With the snow from ‘The Beast from the East’ having only just melted away and more snow forecast for the start of April, what better way was there for us to spend a cold Edinburgh morning in March than looking at these beautiful embroidered blooms?
It was Thursday 15 March 2018 when a group from the Embroiderer’s Guild joined Helen Wyld (Senior Curator of Historic Textiles), Lisa Mason (Assistant Curator of Modern & Contemporary Design), Leslie Durst (sampler collector & expert) and I to view a selection of samplers from the collection at the National Museums Collection Centre at Granton.
The embroidered samplers viewed depicted a wide range of subjects from flowers and patterns to alphabets and mathematics. Then beyond embroidery samplers, an example of a darning and sewing sampler were also examined.
All of the samplers show the education, skill, piety and creativity of the makers and on seeing their stitches up close, you can be drawn into their world, imagining how they felt at the time they pulled the very same threads.
As well as studying the stitches for their own work, the Embroiderer’s Guild group also discussed their own childhood sewing lessons and how best to preserve samplers.
My favourite piece from that cold morning had to be this gorgeous and bright piece which combines three samples, each stunning in their own way.
At the top, a pictorial scene sees a tree laden with mangoes, flowers and grapes as a wolf chases a deer below. Then in the centre, there’s a beautiful example of vibrant flame stitch and the base is filled with cross stitches organised into an intricate fan-like pattern.
I love to see our Art & Design Curators at work with objects like this; they have a passion for them and bring them alive talking about their history, materials and design. Needless to say that a stimulating morning was had by all and the warm colours proved to be a perfect retreat from the cold Edinburgh weather.
Would your group like to visit the Art & Design collections? Each year, the Art & Design department hosts many groups with a wide range of specialist interests. To make an enquiry, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message for me at 0131 247 4019.