Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Amazing! Many of you know that I have a particular affinity for early painted basket purses, and have collected them, and the images with them in it, for several years now. Well occasionally I will get lucky and find something special on eBay, and this week was no exception! The above image was listed as a daguerreotype, which I knew directly it was not. I figured it was possibly a tin type copy of an earlier daguerreotype, and the precious girl was holding a spectacular painted basket purse, so I had to have it!

When it arrived yesterday, I opened the case and took it out to clean the glass, only to discover something wonderful and fascinating that I had never seen before. Sandwiched between 2 clear glass plates, and affixed directly onto the back of the ornate brass preserver, was the perfect rendition of our little lady, but not on tin, or glass...or even leather like I have heard of before~ but a piece of felted cloth!

This i s a close up view of the back of the cloth~ it has a felted nap, with the weave clearly visible. In fact, the weave is also visible from the front~ that is what makes the little bumpy texture in the second picture above. Isn't that just amazing?!

I had read about images on leather, very rare, but couldn't for the life of me remember what they were called...Impressed into the side bevel of the brass preserver I could read " HOLMES, BOOTH & HAYDENS SUPERFINE" on one side, and "WAT......EY CONN 12" on the other. After a little research, I found that Holmes, Booth & Haydens was founded in Waterbury Connecticut in 1853 as a manufacturer of photographic equipment basically. VERY interesting! But I couldn't find anything referring to my image on cloth, so I called Dr. Dusan Stulik at the Getty Conservation Institute in Los Angeles Ca, and got alllll my questions answered!

He identified my image as a "pannotype", and that the Greek word pannos actually translated to 'cloth'. The process was invented in 1853, and only in use until 1860. They were initially hailed as the first 'unbreakable' images, as up until then, you could either have a daguerreotype or ambrotype photograph made~ the dag was on a silver plate and very fragile, and the ambrotype was on a glass plate. Not many have survived due to the fact that the emulsion cracks over time and the cloth disintegrates, so I am overjoyed to have this one, and in near perfect condition!
The technical specifics of how a pannotype was made are very involved and fascinating, as described by Marc Osterman in his book on Pannotypes~
"These direct positive collodion images were made on glass and transferred onto a secondary support material by placing the glass plate bearing the image in an acidified water bath that caused the collodion film to shrink. The secondary support was then placed int the water and the two were taken out of the bath with in image in contact with the surface of the secondary support. The back of the support was then pressed against the glass with a squeegee and the plate. The back of the plate was then gently heated until the image and support fell from the glass. The images were transferred onto black oil cloth, patent leather and black enameled paper"
Dr. Stulik said he has them also on wood, and now I have this felted cloth one~ just amazing to me~ what invention was hatched to try and preserve the human image! And just look at that basket~ painted with FRUIT! A double plus for me to find, since I could not tell from the auction picture what was there~ I assumed a floral arrangement like so many others. NOT! There are apples and a pear~ wonderful wonderful!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

1830's a' la Martha Stewart.....

Was Martha around in the 1830's? She well could have been ;) This monochromatic color scheme in taupes was an early- mid 19th century favorite, and here, it is easy to see why. Martha would adore these little gowns~ simple, and oh so very elegant.

Above right is a little boys jacket, c1838, middle 1820 white mull frilled Mother's Nursing gown, and to the left, a gorgeous c1832-5 girls long sleeve summer dress, of which I will be sharing with you today.

The first thing to catch one's eye is the beautiful white embroidery that accents the wrap front style of the bodice. This dress would have been made up just like Mamma's~ following the fashion trends nearly exact. At a time when roller and block printed cottons were all the rage, the fact that this has been made up from a solid color cotton would have one thinking it was of lesser quality and belonging to a lower class....but with the addition of the superbly wrought embroidery so expertly placed, this little dress is of the highest taste and quality~ a Mother with money, and a refined, yet elegant taste, commissioned it for her precious little girl. Of coarse it helps also knowing the provenance, that our little dress was worn by one of Capt. Rufus Lincoln's little girls in Wareham, Massachusetts.

But having money was not an excuse for frivolity and waste~ this dress has been made up of so many little pieces fit perfectly together, I wonder if it was made up from the extras of one of her Mother's gowns. All hand stitched, the bodice is made of a linen base, with only the outwardly showing pieces in the fashion fabric~ the embroidered front is pieced of 3 smaller pieces, and stitched onto the lining.

It was just as important to look good going, as it was coming, and much design was put into the back of the bodice. The piped and tabbed waist band was a really common feature of the 1820's & 1830's, and if I remember right, nearly all the gowns I have here of this era, have a piped waistband that ends in a tab.

The embroidery is expertly done, I think too perfect for it to be a sample of the little girl's own work, but I could be wrong. What a beautiful tribute and perfect way to show off the works of thine own hands.... than to have them made up into a pretty dress

This is a close view of the center band of embroidery on the skirting

The long gigot sleeves are amazing, as I find all of them to be~ marvels of engineering! But we can see again, the unique piecing, to take advantage of every scrap of fabric, as these sleeves really did requite a lot of fabric. It was easy, to have just as much fabric in the sleeves of a gown, as in the skirting. This view is actually the back of the sleeve, see the 2 horizontal seams there?

Flipping same sleeve over, there is a horizontal seam again, then a strange triangular piece, and an augmented rectangle....very good use of fabric~ I bet there wasn't an inch of waste when this was finished.

The 1830's is one of, if not my most favorite era in early fashion~ the lines and silhouettes are so feminine~ see how the little boys jacket mirrors the same seam lines as the girl's? Beautiful. I will share him with you in a another post~ so much going on there you wont believe it!

And a precious side view. For the weight of the fabric, I would say most definitely this was a summer dress~ cold New England winters and drafty homes would have made this impractical to wear in the winter months

Thought you would enjoy this~ a current picture of the Rufus Lincoln estate in Wareham Ma. Minus the window air conditioning units of coarse, this is much how it would have looked when our precious was squirting about the grounds, perhaps playing with a favorite dollye right there in the yard. Things that dreams are made of, don't you think?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Coming to the Mercantiles this Nov 14th...

I hope you will please join me at 7pm CMT for my Holiday Update on the TDIPT and EW Mercantiles. There will be much delight and festivities, as it is our annual Holiday Open House on TDIPT Mercantile~so along with every purchase you will be entered into the drawing for many many wonderful premiums(see the Mercantile for all the details).
Such a magical time, just after Hallowe'en and before Thanksgiving, with all the anticipation of the Joyous Season ahead....the excitement is heavy in the aire......

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Have Mercy.....

I finished my sample hoop of quilting this Am, and of coarse, I love how it looks......May God have mercy on me, and give my poor middle finger the strength it needs to endure. I may indeed, have to learn how to use a thimble after all these years. I have decided to discipline myself as with the last of the construction, to quilt quilt quilt every morning for a few hours. I will try a comfortable pace this next week, and then see how I have progressed, and try and estimate the time that I will need to finish....to adjust my time to be well and done by March. Yes. March is IT!
I am on to dollys today, finished a gorgeous gorgeous Polichinelle that I am so excited for you to meet~ if I can get it to hold still enough for a picture :) Happy Sunday!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

64 Square feet o' Baltimore....

Golly I have been soooo busy! I could blog on something different every day of the week, except I don't have time! The gorgeous fall days are here and as usual, I have a million things going on, and have to nearly make myself go outside to enjoy the crispy air....my favorite time of the year. I have been meaning to post about my Baltimore ever since getting the top finished on the 23rd of October! I still can't believe I have finally finished it.....looking back, I can honestly say it was a horrible way to assemble the top~ horrendous even! I must be insane to have done it this way. Looks good, yes, but do I recommend this type construction to anyone else? Definitely not.
The sashings are what made this top so inconceivably hard to make up~ each point of my weensie little dogteeth is applique, not pieced. So first, I connected them into rows, and then, as you can see above, pinned and appliqued the rows together. Its a good thing my dining room table is a 12 footer, I could have never done this on the floor. The rows took nearly an hour to pin each one, with each point getting its own little pin

The technique I have used for the entire top is simple needle turn applique, with between 15-22 stitches per inch. The hardest thing was dealing with the bulk of it all~ I had to carefully plan what rows to do first, so that I would carry the least amount of bulk in my hand. I carefully folded and rolled the top and bottom, and towards the end, it was really h*a*r*d and slow and I could no longer get my hand around it, so I had to resort to holding my fabric from underneath, like a big mitten..........it wasn't pretty

BUT! I am stubborn and hard headed as my husband says, and I prevailed! Now my next step is to decide weather to quilt it, or not to quilt. I do really like and prefer the look of the coverlet type that so many Baltimore Albums were made up as. I am planning to do up a sample quilting with backing and fill, to see how the quilting will look...I got the frame you sent Ma~ so will be starting that el moi pronto!

My top is set on point, and I had not appliqued the edge half blocks before I assembled it.....I wasn't sure I wanted anything in that space, but once everything was together and I could stand back and look, yes....they didn't look right empty! So back to applique I went, and each half block got a special design, all from original Baltimore Album Quilt blocks as in keeping with the others, and I also made sure each one had at least one butterfly...some of them got two! Each butterfly was also taken from original blocks. This block is the squirrel from the Sliver quilt, with 2 butterflies from the Ruffner Baltimore, before making up. I like to cut my pieces and set them together in my design so I can see how it will look~ then I can make any changes before stitching if I don't like it.

Same cutie patutie squirrel all made up.

This white rose is also from the Sliver quilt

I have kept meticulous records of every minute I have spent stitching, haw many pieces each block has ect ect ect.....one of these days I will tally everything up and give you the funky details~ I love things like that. Every stitch done by hand, finished my top is 8 foot square ...could have been a bit bigger~ its not big at all compared to some Baltimores....I will let you know how the quilting question turns out!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Recipiunt Fœminæ Sustentacula Nobis.............

I recently received an email to me that said "It is a refreshing pleasure to meet someone who incorporates artistry into daily life"...... what a nice compliment I thought. I had simply taken the time to address an envelope in an early 19th style of writing....never thought anything of it really, other than, that I liked to do it. I live a very moderne life...running water, wonderful Heavenly toilettes inside the house....and this computer~ a wonder of the world to be sure! But I do love history, and am always thinking of how things would have been done, in my favorite 18th century. When on a trip, I often ponder and calculate how long it would have taken to get there in a carriage, at a blazing 5 mph......and the other night at supper, was telling the children how spoiled we are to have a refrigerator....that in early times, one would have to go to market every morning to buy the days meat and bits for supper.

Well, before Halloween, we got a wholloper of a snow here in southern Colorado, with a bit of rain before, that has turned or drive and road we live on, into a muddy mess. Looking at all that mud, and sweeping it up out of the house constantly, I digress again to what our ancestors would have had to deal with in the late 18th and early 19th c. No rubber mud boots. nope. They had 'Pattens'

Pattens had a flat metal hand forged ring which made contact with the ground, attached to a metal plate nailed into the wooden sole via connecting metal, that elevated the foot up off the ground, sometimes several inches. I have read about pattens being worn as early as the 1500's, but they were most common from the 18th c to second quarter 19th c, when vulcanized rubber overshoes replaced them. You can find c1830 hybrids of a wooden sole with a rubber hinge in the middle of the instep. I am very fortunate to own 2 pair of early children's pattens here at the Museum

These two pair both measure almost 6" in length, and were actually worn by wee little children, just learning to walk.
Pattens were worn only outside, on muddy country roads and messy brick paved city streets, to 'save ones shoes' from getting dirty. It was customary to take them off before entering a home, and especially Church. Matter of fact, many Churches had rules forbidding them. Jane Austen often wrote about the "ceaseless clink of pattens" when referring to her life in Bath, England. (I think she would go insane at all the city noise these days, and long for 'just' the clink clink clink of pattens!)

One can imagine the noise they made as a person walked across any hard surface, much like metal horseshoes on pavement now a days....and what an interesting trail they would leave in the mud!

This is the bottom view of my earliest pair, they date to 1780, and have an oval wrought iron ring to elevate the Adler wood platform up off the ground. This oval shape is the most common found, I have seen a gorgeous adult pair with heart shape 'ring', that I still kick myself for not buying when I had the chance.....

This pair date to the first quarter of the 19th century, and I date them by the shape of the sole. A person simply tied these on over their shoes, so the shape of the sole mirrored the fashionable shoes of the time. These have an interesting ogee, or lantern kind of a shaped iron 'ring'.

Looking at them, one might assume that they would have been made by a Blacksmith...but not so. Like so many Trades in the 18th Century, one must be a member of the 'Worshipful Company of Pattenmakers' to make them. My post heading is their motto, which translates from the Latin to ' Women Receive Support From Us'.

The iron ring was attached the to bottom of the sole, with the front piece curving up and around the toe to protect the front of the shoe from being worn down. Wonderful early craftsmanship in a utilitarian piece of clothing....so hard to come by today.
I really love this bottom view~ if you click on and enlarge it, you will notice the wear to the wood on the inner sides. From this, we can tell which shoe was right and left, and that this little person walked with great ease in them on paved streets, to wear down the wood in this pattern.

Samuel Pepys recorded in his Diary for January 24, 1660:
“ Called on my wife and took her to Mrs Pierce's, she in the way being exceedingly troubled with a pair of new pattens, and I vexed to go so slow. ” ahhhhhhhhhh the life!