Thursday, May 26, 2011

embroidery and a little history.

Victorian embroidered necklace

So in an attempt to be an educated person I am taking advantage of being out here in the fields to attempt to get through the oh so dense Subversive Stitch. At the next Collective Thread meeting the plan is to use the book as a jumping off point for conversation.

This morning I was reading away and a few points of interest were:

We all know that at points in history embroidery was used as a status symbol of wealth...showing that you had time to be idle and make embroidery. But one fascinating little tidbit towards this is that in the 1520's a favored item was embroidered gloves. By wearing these delicate gloves you separated yourself from the manual labor class as you were living a life "unsullied" existence in order to keep the gloves clean and sound. I personally love hand made gloves and always seem to buy them but never wear them as my life is quite sullied with reality. But maybe I should make my own pair of gloves at some point.

Victorian embroidered necklace

Also in discussing how embroidery and needlework was part of the female education and how it created a way to educate girls without that seeming to "threatening" to the patriarchy I found this quote interesting:

The place of needlework in a women's education was to become primary by the 17th century. In the 16th century it served 2 functions: endowed an education with elevated class associations, and making an education, which might otherwise have been deemed dangerously masculine, safely feminine.

embroidered book cover made by Queen Elizabeth I given as a gift

The reference to creating class within the educational environment was due to the fact that the women who needed to eventually make money turned her needle to useful sewing skills while the woman that was to "adorn some high position she must acquire suitable accomplishments...including drawing .... to beautify her needlework."

I have always been quite interested in the idea of class within the history of embroidery.

In graduate school this often became an issue for my faculty- in that my work was referring to an upper class. To me this was never a weakness as my point of view has always been from a middle to upper class place, since my teen years at least, and I think that it is just an interesting voice as any. Besides that I find upper class people making work about working class situations to be a little hypocritical. Anyway... I digress.

those are my reflections today.

Pictures of the day later. My camera is in with a sleeping babe and I do not dare wake him.

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