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.