Winterthur Exhibition & Conference: ‘With Cunning Needle’

Posted in conferences (to attend), exhibitions by Editor on September 23, 2011

As noted at A Fashionable Frolick, Winterthur explores the past four centuries of embroidery with the exhibition and conference, With Cunning Needle:

With Cunning Needle: Four Centuries of Embroidery
Winterthur Museum, Delaware, 3 September 2011 — 8 January 2012

Apron, England, 1730-40, silk with gold and silver on silk. Winterthur Museum, 1987.84

In 2006 Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts began an exciting and innovative project to accurately re-create a 17th-century embroidered woman’s jacket. The process of designing and making what has become known as the Plimoth Jacket has shed new light on the tools and methods employed by the skilled embroiderers of the 1600s. Using the Plimoth Jacket as a touchstone, With Cunning Needle delves into the designs, materials, techniques, and makers of embroidery over four centuries.

Explore each step in the process of creating needlework, from skeins of silk and pattern books to embroidered bed covers and silkwork pictures. Learn about the women and men who made these beautiful objects for themselves, their friends and families, and commercial sale. Discover “lost” skills that have been revived through the Plimoth Jacket project.

With Cunning Needle explores the history of embroidery and invites visitors to take a closer look at the wide array of styles, technology, and people reflected by this art form.

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From the conference webpage:

Embroidered petticoat fragment (detail), France, early 1700s. 2010.15. All Winterthur objects pictured on this page were purchased by the museum with funds provided by the Henry Francis du Pont Collectors Circle .

With Cunning Needle: A Winterthur Needlework Conference
Winterthur Museum, Delaware, 21-22 October 2011


Friday, October 21

The Plimoth Jacket: Listening to the Makers
Tricia Wilson Nguyen, Owner of Thistle Threads, Arlington, MA
The most valuable legacy of the Plimoth Jacket project was uncovering the methods, materials, and thought processes involved in fabricating complex pieces of embroidery during the Stuart era. This legacy may lead to a much richer understanding of 17th-century embroidery. In this talk, Tricia Wilson will highlight many of the lessons learned and questions currently being investigated by those involved in the project.

It’s All about Clothes
Jill M. Hall, Co-Manager of the Jacket Project and Scholar of Historical Costume, Middleborough, MA
Clothes are the most personal of historic artifacts. They shaped the physical body into the fashionable silhouette and represented—and sometimes created—the wearer’s identity. Find out about the style and substance of early 17th-century clothing and put the Plimoth Jacket in the context of the clothes of its time in this illustrated lecture by Jill M. Hall.

From Old London to New London: Tracing Needlework Patterns and Skills in Early America
Dr. Susan P. Schoelwer, Curator, George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens, Mount Vernon, VA
At first glance, the elaborate, encrusted embroideries of 17th-century England seem to have little in common with the more familiar samplers and pictures stitched in late 18th- and early 19th-century America. Three strands of evidence link these diverse productions however, suggesting largely unrecognized continuities: English needlework handed down as heirlooms in American families; early motifs and techniques reused and reworked in later creations; and kinship-based needlework traditions that passed skills and sensibilities from generation to generation, both preceding, and then in conjunction with, formal schools.

Artful Adornments: The Embroidered Accessories of 18th-Century Boston Schoolgirls
Pam Parmal, the David and Roberta Logie Curator of Textile and Fashion Arts, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Schoolgirls in colonial Boston not only embroidered samplers and pictures during their lessons but spent time working fashionable accessories such as stomachers, aprons, fichus, and petticoat borders. This talk will explore the how girls used their embroidery skills to ornament their own lives and to keep up with the latest London styles.

Saturday, October 22

Wrought with Flowers and Leaves: Embroidery Depicted in 16th- and 17th-Century British Portraits
Karen Hearn, Curator of 16th- & 17th-Century British Art, Tate Britain, London
While surviving embroidered clothing fabrics from the 16th and early 17th centuries are comparatively few, such textiles often appear in British portraits of the female elite of the period. Karen Hearn will briefly consider the problems of using such images as evidence before examining in detail a few specific portraits of this type.

Goldwork: Its History, Development, and Use in the Modern World
William Kentish Barnes, Proprietor of Golden Threads Brimstone Cottage, East Sussex, UK
Learn the story of how an unusual and ancient craft not only survived but adapted to our modern world. The talk traces goldwork’s antiquity and former elitist uses through to the universal usage it enjoys today. The steady adoption of technical improvements fostered this successful evolution. Just how the invention of die plates, the demise of the Sumptory Laws, and two Huguenot ladies living in Lancashire, helped bring this all about is fascinatingly revealed in this compelling tale. An array of gold and silver threads will be displayed.

The Blood of Murdered Time: Connoisseurship and Context of Ann Warder’s Berlin Work Collection
Nicole Belolan, PhD Student, History of American Civilization, University of Delaware
Nicole Belolan will explore the history of and misconceptions about Berlin work through materials associated with Ann Warder’s collection of Berlin work and patterns as well as relevant print culture that contextualizes Berlin work within the broader needlework canon.

The Late 19th-Century Revival of Crewelwork in the Jacobean Style
Dr. Lynn Hulse, FSA; Tutor in Contextual Studies and Former Archivist of the Royal School of Needlework; Editor of Text, the Journal of the Textile Society
Lynn Hulse will examine the role played by the Royal School of Art Needlework in the revival of antique embroidery, in particular crewelwork in the Jacobean style, and its impact on domestic furnishings in Britain and Ireland during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

1 ½ Hour Sessions

My Favorite Things
Linda Eaton, Director of Museum Collections & Senior Curator of Textiles, Winterthur
Limited to 15
Winterthur’s needlework collection is extensive and diverse, and some of the most gorgeous pieces are rarely on display. Come behind the scenes and see a selection of the most interesting, intriguing, and truly stunning needlework in the collection.

Up Close and Personal: Conservation and Historic Needlework
Joy Gardiner, Assistant Director of Art Conservation & Textile Conservation, Winterthur
Limited to 10
Get behind the scenes in Winterthur’s Textile Conservation Laboratory to examine types of damage common in historic needlework and discuss what might be done about it.

From the Printed Page to the Embroiderer’s Canvas: Sources of Inspiration from Winterthur’s Rare Book Collection
Emily Guthrie, NEH Associate Librarian, Printed Book & Periodical Collection, Winterthur
Limited to 15
Turn the pages of rare needlework design sources from the early 18th through the early 20th centuries. Unique and surprising treasures from Winterthur’s renowned decorative arts library will be presented, followed by an opportunity for you to explore the books on your own.

A Tisket, a Tasket…Who Made the Casket?
Dr. Tricia Wilson Nguyan, Owner of Thistle Threads, Arlington, MA
Limited to 20
Drawing upon the lessons of the Plimoth Jacket, Tricia Wilson will examine the materials and methods of embroidered caskets, pictures, and mirror frames from the Stuart era. To answer the questions of how these embroidered pieces were taught and made, Wilson will draw upon dozens of pieces she has examined as well as a piece from the Winterthur collection. Subjects to be explored include evidence of a tight group of draftspeople who prepared the fabrics for the students, professionals who may have made bits that could be purchased to embellish the piece further, and the artisans who were required to build the box and add the worked covering. Examples that support the idea of specific schools or teachers will be shown as well as objects that might have been worked by professionals for ready sale.

Half-Day Sessions

Sarah Collins Sampler
Joanne Harvey, Owner of the Exemplarery, Dearborn, MI
Limited to 25
The Sarah Collins sampler, dated 1673, is an example of 17th-century schoolgirl embroidery. The design mirrors other contemporary English and American samplers worked during the later part of the 17th century, a time when young girls learned patience, diligence, and perseverance over complex embroidery techniques and intricate patterns. This lovely design is composed of a series of dividing bands, stylized floral forms, and upper and lowercase alphabets worked in various contemporary techniques. The sampler is worked in a variety of cross-stitch techniques along with reversible double running patterns, Algerian eye stitches, and small darning patterns. Instruction will also be given for those who wish to work the piece in a non-reversible manner, and we will briefly discuss other 17th-century American samplers. 35-count linen worked in cotton floss approximately 10” x 21.” 40-count linen worked in silk approximately 8 1/2” x 18.”

Hephzebak Baker Sampler
Margriet Hogue, Owner of the Essamplaire, Alberta, CA
Limited to 20
Hephzebak Baker’s 1737 sampler belongs to a group of samplers made in Boston that can be identified through similar narrow bands, in particular the hexagon band. The same bands are found on at least five other samplers dating from 1741–49. A number of these samplers feature Adam and Eve along the bottom, but Hephzebak stitched a tree, birds, and vases. The sampler is mainly worked in reversible cross stitch, satin, eyelet, whip, freehand satin, French knots, and bullion.

Carew Leaf
Nicola Jarvis, Fine Artist and Embroiderer, Royal School of Needlework, England
Limited to 15
Students will be introduced to a range of core crewelwork stitches in working an autumnal leaf design. This leaf is typical of the botanical motifs featured on a series of hangings mounted in a small dining room at Girton College, Cambridge, worked by Lady Julia Carew in the early 20th century. The leaf design will be stitched with Fine d’Aubusson wools and Soie de Paris silk on a Montrose linen ground.

Tiny Turtle Thimble Pouch
Wendy White, Needlework Designer, Teacher and Independent Historian, Cape Cod, MA
Limited to 25
Tucked away in museums around the world are delightful little 17th-century pouches in a myriad of shapes from birds and frogs to fruits and flowers. This intermediate-level class will work the turtle in silk and metal threads assembled with a silk pouch lining and finished with a drawstring closure. Please bring standard class supplies and lighting and magnification if desired.

One Response

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  1. style court said, on September 26, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    The petticoat fragment looks wonderful here so I can imagine how stunning it must be in person!

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