The Politics of Thread

Here you see samplers from last Saturday's workshop at Trumpet Corner Art Studios which was entitled, 'How Does Your Garden Grow'. This floral themed session was devoted largely to embroidery stitch practice. It was influenced by a very British style of handstitched embroidery found on table cloths & handkerchiefs from between the 1930's-1950's where it wouldn't be unsual to find a crinoline lady stitched in a garden of Lazy Daisies. Although perhaps a little twee for our modern taste, the techniques if not the subject matter on these homespun pieces have plenty to inspire us. 

From the 1960's onwards this style of embroidery fell out of favour for a number of reasons. By means of a sweeping explanation, changes in interior design and taste were a factor as post war Britain became more prosperous and the public wanted to buy not make items for their home, but perhaps more importantly was the negative association of embroidery & domesticity at a time when huge changes were being forged in female equality & the workplace. Hand embroidery was seen to represent a period of female 'repression', a passive activity which had no place in modern times. Thus those handembroidered pieces for the home were hidden in drawers, cupboards and attics deemed as being too old fashioned to have on display. 

Today, we have travelled a safe distance in the journey of British feminism to appreciate the craft in such embroidered pieces once more.  We can openly express interest in such activity again as we recognise that the pleasure and self expression gained from creating with needle and thread far exceeds it's former 'domestic use only' reputation. 
So go rescue those table cloths from Grandma's attic and be proud of her artistic endeavours.