Recap: Ingalls Library Program Examines English Samplers

Viewing a rare selection of samplers

By Christine Edmonson

For avid needleworkers, winter is a great time to settle into a warm spot with hoop and thread. February’s featured topic for the “Collection in Focus” program, sponsored by the Ingalls’ Library, was a talk and examination of English samplers. Katherine Dunlevey, past President of the Cleveland Textile Arts Alliance, and faithful volunteer in Textile Conservation, shared her knowledge of the subject with a scholarly power point presentation. Katherine embarked on a quest through various British collections in 2010, searching for stitched animals and insects in what must be the world’s best sampler collections.

Her talk included basic designs and types of support mediums and needlework materials used through the 17th-19th centuries.Examples of different samplers, often with enlarged details to examine delightful flora and fauna, featured a variety of needle skills, with subjects ranging from verses to maps. We all laughed at the many-legged snail! Following Katherine’s presentation, Robin Hanson, the Museum’s Textile Conservator, displayed matted samplers from the collection. 25 attendees were permitted to view wonderful objects that normally rest year-round in the dark. She noted the importance of stable storage for objects not on display.

Robin Hanson, the Museum’s Textile Conservator, displayed matted samplers from the collection

This was a chance for museum members to see first hand, needlework objects perhaps hundreds of years old. Finally, books about English samplers were available for perusal from both Katherine’s personal and the Ingalls Library collections. This” Collection in Focus” program was filled to capacity, and I suspect many more asked for tickets. It might just be all the snow, but it appears that textile study and Clevelanders are a great match.

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