“Stitches through Time: Needlework Samplers in Western New York”
There have been many exhibits about needlework samplers, but there are differences to this exciting sampler exhibit that will open at the Ontario County Historical Society October 21, 2006.
The most common makers of needlework samplers were young girls and women during the 18th and 19th centuries. Great effort has been made to conduct research beyond simply the name and birth date of the makers of the samplers. Who were the makers of these samplers? What kinds of family were they from – such as their socio-economic status, cultural origins? Where did the maker live when the sampler was made? Did the maker learn her (and sometimes his) skill at home or in a school? Why did the maker create the sampler?
Each sampler in this study has been evaluated as to how it was made. What types of fabrics were used? What was the thread count and thread thickness of the fabric? How do these fabrics differ from today’s needlework fabric? What types of floss materials were used – silk, wool, cotton? What variety of stitches and motifs were used on these samplers? What colors were most common? Where did the maker get her materials? How large were the samplers? How common was hemming the edge?
With a special focus on Ontario County and Western New York, we have looked at regional embroidery styles that may have influenced what was stitched in this area of New York. Upstate New York samplers have not been extensively investigated and our research of these samplers will help us to understand what is regionally unique to these samplers.
The OCHS exhibit will include over 70 samplers from several areas and time periods. Over 40 of the samplers will borrowed from other historical societies and private individuals. Selected samplers from the OCHS collection have been charted and reproduced to compare with the originals. These charts will be available for sale so that others may make and enjoy these samplers as well. In addition, a catalog is being written so that viewers may take home not only pretty pictures, but information that will inspire them every time they look at a sampler.