Comments on the Cabinet of Curiosities from Current Students

Nancy M. says:

I am a contemporary stitcher. I have never stitched a historical sampler. Before joining this class I knew nothing about 17th century samplers or the stitchers that stitched then. Among other contemporary designs I've stitched Shepherd's Bush, Mirabilia, CA Wells, Drawn Thread, Brightneedle, Chatelaine Mandela Designs and have marveled at their ability to design projects that I loved to stitch.

I took one class by Tricia - Monogramed Workbasket about 5 years ago. But that one class showed me what an amazing teacher Tricia is. I joined her newsletter and found out about the work she was doing with the Pilmoth Jacket. It was beautiful but again I never had the desire to stitch in that historical mode.

When she announced her first Cabinet of Curiosities class I wondered about it. The ability to create my own heirloom. Could I do it in a purely contemporary fashion? It was expensive and I didn't really know what I was getting into. I had been stitching smalls for years now having run out of wall space in my apartment years ago. So I decided to go for it - after all it was an 18 month class and at a monthly fee that was below what my stitching budget was although I did wonder whether it would hold my interest - after all I wasn't a historical stitcher.

I joined the ning bb and then received our first lesson. The information in that lesson was amazing. I couldn't put it down. We hadn't even received our first "kit" yet and I was enthralled. The historical information "taught" me so much. I couldn't believe what these 17th century stitchers (usually in their early teens) accomplished - without our modern technology and supplies.

Then Tricia started teaching us how to design our cabinets using contemporary references that we could relate to and understand. I finally thought that I could really do this. I could design my own Cabinet of Curiosities and leave my own legacy to my children in a truly contemporary fashion and in my own way. I still have a long way to go - my ideas are in my head and I need to get them onto paper but with the guidance of Tricia and the other stitchers I have "met" on the ning board I know I can do this. My Cabinet of Curiosities will be truly unique and mine. And hopefully stitchers years from now will look at my casket like I look at the 17th century caskets and wonder about my life and how I created this cabinet.

There's no way I could have started down this journey without Tricia's guidance. I would be seeing these beautiful caskets in museums and online posts from other stitchers - marvel at them but never ever think I could create something like that. With Tricia teaching and holding my hand each month and other stitchers on the ning board to learn from and bounce ideas off of I can do this. I thank Tricia for her vision of this class and am very honored to be part of it and to "know" the other stitchers on the board as we share this journey together. My casket will be totally contemporary but never could I have done this without the 17th century stitchers who have created them before me - and with the wonderful teacher who is bringing their work into our 21st century lives. Thank you Tricia!
Katya G. says:

The cost of this class is considerable for me BUT worth every cent. I had the good fortune to have taken a couple of other classes with Tricia before this opportunity arose, and so signed up as soon as I could. I knew from previous experience that it would be very good value - and only half way through part one, this has been proven. Tricia's information and instructions are incomparable, and her kitsets are the only ones I have used where every single component is top quality. As a teacher myself, I know that it is not easy to nurture both people who need detailed advice, and encourage those who are willing to be original, yet Tricia is managing that magnificently with this course. I also know that a huge amount of work goes in to producing coherent instructions, and there are a great many here. If you cannot free up the money to do this course, I sympathise, but if you are just concerned that it is overpriced, then stop worrying and sign up; it is a bargain. This truly is the opportunity of a lifetime.
Christa E. said:

My mom is a "value driven" cross stitcher who is on a fixed income. Over the years, she has often thought the pricing of materials to be outside of her budget but she has ALWAYS appreciated an investment in education which is what we both consider this course to be plus much more. Mom is watching my growth through this course with lots of pride (and hopes for a casket in the years to come ;)
Peggy says:

One thing that "observers" may be confusing is calling this " a class ".

This is a study course that involves a lecture, research, and a lab and the items worked for the class, in the lab, are in a portfolio. The complete course includes the basic course materials and a very generous amount of lab supplies.

The portifolio is as complete as one desires. Some, such as I, may/will have very little iincluded, such as samples of my try-outs of a new method, materials, or idea. I may not have a completed project other the learning trinket box. I am thinking of including more very small boxes to test/try different materials and methods. With my lab supplies I am able to test ideas and play around investigating a 17th century activity that was as a final project for some young ladies when they had finished their work on samplers and necessities.

I already have 3 notebooks almost filled and may start another soon. One has all the lessons only. The 2nd has all the visual aids that go with each lesson. This permits me to study and review the written info, with the 2nd book open to that particular lesson without flipping back and forth. This also leaves me space to make my personal notes. I can also look at other lessons' visuals without a lot of searching. The 3rd notebook has patterns, templates, and lots of ideas in my own sketches, notes and ideas. I include more pictures here as I find ones that especially appeal to me.

This is a pre-thesis course. I decide what I want to learn. Have you "observers" priced graduate courses. [ Remember most do not have a 15wk time schedule. I remember some having 3 formal hours @week plus 2 4hrs labs @ week ( MTTF) with an optional 2hrs on Sat morning reviewing quizes, tests, and asking questions because I was behind at class time, or something arose in lab. Then all the extra time one could get in the lab and other places.] It's so exciting!
Colleen H. says:

This course is incredible!

It comes to $66 a month, and with this, we have gotten, so far, supplies to make more than half a dozen learning projects, a full line of many spools of silk threads! Bag after bag of matching colors of two kinds of thread, silk fabrics, special linens...

Then there is the research. This course is clearly the result of something like 20 years of research. We have been given motifs taken from many extent caskets, along with explanations of what they mean, and how to identify symbols in caskets and other period artwork. There are explanations and analysis of the sorts of themes chosen for different uses, of a sort not available in other books.

There is photo after photo of caskets from every angle, every drawer, bit of paper, mirror and tassel. There are detailed analyses of typical and atypical shapes, construction treatments, papers and silks used...I expect to have thousands of photos to study, enabling me to copy an extant casket for myself, as exactly as one could desire!

By the time this course is done, our course instruction books (that we download a chapter a month, will be equivalent to a textbook costing upwards of $500, I have kids in college...that is the going price for this sort of thing!), several hundred dollars worth of threads, the same in other supplies...more kits and threads are is clear that the supplies, alone, are a significant part of the cost. Silk is, simply, expensive, and we are using an awful lot of silk!

But, really? The best part of this course is that every bit that I read, gives me more information about the caskets than I had ever even imagined, from economics (shops and drafts people preparing the bases) to education. There is an amazing well of social history embedded in these boxes, information about women, their roles, and how they break out...and don't break out, of their assigned places.

Between the research presented and the supplies sent, this course is fairly priced. Sure, it is expensive....but historic recreation is an expensive hobby.
Nancy M. said:

Tricia you know how nervous I was about signing up for the class since I am not a "historical" stitcher - I'm much more contemporary. And you also know how much I fell in love with this class after the first installment. My casket is going to be very contemporary in nature and I hope to have my first designs in the next week or so. I would be more than happy to do a testimonial - please let me know. I have gained so much knowlege and am still not a historical stitcher but wouldn't have missed out on this class for anything!
Diane J. says:

There will NEVER be another class like this. Gay Ann Rodgers even told me that Tricia is the best teacher out there today! If I could write better I would offer up one of my own. Not only the knowledge that we have access to every month. I've learned so much from the talented ladies in the class that chat on the Ning board. I wish people would understand that more times than not you do get what you pay for. I would gladly pay it again. I couldn't sign up fast enough when it first became available!
Victoria L. says:

I am a professional with an academic background, including several postgraduate qualifications. I have found the depth and quality of research in the Cabinet of Curiosities class to be outstanding. Many hundreds of years of embroidery have been examined in great detail, and astute and insightful conclusions have been drawn. The background material alone is worth the class price.

And then there is the excitement of the kits, the silks and the new techniques. This course is the best one that I have ever enrolled in. Although I do have to say that the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine was fabulous as well; except the only silks there were for suturing - so this course wins!
Elizabeth M. says:

In the 21st century we are afflicted with a 'gotta have it yesterday' mentality. This class will not satisfy that urge... The Cabinet of Curiosities course is an opportunity to step back in time - it's a very personal investment and an invitation to engage in an eighteen month long journey. It's also a practical shared experience. The Cabinet of Curiosities course is not a simple web based project. This class is totally unlike other online classes. It's not a kit you buy and follow the directions with all the pieces provided. It's not just a series of pages one downloads with a code. It is a fairly intense academically styled course of work. To actually create a casket, one must be willing to apply oneself to learn the subject and be willing to tackle a demanding project - the likes of which have not been seen for four hundred years. Of course, the student is provided with the information and instructions to create an obsessively accurate 17th century cabinet or mirror surround. Everything to accomplish this goal has been gathered and is made available. There is a competent qualified instructor, and the class is presented in a coherent, orderly fashion over a year and a half. But this is not a project for someone who wants to 'make something in a weekend' or even a couple of months.

This course takes commitment and focus. I am coming to realize that when I simply finish the class itself (let alone finish my casket), I will have acquired a body of knowledge that would not have been available to me otherwise. I've estimated that If I chose to print out every single page of information, all the web references, and all the licensed images provided, t would take several reams of paper and more than a dozen one inch notebooks.

Tricia's experience, devotion and willingness to make available the decades of research she's acquired is without peer. One would have to enroll in a college or university, intern in a museum and join several different embroidery guilds to gain the information, materials and encouragement found in this course.

Yes, at first glance it seems outrageously expensive. I was extremely hesitant about the financial commitment I was making before signing up, and I remained nervous about it for the first couple of months. But after the first kit arrived, and I had joined in the online classroom, I realized this class was actually cheap at the price. It's not just about the materials and instructions provided, which are well worth the base cost - it's also the fact that I have gained access to dozens of classmates who value this kind of project. The Ning blog is one of the finest group experiences I've ever had online. My fellow stitchers are interested in the minutiae of creating an historically accurate textile; they freely share and encourage me to continue to refine my work. In this class, one can ask a question that would take hours of research, either online or in a library to get answers, or even just leads. But within a day or two I can be in a group discussion of my initial query, and well on my way to learning something completely new! Another nice aspect is that while the class is an international experience, some of the students have been able to organize 'local' meet ups and field trips. For example, I don't think I would have ever gained the access to the Metropolitan Museum's Ratti Textile Center without the guidance and experience of the local group. We saw almost a dozen relevant 17th c. textiles and embroidered caskets up close. And we were able to bring back and share our experience with classmates from around the world! (sorry, I know I have pictures to upload)

The opportunity to purchase items is just that - an opportunity. One of the nicest things about the class is that there is no pressure or requirement to purchase anything. It's my understanding that there are people taking this course for the information alone. The material is there, and it is what it is - simply the finest authentic reproductions I've ever seen, created by a teacher who went out and made it happen. Quality costs money - it's just that simple.