[HNW] 'Blackwork' Filling Patterns

Eowyn Amberdrake eowyna at sca-caid.org
Wed Apr 7 09:49:19 PDT 2004


I am collecting instances of blackwork-style filling 
patterns being 
used in 17th and 18th c. samplers, done either in color or 
in black.

I have the FitzWilliam Samplers book (by Carol Humphries), 
the V&A  needlework book (by King and Levey), the Samplers 
from the V&A book  (Clare Browne and Jennifer Weardon), 
and the Dorset Co. exhibit book (by Kathleen Staples). 
There are some instances of blackwork-  style filling 
patterns used in figures in these books. I am not 
 primarily a sampler person (my focus is more 16th c.), 
but I am  collecting instances of "blackwork" filling 
patterns being used in  samplers.

I am not looking at bands of patterns that could be used 
in fillers, 
such as one can see in the Bostock sampler, but rather 
cases where  there is a figure with a patterned filling 
pattern inside, whether  that filling is done in either 
black thread or colored thread.

I do not mean blackwork on clothing.

For example, pulling down the Browne and Weardon book, go 
to p. 135.  There is a picture of a man and a woman on a 
greensward, and above  them is a band of flowers. The 
greenward is filled with a pattern in  green thread, the 
man's garb is filled with 2 patterns in brown  (jerkin and 
pants) and the woman's garb is filled with a red pattern 
 for the dress and a blue pattern for the underskirt. The 
tree between  them is filled with a green pattern. The 
band of flowers above them  are filled with green patterns 
(on the leaf parts) and blue patterns  on the flower 
parts. So by "figure" I mean the flowers, tree, and 
 greensward as well as the human figures.

As it happens, the illustration on p. 135 is of the back 
of the 
sampler. The front was (presumably later) overstitched 
with detached  buttonhole, hiding most of the patterned 

Have you seen examples in other books?
What is the piece (and where did you see it)?
Are the fillings monochrome?
What color are the fillings?
What is the approx. year of the piece?

On the Blackwork list, I've gotten pointers to examples 
 in "Samplers" by Susan Mayor & Diana Fowle and the cover 
of "Samplers" by Averil Colby.  I also have been pointed 
to a sampler in the Middleton Collection (in Nottingham), 
but don't have a specific citation. 

Has anyone seen this style elsewhere? 
Or even not on samplers?
Thanks for any citations,

Melinda Sherbring

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