Guild School , Castine, ME
June 10-16, 2017

Instructor: Annelle Ferguson, Fellow
Course: Needlepoint
Project: Needlework for an 18th Century Child’s Nursery

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Childhood was quite different in the 18th century than it is in the 21st century. Wealthy young children were generally brought up by their nurses or governesses. They spent a great deal of time in their nurseries, used not only for sleeping, but for meals and playtime.

Young women more than likely spent their childhood in a similar situation. During their early years, they perhaps spent time in their nursery before attending a finishing school where they learned the fine art of needlework. It is probable that the first item accomplished at a girls’ academy was a sampler. After marriage, most women in the 18th century created decorative embroideries for their home. For her child's nursery, a young mother may have created an embroidered seat cover for a high chair. Also, the nursery would have been an excellent place to hang her own childhood sampler.

The focus of this class will be designing and needlepointing a seat cover for a child's chair. Using pictures of antique seat covers as inspiration, students may create their own pattern on graph paper to needlepoint on #72 silk gauze, using silk threads. Or students may choose to follow step-by-step instructions using a design created by the instructor. Class discussion will include the essentials for setting up the project and the selection of colors, plus adapting antique designs into 1/12 scale. Charts will be completed by the week’s end. However, because of the smallness of the seat cover, students could possibly complete the project in the 12-hour time frame.

As an option, the finished seat cover may be upholstered on a Chippendale style child's chair, created especially for this class by Elizabeth Gazmuri. The chair includes a restraining bar and is supported on a table stand. The chair on a table stand was considered a convenience for the caregiver during meals and for keeping the pre-walking child safe. If by chance the child joined the family at mealtime, the chair could be pushed up to the dining table. After infancy, the two pieces could be separated and used as a small chair and table set in the playroom.

As a bonus, students may create a sampler on #60 silk gauze, inspired by samplers created in 18th century New England or the mother country. Students may also elect to work from a partial chart supplied by the instructor. Materials and instructions will be supplied to finish the sampler at home.

TIME: 12 hours. While completion is unlikely, students will have all the instructions and materials to finish the project on their own.

POWER TOOLS: None

SKILL LEVEL: All levels. Students should be experienced with basic needlepoint and feel comfortable working on #60 and #72 silk gauze.

MATERIALS FEE: $25 to be collected in advance of school. Optional Fee: $280 for a Chippendale style child’s chair on a table stand by Elizabeth Gazmuri, to be collected in advance of school.

 

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