Metallic threads. Colorful yarns. Sketches. These are the things used by 17th century weavers to craft intricate designs. And a new children’s story penned by a Bangor author follows the process in a well-paced, vivid tale.
“Therese Makes a Tapestry,” by Alexandra S. D. Hinrichs, is set at the Gobelins Manufactory in 17th century Paris, France, where young Therese lives and works with her family. She winds yarns for artisans to use in tapestries. At home, she learns how to weave on a small loom, dreaming of being a royal weaver someday — though girls aren’t trained to do so.
The story follows Therese as she embarks on a plan to use her small loom to weave a special, intricate tapestry for her father, getting help from all over the manufactory. Illustrated by award-winning artist Renee Graef, the vivid imagery and detailed story draw readers into the story and delights with surprises.
The book was published by J. Paul Getty Museum.
“Getty publications approached me to see if I would have any interest in this project,” said Hinrichs in a recent phone interview.
Hinrichs, whose work as a researcher for American Girl led Getty to her, drew on her experience while writing the book.
“Working at American Girl taught me both about the process of writing a book, and the types of questions to ask,” said Hinrichs.
The story, intended for children, combines historical facts and creative fiction into the engaging tale.
“Therese is fictional, however it’s based on a lot of history. The … manufactory is a real place, even today,” said Hinrichs. “What really led me to set the story there was when I learned that the weavers and the artists and their families lived on site. I just thought what a cool place to grow up.”
Therese’s father also is based on a real person, and King Louis XIV also really visited the manufactory as well. As for the tapestry the story is based on? It’s real.
“The tapestry she weaved is based on a real tapestry,” said Hinrichs. “There’s two versions of it currently hanging at the Getty.”
Having a strong, female lead character was important to Hinrichs.
“I wanted to see some of the challenges young women faced and young women in particular faced,” said Hinrichs. “She reaches out and finds people to cooperate with her and help her along.”
The publishing of this book is a fulfillment of a life dream for Hinrichs.
“My passion really is children’s literature with a special place in the heart for historical fiction,” said Hinrichs.
There will be a book launch from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 12, at The Briar Patch on Central Street in Bangor. Beginning at 1 p.m., visitors can help create a “work of many hands” using a journey loom that will later be displayed at the Maine Discovery Museum. Hinrichs will be reading from her book beginning at 2 p.m., and she will give a talk about the writing process. She also will sign books.