Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday Video: Beautiful Needlework by an Eleven-Year-Girl, 1671

Friday, November 22, 2013

Isabella reporting,

I recently showed a tiny detail of a 17th c. box, or casket, covered in raised work needlework, from the textile collection of Colonial Williamsburg. By coincidence, one of our readers, Tricia Nguyen, forwarded this silent Vimeo clip to me, showing a similar casket in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum. What's most amazing to me is that both these caskets were the work of adolescent girls. The one in the video was worked by Martha Edlin (1660-1725), who was only eleven when she completed the needlework panels for this casket. It's hard for me to imagine many modern girls who possess either the focus or the patience to create something so beautifully detailed and stitched. The V&A page for the Martha Edlin's casket is here.

Tricia Nguyen is a skilled needleworker and teacher in her own right, and she was part of the team who recreated this exquisite c. 1600 embroidered jacket under the auspices of Plimoth Plantation (here's more about the jacket, now on display at Winterthur.) If you're inspired to create a replica embroidered casket of your own, Ms. Nguyen offers an on-line course, complete with the wooden box and all supplies. Patience and perseverance, however, aren't included; it's an eighteen-month-course from start to finish, and a definite labor of needlework love.

Oh, to be a genteel 17th c. lady, sitting at needlework each day instead of a computer keyboard....


Anonymous said...

I learned to embroider in the 4th grade. They learned younger than that. :-)

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

If the embroidered casket is beyond you (as it will be for most of us!), here's a paper version to print out, color, and assemble, thanks again to Tricia Nguyen:

Unknown said...

I feel inspired to learn to embroider better then my Grandmom taught me. I might try to take some of her online classes

The Gossamer Tearoom said...

Wow, that's really amazing, isn't it? But there was a time when this was as common as spending time on the computer or the Nintendo is now, of course. My mother taught me to embroider, knit and sew by hand when I was 5 or 6. I wasn't very good at it and gave them all up at some point. But, boy am I glad she showed me because I have had some art projects the last couple of years that required sewing by hand, which I find I easily came back to and I'm happy to know I am much better at it now and actually find it quite relaxing and meditative!


Quinn said...

I had the same early intro to needlework that Betty describes - not sure how young I was started, but by 5 I was certainly struggling to make smaller stitches and straighter lines. I can only imagine what those efforts must have looked like!
Now, I'd be more likely to print out the paper model. Thanks for the link to Thistle Threads! :)

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