Distinguished Lecture: Quilting history with Pam Holland’s replica of the Bayeux Tapestry

Editor’s Note: The Bayeux Tapestry, an embroidered textile 230 feet long, visually recounts the conquest of England by the Normans in 1066. Professional quilter Pam Holland of Australia has nearly completed a full-scale quilted replica of the Bayeux Tapestry. In the process of her work and research, she has become one of the leading experts on the original piece, which is on display in Normandy, France. The replica quilted panel on display in the HMNS Magna Carta exhibition is an example of Holland’s work. This blog post is written by Holland.

Last year, I was approached by the Houston Museum of Natural Science to display a sample piece of my “Bayeux Tapestry – To Quilt” project in their upcoming Magna Carta exhibition. I was thrilled, as you can imagine, while a little taken aback at the same time. However, during the Houston Quilt Festival, we met and I agreed they could have it for the duration of the exhibition.

I made the arrangement thinking I wouldn’t get to Houston to see it on display, but an opportunity came my way and I found myself in Houston this past March, only a short while after Magna Carta had opened! Blessings. And my, what an experience it was to see the exhibit.

The entrance to the exhibition is imposing and continues through several distinct spaces. The first room covers really interesting information about the day-to-day lives of people who lived in Medieval England.

Of course, I was drawn to the section with products used to dye fabric and thread. There was so much information I could barely take it all in. I’ve been studying these subjects for years, and here it was, all in one place: dyeing, weaving, daily chores and tasks. I was amazed.

I walked down a corridor and into the next room.

It was beautiful; it looked forever like a cathedral. The light was low. Facsimiles of stained glass windows and the sounds of Gregorian chanting adding to the ambiance.

And there, in the center, was my quilt. I almost burst. I just thought it would be pinned to the wall. Never did I imagine my piece would have its own beautiful display.

Bayeux Magna

The more I looked at it, the more I thought, “It’s fitting.” I have a small inkling now of how the entire quilt will look on display — all 263 feet of it.

My spirit soared. I’m so thrilled. I was absolutely delighted to play a small part in this collection.

Serendipitously, I am making my way back to Houston on Tuesday, July 22, and will give a lecture at HMNS on the Bayeux Tapestry in the Wortham Giant Screen Theatre at 6:30 p.m. I couldn’t be more excited!

HMNS Distinguished Lecture
The Bayeux Tapestry: The Story-Telling Textile of the Norman Conquest
Pam Holland, Author and Artist
Tuesday, July 22, 6:30 p.m.
Sponsored by the Favrot Fund
The Museum’s Magna Carta programs are sponsored by the British Council.
Click here for advance tickets.

The Magna Carta exhibit is on display at the Houston Museum of Natural Science until August 17, 2014. Click here for tickets and information.

See below for details of Pam Holland’s quilted replica of the Bayeux Tapestry:

Treat yo’ self : Sharpen your shopping chops at the Summer Trunk Shows in our Museum Store

Congratulations! You’re doing a fantastic job getting through the summer: hydration levels are up, tan looks good and you’ve had your suitcase packed for vacation since May.

Museum Store Treat YourselfAll that summer prep is hard work though — time to treat yourself! Starting this Friday and continuing every Friday through August 8, you can treat yourself to 20 percent off select items at our Summer Trunk Shows in the Museum Store

July 18 – BEACH PARTY 
Featuring Krystal Sasso, James Peach, Ax + Apple, Zad and more!

July 25 –  REBECCA LANKFORD

August 1 - THE COLOR OF SUMMER
Featuring Alexis Bittar, Leighelena, Lele Sadoughi and more!

August 8 - MIRTA TUMMINO

Each Trunk Show features different designers and themes, so no matter what you need to treat yourself, we’ve got it.

But you’ve got to start somewhere. Let us help. Do you need:

Tooth jewelry?
Krystal Sasso Beach Bunny Shark Tooth Bracelet 

Treat yourself!

Awesome necklaces?
Made UK Irima Pendant Small Diamond Pendant

TREAT YOURSELF.

Pearls?
James Peach Cluster Pearl Leather Necklace

#TreatYourself

Understated elegance?
Rebecca Lankford Labradorite Diamond Necklace 

Treat-Yo-Self

Antlers?
Rebecca Lankford Antler Sapphire Necklace and Antler Snake Necklace

TREAT. YO. SELF.

Turquoise?
Alexis Bittar ‘Elements’ Turquoise And Labradorite Necklace

Treat YourSELF!

Gems, gems and more gems?
Mirta Tummino Moonstone Labradorite Necklace

TREEEEAT YOURSEEEEEELF!

 

Inside HMNS Sugar Land: Why the Body Carnival exhibit is a sensory party you must attend

Just like all of our exhibits, there’s plenty to see. But a better question might be, “What is there to DO in Body Carnival?

This special exhibit is packed with lots of fun, interactive stations that give each visitor just a little bit of a challenge!

When you walk through the exhibit’s entrance, your vision, perception and balance come into play as soon as you see the “Wacky Wall.”  It’s easy to find since the entire wall is covered with narrow black and white vertical stripes. With a gentle tug, the wall swings side-to-side, and suddenly, you have to think about staying in balance! 

Lift one foot off the floor and see what happens, then switch and raise the other foot. Is it easy to go from one to the other? Is it hard? I’ve been in the exhibit many times and I hate to say it, but adults really do start to lose their balance as they get older. 

A few days ago I noticed a family in front of the “Wacky Wall.”  The kids were nearly hopping from foot to foot, laughing at how cool the wall looked. Behind them, the father was wobbling just standing in front of the wall while the mother couldn’t balance on her left foot. All of them were laughing like crazy! 

Obviously, each person has a different reaction based on their sense of balance and ability to process visual puzzles. Accept the challenge and see how you do.

Photo credit: ClassicMommy.com

Speaking of balance, there are several tests in this exhibit to check yours. 

A fun one for both kids and adults is “Walk the Plank.” First, you walk across a slightly raised 3-inch-wide bar, then a 1.5-inch-bar and finally a tight rope. Sound easy? If you can walk all three short planks slowly and stay on each one all the way to the end, you’ve got great balance! 

I didn’t have any trouble with this one, but the tight rope can be tricky, depending on your shoes. You can make things a little more interesting by adding a small wrist weight, from the nearby bin, to just one arm. Is it still as easy with one side of your body a bit heavier than the other? You’ll probably have to lean over farther to the opposite side or find another way to even the weight distribution. 

Photo credit: ClassicMommy.com

The “Dizzy Tunnel” and “Goofy Goggles” are two more stations that will keep you on your toes, so to speak, with more balance and visual acuity tests. Come give them all a try and see how well you do!

You can also experience how levers work in our bodies. Wait a minute: The human body has levers?  Aren’t those just for wheelbarrows and pulleys? 

At Body Carnival, you can check out how your elbows and shoulders serve as levers, making it easier to reach, pull and pick up items every day. Wheelbarrows and pulleys only magnify what the levers in your body already do! 

To see this in action, visit the “Hang Time” station and see how long you can hang with your hands about 12 inches apart. Can you make it 10 seconds or longer?  A chart on the station gives you an idea of how good your arm strength is in comparison to others your age. The real lesson comes when you switch your hands to the position 24 inches apart.  That moves the levers — your shoulders — farther apart, making them less efficient and your hang time shorter. 

I used to be the champ on the monkey bars in my much younger days — until I grew up and put on about 100 pounds. I figured I’d do miserably on this one, but I actually made it longer than average for my age group and it even made my creaky neck feel better (although I think that had more to do with me needing a good stretch than the lever effect). 

There are several additional stations in the exhibit about flexibility, arm span, joints and height. You can also explore the concept further with the levers and pulleys found nearby in the Discovery Works Hall.

On Thursdays, healthcare providers from Next Level Urgent Care stay in the exhibit to help explain the concepts in the exhibit to patrons and kids.

These are just a few examples of the fun things to both see and do in Body Carnival! Come explore all 14 stations and check out your physical abilities.  

I’m also looking forward to our Teddy Bear Clinic on August 14. Little ones are encouraged to bring in their favorite stuffed animal, don a lab coat and “assist” while their lovey gets a check-up — just in time for back to school. Check the website for details and come see the exhibit soon!

The 10 Kinds of Pandas You Find on the Internet

Everyone knows cute animals basically run the Internet. But what’s the best of the best when it comes to Internet cuteness?

panda bear wallpaper 9

I hereby put forth that pandas are the epitome of Internet animal cuteness, and should reign with their ever-powerful cuteness over the masses from a bamboo throne … which would have to be replaced constantly, because they’d eat it (in an adorable fashion, of course).

Don’t believe me? Check out the 10 kinds of pandas you find on the Internet:

(Or perhaps you’re already panda savvy, in which case you should totally come see Pandas: The Journey Home now playing in the Wortham Giant Screen Theatre.)

10. SAD PANDA

Because nothing’s more adorably sad than a sad panda.

 

9. A-LIST PANDA

When you’re this cute, A-listers can’t get enough photo ops — even though the pandas obviously hog the spotlight.

 

8. PANDA SWAG PANDA

You’d wear a hat of your own face, too, if it were this cute.

 

7. HAPPY PANDA

Nothing is filled with more joy than a happy panda.

 

6. SISYPHUS PANDA

Because when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

 

5. BABY PANDA

Don’t even pretend your baby’s this cute. #SorryNotSorry

 

4. PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE PANDA

Sometimes you just need that extra push and WHO COULD EVER GET MAD AT A PANDA?!

 

3. PANDA POSERS

Everyone’s trying to rip off their adorableness.

 

2. PANDA WITH ALLERGIES

Tell me what’s cuter than a giant panda scared by a surprisingly loud sneeze from an eensie weensie panda. TELL ME.

 

1. ENDANGERED PANDA

Unfortunately, the endangered status of these miraculous creatures makes me a sad panda. However, these crazy-cute guys and gals are starting to make a come back! Learn all about the conservation programs in their native China and see how their population is beginning to rebound in Pandas: The Journey Home, now playing in the Wortham Giant Screen Theatre.