Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Some thoughts on Samplers

from the Benton County Historical Society & Museum
I've been on the road thus far this round and have had the opportunity to consider different interpretations of our "Stitch in Time" challenge, but I keep coming back to the stitching part in general and this sampler idea in particular.  One of the things I really love about V9 is going down that rabbit hole researching on the internet when I have an idea for a theme. I've barely scratched the surface and I've uncovered so many interesting stories about samplers - so much to consider!

Million dollar schoolgirl embroidery

In the past, a sampler would likely conjure an image like the one above, done by 10 year old Dolly Parker.  In simplest terms, a demonstration of needlework skills.  But, of course, they are so much more!  The Benton County site (link above) has pictures of samplers from around the world, each depicting a personal history and cultural/regional traditions over time. An exquisite example (right), stitched by 12 year old Mary Antrim in 1807, recently sold for over a million dollars!

Elizabeth Parker's Sampler

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has quite a bit of information about samplers including this very interesting story about a "confession" sampler by a young woman, Elizabeth Parker, sharing her most deeply personal thoughts.  All of these captured my imagination for the first time as I traveled, and examples frequently turned up in the antique stores in New England.  Something I'd known of, but never gave a lot of thought to its history and significance.

Mary Lancaster collection

Something even less familiar to me, were the "practical" or plain sewing samplers.   My brother had a great example in his house, which I neglected to photograph, but I've found several photos online, courtesy of the Embroiderers' Guild of South Australia Museum.  There are pieces from the Mary Lancaster collection and have particular significance as they demonstrate the skills taught in So. Australian schools in the first half of the 20th century.

I'm especially intrigued by these last 2 pieces as I love their asymmetry and their almost "architectural" quality.  Not sure what I will create this challenge, but this has been a great introduction to the recent history of stitching for me.  Thanks, Sue!

Mary Lancaster collection

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful sampler examples Martha. Particularly like the last one.