The Art of Embroidery

by: Pearl Mertens (reading – 2.12. - 8.12.)

Embroidery has survived history in different forms. It has existed in one form or the other for many years. Embroidery is a fulfilling art form which has become an interesting pastime for people from all segments of society. In the recent past, this has made advancements in a lot of aspects, and many of those who are not fully involved with embroidery are unaware of the immense developments.

Embroidery is basically adding colorful threads to fabric in order to create a design. If you purchase an item of clothing embellished with embroidery it was probably done by a machine, as embroidery can take a very long time to do by hand. Most embroidery is done with the help of a pattern, although there are many people who can do it without.

Most embroidery patters are quite inexpensive, as is the thread and needles. This allows anyone to be able to create beautiful designs on clothing, tablecloths, napkins, blankets, and any other type of fabric without having to spend hundreds on all of the equipment. Finding embroidery patterns is also quite easy.

About The Author

Pearl Mertens is the chief writer for, and editor of RC Embroidery, there's a wealth of knowledge on the website, plus why not sign up for the free Embroidery newsletter. Want to read more Embroidery articles?, just go to: www.rcembroidery.com/articles

The History of Coats of Arms

by: Tony Luck (reading – 9.12. - 15.12.)

The date and manner of the origin of coats of arms, often called family crests, has been a matter of much speculation. There is no evidence of coats of arms being present at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, nor were family crests apparent by the beginning of the twelfth century. However, in the 13th century, coats of arms were used throughout Europe and the whole 'science' of heraldry - its rules and terms - had been established. During this time the Crusades undoubtedly helped spread the use of coats of arms.

Various suggestions have been put forward regarding the origin of coats of arms, for example: shields, banners, tabards and possibly the use of seals. Probably, once a design had been adapted, it would have been put to many personal items at the same time. To qualify as a coat of arms, a design must be capable of being depicted on a shield, but the name 'coat of arms' is derived from the linen tabard which was worn over the armour and upon which the design was shown.

It was in battle that the need for armorial bearings arose. In times of warfare it was the nobility, the land-owners, who were called upon for leadership, and each landowner would control his small group of illiterate men in battle. With the helmet of a suit of armour closed in battle it would have been difficult to identify the man inside, hence the distinctive coat of arms or family crest pictured on a shield and embroidered tabard became essential, the latter giving rise to the name 'coat of arms'.

Armorial devices were the prerogative of the upper class. In early times even land could not pass from one person to another without the license of the king, and the sovereign was also involved in the granting of coats of arms. However, pretty soon other families in what might be called the middle classes started displaying their own coats of arms, although 'heralds' and other officers of the government tried in vain to keep the use of coats of arms confined to a privileged few. Today many homes display shields with the family coat of arms, the shields are smaller than those that used to hang in the baronial halls but so are modern houses!

About The Author

Tony Luck has an interest in heraldry. His website www.familycrests.biz has additional information on coats of arms and family crests.

Pop Art Brief

by: Stuart Harris (reading – 16.12. - 22.12.)

"The term first appeared in Britain during the 1950s and referred to the interest of a number of artists in the images of mass media, advertising, comics and consumer products. The 1950s were a period of optimism in Britain following the end of war-time rationing, and a consumer boom took place. Influenced by the art seen in Eduardo Paolozzi's 1953 exhibition Parallel between Art and Life at the Institute for Contemporary Arts, and by American artists such as Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, British artists such as Richard Hamilton and the Independent Group aimed at broadening taste into more popular, less academic art. Hamilton helped organize the 'Man, Machine, and Motion' exhibition in 1955, and 'This is Tomorrow' with its landmark image Just What is it that makes today's home so different, so appealing? (1956). Pop Art therefore coincided with the youth and pop music phenomenon of the 1950s and '60s, and became very much a part of the image of fashionable, 'swinging' London. Peter Blake, for example, designed album covers for Elvis Presley and the Beatles and placed film stars such as Brigitte Bardot in his pictures in the same way that Warhol was immortalizing Marilyn Monroe in the USA. Pop art came in a number of waves, but all its adherents - Joe Trilson, Richard Smith, Peter Phillips, David Hockney and R.B. Kitaj - shared some interest in the urban, consumer, modern experience."

From The Bulfinch Guide to Art History: A Comprehensive Survey and Dictionary of Western Art and Architecture (Bulfinch Guide to Art History) - General Editor Shearer West.

About The Author

Stuart Harris - I have been interested in Pop Art culture in all its many guises throughout my life. To see some of my creations please visit www.artsweep.com .

Photography Pioneers

by: Suzanne VanDeGrift (reading – 23.12. - 29.12.)

Modern day photography dates back to the early 1800's. The word photography is derived from the Greeks; photos meaning light and graphein meaning to draw. The word was first used in 1839 by scientist Sir John F W Herschel to describe a method of recording images. That was 12 years after the first photograph was captured by Frenchman Louis Jacque Mande Daguerre, a professional opera scene painter. This first process took eight hours and he then worked 12 more years to reduce the exposure time to under 30 minutes and keep the image from disappearing. These first photographs were exposed on metal that had been sensitized to accept the image and were called Daguerreotypes after their French inventor. Then came the tintype, invented in 1856 by Hamilton Smith. This was a thin sheet of iron used as a base for light sensitive material to produce a photograph.

Along came an American from upstate New York, George Eastman, who was very fascinated by photography, but frustrated with what he considered cumbersome exposure methods. He developed a dry photographic plate, patented it in the United States and England and began his first photographic business in 1880. In 1884, he replaced the glass plates with paper rolls allowing multiple images to be taken much more quickly. Four years later, on September 4, 1888 he patented the "roll film camera". You could take your pictures, mail the camera to Kodak who would develop your 100 photos and send them back to you along with another roll of 100 exposures. Sound familiar? The big difference? You used to get your camera back, now you don't!

These pioneers would be amazed with the equipment available to us today. We have the digital camera, the SLR, 35mm, the camcorder, automatic exposure and automatic focusing, zoom lens and video. We even take pictures with our cellphones, which we can then download onto our computers. We have the luxury of going just about anywhere to get that perfect shot. Indoors, outdoors, underwater, or on top of a mountain. We attach our camera to a tripod and set the self timer so we can be in that majestic mountain scene.

When the equipment was of a size to be transported from place to place, they certainly didn't have a camera case with a padded shoulder strap. We have a camera bag suited to fit every camera and the accessories. Backpacks for hiking up that trail and lens pouches.

We can take pictures as a hobby, while on vacation; supplement our income as a weekend photographer/writer for a local newspaper; or travel the world as a full-time photojournalist. Today, our photographic possibilities are limitless thanks, at least in part, to these photography trailblazers.

About The Author

Suzanne VanDeGrift of Web Submission Services, Inc., has developed this article for www.M-ROCK.com , manufacturer of feature packed and functional digital camera bags

Soluble New Years Resolutions

by: Martine Pullen (reading – 30.12. - 5.1.)

As Big Ben chimes at midnight on 31st December we toast in the New Year and make all those decisions about what we want for the next year, and talk about all the great things we will achieve. Then what? By the end of January or possibly, if we are lucky, February our resolve has ‘dissolved’ and life carries on as normal until the next time Big Ben chimes out a new year.

Does this sound familiar? If so you are one of the millions of people who make (and subsequently break!) their New Years resolutions year after year.

So why do we do it? What makes January the first such a special time to make a change to our lives and why is it then so difficult to maintain that change?

The answer to this may never be fully known and understood but in my experience there are a number of key reasons that apply to some, if not all, of the broken resolutions.

- We are not at our most sober or ‘clear thinking’ when we make the commitment.

- Everyone breaks New Years Resolutions so why shouldn’t we?

- January is wet, miserable and cold (or hot and sunny depending on where you live) and the weather affects our mood and desire to achieve.

- The friends we tell our resolutions to on NYE either can’t remember or are too busy breaking their own to be motivational.

So how can we make changes that are lasting in our lives? These are a few of the positive steps that we can all take to help us make lasting changes in our lives.

- Choose a day and time in the very near future and make that your ‘change my life plan’ day – don’t wait for New Year.

- Tell as many people as you can about your plan and tell them you want to stick to it. It is much easier keeping a commitment you have made to others than just to yourself.

- Set your goal or plan in achievable, measurable steps – try and change the world in a day and you are destined to fail!

- Choose a looking forward plan where you focus on what you want to achieve, not what you want to avoid.

So as we head towards, or away from the New Year lets just enjoy the celebrations and make today the day to make lasting change.

About The Author

Martine Pullen is a Qualified Life Coach, NLP Practitioner and Partner in 'Divergent Thinking' a Coaching and Therapy Practice. More information can be found at www.divergent-thinking.org.uk .