Welcome to The Phoenix Files!

This blog is a collection of papers and how-to articles I have written over the past 25+ years, as well as my travel journals and announcements.  Scholarly works from "The Library" on my old website, are labeled here as "Historica Tractatu." 

My travels have had heavy influence on my work and are the 'back story' behind many of my designs. Some of my older journals are revised from the original, and most link to photo albums on Facebook.  

Yurts Part I - History and Custom

Posted by Heather Daveno, ©1987, revised 2016 on 2/28/2016 to Historica Tractatu
Yurts Part I - History and Custom

The ger, or yurt as it is commonly called, is one of two forms of portable housing that have been used by Central Asian nomads for centuries, dating back to the Scythians.  The ger remains today as the primary form of portable housing on the Himalayan Plateau and the Central Asian Steppes.

My study of gers reflects their usage by the nomads of Tibet, Mongolia and China since the time of Marco Polo. 

Pan Chou, Woman Historian

Posted by Heather Daveno, copyright ©2000 on 2/24/2016 to Historica Tractatu

                            "The thoughts of the princely man

                            ought to be written down.

                            But why should one not voice his own opinion?

                            As we admire the ancients,

                            Every action of that virtuous one (my father)

                            Meant a literary creation…"

                                            From Dungzheng Fu (Traveling East)

                                            by Pan Chao

Making a Tibetan Maikhan

Posted by Heather Daveno, ©1985, revised 2016 on 2/21/2016 to DIY
Making a Tibetan Maikhan
The maikhan of the modern day Tibetan Plateau and Mongolian Steppes is a sprawling network of poles and ropes, supporting a felt of yak hair that is so fine, that visitors comment that these shelters offer only minimal protection from wind and cold. They are large enough to house a modest Tibetan nomadic family. They more resemble the tents of the modern day Arabic nomads, than the stately structures of thirteenth century Tibet.

This article will walk you through my process for making this style of tent, how I adapted it to the Pacific NW, and my experience camping in it.

The Four Intelligent Creatures of China

Posted by Heather Daveno, ©1988, revised 2004 on 2/17/2016 to Historica Tractatu
The Four Intelligent Creatures of China

"What are the Four Intelligent Creatures?

           They are: the Unicorn, the Phoenix, the Tortoise, and the Dragon"

                                          from the  Li Ki (Book of Rites and Ceremonies)

So it has been said that these are the four spiritually endowed animals sacred to ancient China...

The Stitchery Series: Part V - Applique and Other Decoration

Posted by Heather Daveno, Artisan Hatter on 2/14/2016 to Textiles & Wearables
The Stitchery Series: Part V - Applique and Other Decoration

This is the last in this series, which has focused on (mostly) Chinese embroidery as a surface embellishment.  This segment will cover a few other forms of surface decoration that can be combined with embroidery to bring new color, texture and uniqueness to your own textile projects and wearable art pieces.

 

The Stitchery Series: Part IV - Symbolism in Chinese Embroidery

Posted by Heather Daveno, Artisan Hatter on 2/10/2016 to Textiles & Wearables
The Stitchery Series: Part IV - Symbolism in Chinese Embroidery

Every symbol in Chinese textiles had significance and evolved from several philosophies and concepts.  The Chinese enjoy puns and plays on words, and often designs were used if their verbal sound or written character was similar to a quality or virtue.  Hence, because the words for bat and happiness sound similar, the bat became the symbol for happiness. 

The invention of the draw loom and the development of jacquards and brocades allowed patterns to be woven into the cloth. Common patterns included checks, diamonds, zig-zags, coins, clouds, dragons, lions, horses, flowers, birds and fish. Brocades were often over-embroidered to augment the woven patterns (a technique I now employ on my hats…)

The Stitchery Series: Part III – Embroidery Stitches

Posted by Heather Daveno, Artisan Hatter on 2/7/2016 to Textiles & Wearables
The Stitchery Series: Part III – Embroidery Stitches

Textiles from Han Dynasty tombs in China show that the embroidery used during this time period incorporated Satin Stitch, Stem Stitch, Peking Knot, Chain Stitch and Couching. 

      Peking Knot (da zi) – called seed knot in early centuries and came to be known as Forbidden Stitch, when it was outlawed from embroidery factories during the 1940’s because it was thought that women were going blind in their extensive use of it. Current literature attributes this to a very old urban legend.  I have personally lost more of my eyesight from working with metallic couching, than I ever have working with this stitch...

The Stitchery Series: Part II – Tools and Techniques

Posted by Heather Daveno, Artisan Hatter on 2/3/2016 to Textiles & Wearables
The Stitchery Series: Part II – Tools and Techniques
Shown here is my collection of historical replica embroidery tools, which includes a bone needle, and two bronze needles.  The black packet is a vintage set of #5 sharps that are an inch long with round eyes. The oval object is a needle threader from my grandmother’s thread cabinet. Also shown here is my collection of thimbles – an embroidered silk one and another from jade are both of Chinese origin.  The other three are from Turkey, in porcelain, enameled metal, and granulated metal at the end, which has become my favorite...