Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Delaware Trip Finale

We are now bringing you to the end of our trip. We thank you all for being armchair travelers over several installments of our blog. We hope to bring you on many more journeys in the future.
Picture courtesy of Barbara Rombold-Gillies

So we are now at Saturday the final day of the Winterthur Needlework Conference.  Truly if you are ever able to treat yourself to a trip, the events at Winterthur as at many of the museums are wonderful. The only problem we have is we want more time! Even another half day would be great so that there can be more time during the event built in to actually visit with the other attendees.  There is so much to share of what you are learning and hearing as well as just catching up with people you haven't see since the last event in many cases!  Also we never seem to have enough time to truly see the exhibits at the museum because we are taking advantage of all they are offering. Now I can hear you all saying, why didn't you plan an extra day there during your visit. Yes, we can do that part, but the time with other attendees is more difficult. So if you are listening museums give us more time, also time to shop! They have the most wonderful stores, and it's not just because they had special products we designed for them for this event.  They had so many things we wanted to buy! But I ran out of time and was almost late to my tiny turtle class.  So they didn't get as much money as I might have been tempted to leave behind.  Ok, off my soapbox of the more time to visit message and on to the end of the event and the other wonderful speakers and classes we were treated too.

Saturday morning Karen Hearn, Curator of 16th and 17th century British Art, at the Tate Britain in London spoke on, "Wrought with Flowers and Leaves: Embroidery in Tudor and Early Stuart Portraits."  

Many portraits of the period were shown featuring exquisite clothing that featured embroidery and black-work details. Gold paint was used to show gold threads of the embroidery in the portraits.  Was it to make embroidery look like embroidery or to look like actual plant-life?  The shading of the flora and fauna in the use of brushstrokes that looked so much like long and short embroidery stitches of some of the paintings were so beautiful.  Such skill was shown in the details.

Detail of Jane Seymour portrait Hans Holbein

William Kentish Barnes, introduced as Bill Barnes, Golden Threads Brimstone Cottage, Proprietor, East Sussex, UK. Spoke on Goldwork: Its History, Development and Use in the Modern World.

This gentleman was fascinating and we were so disappointed that they ran out of time to actually finish his talk. He just had so much to say. There is such a history to this trade.  He also had such a sense of that English humor, it sometimes took a moment to know he was joking with you.  Mr. Barnes is the gentleman who Trisha has worked with to create so many of the special threads not only for the jacket project, but many of her historical projects, so that the stitcher today can use threads as close as possible to the ones used historically for the same purpose.  They also were selling some of these special threads in the gift shops. I know I brought home a few of these pieces of candy, as I like to call my threads, but I haven't had a chance to try them out yet.

We were told about the drawing process of how these threads are created. Pulling the thread through the various size holes or drawing it through as is where that term comes from;  how silver wire was covered with gold leaf to keep the cost down;  how the industry has changed through the years and the causes of that and why it is no longer produced in that manner by most.  You never know how much history there is on an area such as this until you meet someone who has been through so many changes and worked in it for so many years, sadly seeing it becoming a lost art.

Nicole Belolan, Ph D student, Program in the History of American Civilization, University of Delaware spoke on, "The Blood of Murdered Time: Connoisseurship and Context of Ann Warder's Berlin Work Collection."

Nicole put together her talk from a group of materials in the Winterthur collection.  This article was published in the winter 2011 publication from Winterthur so you can access it there if you are interested. There were 95 Berlin patterns in the collection, silk on linen sampler, thread on winders, bible prayer book that was embroidered, receipt book for knitting, crocheting and other needlework, needle-book, chatelaine...it began with a letter asking for a slipper pattern in 1859.

Berlin work slippers in the Old Sacramento Living History Museum

It discusses the use of needlework by a chronically ill women that allowed her to not only fill her time but to enrich her life and reach out to family and friends through her needlework. To read more on this fascinating subject, see this article by Nicole Belolan on the Decorative Arts Trust website.

The last speaker before moving on to our afternoon classes was 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.  She spoke on, "The Late 19th Century Revival of Crewel Work in the Jacobean Style."  

The Royal School of Needlework was founded in 1872. Dr. Hulse's talk took us through a bit of the history of the school and the studio work performed there. Some of the pieces shown were that of Lady Carew. She was taught to embroider at the Royal School. 1899 seemed the beginning of her work with the studio, by Dec. 1920 there were 19 panels, 32 chairs and a settee cover were completed. 


After 20 years of stitching in the Jacobean style, they turned toward the Chinese style. Also shown were 23 panels that had been donated to Griton college in 1922. The pieces were designed by the RSN studio being run by Mary Eleanor (Nellie) Whichelo, and were a modern interpretation of the 17th century Tree of Life Design. 

A peek into the RSN Handbook of Embroidery 1880 showed split and stem stitches used for outline, long and short stitches, feather stitch and French knots.  Techniques changed as the years progressed from block shading to more subtle shading.

A book is due out this year on the Lady Carew Embroideries, which were absolutely exquisite. We will have to keep our eyes open for this!  For a look at what the RSN is up to these days, follow this link, or sign up for their newsletter.  Or, if you get the chance, arrange for a visit to their workrooms  in Hampton Court Palace - with such surroundings, no wonder they can do such beautiful work!

After we once again filled ourselves with delicious food and treats at the luncheon provided to attendees we headed as I mentioned very quickly to the other gift shop before meeting for our last class of the conference. 

Julie and I took the "Tiny Turtle Thimble Pouch" class from Wendy White.  Tiny is tiny and oh so cute! Wendy showed us many visuals of other little critters that are made in similar methods that she has studied in her research in preparing this piece as she visited collections in various museums.  Our poor turtles didn't get very far along as we tried to work with the fine silk thread, that kept shredding in our ever so rough and dry hands.  With all the work we do with paper, our hands are not friendly to the fine fibers. But we will just have to bathe ourselves in lotion before we truly get started on this piece. Believe me, it will be awhile before it comes to it's turn in the line up. But oh is it a cutie and Wendy was a delightful teacher.  She is so patient and took her time with each student, working at their pace and level of proficiency to help them achieve this project.  If you are in a guild and have not had her for a teacher, treat yourself and book a class. She showed us some of her class sample models and there are so many clever pieces.

Sunday would be our last day in the area and we gathered with our friends from Canada and Oregon once again to visit two last locations. 

Patty Hrynenko met us at the Gloucester County Historical Society for our personal tour of their collection. Patty gave us a tour of the home and history of the Historical Society before sharing her sampler room with us.  Her enthusiasm for the samplers was infectious!

Image courtesy of Barbara Rombold-Gillies

We learned about the Cross and Bible Door that we see on many homes of this period. They were to ward off evil, and the linked article at the historic houses blog illustrates how they got their name.   Patty has been instrumental in doing much research into many of the pieces of needlework that are kept in their collection. She has also reproduced several of them into charts that come complete with the history of the girl and her family that Patty has found.  One of the girls Patty shared with us was Lucy Hugg, who created her sampler at the age of 10 in 1806.  She married Charles Hopkins at the Huggs Tavern and was related to Betsy Ross. We all thought the little paper piece stitched with the words "Scratch My Back" was cute, especially when we learned it was a striker for lighting a match. Get it? The striker on the back to scratch with the match to light it! 

Last stop of the trip was at Historic Odessa, we were shown through three of the homes one of which we received a hearth cooking demonstration and were treated to tasting the special recipe as well.  

Image courtesy of Barbara Rombold-Gillies

The Corbett family were Quakers, three times they were written out of the church! Once for liquor, one for dancing and another time for having slaves. They needed slaves to work the orchards of peaches that they grew.  They were good Quakers in the sense that they had no portraits done. 

One Sampler we viewed:

18 Mary P Corbet's Work 23
Short is our longest day of life,
And soon its prospect ends
Yet on that day uncertain date
Eternity depends

Some of the children went to Westtown school.

The other home we toured was the Wilson Warner house.  Here we viewed a silk embroidery by Ann Jeffries a Wilson daughter, from the Falwell school in Philadelphia or possibly a school in Delaware, still to be determined.

There were several other samplers and embroidery pieces we viewed at these homes as well.

The recipe for Charlotte at the hearth cooking demonstration was delicious and ours was made with apples.  You can stew any kind of fruit and season it in the way you like it best. Ours was seasoned with cinnamon and sugar.  We learned that the blue wrapper that the sugar cones came in during the time period of these homes was used as blue dye when they wanted to make blue cloth. Nothing was ever wasted and this is a perfect example of this.  The recipe calls for soaking a some slices of bread in butter, put them while hot, in the bottom and around the sides of a dish which has been rubbed with butter.  Put your fruit in and lay slices of bread prepared in the same manner on top.  Bake a few minutes, turn carefully into another dish and sprinkle with powdered sugar and glaze with a salamander.  Not a salamander from the creek, a salamander from the kitchen is a metal spatula heated, that you put on top of the Charlotte to melt the sugar that's been sprinkled into a glaze. Similar to how they finish a Creme Brule these days.  Instead of using a burner from the fireplace, which are some coals piled together on the hearth, hence "Hearth Cooking" which is what you would place your Dutch oven on to cook your Charlotte, I will try this recipe in my modern oven, but I think I might just try a salamander! 

If you'd like to try it, the original, historic recipe includes baking in the hot coals of a fireplace in a Dutch Oven - and we've found this one from the Food Network where a historic enactor shows how it's done:

1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoons mace
5 Granny Smith apples, pared, cored and sliced thin
3 fresh lemons, zested
6 tablespoons butter, cold
1 stick butter, melted
1 loaf French bread shredded into crumbs, reserve 1 cup

In a bowl, add brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and mace. Mix together. Reserve 1 cup of mixture to be used for topping.  In a separate bowl, mix together apples and lemon zest.  Cover the bottom of Dutch oven pan with bread crumbs and bits of butter. Layer bottom with some sliced apples and brown sugar with a few pats of butter on top. Repeat with another layer until the pan is filled.  For the top layer, combine reserved cup of bread crumbs, melted butter and 1 cup reserved mixture. Sprinkle on top and top with more butter. Bake for 30 minutes until the golden brown.
They are not using a salamander on theirs - if you'd like to do that (or put it under the broiler), add a thin layer of brown sugar to the top after baking, then broil it to crisp it up.

We thank again all of the wonderful curators and volunteers who helped to make our journey through these special collections such a wonderful experience.  Remember if you are traveling, you just might plan ahead and see if there are needlework collections at any of the areas you will be visiting. But you must plan ahead to make arrangements and appointments as most collections are not on view for the public.  Special consideration and scheduling are needed. But it is well worth the effort.


  1. such a lovely post..
    thank you for sharing dear xxx

  2. Très beau reportage même si la traduction est très difficile. Très bonne journée

  3. Fascinating! Thank you for sharing your trip with us all. I'm off to look at the tiny turtle link now.

    ps like the new side pictures on the blog


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