Friday, December 24, 2010

Exhibit Installation: Middle Tennessee Samplers

What: Middle Tennessee Samplers: "This My Name Shall Ever Have"
When: December 17, 2010-April 10, 2011
Where: Polk Presidential Hall, The James K. Polk Ancestral Home, Columbia, TN

Here are some photos of the installation and the finished exhibit.

Curator Tom Price, standing on the world's best ladder, hangs wallpaper in the domestic interior section.

Polk Home board member Julia West irons muslin for the window coverings.

The giant sampler was printed on vinyl wallpaper. Polk Home director John Holtzapple, Janet (under the sampler), and Tom hang the introductory graphic panel.

My calculations. Fractions are hard. I refuse to deal with anything less than a quarter of an inch.

Schematic for the Little Dog samplers section.

Painter's tape--very useful.

The exhibit is up! The introductory section along the right wall and the domestic interior at the rear. The vitrine holds needlework accessories.

The Little Dog samplers.

The academic setting. Janet made the school uniform.

John, Tom, and Janet--happy to be finished.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Decorating with Samplers for Christmas

Linda completed her Middle Tennessee sampler in October 2009. I finally made it over to her house to see it framed and hanging on her wall. Linda chose to stitch the horizontal version of the piece, but kept the original red palette. She used wool fibers on linen.

Christmas is a good time to visit Linda, since she decorates her entire home for the season. She has ten (I think!) Christmas trees, including a cat tree, a red and white tree, a gardening tree, a rag ball tree, and, of the most interest to stitchers, a needlework tools tree and a sampler tree.

The needlework tools are displayed in front of an antique sampler, one of Linda's favorite pieces. In addition to collecting antiques, she also stitches reproductions. Her favorite designers are the Scarlet Letter and Mary Beale.

The entrance to Linda's home features both reproductions and antiques. Some of us have sampler walls; almost every wall in Linda's house is hung with needlework.

My mom was quite taken with this reproduction of the 1826 Sarah Hatton McPhail sampler from The Essamplaire. She seems to think I should stitch it for her Christmas present this year.

One year, Linda challenged herself to make a Christmas ornament every week. She ended the year with 75 ornaments (to add to the ornaments she had already stitched throughout her life). She also does all her own finishing. She took many patterns from Mary Beale, Nancy Sturgeon, Annelle Ferguson, Sharon Cohen, Eileen Bennett, Ewe & Eye & Friends, Carriage House Samplings and the Just Cross Stitch ornament issue. The result is her magnificent sampler tree.

A close up shot of the sampler tree:

Linda continues to stitch ornaments to commemorate trips and family events. At this rate, she will soon have two sampler trees.

You can read Mary Beale's account of her visit to Linda's home here and Linda's responses to Mary's questionnaire here.

Artisan Ancestors Podcast

Jon Kay, director of Traditional Arts Indiana, interviewed me for his podcast, Artisan Ancestors. I discuss our research methodology and what samplers can reveal about the stitchers and their communities. You can listen to the interview on your computer or download it to your MP3 player.

Artisan Ancestors is the podcast that "explores ways to research and understand the past. Whether you’re a local historian, genealogist or just interested in learning about the everyday creative lives of people and the things they made, this program is for you."

Thanks to Jon for a fun interview!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Exhibit Dates Changed

The upcoming exhibit of Middle Tennessee samplers at the Polk Presidential Hall in Columbia, TN, has been rescheduled to open on December 17, 2010, and continue through April 10, 2011. Janet, Tom, and I are all working--frantically might not be the right word--very, very hard to make this show visually appealing.

Here's a sneak peak at one of the samplers that will be featured in the exhibit:

1850 Alice Louise Bauguss