Monday, 14 June 2010
It is not possible for everyone to see sampler reverses. In many cases the samplers are framed and cannot be taken out of their frames without considerable expense and some risk. But I have seen and imaged around two hundred early examples which is enough to make a decent sample size to study and analyse. When I first started studying samplers I was told by different people on a number of occasions that early stitchers were very frugal with silk - because it was most expensive - and so floss was conserved by not taking it through to the reverse, or by using stitches which were worked on the surface only. From my experience and analysis I can now say that I have rarely seen evidence of this sort of frugal practice. The vast majority of early samplers that I have been able to examine have the same amount of floss on the reverse as the front - and sometimes more in places where the stitches are quite congested as you can see from this 18th century example here. There are exceptions. The first is when metallic threads are employed. Metallic thread was expensive and would have been used frugally. But the main reason why metal thread was rarely taken through to the reverse is that it would have cut and shredded the cloth rather like a fret saw. The other instance is when the intention is to produce a detached or raised surface stitch. But this was done to display technique and artistry, not to conserve thread. Where surface stitches are demonstrated on samplers, the use of thread on the rest of the sampler follows the pattern of usage on other samplers.
Posted by N E E D L E P R I N T at 10:26