Saturday, September 8, 2012

Conservation of Samplers stitched at the Royal School of Needlework

I am currently renovating the samplers I stitched while a student at the Royal School of Needlework and I am writing a provenance. We have one grandson, I reckon that I am the only person who will undertake this large and arduous task.

It has been obvious for a few years that these samplers needed attention. When I took them apart, I found that they are mounted on Masonite. To be fair and honest, this was long before any knowledge of acid damage to fabric and before the days of Foam Core Board.  Masonite was all that was available.

I am asking for your assistance with any information you may have on the origin or details of these designs. I am able to identify the techniques.

This is the third of my samplers and a photo of the first of its four sections. This is the information I have and I would welcome help in creating a provenance. In England, this was not a time when information was given or shared.  References to sources of information would also be appreciated.

Crewel Work Sampler 1951

Worked on Linen Twill fabric in Worsted Wool threads, probably Medici.

This was a most enjoyable sampler to stitch. Lots of variety, always something new to learn and the results please me as much today as they did then. I love the motifs and the colours. It is also undamaged by moths or loosened stitches. But, after removing this piece from the masonite board, I steamed the outer edges to flatten them before remounting. Being annoyed with the kettle steam which kept turning off, I resorted to steaming the edges over a saucepan of boiling water. The water marks you see were caused by the water bubbles.  I regret the damage this has done. (2012)

First Corner. Elizabethan.

We were told that these motifs are examples of Elizabethan embroidery but I have always had my doubts. I saw a picture of a crewel work sampler stitched in 1910 with included several of these motifs. They may have been taken from an Elizabethan piece of work but I dubious on the accuracy of this. My researches have told me that Elizabethan embroidery was mostly table carpets stitched in tent stitch of which there are well known examples in the Victoria and Albert Museum.   Black work stitching was also current having been introduced to England by Catherine of Aragon, Henry Vlll 's first wife.

The ability to achieve shading without mixing the threads or undertaking Long and Short Stitch is demonstrated here. Note the use of darning, particularly the colours used in the strawberries. Also note the circlet of six leaves within the other large leaf.  Some Laid work is included. The acorn base includes Trellis work which is a good way to secure Laid Threads.

The block pattern in the strawberry leaf was technically hard to do and one has to know the understructure to get this to work.

There is some Long and Short stitch in the butterfly wings. I think that the body of the bird is parallel Stem Stitch.

The next photo is an adaptation I made for a teaching sample.  It worked well and was within the abilities of all Intermediate level stitchers.  Some people were uncomfortable with the emptiness of the two corners but, I liked it then and like it now.

While designing the above sample, this adaptation developed.  It is too much work for students but I worked it myself.  Both of these are stitched in Medici Wool on linen.

If you would like more information about me, you will find it on my website

It is also included in the introduction to the book Stitching Idyllic : Spring Flowers.

The next blog post will be about the second corner which is Early Jacobean.