HHH's Story, Part 1
This is the first choice for my favorites of my own work, this is Hollyhock House.
Many times people think this is a doll house but it isn't, it is a Sanctuary. If I had thought to name it Sanctuary, I would have.
At the time I stitched it I was going through a rough spell. My father had just died and his death marked the end of 4 years of personal turmoil. When it was over, I wanted to run away and heal.
Nowhere to run, so I invented my Sanctuary and stitched it for three months. I lived in the chair on the right side of the fireplace and I healed.
I finished it and Jody Adams, then the boss at Callaway Gardens asked me to bring it to seminar that year.
I had no intention of writing it or teaching it, it was just mine. But if you remember Jody Adams and her brand of Southern Charm, you will know all week long at seminar, she worked on me and I of course loving Callaway relented.
HHH's Story, Part 2: Lessons I learned
Most of these pieces I will feature here taught me lessons. From Hollyhock House this is the major lesson I learned: other people, lots of other people, were going through bad times too, and some of them saw in Hollyhock House the same sanctuary I saw.
It wasn't just the piece, it was working on such a large project. I knew this before, but I double-learned it from Hollyhock House: stitching is a form of meditation, it takes the stitcher to another place sometimes when the world is too much to take.
I remember saying to people after Hollyhock House: it isn't just the piece, it is the whole experience: the challenge, the colors, the threads, the repetitive acttion, the whole nine yards.
HHH's Story, Part 3: Hardest Parts, Favorite Parts
Hollyhock House is a large sampler on congress cloth. Over the years people have stitched it on linen too, quite successfully, but I am a congress cloth person.
Large as the sampler was, some of the elements were the smallest I had stitched: note the tiny samplers around the fireplace. They were a challenge and they fueled my interest in miniaturiazation. Look at the largest of the three samplers, the one with the Georgian House over the fireplace. Do you recognize that that is a sampler of Hollyhock House? Samplers within a Sampler.
That Sampler is just 30 stitches wide. The other two are smaller. In stitching these samplers, I for the first time used tent stitch backgrounds overstitched with double running stitch. The goal was not difficulty, it was working on scale.
My interest went from just that, interest, to obsession with scale. More about that another time. I just wanted to say that this was one of the pieces that fired the obsession
HHH's Story, Part 4: The Future and Influence of HHH
Hollyhock House was the first piece I gave away. Outside of the needlework world and outside of the sampler world subdivision of the needlework world, I wasn't sure that people would know that lack of scale and lack of depth were both noted features of the history of samplers.
Hollyhock House was my modern adaptation of a 19th century pictorial sampler.
I decided to look for a sampler that would demonstrate the way pictorial samplers had influenced me. I had never bought samplers before (save some Berlinwork Samplers I bought because of fascination with their patterns).
I asked Kate where to start; I googled her first suggestion, saw the first sampler there and bought it.
My goal is to adapt it as it is (not copy, but adapt loosely), then turn its house and do the inside of the rooms, like Hollyhock House.
Why did I buy it? I thought when I finished, I would have a series demonstrating perfectly where one of my favorite pieces came from.
Below are a series of larger photos of some of my favorite details of Hollyhock House
On the left: a closer look at one of the Hollyhock blossoms and its pot.
Below: the border of Hollyhocks along the top and bottom of the sampler. Maybe one of these days I will use this border again.
On the left: the fireplace and the tiny tiny sampler of Hollyhock House above the mantle.
Below: the dresser in the bedroom with another tiny tiny sampler above it.