these aspects of their work suggest that deeper
religious, economic, and political meanings were proposed. This presentation investigates
the origin of knitting in Europe and analyzes images of spinning and knitting, as
accomplished by Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the apocryphal Anne, her mother, in the
context of technical novelty, commerce, and economic and religious power.
Mary Ann Sakar and Sharon Fields - Stitch without a Glitch
Objectives of the Presentation:
1. Participants will gain a general understanding of proper postural alignment and setting
up a work station to prevent overuse injuries/postural strain.
2. Stretching exercises will be reviewed/demonstrated to enhance neutral postural
alignment/flexibility to reduce the effects of prolonged posture positions and to maintain
3. Review of adaptive equipment that may assist in preserving neutral joint alignment so
that you can continue to enjoy stitching without postural/pain limitations.
Pam Geisel - Art Quilts: Painting with Fabric
Award-winning art quilter Pam Geisel will share some of her art quilts and describe how they
were created and what her design process involves.
Terry Owen - Fiber Reflections in our Global World
Terry will be discussing fabric and fiber production methods, technology advancements that
have influenced fiber availability and uses, fiber production (natural and synthetic), yarn and
fabric dying techniques, and sustainability and environmental considerations. She will also
touch upon a topic central to our business model: supporting global, small-size woman-owned
fiber businesses and why that is so important for all of us.
Bios of our Presenters
Kathleen Staples, of Greenville, SC, is an independent scholar specializing in the social and cultural history of Britain and the Americas as expressed through textiles and related craft. She has written, lectured, and curated exhibitions on topics as diverse as weaving and needlework in pre-contact Peru and colonial Spain, production and use of embroidery in Stuart England, sampler-making in the whaling towns of Massachusetts, the use of cloth in the American Indian trade, the textile traditions of free and enslaved women in colonial South Carolina, and the relationship between fashion and consumption in colonial America. Her publications include articles in the Journal of Early Southern Decorative Arts, The Magazine Antiques, Yale University Press, and three books, the latest, Georgia’s Girlhood Embroidery: Crowned with Glory and Immortality (2016) for the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens, GA. Her current research projects include textiles in the deerskin trade in colonial South Carolina and Georgia, the samplers of Savannah’s St. Vincent’s Academy in the 19th century, and female pickpockets in 18th-century London.
Mary Ann Sakar, PT-MHS, tDPT
Physical therapist for over 33 years with a Bachelor’s Degree from Marquette University, and subsequent Master’s degree in orthopedics and a Doctoral degree in Geriatrics and Neurology from the University of Indianapolis. I have worked in various capacities from outpatient clinics, to hospitals, extended care facilities, and teaching at Sinclair Community College in the physical therapy assistant program. Currently working at Kettering Health Network as a Rehabilitation Manager at Sycamore Glen Health Center.
Hobbies include gardening, folk dancing and assisting with the south Slavic club in baking, performing and costume making, including embroidery. Special interests include fitness, in the forms of toning, weight lifting, boot camp, and Yoga.
Occupational therapist for 22+ yrs with a Bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy and additional certifications as Certified Weight Trainer and in Ergonomics. Have worked primarily in skilled rehab settings but also in acute care hospitals, Long Term care, and Home Health Services. Also hold an Applied Associates degree in Law Enforcement and served 13 yrs in The US Army as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Sergeant. Currently working at Sycamore Glen Health Center as an Occupational Therapist treating and directing care for patients of varying ages and diagnoses.
Have varied hobbies including quilting, embroidery, gardening, knitting and crocheting and many other arts and crafts. As an aging individual I find these hobbies benefit from the knowledge I have gained. Ergonomics give therapists a way to optimize an individual’s function by adapting the environment and promoting change in an individual’s posture or techniques to allow them to continue to perform activities they enjoy.
Pam Geisel grew up in Dayton, Ohio and became interested in graphic design in high school. She received an Associate of Arts Degree in Visual Communications from Sinclair Community College and spent her first career as a graphic designer in the Miami Valley specializing in print communication. She also taught graphic design at Sinclair, Edison Community College, and the School of Advertising Art.
Her interest in fabric began in 2001 she took a quilting class. She is primarily self-taught as far as the construction of her art but relies on her graphic design skills to create her compositions. In 2007, she began making art quilts full-time and currently maintains a studio in her Yellow Springs home.
She incorporates machine piecing, machine raw-edge fusible applique, and machine quilting including free motion quilting. Her quilts often have embellishments such as hand quilting, couched yarn, and hand beading. She uses a large range of fabric including commercial cottons, commercial batiks, hand-dyed fabric, tulle, velvet, denim, and lace.
Pam sells her pieces at juried art shows, on-line, and at Village Artisans, an artist cooperative in Yellow Springs She has made over 480 art quilts or framed fabric pieces including many commissioned works using customers’ wedding dresses, neckties, clothing, competition ribbons, and other items.
Her early exhibition experiences were with local shows; more recently, her art has been included in national fiber exhibits in Oberlin, OH, Paducah, KY, and at the American Quilter’s Society’s Quilt Week in Lancaster, PA where she got an honorable mention. She also exhibits in regional shows open to all media including at the Dairy Barn Arts Center in Athens, OH and at the Rosewood Art Centre in Kettering, OH where she took home “Best in Show” for her piece “Early Morning Nine Patch” in a juried landscape competition.
Terry Owen is a lifelong student and creator of fiber art. She first took up needle and thread at age six. By third grade, her mother had taught her to use the family’s black Singer Featherweight sewing machine, and Terry was making her own shorts, skirts, and blouses. “I made my first quilt when I was sixteen,” she remembers, “and then I just kept making things.”
As a student at Miami University, Terry had a concentration of course work in textiles, fashion design, fibers, and finishes. After earning a degree in Home Economics and Consumer Sciences, she became a teacher, starting her career as a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia. There, she was able to travel extensively throughout West Africa studying indigenous fabrics and fibers, weaving techniques and dying methods. Her passion has since led her to explore the textile and artistic traditions in France, Ireland, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Guatemala, Mexico, Brazil and Egypt.
In Cincinnati, Terry has taught Family and Consumer Sciences for thirty years in Cincinnati Public, Archdiocese of Cincinnati, and Finneytown local school districts. She has also taught adult sewing and quilting classes in the Finneytown Adult Community Education program, at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center, and as an associate at St. Theresa’s Textile Trove.
In 2011, Terry began planning to open a high-end, global textile market in the neighborhood of College Hill—an idea that had been growing for the past decade. The same year, she purchased a College Hill landmark, the building that for years housed Visconti-Lechler Pharmacy. Built in 1936, the structure was initially divided to house both a pharmacy and a dressmaker’s boutique. The boutique closed in 1951 as the pharmacy and soda fountain continued to expand. Today, 6106 Hamilton Avenue is once again a home for sewers and fabric artists.
In June 2012, with countless hours of help from family and friends, and unflagging enthusiasm and support from the College Hill community, Terry embarked on a new journey with the opening of Silk Road Textiles.
Page updated: 10 December 2018