Saturday, June 1, 2013

Week 40 - Art Square

As we approach the last blocks for the series, this one, Art Square, commemorates the unsung women artists who didn't even show up in the art history books.

With such a large square for the center area, I wanted to make it more interesting than any of my prints, so I pieced it to make a medallion motif.

We already looked at some of Alice Bruner's drawing talent earlier in this series, but my grandmothers on the whole did not do the fine art recognized by this block or the exquisite drawing that Alice did.  Rather, they sewed and made needlework pieces --I have quite a bit of it.

This first piece was framed by my Aunt May for me when they broke up Faye's Elburn house to move her into an apartment. Aunt May included the hand-written label stating it was made by Faye's mother Carrie. This is tatted and it is not a large piece.

This one, made by my grandmother Mary came similarly to me after the family moved her out of her La Salle home.

A year or two before my mother died, she brought me a collection of crocheted and tatted pieces, hoping perhaps I would think of something to do to preserve them as heirlooms. When Mom died, I took what she still had that was not designated to go to anyone else.  These doilies and furniture scarves were practical for families in the late 19th and early 20th century.  Even in my childhood, you would see them on furniture in sitting rooms, protecting the upholstery on the arms from wear, and on the backs from the hair pomades used by men.

In some cases,  I may need help deciding if the pieces I have are crocheted or tatted. But this next one is tatted and too small for use on furniture. It may also have been made by Great Grandmother Carrie since Faye did not do much tatting.  It is more elaborate, but not much larger than the one Aunt May framed for me in the 1980's.

These next few pieces are larger, and I'm guessing they were dresser scarves. Placed decoratively on top of the dresser, they protected the top surface from scratches. Some of them I know are crocheted, so probably Faye made them.

 This next one may have been tatted?

This crocheted piece is smaller and I have two of them. They may have been part of a set for the table. I know Faye hosted card parties, so perhaps she brought them out for the ladies' refreshments.

 Then I have several examples of crocheted edging on commercially made items - handkerchiefs, table linens, and, as below, a pair of matching pillow cases - Faye called them "pillow slips." You can see one torn area in the crocheted lace but these pillow cases stood up to a lot of wear and washing. I have had one piece of this lace that Faye had cut away from the case for many years. The matching one showed up with the things my Mother had. The sheeting fabric is well worn, torn at the fold line on one long side. Only the lace on one side and the seam on the other is holding it together.  The handkerchiefs have colored crocheted edging. I assume Faye did all of these.

 Lastly, I have a pale pink fine linen hand towel with a tatted edge, with some of the linen cut away to show off the lacework.

I remember that Faye had patterns in small handwork magazine-like booklets.  Other than the piece Aunt May framed and the one from Mary's estate, I don't know for certain who made which pieces. Obviously, I have not yet fulfilled my mother's wishes and made anything from them. I have a plan for the handkerchiefs at least - they will be combined with printed ones my mother had to make into memory quilts.

I also got two of Faye's crochet hooks, well before she died when she was losing her eyesight and could not do this fine work.  The off-white one, made of bone, is useful to me when I knit. The metal one is what she would have used for some of the fine laces I have photographed today.

I took a closeup of the tips of the needles. The pink one is a U.S. size 6 knitting needle and is what I am using to knit the blue sweater fabric in the background.

I wonder what happened to the tatting shuttles?


Sherrye said...

I, too, am familiar with dresser scarves and furniture protectors, either tatted, crocheted, or embroidered. Before I became a quilter, I was an avid crocheter, but made mostly toys and items for children. I saw this current block on Flickr yesterday, but was waiting for you to add the story behind it before I commented. I'm glad I did, because this is a great post! My mother made me a thread crochet tablecloth for a 10' table and other items. I am using some crocheted "runners" as valences in my sewing room.

I like the block this week. Your piecing of the center is perfect as always!

Dorry said...

The ladies in your family were certainly busy with their hands, hooking away. Do you use any of these pieces? Trying to find a large motif was a challenge for this block but you met it in a creative way.