Thursday, June 21, 2007

Appliqued blocks on the Wood Quilt

As requested, here are closeups of some of the blocks on the Wood quilt. The quilt is 217 cm long by 212 cm wide and comprises 56 blocks with appliqued fabrics on foundation square blocks of suiting weight fabrics. Family history has it made in 1865, but there is some doubt about this. Fabrics from children's dresses are reputedly also incorporated, but the young people in question look to be teenagers in a 1920's photograph. In any case, Mrs Wood was a remarkable needlewoman who used fabrics at hand to make a useful item for her home and showed a flair for design in her composition of this lovely hanging / quilt. There is quite a bit of conservation to be done, the first photograph shows just one area where the blocks have started to separate. There are also areas where the silk pieces have shattered and dissapeared altogether. The quilt has been displayed on a bed for many years since arriving in Australia from England, where it hung across the top of stairs to keep out drafts. Scroll down for the overall view of this remarkable textile.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A UFO finally completed.

Should that be "an" UFO ? Now I'm not known for my smocking talent, in fact this is my first attempt, with a little help from one of my EG ladies who is a member of the Smockers' Guild as well. We did this little scissor ball as a class project earlier in the year, or was that late last year ? Anyway, last weekend was dreadful weather in Sydney, cold, wet and very windy. So I pulled out 2 WISPS and a UFO. Now the WISPS are "Works in VERY Slow Progrss" I'm afraid, one has been over 5 years while the other only about 6 months. They are both patchwork projects and hand pieced, and these things take TIME so don't expect finished photos any time soon, but this little ball only needed its little needle woven "cap" and a pretty "necklace" to finish it off. I think it's too pretty to use on my scissors, so might use it on a key to the china cabinet where all the children's precious objects are stored. They include birds nests, souvenir items, decorations from christening and birthday cakes, a bottle of sand from the Simpson dessert, shells and a moth case complete with piece of twig still attached. You can probably see a bit of a pattern here, I have mini collections of all sorts of odd things in my home, including vintage underwear (Victorian, Edwardian and up to WWII mostly), dolls, china shoes, sewing machine models, costumes and accessories... you could say we need a museum to house it all.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Hambledon - The Wood Quilt.

While this is called a quilt it should properly be called the Wood Wall Hanging, but it doesn't sound so romantic does it? My current project, this is housed at Hambledon on the Payten Bed. Originally from England where it was used to stop drafts at the top of some stairs and still shows the original tape for the hanging loops on the rear at the top (see the area without the scallops and tassels in the background) Reputedly made by piecing suiting fabric blocks which were appliqued with remnants of dresses and furnishings which came from a royal tailor's shop in the late 1860's, but there is some question over the dating. Certainly some of the fabrics appear to be of that vintage, but there are supposed to also be remnants from family garments worn by children of the maker who appear to be young adults in a 1920 photograph. My guess is late 1800's but I'm no quilt expert. I'm a textile specialist though, and so will be leading the group performing conservation and repair work to the deteriorating quilt, and the making of a storage cylinder and bag to "retire" it from permanent display. Study groups will still be able to book viewings of the quilt but it is hoped that resting it will lengthen its life considerably so future generations can enjoy its beauty.

Hambledon and its trees.

Here is Hambledon, nestling behind a magnificent Hoop Pine dated to the 1830's. The cottage was built in 1824 by John Macarthur as a guest house and then governess' residence for Elizabeth Farm which is situated to the East. The cottage is quite modest from the outside, but quite lovely inside with a drawing room, dining room, 2 bedrooms, detached kitchen and out buildings. We are very fortunate in Parramatta to have 3 historic properties within a short walk of each other at Harris Park. Elizabeth Farm (John Macarthur's principal residence) is to the East while Experiment Farm Cottage (site of James Ruse's farm, now Surgeon John Harris' house) is to the West in the same street. Hambledon is on the point of the triangle down in front of the other 2 properties and closest to the Parramatta River. And I am very fortunate to have connections with all three properties now, and also with Old Government House up in Parramatta Park. Through my historical reproduction sewing of soft furnishing and costumes, I get to visit all 4 properties fairly regularly in various capacities. An exciting project is beginning at Hambledon, more about that soon.

Hambledon trees.

How's this for a huge Moreton Bay Fig tree? Dating to 1850's this magnificent tree seems to have escaped from the disease which has plagued the figs in Sydney's Hyde Park, causing them to be removed. Perhaps it is due to this land being part of a private residence till the 1960's when Parramatta Council purchased it from the owners who planned to build a pharmaceutical factory behind it? The trees at Hambledon have survived the droughts and vandals, but one has been damaged extensively by a lightning strike after being damaged by borers. The arborist has placed a protective sheath around it hoping to save the remaining portion, and extensive mulching around the drip lines of the trees seems to be helping with moisture retention. A truly magnificent sight.

Hambledon trees.

A majestic English Oak tree at Hambledon Cottage Harris Park. The plaque at the base suggests 1850's as the planting date because the tree was mentioned in the census of the time. This is one of about 8 heritage listed trees in the former grounds of Hambledon, now maintained as a park by the local Parramatta council. Truly magnificent.