I'm fortunate to live in the Brandywine Valley, where Pennsylvania and Delaware meet. The region is rich in history, culture, art, and natural beauty. Longwood Gardens, Winterthur, and the Brandywine River Museum of Art (think Wyeth) are just a few of the many attractions.
Most of you know that I am a travel writer as well as a crochet author. In 2004 I wrote Brandywine Valley: The Informed Traveler's Guideabout the area I call home. One of my favorite sites is Hagley Museum and Library. As I was inspired to write in my book:
It's almost a shame to call Hagley a `museum,' since it's so much more than the term implies. Located on 235 scenic acres along the Brandywine River, on the site of the first du Pont black powder works, Hagley tells the story of life and industry int he nineteenth century through exhibits, tours, restorations, and demonstrations.
You can tour Eleutherian Mills, the du Pont family home; stroll through the French-style garden; use the interactive exhibits in the Henry Clay Mill building; immerse yourself in the lives of the workers on Blacksmith Hill; and simply enjoy a beautiful walk along the water near the sluice gates and millraces. (And for anyone planning a wedding, wow, Hagley does these well!)
(For all you punctuation and spelling sticklers out there, be aware that there are as many ways to construct "du Pont" as there are du Ponts. In general, du Pont family members use a lower case d and a space before Pont, except for Alfred I duPont, who dispensed with the space--and who, mercifully, is not part of our story today. Then there's the DuPont Company, which prefers the capital D and no space, unless it's the complete company name, E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Inc., in which case the rules are reversed.)
Hagley has an upcoming one-object exhibition, "Unraveling Stories," which features a 10-foot x 12-foot hooked rug designed and created by Mrs. Edward W. Cooch, Jr., in 1950. The images in the rug tell the story of the du Pont family in the United States. In addition to visually representing history, the hooked rug is history: it is the first hooked rug made of nylon, a DuPont product.
As soon as I heard about the rug exhibit, I thought, "This is the PERFECT opportunity for a yarn bombing!" I saw a photo of the rug and could picture using the themes and colors in a complementary way elsewhere on the property. Hagley is just down the road from the Delaware Museum of Natural History, where my outdoor crochet art was exhibited in December and January, and where the 40-foot crocheted snake Yarnboa is still on display indoors because the Museum begged me not to take it down yet! Both sites are part of the Brandywine Museums & Gardens Alliance, a consortium of local institutions that work together to promote the region, so all of the directors, exhibits managers, and public relations people know each other. (Many of them know me, too, because I was the BMGA public relations liaison for several years.) Anyway, I guess I got a good recommendation because Hagley was very open to the idea of a yarn-bombing proposal, and they accepted my design with enthusiasm!
The idea is to decorate Hagley's imposing pair of gates at the main entrance, as well as the brick pillars that hold the gates and a smaller gate nearby. The yarn-bomb gets its inspiration from the rug, with fleur-de-lis and flowers.
We (I say "we" because volunteers from Hagley's handwork group, and possibly other volunteers, will be helping me) plan to transform the bars below the diagonal into a garden that matches the flowers in the rug. Above the bar will probably be fleur-de-lis and lace. I'll save the rest of the details for later, when I'm more certain of how the design will translate into reality.
I'm meeting with the handwork group next week to figure out how much they are interested in and capable of doing; Hagley volunteers knit and crochet a lot of items that they sell, using the proceeds for a scholarship fund, but I think they will be excited to spend a little time working on the yarn-bomb. It will give us a chance to connect with fiber folks in the Brandywine Valley and the larger area, including Philadelphia, and introduce them to Hagley Museum. People who have never been there won't believe what they've been missing!
Installation is scheduled for the week of March 23rd. I am very grateful that the staff has been so energetic and welcoming. I think the process will be a lot of fun and the results will be beautiful!