Preservation vs. Restoration

When last we left the goldwork project, Phoebe was concerned and needed some time to plot her next move. She is a trooper and once more stepped into the breach.

Phoebe ready to go

Our hopes that gently washing the fabric might help with pliability were crushed.  The fabric continued to turn to dust.  Piercing it with a needle proved impossible.  We quickly realized that we would not be able to apply a backing fabric via needle & thread.  I hesitated to iron anything to the back.  In the end, we chose preservation over restoration – hence the shadowbox.

Goldwork Shadowbox

Basically I cut the goldwork into pieces, salvaging the best parts.  Then using rust-proof archival pins, I pinned the pieces to the shadowbox, going through the padded goldwork for greater stability.  Hopefully the beauty of the pieces can be enjoyed for a few more years before completely turning to dust.

I do have a few sections left and will try to attach the individual elements to velvet, which can then be stretched and framed.  The silk background is unworkable.  I do not suffer from the illusion that my needlework will be treasured as heirlooms for years to come.  I do use the right tools for the job.  How else can you learn proper technique?  I am shocked that an embroiderer who could do such lovely goldwork and stumpwork was so clueless as to not use the proper double layer fabric technique.  Such a shame.

Phoebe and I learned a lot doing our background research and trying different techniques.  I just wish we could have saved more of the embroideries.


One Pill Makes You Taller

And one pill makes you small.  Cue the marching drums and serpentine guitar riff of White Rabbit, which perfectly capture the underlying tensions in Alice in Wonderland and Through the Lookingglass.  Too many movies or stage productions whitewash the tensions or indulge in the idiosyncrasies of the characters – losing sight of the core story.  How does one become an adult?  Does one even want to be an adult? What danger lurks in adulthood?

The Lookingglass production of “Lookingglass Alice” addresses those questions through physicality.  Alice falls through a circus hoop above the stage, swings on ropes, and literally fights her way through tea party chairs, shoes, and various creatures.  The audience sees Alice in danger, but intellectually knows that she can’t be in too much danger.  After all, the performers are trained.  Fear turns into thrills and back to fear.

For this production, most of the cast is familiar, reprising their original roles.  Molly Brennan of 500 Clown fame is a welcome addition to the cast as the Red Queen, a piece of the caterpillar, and one of the Tweedles.  Used to combining anarchic physicality with sharp wit, Brennan is at the top of her game.  While the Lookingglass cast is quite good, Brennan outshines them.  Her presence cuts like a razor and brings a new energy to the stage.  I dream of a 500 Clown Alice.

The standing ovation at the end of the show was well-deserved.  The daring acrobatics and witty dialogue are interspersed with moments of poignancy.  Lauren Hite’s Alice is confused, sure of herself, muddled, and confident – all while actually carrying the White Knight.  Lookingglass Alice is a Chicago theatre classic.  Download a copy of Surrealistic Pillow on your iPod and head over to the Waterworks.