HNW - NHW: blackword

Linn Skinner skinner02 at
Mon Aug 10 11:21:49 PDT 1998


>As always, keep in mind that dyes are fugitive, and black in particular was
>hard to get right.  >

Actually, I find that when black threads have survived (chancy because of
the mordants used) they usually are a true black or sometimes aged to a dark
brown.  Usually they just disintegrate rather than fade.

>In other words, existing pieces may have looked different when they were
>first worked.

I really find a good range of colors in 17th century samplers and not as
much fading as one might suppose.  I have done a color study on over 100
samplers and find in those without obvious fading (greens are the most
fading colors in my experience) that deep colors remain apparently true and
often see dark reds, blues and greens.  As to color choices, I only have
experience of black being used seldom on samplers except the Bostock sampler
and then in later ages.  Most of the "golden age" band samplers are bright
colors shifting to pastels in later eras.  However, continental samplers
(Spanish, Italian) often used very bright colors for the same motifs one
finds in pastels on English Samplers (bright true greens, yellows, reds,
blues).  Designs that the English interpreted in white are found on the
Continental textiles in these bright hues.   It appears to me that it is a
matter of aesthetic choice of colors rather than fading.  We do change ideas
about desirable colors today and I have no doubt this was true in the 17th
century as well.  Another phenomena is the Continental stitcher's choice of
running stitch for execution of animal forms on their samplers, which I have
not seen on English examples (with the exception of an occasional "boxer").

BTW I'm always looking for examples of the combination of Roman Stitch and
Rice Stitch.  I've found several spots on samplers using this combination.
Not found it on any other textiles and am collecting examples trying to find
a source?  reason? use?.  All contributions gratefully accepted.



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