Sunday, 2 December 2012

Samplers from V&A - a review

Samplers from Victoria and Albert Museum
Clare Browne and Jennifer Wearden
ISBN 10: 1851772901

This is a beautifully presented book showcases embroidery samplers listed chronologically from the 14th century to the 19th century. It contains 112 coloured images of embroidery and lacework from a variety of cultures (from English to Moroccan). A number of inserts showing additional details are included. The predominant stitches in each piece is listed in the index as is the museum accession number so interested parties can check the V&A website for additional images. In many cases, the images in this book are clearer than those available on the website. The authors introduction includes a brief but concise history of sampler work, highlighting some of the more interesting pieces in this collection. The back of this book includes a stitches and techniques section which examines all of the different techniques utilised in the samplers. The glossery also has some great black and white images showing how each stitch can be achieved. This book is a great inspiration and anyone interested in creating their own decorative embroidery work should purchase it. Only 45% relevant as SCA documentation.


Plate 3:. Linen embroidered with silk (like most of the samplers in this book). English, 1598.

From the V&A website regarding this example (information not available in the book):

This is the earliest dated British sampler to have survived, and its inscription commemorates the birth of a child, Alice Lee, two years earlier. Its maker, Jane Bostocke, who is known to have been a cousin of Alice's and was buried in the village where she lived, may have lived in the Lee family household. The motifs at the top of the sampler relate to their family crests. The sampler is from a period of transition in the practical use of such items - between the 16th century and earlier, when they served as a reference piece for a more or less experienced embroiderer, and what gradually became their nature in the 17th century: a method of measuring and recording the maker's skill.

The embroidery is worked in cross stitch and back stitch but there are examples of work in more complicated stitches showing that the back stitch was intended to be a grounding for further elaboration. Other stitches include satin, chain, ladder, buttonhole and detached buttonhole filling, couching in patterns, coral, speckling, two-side Italian cross, bullion and French knots and beadwork.

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