Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What a Privilege!

Some of you know that one of my part-time jobs is mounting needlework for a local gallery/frame shop.  I learned the skill back around 1990 from the gentleman who did the framing for my first needlework shop.  Then when we moved across the country and I opened a second needlework shop, I decided to do my own framing.  I did so much  I developed carpal tunnel syndrome.  When I retired and was able to do so much more stitching I was able to do my own framing. And for about 3 years I've been mounting all the needlework for Ricky Evans Gallery in Southport, N.C.

Last week they asked me to take a look at an old sampler that a friend had asked them to reframe.  I didn't think much of it until I saw the piece. This is a sampler which is believed to have been stitched in 1852.  I believe it has stayed in the original family all this time.  There is a little piece of tape attached to the bottom of the piece that is faded and cracking. I studied it under a magnifier and I believe it says  "Made in 1852 by Jane L Matis". The year is clear, the name is fairly clear.  It is unclear when the tape was added. 
Unfortunately, I was unable to remove the tape without destroying it, so it will be framed with the piece.  I hope that the family can trace the origins of the sampler.

It is stitched on 30/32 count linen.  By that I mean, it has 30 threads to the inch in one direction and 32 threads/inch in the other direction.  The majority of the piece is cross stitched over two threads with wool.  The verse and the dark bars below the verse are half stitches over one thread, also with wool. 

The sampler was previously mounted (nailed or stapled) to cardboard, and possibly, wood before that.  There are a couple of small tears in the linen and quite a bit of staining.  The edges of the linen, especially on the highly stained left side are somewhat brittle and very fragile.  In order to stabilize the piece and minimize strain on the fabric, I hand stitched it onto a piece of very finely woven linen.  Then I pin mounted it onto acid free foam core with as few pins as possible, again to minimize strain on the fabric.  I did not lace it because, in my opinion, lacing exerts a great deal of stress of the fabric and I do not think this piece would withstand the stress.

I consider it a privilege to have helped preserve this family heirloom. And I am honored to be able to share it with you.

11 comments:

  1. So beautiful
    Well done you for preserving it !

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  2. Such a found treasure~~~ And to think you had a part in its preservation~ I think that is awesom and cant think of a better person to be handling this delicate stitchery than you! Congrats!~

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  3. That is an incredible piece to be able to work with. I am a genealogy buff and whenever I hear of someone owning a piece of their history (as your clients do) it is wonderful. What's interesting to note about the piece is the bottom where the location is stitched: Pittsburg is missing the "h" we now use. And the abbreviation for Pennsylvania is typical of that time period.

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  4. Amazing! How fun that you were able to save the tape to include with the framing. The colors are so vivid! Great job!

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  5. That's amazing! What a treasure for the family to have.

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  6. What a fabulous piece! And it's amazing that it has lasted so long. I am so glad you were able to help is last longer!!

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  7. I think that is wonderful and fabulous that you got to see it, hold it in your hands and frame it to last another 100 years for the future generations. Well done!

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  8. It's beautiful! Thank you for sharing and helping to preserve it for the future!

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  9. Wow, such a fabulous piece! Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

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  10. That is some treasure. I can only imagine how great it was to frame that piece. It's truly an heirloom!

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  11. Wow! What a priviledge to work on such a piece. It always amazes me how the colors stay so vibrant over 100+ years.

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