Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Saga of the Sampler, Part I 

I seldom chart/teach/sell reproduction samplers. And I never do so unless I own the sampler or it belongs to a friend. The intellectual property rights issues are far too profound for me to be enticed to tangle with them.

But, and a BIG BUT occasionally I do find occasion to take on the task of trying to interpret a bygone stitchers' wishes and stitches and reproduce a sampler.

The simple little sampler I'm working with has only two sorts of stitches (cross stitch and Queen/Roccoco stitch). The fabric is typical of early 19th century fabric used for samplers. An unevenweave and unevenly spun fibers. About 25 count linen.

When reproducing samplers I prefer to chose a linen color that closely approaches the original at the time it was first stitched, not as it appears after years of aging. Sometimes I can examine the core of the fiber when the aging process has not completely engaged the entire thread. Not so this time, so I have chosen a typical color for the time period, a warm cream colored linen.

Next, fibers with which to stitch. Silk of course. Very fine and with a soft "handle", evenly twisted. Naturally dyed and badly faded in the original. What to do about colors? Chemical dyes can only approach naturally dyed fibers, no matter how hard you try to duplicate the originals. In this instance the fading is apparent both back and front. The sampler had apparently been folded and placed in a book. It seems to have been freely exposed to pollutants and light. Now, do you try to duplicate the current colors of the fibers which are all faded with very, very subtle differences? I think not and I am choosing to use colors I know through examining other embroideries of that period to be typical and popular choices of stitchers.

In other words, I try to capture the spirit of the original stitcher and duplicate her intentions, skills and choices.

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