Posts Tagged 'needlework'

The power of needleworkers – December 1

On December 1st, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for Civil Disobedience when she refused to give her seat to a white passenger in segregated Montgomery, Alabama. She was employed as a seamstress/tailor’s assistant, and along with her husband, she was active in the NAACP. After the boycott that ensued, Ms. Parks lost her place of employment.

When Ms. Parks was asked to give up her seat on the bus, she was actually sewing a dress for herself. The Smithsonian Institute has the dress in its collection (link here). How many of us would have given way to an order to move or else the police would be called? I like to think some of her resolve came not just from training in peaceful protest, but also the knowledge of how many times her needlework had been interrupted before. She was quoted as saying “The only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”

December 1 is also World AIDS day. In San Francisco, in November of 1985, the idea of the AIDS quilt was born, to give names to the people who might have died in obscurity and to give us an idea of the impact of the disease. Today, the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt is still growing, with panels made by 100,000 friends and family members. By June 2012, exhibits showing the quilt raised $4,000,000 to fund direct services to people living with AIDS. Gay rights activist Cleve Jones had a powerful idea that keeps growing. Over 94,000 names are on the quilt now. There are 40 International Affiliates outside of the US of the NAMES Project.

Needlework in gilt frames – Berlin wool work

Whenever I’m at a museum, I look for examples of needlework, either etched in stone or part of a painting. At the Kunsthalle Bremen, I found a portrait of Frau Medizinalrat Nicolai, from 1830. The artist was Georg Friedrich Adolph Schöner, and he used oil paint to portray her in clothing from the day — pointed lace collar, fitted brown silk dress, carefully crimped black hair. At her side is a small sewing box, with bits of colored wool or silks peeking out. In her lap, artfully displayed was this:

Detail from Schoner painting, Kunsthalle Bremen

Detail from Schoner painting, Kunsthalle Bremen


Thousands of Berlin work patterns made their way over to the USA and England back in the 1800s, and I wonder if this pattern is somewhere in someone’s attic? I’m sure there is already a treatise on the artful display of “women’s work” for the leisured classes in paintings of wealthy women. But I like to think this was the work she was doing while she sat for the portrait, and the artist wanted to add the color to the picture or an excuse to show off her wedding ring (her husband’s portrait is nearby).

A view of the portrait from the Kunsthalle website can be searched for here: Kunsthalle. So, when you’re traveling (on vacation, or taking little 11 hour “vacations” over the weekend), what do you look for when you’re in a museum? More photos later from Bremen and a trip to a gorgeous garden in Hamburg.


Wrapping Things Up

Blurry is about the best I can do today.

Blurry is about the best I can do today.

I’m still trying to get the last of the presents collected, then I need to wrap said presents and get some of them on the road.

This blurry picture is my latest craft-in process: little felt ornaments to give away. We’ll see how many of the 6-ornament kit I get applique’d and beaded. Note: the kit is a discontinued Bucilla one that I bought on sale a year or so ago. If you want to give felt applique a try, this is kind of a cost-effective way to go — saving on money by buying a kit in the off-season and saving on sanity by giving yourself a year to play with cutting and beading these things. The knitting I was doing has been put away because I’m tired of being tempted to blow my nose on projects. These little felt babies are perfectly safe — they’re pretty easy to throw down when I need to grab a tissue. Best of all, it looks like I can wash and dry them in time for wrapping on Christmas Eve.

What do you want for the holidays? A pleasant flight home to visit family? A break from work? Not dreading January’s bills?

I think all I want for Christmas is to NOT be sick. Just one year where only Rudolph has the red nose, ‘kay?

Flickr Photos