Tag Archives: Fiber Arts – Textiles

Founding Fashion: 18th-Century Military Clothing Exhibit


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Title Image - FinalFort Ticonderoga Museum’s first clothing exhibition in over a quarter century opened in May and brings together a remarkable collection of historical military garments, accessories, and artworks.

The exhibit, entitled Founding Fashion: The Diversity of Regularity in 18th-Century Military Clothing, explores how European military fashion and global commerce influenced American martial appearance throughout the American Revolution.  Continue reading

At Boscobel: Spring Lecture Series on Federal Style


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Babscobel House Now“Boscobel is all about style, beauty and design,” claims Boscobel Executive Director, Steven Miller. “The elegance of its architecture, its immaculate collection of Federal period furnishings and its breathtaking gardens all come together to create the perfect venue for a series of lectures focused on Federal interior and exterior décor.”

Following tradition since 2002, the Friends of Boscobel will host a series of three lectures on Federal style. Continue reading

Ladies’ Mile Historic District: Plan Will Demolish Buildings


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unnamed(10)Today, the owner of 51 and 53 West 19th Street in the Ladies’ Mile Historic District in New York City will request the Landmarks Preservation Commission for permission to demolish two buildings and to construct a 14-story building in their place. Unfortunately, this is not an April’s Fool joke.

51 and 53 West 19th Street are five-story, residential buildings built in 1854 which were converted to commercial and/or manufacturing use in the 1920s. Such a history is very much in keeping with the Ladies’ Mile Historic District. In fact, the designation report lists “converted dwellings” as a building type in the district along with “residential construction”, “office buildings”, “store and loft buildings”, and “retail stores/department stores.” The report points out that after World War I, the shopping district had moved north and the area’s focus shifted to manufacturing. The 1916 zoning resolution had prohibited the construction of tall buildings on mid-block sites, and so instead the surviving residential buildings were converted. Converted dwellings are obviously a part of the fabric of the district, and these two nicely-designed buildings are good examples of this typology. Continue reading

Lecture: Early Mohawk and Hudson Valley Life


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313556_10150319313123348_471487521_nBeginning February 25th, Marilyn Sassi will present four lectures in a series entitled Early Mohawk and Hudson Valley Life: How Clothes, Arts and Architecture Changed, 1750-1814 on the evolving material culture of the Mohawk and Hudson Valley area.

Each week will focus on a different area of history and the changes seen during that period. Sassi is a teacher and historian specializing in material culture, architecture and area history. Continue reading

Spring Exhibitions at the New-York Historical Society


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The "New York Girls," 1910In Spring 2014, the New-York Historical Society will present a range of exhibitions that will examine New York City architecture, fashion and photography through the lens of the legendary Bill Cunningham; the early history of African American basketball before the dawn of the National Basketball Association; the second installment of Audubon’s Aviary, showcasing New-York Historical’s collection of Audubon watercolors; and an exhibition of quilts and textiles created during the Civil War. Continue reading

Exhibit Highlights Native American Basket Design


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29_NA_105The Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York, presents Plain and Fancy: Native American Splint Baskets, an exhibition of baskets spanning two centuries. The art of ash splint basketry is a beautiful synthesis of form and function. The exhibition opens Saturday, August 10, and runs through December 29, 2013.

The exhibition includes over 30 baskets from the 1800s to the present day. Ash splint basketry ranges in form and decoration from practical storage and market baskets to fanciful and exquisitely designed artworks. Basket makers incorporate numerous design elements, such as a variety of weaves: checker, wicker, twill, and hexagonal plaiting. Artists also use sweetgrass and curled splints to embellish their baskets. Other design elements include dyes, stains, and paint. Domes, triangles, dots, or leaves are hand-painted or stamped with a carved potato, turnip, cork, or piece of wood. Continue reading

Exhibit: Rarely Seen American and European Quilts


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An exhibition of some thirty-five exceptional American and European quilt masterpieces from the Brooklyn Museum’s renowned decorative arts holdings will examine the impact of feminist scholarship on the ways in which historical quilts have been and are currently viewed, contextualized, and interpreted.

Only one of these rare quilts has been on public display in the past thirty years. “Workt by Hand”: Hidden Labor and Historical Quilts will be on view in the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art from March 15 through September 15, 2013. Continue reading

Albany Institute Launches New Lecture Series


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Beginning this month the Albany Institute of History & Art will launch a new monthly lecture series entitled Making It American. The series will take a broad look at what art and material culture can teach us about the development of American history, culture, the arts, politics, and our identity as a nation.

In this series, invited scholars will analyze American values and ideals to enhance our experience and understanding of our world. A painting or school of painters, or a spinning wheel or farm kitchen tools will serve as touchstones for the series. Continue reading

Ticonderoga’s 2013 Material Culture Weekend Set


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Fort Ticonderoga will host its Third Annual “Material Matters: It’s in the Details” the weekend of January 26 and 27, 2013. This weekend event focuses on the material culture of the 18th century and is intended for collectors, re-enactors, and people with a general interest in learning more about objects of the 18th century and what they can tell us about history. “Material Matters” takes place in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center at Fort Ticonderoga and is open by pre-registration only. Continue reading

Adirondack Fabric and Fiber Arts Festival Saturday


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Join the Adirondack Museum for the Adirondack Fabric and Fiber Arts Festival on Saturday, September 15, 2012. Celebrate all things fiber during this annual event with fabulous and unique fabrics, regional artists, spinning, weaving, quilting, knitting, knotting and more.

Demonstrations throughout the weekend include: quilting with the Adirondack Regional Textile Artists association, mixed media with Louisa Woodworth and Julie Branch, recycled fiber items with Maria Wulf, Northern Needles quilting demonstration and displays, and wool arts demonstrations with The Serendipity Spinners. Aaron Bush, Jane Mackintosh, and Carol Wilson demonstrate a variety of knitting techniques and will also lead a knit-in for visitors who bring a project.

A special display, “Upcycling Fabric: Ideas from the Past” provides a chance for visitors to talk with Curator Hallie Bond and discover the frugality and creativity of our forebears.

The Festival will also include a vendor market where you can shop for locally made fabric and fiber treasures. Vendors for this year’s Festival include: Baskets by Linda, Keller Country, Liberty Fibers, Heirlooms, Cat in the Window Weaving, Icy Acres, Patridge Run Farm, Kalieidoscope Kolors, Ewe’ll Love the Weather, Color My Loom, Nana Joanne, Kirbside Gardens, 2nd Time Around, The Silver Studio, Harvest Herb Company, Adirondack Handmade, Adirondack Doll Co.
and Laura’s Quality Knits.

Singer and songwriter, Peggy Lynn, will provide music throughout the day.

Honors Awarded at Great Lakes Trail Quilt Event


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A regiment of Canadian quilters and a Pennsylvania woman have won Viewer’s Choice honors from the Great Lakes Seaway Trail War of 1812 Bicentennial Quilt Show. The show featured 1812 period-correct and pictorial quilts from 18 U.S. states and from across Canada.

The favorite quilt of the more than 1,000 visitors to the show hosted by three early 19th century historic sites in Sackets Harbor, a New York State 1812 Heritage Community, was made by nine of the living history interpreters at Upper Canada Village, Morrisburg, Ontario.


Janice Toonders, who demonstrates spinning and weaving at the Village, designed the quilt using an Irish chain pattern. Toonders, Martina Bols, Linda Brown, Mary Casselman, Christine Christie, Ivah Malkin, Marjorie Munroe, Judy Neville, and Sharon Shaver used wool cloth, silk thread and cotton fabrics to fashion symbols from the 1812 time period for the colorful pictorial. Sharon Shaver, the quilting demonstrator at Upper Canada Village, added the binding and quilting.

“British Major Sir Isaac Brock is front and center. Lieutenant General Sir George Prevost is aside as he navigates his horse home in shame for not advancing his troops at Plattsburgh. We have the First Nation’s Confederacy leader Tecumseh and Joseph Brant, the Mohawk Chief who was working with the British to create a nation in the west,” Toonders explains.

The Upper Canada Village quilters also included the sloop “Wolf” that fought in one of the Battles of Sackett’s Harbour. A bear, a moose, a First Nation’s symbol, a British sailor and Laura Secord who notified the British of a U.S. attack are also among the quilt’s storytelling images.

Quilts from four Canadian provinces made up approximately 30 percent of the show’s quilts.

The show’s second Viewer’s Choice winner is the “Underhill Tree of Life Whole-Cloth Quilt” made by Jill C. Meszaros of Cambridge Springs, PA, 25 miles south of Erie and the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Pennsylvania. The all-blue quilt is intricately quilted by hand with a dark blue thread.

Meszaros says, “I chose to create a whole-cloth quilt to honor my family heritage and the history of quilting and our nation. My fourth great-grandfather, Major David Underhill traveled to Huron County, Ohio, in 1810. In 1812 he reacted to the news that the British and Indians were landing only to learn they were really soldiers in Hull’s army. As I quilted, my husband was away and I imagined what it would have been like in 1812 to wait for him to come home.”

Meszaros, a stay-at-home mother of six, fashioned her design after the Clarke Family Quilt in the book “Massachusetts Quilts” and used fruit, floral and foliate motifs inspired by “Quilts-Masterworks from the American Folk Art Museum.” The quilt’s batting is wool, typical of the 1812 time. She says, “The last stitch went in the I day I shipped the quilt to the show.”

Show manager Lynette Lundy-Beck notes, “This show inspired people to learn more about the War of 1812, its battles, the soldiers and their loved ones, and about the quilters’ own families. This show is indeed a storytelling event that interprets the travel themes for the Great Lakes Seaway Trail in many interesting and personal ways, and that is what makes this quilt show unique among quilt shows and tourism showcases.”

Much of the war was fought along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, a National Scenic Byway in the U.S. The 518-mile leisure driving route parallels the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, Niagara River, and Lake Erie. Quilting is just one of many travel themes for the byway.

Watch www.seawaytrail.com/quilting for details on the impact of the 2012 show and for guidelines on the Beauty of the Byways theme for the 2013 show.

Iroquois Beadwork at the ‘Art of Flowering’ Talk


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The Adirondack Museum’s fifth 2012 Cabin Fever Sunday series program, “Inventing Fashion: Iroquois Beadwork at the ‘Art of Flowering’” will be held on Sunday, March 18, 2012. The event will be offered free of charge.

In the mid-19th century, New York State officials began to collect Iroquois material culture, intending to preserve remnants of what they saw as a vanishing race. At the same time, Iroquois women were discovering that their beadwork was appealing to the fashionable Victorian women flocking to Niagara Falls and Saratoga Springs on the Grand Tour of America.

This multimedia presentation by Dr. Deborah Holler traces the historic development of Iroquois beadwork and costume, which came to define the public image of “Indian-ness” around the world. Images are drawn from the collections of the Lewis Henry Morgan and Rochester museums, as well as private collections. These images also illuminate the contributions of the Iroquois to the textile arts, as well as the complex cultural exchange that defined the fashions of 19th century New York State.

Dr. Deborah Holler is a Lecturer and Mentor at Empire State College and teaches in Cultural Studies, Literature and the Arts. Her articles and creative writing have been published in regional and national magazines as well as academic journals. She has presented her lectures at national and international conferences, historical societies, and cultural events throughout New York State and is currently working on projects concerning the life and times of 19th century Seneca Caroline G. Parker Mountpleasant.

This program will be held at the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts at Blue Mountain Lake, and will begin at 1:30 p.m. For additional information, call (518) 352-7311, ext. 128 or visit www.adirondackmuseum.org.

Photo: Pincushion, typical of souvenir made for tourists by Eastern woodland Indians. From the collection of the Adirondack Museum.

1812 Reenactor to Exhibit Period Sewing Implements


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Living history reenactor Ted Schofield of Chaumont, NY, makes his own War of 1812 and Civil War uniforms by hand using period reproduction sewing implements. He says, “I do all hand work now to be more authentic in my interpretation of the 1812 period.”

On March 17 and 18 as part of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail National Scenic Byway War of 1812 Bicentennial Quilt Show event, Schofeild will display his collection of tools, iron needles; scissors; buttons; binding; threads; fabric swatches, including linsey-woolsey; and a rose blanket and homespun blanket common to the early 19th century time.


At the show, Schofeild will be dressed in period costume, selecting from his interpretations of a New York State militiaman, a US naval enlistee or an 1812 civilian. He will be joined by living history interpreters from the Fort La Presentation Association of Ogdensburg, NY; Genesee Country Village and Museum, Mumford, NY; the Sackets Harbor Battlefield Alliance and quilters in early 19th century American and English Regency period dress.

The “cot-to-coffin-sized” quilts coming from 18 U.S. states and Canada will be displayed in three 1812-period historic buildings in Sackets Harbor, NY.

The $5 admission benefits the Seaway Trail Foundation. The show is co-sponsored by Orleans County Tourism and the 22-mile Country Barn Quilt Trail loop off the Great Lakes Seaway Trail to barns painted with quilt block patterns.

Quilting is a cultural heritage tourism theme for traveling the 518-mile-long Great Lakes Seaway Trail byway in New York and Pennsylvania. For itineraries and more information, contact Show Manager Lynette Lundy-Beck at 315-646-1000 x203 or visit the web at www.seawaytrail.com/quilting.

Photo: 1812-appropriate sewing implements from reenactor Ted Schofield’s collection.

International War of 1812 Bicentennial Quilt Show Set


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The Great Lakes Seaway Trail National Scenic Byway War of 1812 Bicentennial Quilt Show on March 17 and 18, 2012. The event includes an exhibit of 1812 period-true quilts newly-made made by individuals, quilting guilds, historical societies, and reenactors from 18 US states and from Canada. Three historic sites and living history interpreters and quilters in period dress will lend an historic ambiance to the event.

The former Union Hotel, a three-story limestone structure built in 1817-18 and now the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Discovery Center; the Sackett Mansion built in 1801; and the Samuel F. Hooker House Arts Center, c.1808, will open 10am to 5pm each day with displays of “cot-to-coffin-sized” quilts.


Lynette Lundy-Beck is a project manager with the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, the not-for-profit organization promoting tourism opportunities along the 518 miles of St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes shoreline in New York and Pennsylvania.

The show guidelines for size, fabrics – linsey-woolsey, silk, and fancy cottons, etc., colors, quilt patterns, and embellishments such as broderie perse (Persian embroidery) were developed by Seaway Trail in concert with American quilt historian Barbara Brackman of Lawrence, Kansas.

1812 and English Regency period living history interpreters lending atmosphere in the exhibit buildings and on the village streets will include “President James Madison,” and members of Forsyth’s Rifles with the Fort La Presentation Association of Ogdensburg, NY; MacKay’s Militia from Genesee Country Village and Museum, Mumford, NY; and the Sackets Harbor Battlefield Alliance.

Quilters have been invited to also attend in period dress. 1812 period reenactor Ted Schofield will exhibit his early 19th century reproduction sewing implements. The event’s youngest quiltmaker is a 12-year-old girl from Himrod, NY.

The living history ladies of Upper Canada Village researched and designed a pictorial quilt with embroidery and appliqué depicting soldiers, Natives, moose, and a sailing ship bordered by a traditional Irish Chain pattern.

DeAnne Rosen of Lawrence, Kansas, has dedicated her quilt to her two great-great-great grandfathers and two great-great-great uncles who fought in the war. Her floral work is based on quilts she saw in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England.

A special memorial exhibit of quilts will pay tribute to the late Seaway Trail President and CEO Teresa Mitchell, who developed the concept for the Seaway Trail scenic byway and for quilting as a cultural heritage travel theme along that byway.

The event also features quilting demonstrations and vendors. The $5 show admission benefits the Seaway Trail Foundation. The show is co-sponsored by Orleans County Tourism and the 22-mile Country Barn Quilt Trail loop off the Great Lakes Seaway Trail to barns painted with quilt block patterns.

For more information, call 315-646-1000 x203 or visit the Seaway Trail website.

Rabbit Goody at General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen


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The General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen of the City of New York, founded in 1785, continues to pay tribute to the art of craftsmanship, with five monthly lectures scheduled from January through May. The Artisan Lecture Series promotes the work and art of skilled craftsmen to assist in ensuring their unique knowledge is understood and carried forth for future generations. The Lecture Series is curated by General Society member, Jean Wiart, known for his many contributions to ornamental metalwork.

At her March 13 lecture Master Weaver Artisan, New York History contributor and Master Weaver Rabbit Goody, will lecture on the work of her weaving studio, Thistle Hill Weavers, a small mill modeled after the trade shops of the 19th century.

Goody has been in the weaving trade for over 35 years as a hand weaver, as a museum educator, and as a weaver and designer in her own small weaving mill. Her study of historic textiles and history of technology combine to allow her to weave reproductions using traditional methods and transitional technology.

You can see the work of Thistle Hill Weavers at many historic sites around the country, including George Washington’s Mount Vernon; Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello; The Henry Ford Museum; Harper’s Ferry National Park, Harper’s Ferry West Virginia; Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, Akron, Ohio, Rock Hall, Lawrence, NY; The Farmers’ Museum, Cooperstown NY; Martin Van Buren’s home in Kinderhook, NY, and Valley Forge National Historic Park, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Thistle Hill also weaves for the film industry and has been a major contributor to over 50 films including John Adams, Road to Perdition, The Narnia series, Master and Commander, Life, The Prestige, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, Beowulf and the movie Lincoln.

“The art of craftsmanship and the skill of craftsmen have always been celebrated and rewarded over the centuries,” curator Jean Wiart said. “At the General Society, we want to assure that this special mastery for creating beautiful objects will survive down through the years and continue to be rewarded and prized.”

Other artisans in the lecture series will include Miriam Ellner, Verre Eglomisé Artisan, April 10; and Gregory Muller, Master Stone Mosaic Artisan, May 8. Lectures are scheduled for 6:p.m. in The Library at 20 West 44th Street, New York City. More information can be found online.

Rabbit Goody: A Rare American Ingrain Carpet


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Ingrain or Scotch carpeting was a main stay of early 19th century carpeting for households both common and wealthy. Woven as a two layer double cloth with geometric or curvilinear designs, ingrain carpeting became popular through the last half of the 18th century and blossomed in the 19th century.

One of only four known American produced ingrain carpets is in the collection of The Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities (SPLIA). It also has the most supporting information about its manufacture at Jones Mill, located in Cold Spring Harbor, NY. Advertisements from Jones Mill appear in the newspapers during the 1830′s and document the production of figured ingrain carpeting among other fabrics.

Ingrain carpeting woven by American fancy weavers in the first half of the 19th century is distinct from the imported Scotch and Kidderminster carpets. The American versions use locally produced softer grades of wool and have a slightly different structure, more akin to the structure of woven coverlets of the same period.

It has been extremely difficult to document the American carpets because with the use of soft wools, the carpets were less durable and ended up being worn out, cut up and used for smaller rugs, and simply disappeared.

We’ve been working at Thistle Hill Weavers to reproduce the Jones Mill example both in its original color, and in a blue and white version which will be installed in SPLIA’s restored Sherwood Jayne House.

Master Weaver Rabbit Goody write about historic textiles. Her weaving studio, Thistle Hill Weavers, in Cherry Valley, NY, is a small mill modeled after the trade shops of the 19th century.

Hyde Hall: A New Director and Textile Treasures


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For those of you who are not familiar with Hyde Hall, I had the greatest treat a few weeks ago: the new Executive Director, Dr. Jonathan Maney, and I perused the textile and trim collections that have survived at this Regency mansion.

Hyde Hall, a National Landmark and a New York State Historic Site, located in Springfield, NY, was built by George Clarke between 1817 and 1834.

Its importance to material culture historians is based on the extraordinary survival of furniture, textiles, textile ornaments, and receipts for the period of its building. Everything is fully documented.

Rarely do we have the opportunity to put so many pieces together to understand both the style and color way for window treatments in a high style Regency mansion circa 1830.

More important to those of us who work in rural areas, Hyde Hall is not located in an urban environment. Rather, it is far afield from the population centers that we normally associate with high style culture. Hyde Hall is perched high on a bluff overlooking the northern tip of Otsego Lake, about 60 miles west of Albany, New York.

We know that the draper/upholsterer came from Albany as did much of the furniture, and we know the exact volume of fabrics, trim, and ornaments that were ordered. We have surviving fragments of the original red damask, tassels, trim, and ornaments for the grand dining room and the drawing room. These great rooms are elaborate, handsome, and very well preserved.

Hyde Hall offers us the opportunity to study, educate, and reproduce the window treatments with more documentation than nearly any other historic site could ever hope to find.

Rabbit Goody is a textile historian and owner/weaver at Thistle Hill Weavers. She is also the director of the Textile History Forum.

New Contributor: Rabbit Goody, Textiles Expert


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Please join us in welcome our newest contributor here at New York History, Rabbit Goody. Goody is a nationally recognized textile historian who has served as a consultant to major museums, private collections, and the film industry. Her reproduction fabrics appear in many movies, including Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Master and Commander, Amistad, The Titanic, Cinderella Man, Polar Express, The Prestige, Transformers, and the new Indiana Jones movie.

Goody has extensive experience working as a consultant to museums including dating and identifying textiles in specific collections; making recommendations about ex­hibits, storage, and con­ser­vation; helping museum staff to develop appropriate and workable furnishing plans that include historically accurate soft furnishings, from carpet to loose covers to window treatments; and developing plans for textile rotation. She has worked with many living history sites to coordinate the use of historically accurate repro­ductions with original items in the museum’s collections.