Saturday, May 25, 2013

Pennsylvania Pasttimes

Such a week as was!  Two days before we were due to leave on our Pennsylvania whirlwind trip, Miss Becky and fell and tore her ACL in her knee.  Relegated to a chair for the time being, plans were swiftly changed, and I boarded the plane without her!  Oh my!  Would I be able to do it all?

I have no pictures to show you of the trip, as I needed every space on the camera cards for the project we began last week!  The above picture is from an old postcard, which explains why it was labeled as "Pennsylvania Dutch"!  Today, the more accurate German heritage is usually noted.  

I will tell you now to get ready to pack your bags for next year's Penn Dry Goods Market!  What a wonderful weekend in Pennsburg, PA.  As soon as I entered the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center, I met up with old friends, and made new friends!  The gift shop display of In the Company of Friends' trunk show, along with Joanne Lukacher's Imitation and Improvement: The Norfolk Sampler Tradition, were front and center.  Also in the foyer space by the gift shop was our friend Paige Todd, proprietor of The Mad Samplar! Paige is our "go-to" online store for books - and it was such a pleasure to meet both her and her mother, in person!  

My first item of business was a class with Theresa Baird of Heart's Ease Examplar Works.  Her design of Mary Sophia's Pennsylvania German Sewing Set is lovely, and we received kits and instruction for the stacked biscornus from that set.  Gorgeous! 

Lunch was provided by local cooks who provided us with wonderful taste treats from Pennsylvania German traditions!  We ate outside and enjoyed the fabulous weather, then wandered in again for lectures, antiques shopping - many antiques dealers had set up on the first story of the building - it was a treasure-trove of needlework and other ephemera!  I made some small purchases, but there were many wonderful samplers to look at.

Between other activities, there was a beautiful exhibit of the Schwenkfelder samplers to peruse - it was hard to do everything, but I did my best!

It was a wonderful weekend, and I enjoyed it all so much!

Trips such as these are a great chance to meet with friends in the sampler world and find out what's going on everywhere!  Our friend, Lynne Anderson, of the Sampler Consortium, and the Sampler Archive Project,  is in the midst of last-minute activities for her Delaware Sampler ID Days!  This is the first of a series of sampler days the Sampler Archive Project is sponsoring at various museums and historical societies.  The idea is to have people bring in samplers and have them photographed, registered, identified and documented by the museum staff and other experts.  It's a wonderful opportunity if you have samplers or antique needlework and would like to know more about it.  It also allows the Sampler Archive Project to document samplers.  To read more about the project, go to:

Lynne wrote a wonderful article on this subject for Samplings, Amy Finkel's online sampler magazine: 

Hannah McIntier, New Castle Ctyl, 1790.  Winterthur Museum Collection.  Photo courtesy of University of Delaware

Documenting Delaware’s Needlework Samplers
Three Events, Three Locations

Newark, DE - May 15, 2013 – The University of Delaware’s Sampler Archive Project invites the public to bring their antique American samplers to one of its upcoming “Sampler ID Days" so they can be registered, documented and photographed.  Three Sampler Identification and Documentation (ID) Days are scheduled: June 8 at the Delaware Historical Society in Wilmington, June 15 at the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover, and July 18 at the Lewes Historical Society in Lewes.  People living in Delaware and neighboring communities are encouraged to participate in this new statewide initiative, funded in part by the Delaware Humanities Forum. 

Mary Orr, Brandywine Hundred, New Castle Cty., 1835.  Courtesy of M. Finkel & Daughter

Antique samplers are the product of needlework instruction provided to girls and young women in America up until the middle of the 19th century. Although samplers are diverse in shape and color, they were most often stitched using silk or wool thread on a piece of linen fabric. Girls frequently stitched rows of alphabets and numbers, and sometimes a verse or two. It was traditional in America for girls to sign their needlework projects with their names, and sometimes these stitched signatures also included details such as age, location, and even the teacher or school. In addition, samplers often display decorative elements such as colorful motifs, bands, and borders. More difficult pictorial embroideries were stitched by older girls using silk thread on silk fabric, and often depict scenes from the Bible or classical literature.

The Sampler Archive Project is a national effort to develop an online searchable database of information and images for all known American samplers and related schoolgirl embroideries from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.  Launched with two years of funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to the University of Delaware’s Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, the Sampler Archive is under development, and will make its online public debut in early 2014. Recent additional funding from the Delaware Humanities Forum is supporting the project’s efforts to locate, document, and photograph historic samplers and related embroideries in Delaware’s public and private collections. Because this includes family heirlooms that may have been passed down from generation to generation, the public is encouraged to bring their antique samplers to one of the three Sampler ID Days scheduled for this spring and summer.

Event Details

Who: Anyone in Delaware and neighboring communities
What: Sampler ID Days
June 8  -- Delaware Historical Society in Wilmington
June 15 -- Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover
July 18 -- Lewes Historical Society in Lewes
When: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Morning hours are for individuals with appointments. Afternoons are for both appointments and drop-ins.
Why: An opportunity to talk with experts about your sampler, have it documented and photographed, and submit it for inclusion in the Sampler Archive.

NOTE: Due to the time it takes to document and photograph these wonderful historical objects, appointments are required for anyone bringing three or more samplers to a Sampler ID Day. Call 1-877-909-2525 or email to make appointments.

Katherine Wallace, Wilmington, c. 1818.  Courtesy of the DAR Museum

The Sampler Archive Project and its initiative to locate and document Delaware’s schoolgirl embroideries are supported by a large number of organizations. In addition to the Delaware Humanities Forum, these include the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture at the University of Delaware, the Center for Advanced Technology in Education (CATE) at the University of Oregon, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Sampler Consortium (

For more information, or to make Sampler ID Day appointments:

Phone: 1-877-909-2525

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Home to unpack and re-pack!

If it seems like we don't blog very often any more, there's a reason - we don't seem to be in town much these days!  Whether it's vacation (Becky and I each spent some time in Hawaii recently) or work trips (Arizona, Vancouver, WA, and now, Pennsylvania) - we have been on the go!  Our last trip for awhile (at least for me - Becky has two kids graduating this spring, one from college and one from high school, so she's still got graduation ceremonies to attend, moving out of college housing, moving another into a dorm room, etc. - she's busy through the summer, I know!)  But I ought to be staying put for a little while very soon.

But first.....  Our last work trip for awhile is a doozy!  We've been looking forward to the Penn Dry Goods Market days!  This will be a wonderful opportunity to visit old friends and make new friends, take some classes, and shop at a wonderful Antiques Fair with booths from so many wonderful places, featuring needlework and other areas of great interest to us.  We can't wait!  Joanne Martin Lukacher will be on hand to do a lecture about the Norfolk Sampler Tradition, so if you are in the Pennsburg, PA area May 17 and 18, do drop in to meet her, have her sign your copy of the book, and please say hello to Becky and I - we'll be around all weekend!

Since I've been home from Hawaii, we've spent a few days in the workroom getting things together for a trunk show for this event - and we are so proud of some of the lovely things we created from the Schwenkfelder collection, we just had to show you!  If you don't know the Schwenkfelder needlework collection, you are missing out!  In 2008, we published a daybook calendar featuring wonderful photos of the samplers and other pieces - it's the only publication in which you can see the collection.  While it doesn't work as a calendar any more, it's still a wonderful keepsake and documentation of this beautiful collection of Schwenkfelder needlework!  We still offer it for sale, and it will also be available at the gift shop at the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center!  The price is $21.95 and a portion of all sales goes to the Schwenkfelder needlework collection for preservation of the samplers.

There have been one or two additions to this wonderful collection since then, and we had such fun making some new items up out of familiar pieces, as well as new!  Here's a sneak peek!  As you can see, these are not the pretty, staged photos we like to do for our website - these are straight from the workroom!  (A little secret - we send off prototypes for approval to different clients, and we take a few quick snapshots before we send them away, so we can remember later what we put in them!)  These photos were actually taken with my phone, so they are really not the kind of pretty photos we like to do, but we thought you'd be interested in seeing our "process" as they say!

Here is the Elizabeth Bechtel Spool Etui all ready to be packaged up and sent off - the cost for this little beauty is $18.50, and you will find it in the gift shop during the Penn Dry Goods Show.

The Salina Schulz Horn Book

The Lydia Yeakel Horn Book

Both these horn book needlebooks are $3.00  - a perfect gift to bring back for your stitching friends!

The OEHBDDE Accordion Foldout Book - this features the lovely motif found on so many Pennsylvania German samplers.  We have charted the motif for you and on the back is the explanation of the meaning of the letters!  $6.00.

The pretty Townscape by Phebe Kriebel  makes a pretty magnetic bookmark - $2.50.

The Lonestar Quilt Button Box is so lovely - $7.50.  Inside this grain-painted box of peach and gold is an assortment of mother of pearl buttons in special shapes and sizes.  A lovely keepsake with a photo of a very special quilt.  

Salome Kriebel's lovely sampler looks stunning as a shoe etui, doesn't it? Under the toe flap is an assortment of pretty bejeweled pins and a needle, and the heel of the shoe is an antiqued gold colored thimble.  $10.00

And the pièce de résistance is this gorgeous Caspar Iaeckel Wallet - fashioned from the photo of a very special piece in the collection - it opens up to reveal an etui inside including silk threads, bejeweled pins, a thread counter and needles all nestled in wool felt.  Lovely!  $16.00.

You will also find, in the gift shop there, some of our past items based on needlework in the collections.

Flying Geese Bookplates $8.50 for a set of 10

Field of Roses Bookplates  $8.50 for a set of 10

Flying Geese Magnetic Bookmark $2.50

Patriotic Magnetic Bookmark $2.50

Lone Star Wearable Pin $5.00

Flying Geese Scissors Fob/Ornament $10.00

Sunflower Scissors Fob/Ornament $10.00

All of these items are also available by mail order from the Heritage Shop in the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center - you can fill in the form and mail it with your credit card information or a check, or call and place your order by phone (the number is on the form).  You can even pay by PayPal if you prefer.  Be sure to put the name of the item(s) you want on the form,  as well as mentioning that they are from the In the Company of Friends Trunk Show!

The time is short before we jet east - we can hardly wait!  We hope to meet lots of you there!

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