Monday, February 28, 2011

Jane Turner Motifs Turning Up Everywhere!

It's getting to be a bit like an historic needlework version of Where's Waldo!  As Sampler Stitcher has been reporting, she has located what looks like a partial sampler featuring the lady and trees band from Jane Turner's sampler.  This pretty piece was auctioned in 2010, and the owner has given permission to post the picture (Thank you!).  Here it is:

Lots of things to think about here.  This piece was auctioned as a partial sampler, and I'd bet that is indeed the case. Note and correction - my mistake.  The piece was auctioned as Mary's SAMPLER. . . not a partial sampler. My guess would be that at one time the sampler was larger, since generally early samplers from this period are long and thin, but the piece certainly more than stands on its own as a lovely piece of work.  Looking at the other Jane Turner samplers, this pictorial band has come towards the bottom.  It's after this band and the pretty little flowered band below it that the three full samplers take off in their own directions.  Given that this band seems to occur well into the sampler, it seems logical that this version was cut down for whatever reason -- damage to the higher bands or just a preference for this really pretty pictorial part (easier and perhaps more attractive framed and on the wall).

The bottom part of this piece strikes me as odd, however.  There are three different stitched alphabets, a panel of crowns and coronets, and the wording "Mary Thomas Alias Teethwell" and "1694."  Hmmmm.  Jane Turner and Mary Lawrey (no photo found yet) are dated 1668. . . while this is dated 1694,  26 years later.  That seems a pretty big gap to me. 

And the wording is strange.  What does "alias" mean?  In those days, spelling was very fluid. . . so is this a misspelling or alternate spelling of a name. . . Alice?, Alyse?. . . or a different family name?  Or if it does mean "otherwise named," could it be the stitcher's maiden name was Thomas and her married name was Theethwell?  If so, it seems like an odd way to express this.  Does anyone know if "alias" was ever used to mean "married name."

I am definitely NOT an expert in samplers in general, or dating them in particular.  But to me the stitching below the lady seems later than mid-17th century.  I associate multiple alphabets and the crowns and coronets with later samplers. . . even later than the 1694 date on the sampler.  (I'd LOVE to hear from anyone reading this who DOES have the expertise to comment on this!)

This leads me to wonder whether the stitching below the lady band was added later. . . possibly in 1694. . . or maybe later yet by someone who mistakenly assigned the 1694 date to the piece.  Possibly the original stitcher added these sections later in life (I know there are documented instances of a stitcher completing a partial sampler later in life). . . or an even later stitcher added them to the piece.  In either of these scenarios, it would make sense that the girl's maiden and married names would both be available.  Or maybe there are two names for two stitchers:  Mary Thomas and Alias (Alice?, Alyse?, ??) Teethwell?

On a slightly different subject, since in my own stitching I'm "stuck" while trying to figure out how exactly to stitch my lady in this band, I'm especially interested in the variations of the treatment of the lady in these different sister samplers.  There seem to be two overall approaches.  In Jane Turner and the Richmond Sampler, the lady is angled slightly towards the right, and the center skirt, collar, and fringe of the shawl use a couching technique (a bit odd IMHO. . .but distinctive).  However, in the outline and partial samplers, the lady is depicted full on, and in the partial sampler, the collar, cuffs, and center skirt all appear to be in detached buttonhole (like the main skirt).

Here's Jane's lady:

The Richmond lady (almost a 100% identical copy):

And here's the outline lady.  It really looks like the partial sampler lady is worked on this outline. . . right down to the flowery bodice of her dress:

It's enough to make a brain tired. . . and mine is. . . so I will wait till next time for looking at YET ANOTHER example of this lady band. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Oh boy! New projects!

Now, looking at my life, what exactly do I REALLY REALLY need?  Truth be told, more needlework projects are probably NOT at the top of the list.

But what the heck!  They're (marginally) cheaper than therapy. . . and less hazardous to the health than drinking or smoking.  And there are so many fabulous projects out there.

Temptation is all around me, and yes, I have succumbed again. . . most recently to two fabulous 17th century inspired creations by Tricia Nguyen. . .both taught at Williamsburg earlier this month. 

Day 1 of two days of classes was spent drooling over a raft of newly made threads including silk gimps, crimped gold, and silk covered perle perles. . .all materials for a jaunty lion surrounded by a cartouch-like outline.  Here's the picture of the finished lion.  Isn't he cute? 

Day 2 was a 17th century goldwork class.  Here's Tricia's version of the design, but in class we concentrated on trying out some new stitches. . . with Tricia suggesting we choose our favorites for our own actual piece. . . .so it will probably be a good while before I'm ready to tackle more than a doodle cloth for this piece.

This class does dovetail nicely with the on-line Gold Master Class.  So my plan here is to jump back into the Master Class. . . perhaps even organizing my doodle stitching so I have stitched samples of the various stitches right at hand for when I eventually start in on THIS goldwork piece. 

It will be quite a challenge. . .but provide nice insight into the extraordinary amount of work that went into some of the historical pieces. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Wishing everyone a wonderful day with all your loved ones!

Fiona and Oscar - It was love at first sight!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Yikes! It's triplets! Or maybe even quads!

Things are getting just a little spooky here in blogging cyberland.  A couple of days ago I sat down to productively waste some time catching up with my favorite blogs and there on the Needleprint blog was a devilishly enticing post about an upcoming auction of 17th century needlework. . . complete with links to the on-line catalogue.

Well, who could resist?  Certainly not me.  So a-clicking I did go. . . and I'll be darned, look what I found!  It's yet a THIRD Jane Turner sampler. . . this one fully embellished like Jane's with virtually IDENTICAL stitches and colors.  Here's that link:

Here's the same embellished band I focused on in my last post:

And here are the lady and the trees band and close ups of the lady herself:

Now, don't get me wrong.  Although I am thoroughly enjoying stitching on Jane's sampler, it isn't my VERY VERY VERY FAVORITE piece of all times.  But the coincidences are really striking aren't they?  And I have learned a little more from each piece.  With triplet number three, I was able to get a much better image of how the original dress was actually done -- the only photo I have of Jane's original sampler is a very small one in a catalogue from the Burrell Collection.

Interestingly, the little blurb in the Burrell catalogue says "the design is similar to another sampler made by Mary Lawley, dated 1668, now in a private collection".  Is this Mary's sampler?  There are no dates, names, or initials on the sampler itself. . . and the auction description says nothing about Mary. . . so I'm thinking probably not.  The "outline" sampler with the same pattern has the initials M.C.. . .which would argue that it isn't Mary's sampler either.  So maybe there are actually FOUR extant copies of this sampler design.  Fascinating.