Monday, September 26, 2016

Museum Monday!

c1790-1820 Knit Basket Purse 932.2016.55

 This week's Museum Monday lucky number is 932! I couldn't be more thrilled, as this is one of my favorite pieces~ I know I always say that, but this one may just be a little more special than most of my really specials. I have always admired anything knit with beads, beaded purses...beaded baby caps and jackets....Native American beadwork....and of all, the most elusive are the purses of this type you see above. These are early, late 18th century to the second decade 19th, and knit with weensie knitting beads~ but what sets these purses aside from all the others, is their shape. Early knit basket purses are supported by wooden hoops.

  You can see some wonderful examples at the Metropolitan Museum here, and another here

I have spent nearly 30 years pining for a basket purse, and finally found one, tho as you see in the photo above it was not happy and cheerful like it once was....but not to worry, a little love and care is all it needed~

  Its shape was tired after so many years~ first to attend to was to make a new bottom plate. Measures were carefully taken of the bottom diameter, and I cut a new plate from heavy archival card. Luckily the original plate was still in the bottom of the purse, so I took it out and used it for a color match of the same thin tissue silk taffeta covering. 

  To the left you can see the original bottom plate, which is layers of card/paper with a silk covering. The cards had gotten damp and are now all balled up inside the covering. The once original shape is a drastic change to what it is now, which in this type of purse, greatly effects the silhouette.

 Before inserting, I again check the measure to be sure it will fit like a glove once inside. I used three layers of heavy card, they are quite stiff, but still flexible enough to roll up to insert thru the one & a quarter inch wide neck above the bottom section of the purse

 New bottom plate inserted~ the original is of coarse kept in stores with the purse always.

 Next was to make a new hoop for the center section. Some purses have the hoop(s) stitched in place, but most do not, as this detracts from the outside design. It is easy to understand why many have lost their original wooden hoops~ they are much easier to store with hoops removed. Of coarse some have hoops inserted as they were knit, and those are really fabulous!!

 I made a hoop from a scrap of some wooden basket making reeds~ something that would be readily available in the years these purses were made and most likely found in the house. 

 A 16" piece was cut and bound together at the ends with wooden pegs. All was sanded smooth. 

 The top when fully opened easily accommodated  the hoop and here you can see it as it rests gently in place inside the widest part of the purse. Also note the very narrow neck of the bottom section~

 Weensie knitting beads in rare yellow color~ aside from reds, yellows were the next highest cost of beads due to the minerals needed to make the color

 Pretty pansies, with leaves done in  transparent, opaque and 'greasy' beads

 Original  tasseled drawstring ties at the very top above a row of bead work leaves

 Now, a happy purse with correct silhouette.  
I hope you enjoyed this Museum Monday~ if you would like to pick a number between 1-945 Ill add it to the hat to pick from for next weeks post~ you can email me or leave in the comments section below.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Museum Monday!

Grouping of 19th c Trade Cards 741.2013.59a-d

  This weeks Museum Monday lucky number is 741, a grouping of four mid nineteenth century trade cards. I happened to get this group as a lot, because I wanted in particular the Eberhardt card~ but any of these early cards are wonderful. They are  a little more scarce, as people tend to collect the fancy litho cards of the late 19th century
 F. Eberhardt was an importer of French & German baskets~ just one of dozens of shops that sold my early basket purses in Philadelphia Pennsylvania
Sometimes, one can learn more from what is scribed on the  back of a card, than what is advertised on the front~ like on the back of Wlm Graham's card advertising that he was a House, Sign, Ship & Ornamental Painter~ on the back, he has written both the date and an errand for an apprentice~ so we get a wonderful glimpse into what he was up to on June 13th, 1877~
'Plilada. June 13th/77~
C. Sehrack Pleo~ Please give bearer 25 lbs. Putty, & charge to W.W. Graham'
I wonder how much 25 pounds of putty cost back in 1877.....25 cents maybe?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Land of Enchantment

                        A Visit to Acoma Pueblo 

~Sky City~
 If you have ever wondered why the state of  New Mexico is called 'The Land of Enchantment'....this blog is for you.  New Mexico is home to the Native American Pueblo Indians~ there are 19 distinct and different Pueblos here~ each one magical...and when I say magical, I mean magical.   This past weekend I visited Acoma Pueblo and thought you would enjoy a peek~ tho keep in mind, the photos do not anywhere do the real thing justice. West of Albuquerque...about an hour or so, not far, one comes round a bend in the road and WOW...the horizon just opens up and seems to go on forever!  Looking from the top of one mesa out beyond,  you can see Acoma Pueblo, nestled atop its own mesa in the distance.

 Traveling across the valley floor, huge towering rock formations remind one of how tiny we humans really are

 Acoma Pueblo is home to the Acoma Tribe, and sits atop a grande mesa~ I snagged this aerial photo of it off the encyclopedia. It is easy to see why one would want to live atop the mesa~ aside from being breathtakingly beautiful, it was quite secure~ one could see anyone coming from miles and miles.(click to enlarge)

  Acoma is still an active Pueblo, meaning members still live here, and since this is their home, and they are gracious enough to share it, rules must be followed when visiting. All tours are guided, and tickets can be purchased at the visitors center below the mesa. Out of respect, no photos were taken of tribe members or of inside the Mission & graveyard~ so if you want to really experience Acoma~ come and see it with your own eyes!
  You can get all the info you need here on their website.

 The views are amazing~ it is so peaceful. A trip here is like traveling back in time~ there is no electricity, no running water, and no indoor plumbing. The Acoma Tribe is a matriarchal society, meaning that the women are the only property owners~ each home has been  passed down from mother to youngest daughter for generations. Acoma Pueblo dates back to 1100 AD...thats alot of generations!  The only property men are allowed to hold are the sacred Kivas, (which are prayer rooms)

  Everything brought up to the mesa top has to be carried~ the construction materials are mainly rocks and adobe bricks. The oldest constructions are to the center of the mesa top

 Every home has a view no money could ever be enough to buy

 Jai, our tour guide is standing beside a horno. Pronounced, 'huh-where~no' , this one is one of many in the Pueblo still actively used for baking~ not only breads, but savory meats as well.  

 A real mica window hundreds of years old~ 

 Along the guided tour we wandered and zig zagged thru the Pueblo~ many artists had tables set up outside their homes and were all ready to chat up the day. There were paintings, dream catchers, beadwork, and of coarse, world renowned Acoma pottery. 

 One cannot help but be at peace, in a place that is in itself, so peaceful~ there are no blaring televisions or streetlights or power lines to block ones never ending view

 I love the straw showing in the adobe walls~ just beautiful

  Many of the homes are three stories tall, enabling the kitchen to be moved with the changing seasons, in the summer, the kitchen is located on the top floor with heat venting out the roof to keep the lower floors cool, and in the winter, the kitchen is moved to the first floor, where it helps to keep the upper floors warm in the cold months

 This is a kiva, or holy place~ the only buildings men are allowed to own. The unique double ladder has one side for going up, and the other for coming down. Religious ceremonies are held within~

The bell tower of the San Estevan del Ray Mission, built in 1629.  (As beautiful as this mission is,  I look at it and see nothing but sadness and oppression) You can read more about it here

Acoma Pueblo is an amazing place and I hope it perhaps piqued your interest so that if you are at all in the vicinity, you will take the road less traveled and have a visit you will never forget~

Monday, September 12, 2016

Museum Monday!

19th c Knit Beaded Baby Bonnet 63.1999.15
 This weeks Museum Monday lucky number is 63~ a wonderful early 19th c beaded baby cap or bonnet. I love these early caps~ they incorporate three of my favorite things~ knitting, babies....and beads!  It is hard to differentiate actual baby bonnets from those made for dolls~ tho the latter I have found thru research to come from later in the 19th c, the knitting more simple and done with a heavier thread, and beads much larger.  They usually contain much less beaded areas as well,  like a garland framing the face and neck edge only, and no beading at all on the crown.  Keep your eyes peeled for little beaded jackets as well, I have seen a couple!
 This colorful example is banded with a garland of pink rosebuds and leaves in several colors of greens. The beads are tiny glass seed beads, (what we call micro seed beads today and run apx 30 per inch) and were referred to in the era of the late 18th c to 1840's as "knitting beads".  One could knit a bonnet using the same method as knitting a purse~ the design was carefully thought out, and beads strung on the thread in the color order that they would be knit in~ keeping in mind that knitting rows are horizontal, traveling the width of the bonnet from neck edge over the head to neck was a monumental task in itself to get the beads on the thread in the right order they would be knit in, to not only make a design, but so that the colors would be in the right place once knit!

 Knitting a one color design was easier~ hundreds of green beads threaded on, and as the knitter needed, she would bring up a bead for that particular stitch. The knitting stitches are the same, one just brings up and uses a threaded bead as they go along

 The pinwheel pattern is a common favorite used for the crown of knit bonnets, as well as the bottom of beaded bags.
Showing the inside we can easily see the beads are knit within the bonnet, and not stitched on after. I have tried beaded knitting and let me say, it is quite challenging even with larger beads! To have a back this clean and nice, with no beads on the underside, is absolutely fantabulous!  I left this picture large so you can click on it to see the details~

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Prims Autumn 2016

In Stores Now!
 The new Autumn 2016 issue of Prims magazine is in stores now and features one of my dollys, The Iron Maiden. Its a great issue packed with wonderful Autumn and Winter pretties~ dont miss it!

If you dont have a bookstore near you, you can order online from Stampington   here

Monday, September 05, 2016

Museum Monday!

19th c Scutching Knife 439.2008.23

This weeks Museum Monday lucky number is 439! Do you know what it is? Well of coarse you do, its in the title, but aside from that~ do you know what its used for? If you said one of the tools involved in making linen, you are correct! You can read my Nov. 2008  post about how linen is made here . Hope you enjoy!  And for those interested in helping to choose the next Museum Monday post~ just pick a number between 1-999 and post in the comments or email me and Ill add it to the hat!