Sunday, October 5, 2008

1831 Sarah Harriet Stephenson Model Finished

1831 Sarah Harriet Stephenson
Spring Hill, Maury Co.
16 1/4"V x 18"H © TSS 015

Connie Winslett finished the model for the 1831 Sarah Harriet Stephenson (TSS 015) reproduction this week. Many thanks to Connie for stitching so quickly and expertly!

Here is a sneak peak at one of the motifs--the little dog that gives this group of samplers their name (original sampler is on the left; reproduction sampler is on the right). I matched the stitching threads (from Olde Willow Stitchery, especially dyed for this project) to the back of the sampler, which account for the difference in color.

Make sure to pick up a copy of the spring issue (Vol. 54) of Sampler & Antique Needlework Quarterly, which will publish the complete chart and an article I wrote about Middle Tennessee samplers.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

1925 Anne Orr Design Studio Sampler

1925 Anne Champe Orr Design Studio Employee
Nashville, Davidson Co.
22 1/2"V x 17"H © TSS 213

Janet and I documented this intriguing motif sampler during our last foray into Brentwood. Although our cut-off date is 1900, we completed a thorough analysis of this piece because of the signature.

Anne Champe Orr (1869-1946), a native of Nashville, was a well-known quilt and needlework designer. She was needlework columnist for Good Housekeeping in the 1930s. She was an entrepreneur, ultimately employing dozens of women to produce her designs and directing a successful mail order business from her home in present-day Hillsboro Village (21st and Belcourt, today the site of another Nashville institution, the Pancake Pantry).

This sampler was probably not worked by Anne Orr herself, as she held a noted antipathy towards the needle. In her book Hard Covers for Soft Times, Merikay Waldvogel quotes Orr's neighbor, Andrena Phillips, "I don't think Anne Orr knew anything about a needle…I thought it was strange that someone could do all those needlework patterns without knowing a bit about the needle."

We believe that this sampler was a product of Orr's "needlework cabinet," the model stitchers who crafted her patterns in embroidery.

Merikay Waldvogel will be presenting her most recent (quilt-related) research on Anne Orr at the 2008 seminar of the American Quilt Study Group, to be held October 2-6 in Columbus, OH.

Waldvogel, Merikay. "Refining the Tradition: Anne Champe Orr, 1875-1946." Soft Covers for Hard Times: Quiltmaking and the Great Depression. Nashville,TN: Rutledge Hill Press, 1990, pp. 24-37.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Article on Tennessee Samplers

An article I wrote for Needle Arts, published by the Embroiderers' Guild of America, is in the latest issue.

The article is an overview of the work we do. Three samplers, one from each part of the state, are featured.

The Embroiderers' Guild of America is "is a national non-profit educational organization offering study and preservation of the heritage and art of embroidery."

Citation for article: Core, Jennifer C. "Tennessee Samplers." Needle Arts. September 2008: 12-15.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Documentation Day in East Tennessee

1845 Minerva E. Carmack
Hawkins Co.
13 3/4"V x 10 1/2"H © TSS 217

Hawkins County, in northeast Tennessee, was founded before Tennessee was incorporated as a state. The Rogersville area was settled beginning in 1775. This early settlement accounts for the significant percentage of samplers that we have found from Hawkins County (five of 30 East Tennessee samplers/embroideries to date).

Minerva E. Carmack stitched that she was "Aged/17.ys" in "May/1845" in the space around the house.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

c. 1800-1805 Mourning Embroidery

c. 1800-1805 Mourning Embroidery
East Tennessee?
19"V x 16 1/4"H © TSS 216

We documented a mourning embroidery yesterday. The piece was found in the attic of a house in Knoxville. We hope, through land deed searches, to connect it to an East Tennessee family. The texts on the embroidery, which are rendered in ink, read:

In Death Remembered
As in life Beloved


In Memory of
Who Departed

Mourning embroidery was extremely popular in the first quarter of the 19th century, from 1800 to 1825. A young woman would, if she were fortunate to attend a female academy, work a memorial as the culmination of her needlework eduction.

A professional artist or an artistically inclined teacher would draw the pattern on silk. The young woman could then tint the background with watercolor and embroider the main motifs.

The only date on this embroidery is "1794," but that is the date of the death of the individual being memorialized, not the date of creation. It was probably worked within ten years of 1794.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Texts on Samplers

When we document a sampler, we are always careful to copy any texts exactly as they were stitched. The moralist verses can appear again and again throughout the 19th century. Since most of our stitchers failed to follow APA or MLA format, I often page through online hymnals in search of the author.

The 1851 Francis E. Hulme sampler contains four verses from three different sources: Charles Wesley, Isaac Watts, and Felicia Dorothea Browne Hemans. Charles Wesley (1707-1788), early leader of the Methodist church, wrote lyrics for 5000 to 8000 hymns, including "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing!" and "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing!" Isaac Watts (1674-1748) was less prolific, with only 750 hymns to his credit. He does retain the title of "Father of English Hymnody," having the advantage of age over the upstart Wesley. Watts' verses include "Joy to the World!" and "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross." Poet Felicia Dorothea Browne Hemans (1793-1835) was well known in her life-time; Percy Bysshe Shelley, Sir Walter Scott and William Wordsworth were among her admirers.

O God most merciful and true
Thy nature to my soul impart
Establish with me the covenant new
And stamp thine image on my heart

source: slight variant of Verse 1, “O God, Most Merciful and True,” words by Charles Wesley

We walk by faith of joys to come
Faith lives upon his werd
But while our body is our home
We’re absent from the Lord

source: Verse 4, Hymn 110, words by Isaac Watts

[L]o! the dream of [life is o’er]
[Pain] the Christians [lot] no more
Kindred spirit [rise] with me
Thine the [meed] of [victory]

[Significant thread loss indicated by brackets]

Now no more shall virtue faint.
Happy spirit of the saint.
Thine the halo of the skies.
Thine the seraph’s paradise.

source: Verses 1 and 3, “The Song of a Seraph” by Felicia Dorothea Browne Hemans

Verse 1 is above the white house and Verse 3 is above the red house. Francis stitched Verse 1 in lavender wool thread, which has suffered loss. Verse 3 was worked in a light blue wool thread, which does not contrast sufficiently with the ground fabric to appear in the photograph.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Documentation Day in Brentwood

Monday was a very productive day. Janet and I documented two samplers in the morning from a private collection, then planned our itineraries for more documentations trips, make a quick stop at OfficeMax (where we are well known to all the staff), documented a Williamson County sampler in the afternoon, and then I attended a seminar presented by the Tennessee Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (a very worthwhile organization) on copyright law.

We are up to 215 samplers now.

Our afternoon was somewhat marred by problems with the lighting kit. As I was preparing to shoot the gray card/first overall capture, one of the the light bulbs burst, rather spectacularly. Fortunately, I had set up on hardwood, not carpet, so a broom and dustpan cleared away the shattered glass. We decided to let the equipment cool down and then pack it up. The owner has expressed an interest in having the sampler conserved, and I will be able to get better photos when it is removed from the frame. The light kit has been performing admirably up until now, and considering the number of times I have set up and broken down those tripods...I guess we can't complain too much.

I did get some images by using the ambient light and a long exposure, though the sampler is much more vibrant and impressive in person. Here's the latest from Williamson County:

1851 Francis E. Hulme
Williamson Co.
Private Collection
© TSS 214

We are very excited about this sampler. It shows a clear relationship to the 1854 Margaret Elizabeth Kirkpatrick (TSS 010) and the 1855 Sarah Ann Brown (TSS 002). The maker, Francis Elizabeth? Hulme, was 23 when she worked it, which is ten years older than most of our stitchers. In fact, she is the oldest stitcher we have found. The Hulme family lived in District 6 of Williamson Co. Francis finished the sampler in January 1851 and married in December 1851. Sadly, she died in 1854, probably from complications of childbirth.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

1831 Sarah Harriet Stephenson Schematic

I met with Rindy Richards, who is stitching the model for the 1831 Sarah Harriet Stephenson reproduction (TSS 015) this evening. We refined some color selections. Rindy is such a beautiful and productive stitcher. I can't wait to see the finished product!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Sampler Consortium

The Sampler Consortium is a newly formed, international organization of scholars, historians, curators, educators, genealogists, textile conservators, collectors, dealers, and needlework experts interested in the study of historic samplers and other girlhood embroideries.

The Sampler Consortium has three major objectives:

1. To advance the study of historic samplers and other girlhood embroideries;
2. To increase access to information and research relevant to the study of historic samplers and girlhood embroideries;
3. To design, develop, and support projects that advance the study of historic samplers and other girlhood embroideries.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

New Web Site

We are planning to revise and expand our web site this fall.

I received a letter today announcing that the Tennessee Arts Commission will be granting us half the amount needed for this project.

Last month, we received a significant contribution from the Loudoun (VA) Sampler Guild toward the new web site.

I am working on a grant application to Humanities TN for the remainder of the monies. We will find out in September if we qualify for funding.

Our thanks to the TAC and the LSG for these funds.

Look for changes to the web site--an online exhibit and an educational component--in the middle of September 2008.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Modern Middle Tennessee Samplers

For the past two years, two groups of stitchers have been working on the Middle Tennessee Sampler, a sampler I designed based on Middle Tennessee motifs. Three people have finished. Their samplers are below:




Friday, May 30, 2008

Report from DC

Janet called this morning to report that her presentation on mourning motifs and texts in Tennessee samplers was well received at the DAR symposium.

She has elected to stay an extra few days to research some elusive Tennessee girls in the DAR's vast genealogical library.

The exhibit continues through August 30, 2008. Four Tennessee samplers/embroideries are included in the exhibit:

1850 Mary E. Halfacre
Union Academy
Isabella S. Wallis Slate, teacher
Franklin, Williamson Co.
Private Collection
23 1/4"V x 24 3/4"H © TSS 008

1851 Isabella S. Wallis Slate
Union Academy, teacher
Douglas, Williamson Co.
Private Collection
7 1/4"V x 9 3/4"H © TSS 018

These two samplers have descended in the same family. Isabella was Mary's teacher at Union Academy. Isabella made the small motto sampler as a gift for Mary and personalized the poem with her name.

1857 Rachel Frances Spears
Rogersville Synodical College, Rogersville
Hipshire Hollow, Hawkins Co.
Private Collection
16”V x 17”H © TSS 143

1868 Annis Franklin Kyle
Salem Female Academy, North Carolina
Rogersville, Hawkins Co.
Private Collection
39 1/2”V x 27 1/4”H © TSS 144

These two pieces have descended in the same family and hang in the same room. Although Rachel (called Frances) and Annis were not related to one another when they completed their needlework, the families have since intermarried. These two artifacts are good examples of a traditional sampler that was done in the Backcountry under local supervision and a Berlin cross stitch that was completed at a young ladies' academy.

Monday, May 19, 2008

1826 MS Sampler

We have located one sampler from Mississippi so far. An inscription on the back of the frame helped identify the maker.

1826 Lidia Simmons
© TSS 095
Charleston, Tallahatchie Co., MS
Historic Rock Castle, Hendersonville

The sampler is in the collection of Historic Rock Castle in Hendersonville, TN.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Trip to AL

After dodging tornadoes, I arrived in Birmingham Thursday afternoon for my lecture. I spoke to Birmingham NeedleArts, the EGA chapter. My topic was "A Textile Tour of Tennessee, with a Detour into Alabama."

My hostesses worked hard to make my stay very pleasant!

Our research has led us to four AL samplers, pictured below.

1823 Kezia G. Campbell
Florence, Lauderdale Co., AL
Tennessee State Museum, Nashville
16 3/4"V x 17 1/2"H © TSS 065

1829 Alice A. Dupuy
M. A. Rowe’s Academy
Monte Sano, Madison Co., AL
Private Collection
© TSS 201

1840 Caroline Day
Private Collection
9"V x 12"H © TSS 121

1855 Martha Bushnell
Walker Co., AL
Private Collection
14 1/8"V x 12 1/8"H © TSS 122

Monday, April 7, 2008

DAR, Washington, DC, Samplers and Silk Embroideries Symposium

What: “Another View: 19th Century Samplers and Silk Needlework,” a symposium in conjunction with the exhibit Telling Their Stories: 19th Century Samplers and Silk Needlework (April 11—August 30, 2008)
When: Thursday, May 29, 2008; registration opens at 8:30 am, program begins at 9:15 am and concludes at 3:30 pm
Where: DAR Museum, 1776 D. Street NW, Washington, DC 20006-5303
Speakers: Janet S. Hasson, Betsy Garrett Widmer, Amy Finkel, Dr. Mary Beaudry, and Olive Blair Graffam
Contact: (202) 879-3241; museum@dar.org
Fee: $85 (includes continental breakfast and boxed lunch)
Additional information: this symposium is in conjunction with the exhibit "Telling Their Stories: Samplers and Silk Needlework" from April 11 to August 30, 2008. Exhibit description: "The nineteenth century brought tremendous change to Americans. The country and population expanded greatly. Families were dispersed with the ever-popular westward movement. The industrial revolution changed forever a consumer society. The country survived major and costly wars. The nation grew from a small republic to an international power. Does the handwork of girls and young women relate to such dynamic change? In this exhibition of 19th century needlework, the DAR Museum attempts to tell some of their stories."

Trip to West TN

Last week, from Wednesday to Friday, Janet and I made our first foray into West Tennessee. We adhered to a tight schedule! We documented two samplers and have a strong lead on a third. We met with an antique maps dealer (to discuss the inclusion of period maps in our book) and the dean of the school of arts at Lambuth University (to discuss a upcoming conference on the decorative arts of Tennessee). Janet spoke to the Chief Piomingo chapter of the DAR. We stayed with our West Tennessee board member in her lovely home, which truly could be a B&B. We left West Tennessee with over 60 images and a generous donation; we will soon return!

This sampler now lives in Memphis, though it was worked in Williamson Co.

Mary S. Sutton
September 30, 1834—July 13, 1912
Williamson Co.
July 27, 1848
Wool and silk on linen
21 ½ vertical x 18 ½ horizontal
Private Collection
TSS 017

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Mystery Sampler Revealed

Mary Elizabeth Terrell
February 28, 1836—July 10, 1917
Burwood, Williamson Co.
September 18, 1846
Wool on cotton learning canvas
16" vertical x 17" horizontal
Private Collection
TSS 196

Our most recent documentation is the Mystery Sampler that I referred to in an earlier post (02/19/2008). Our "Little Dog" makes an appearance. The name "Mary de Patterson" appears above the cartouche. Janet's research has revealed that Mary Elizabeth Terrell's family made payment to Mary D. Patterson for embroidery instruction. We have found the elusive teacher for the later samplers in this group.

Upcoming Events

What: lecture, Janet Hasson, "A Beautiful Mourning: Melancholic Sentimentality in Tennessee Samplers"
Where: Biblical Resource Center, 140 E. Mulberry St., Collierville, TN 38017
When: Thursday, April 3, 2008, 2:00 pm
Host: Chief Piomingo Chapter, DAR
Contact: Nancy Bassett, (901) 854-9578
Chapter web site
Biblical Resource Center
Additional information: attendees are invited to bring antique samplers for examination.

What: lecture, Jennifer Core, "Textile Tour of TN with Detours into AL"
Where: St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, 3775 Crosshaven Drive, Birmingham, AL 35223, (205) 967-8786
When: Thursday, May 8, 2008, 7:00 pm
Host: Birmingham Needlearts, EGA chapter
Contact: Karen Taylor
Birmingham Needlearts regional news
St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
Additional information: attendees are invited to bring antique samplers for examination.

What: lecture, Janet Hasson, "A Beautiful Mourning: Melancholic Sentimentality in Tennessee Samplers"
Where: DAR Museum, 1776 D St., Washington, DC 20006
When: Thursday, May 29, 2008
Host: DAR Museum
DAR calendar
Additional information: this lecture is in conjunction with the exhibit "Telling Their Stories: Samplers and Silk Needlework" from April 11 to August 30, 2008. Exhibit description: "The nineteenth century brought tremendous change to Americans. The country and population expanded greatly. Families were dispersed with the ever-popular westward movement. The industrial revolution changed forever a consumer society. The country survived major and costly wars. The nation grew from a small republic to an international power. Does the handwork of girls and young women relate to such dynamic change? In this exhibition of 19th century needlework, the DAR Museum attempts to tell some of their stories."

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Color Palette

The silks from Olde Willow Stitchery arrived today. Robin did a fabulous job of matching the colors to the original 1831 Sarah Harriet Stephenson sampler. The model stitching begins this weekend!

The silks are shown against the ground fabric I have selected, a 28 ct. light sand linen from Zweigart.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mystery Sampler?

The best part of our work is receiving emails and phone calls alerting us to previously unknown samplers. My pulse races when I see the words "mystery sampler," "unknown sampler," or "sampler help" in an email heading.

Today our colleague Rick Warwick emailed us an image of a sampler and some family history on the stitcher. This new-to-us sampler, an exciting find, clearly belongs to the "Little Dog" grouping. It comes with a very extensive provenance. The sampler also has additional names and initials on it, which may help us identify the teacher.

Every sampler adds to our understanding of the ones we have already documented. I hate jigsaw puzzles, but I love patterns and repetition. When I unfold my map of Tennessee, and see that two girls who worked similar samplers in the same year lived less than five miles from one another, I feel as if I have been invited to a very select party.

Above, the "Little Dog" from the 1831 Sarah Harriet Stephenson sampler (TSS 015), the piece I am currently charting for reproduction.

Monday, February 18, 2008

1831 Sarah Harriet Stephenson

Sarah Harriet Stephenson
January 1, 1819—February 11, 1848
Spring Hill
Williamson County/Maury County
June 18, 1831
Silk on linen
16 ½” vertical x 18” horizontal
Private Collection
TSS 015

I've been charting the second sampler for reproduction. Rindy Richards will be stitching the model, with silks custom dyed for us by Olde Willow Stitchery. Rindy and I went to visit the sampler on Friday and match both DMC and NPI to the obverse and reverse.

The model will be worked with the colors from the back. This sampler is part of a group of five I am calling "The Little Dog Samplers of Middle Tennessee." The charting has been going well--Sarah was a good little stitcher with regular repeats in the border and dividing band. The owner was stunned that I thought this sampler was worth reproducing. She said, "Will people really be interested in this?" Rindy said, "The colors are beautiful, it is in great condition, it has the name, exact date, and county in the inscription, there are an upper case alphabet, lower case alphabet, and numbers, we know a lot about Sarah, and it has a house and a dog! Of course people will want to stitch it!"

I can't begin to describe how lovely and intense the colors are. The blue just jumps out at the eye. Terracotta, chartreuse, lavender... somehow they all come together to make a beautiful piece.

Friday, February 15, 2008

MESDA Needlework Seminar, March 13-15, 2008

What: Annual MESDA Needlework Seminar
Where: Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts,
Winston-Salem, NC
When: Thursday, March 13, 2008, 9 am through Saturday, March 15, 2008, noon
Fee: $350 (includes dinner, 2 lunches, all sessions, admissions, and object studies)
Contact: Martha Ashley, MESDA, PO Box 10310, Winston-Salem, NC, 27108-0310, (336) 721-7360, oldsalem.org.

This year' event, "Needlework and Textiles of the American Backcountry," explores the circumstances under which sampler making, quilting, and weaving were practiced in the culturally diverse backcountry of Pennsylvania, Virginia, the Carolinas, and Tennessee after the Revolution. The stories of these textiles and their makers are stories of tradition, religion, and innovation. Participants will study objects from the museum and private collections. Registration required.

Speakers: Johanna Brown, Jennifer C. Core, Laurel Horton, Kimberly Smith Ivey, Kathy Lesieur, J. Roderick Moore, L. Scott Philyaw, and Kathleen Staples.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

New Note Cards

East Tennessee

Susan G. V. Mountcastle
b. 02/03/1829—d. 08/11/1850
Hawkins County, Tennessee
silk on linen, original frame
23 1⁄2 vertical x 23 1⁄2 horizontal
Private Collection
TSS 043

Middle Tennessee

Martha E. Sutton
b. abt. 1833—d. abt. 1905
Bedford County, Tennessee
July 1850
wool on linen
18 1⁄2” vertical x 20” horizontal
Private Collection
TSS 153

West Tennessee

Sarah Elizabeth Jones
b. abt. 1836—d. ?
Henry County, Tennessee
July 3, 1849
wool on linen
8 1⁄4” vertical x 17” horizonatal
Private Collection
TSS 082

Each six card set includes images of three Tennessee samplers–one from each region of the state. Proceeds from the sale of these note cards will fund Tennessee Sampler Survey research.

Individuals may purchase sets for $12 + S/H from:

The Mad Samplar Book Company
1225 Village Drive
Yadkinville, NC 27055
(336) 961-6715

Tennessee residents should inquire at their local museum or needlework shops.

Wholesale inquiries contact Janet Hasson: janet@tennesseesamplers.com or (615) 377-3556.

Funded by: CBRL Group Foundation * LifeWorks Foundation

Design by Susan Houston * Cards by Douglas Printing

Our First Chart!

Last week, I picked up our first chart from Douglas Printing. Amy and Susan came to Janet's house for a stuffing party.

The four of us, working three hours, packaged all of the charts and 2/3 of the cards. The printer had shorted us 1000 envelopes, so we had to stop before we were completely finished.

Robin Laukhuf of Olde Willow Stitchery distributed the charts and cards for us at the Nashville Needlework Market. I think we did well! Robin gave away 180 freebies.

Our chart has everything that I love as a stitcher: photos of both the original and the reproduction, suggestions for adaptations, a biography of the stitcher, info on the historical importance of Middle TN samplers, and a pretty photo of Williamson County. I think the chart is easy to read and handle. The color conversions for three different fiber lines will assist anyone wanting to switch to a different line.

Having a graphic designer (Susan) supervise the production really made this a professional product, worthy of the nominal price!

Interior of Chart

Proceeds from the sale of this chart will fund Tennessee Sampler Survey research.

Individuals may purchase this chart for $18 + S/H from:
The Mad Samplar Book Company
1225 Village Drive
Yadkinville, NC 27055
(336) 961-6715

Tennessee residents should inquire at their local museum or needlework shops.

Wholesale inquiries contact Janet Hasson:
(615) 377-3556 or janet@tennesseesamplers.com.