Mounting an old sampler

When this sampler arrived there was a very unwelcome sound as I open the box – that unmistakable sound of shattered glass. Fortunately, although the glass was shattered, I was able to get all of it out without damaging the sampler itself.

Now I had a darling sampler that wasn’t framed and I needed to mount it. Fortunately, I learned how to mount embroidery at the RSN. I did NOT learn how to conserve antique textiles and I don’t claim to be an expert in the conservation of antique textiles.

Since it was already “out of the frame” (by accident rather than by choice!) I was able to examine it closely and was relieved to find that it had not been glued down to the board at the back. Using our vacuum cleaner with the suction at the lowest and a filter over the attachment to protect the threads in the sampler, my husband and I gently cleaned it. There had been some dust in the sampler as it was much brighter when we were finished. I probably wouldn’t have done this to an older and more valuable piece.

DSC_1797Next, I took two pieces of acid free mat board and glued them together with Copydex glue. I let the glue dry while I cut a piece of linen larger than the mat board. When the glue between the boards was dry, I laid a piece of 100% cotton batting/wadding on the top and glued the linen onto the mat board with a large overlap on the back. (see photo above)

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Now I had a piece of acid free mat board with 100% cotton batting/wadding on the top and all covered with linen, glued to the back of the board so no glued area was touching the sampler.

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I placed the sampler on top of the padded board and, when I was sure it was placed where I wanted it, pinned it down using very tiny straight pins. (see below)

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I left an edge of linen showing around the edge of the sampler. Carefully I adjusted the placement of the sampler, so the linen edge was even all the way around.

Using a small curved needle, I attached the edge of the sampler with invisible stitch to the padded front of the board. Since the board was padded and I wasn’t trying to line up the embroidery exactly with the edge of the board,  it was easier than mounting often is for me! Whew! It’s NOT my favorite thing to do!

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One lovely “side effect’ of mounting the sampler on the white linen is that it looks much brighter! Next step is to get it framed with Clarity glass – something I learned about when I got the pieces I bought at Witney Antiques framed in Leamington Spa at Regent Print and Frame Ltd.  It’s fabulous and makes everything behind the glass so clear as well as protected – it’s perfect for needlework which often loses detail when behind glass!

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1773 Sampler

Certainly I cannot claim to be an expert on samplers, nor on how one would work a sampler if one was a particularly outstanding embroiderer. I find counted work VERY difficult and make mistakes so often that it’s an exercise in frustration rather than joy.

When I received the 1775 sampler and took it out of the frame to re-mount, I saw the back and thought to myself “Yep, that’s exactly how I would have done this – running a thread all across the back with no regard whatsoever to neatness.”

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However, whoever embroidered my newest old sampler from 1773, was very tidy indeed. In fact, she was so tidy that the back looks exactly like the front, but in reverse. But before I go into that, a little bit about the sampler. I purchased it from an auction house in Paulen, Germany.  As you can see below, it is a beautiful combination of  decorative border work at the top, various alphabets in the middle and figures and a building at the bottom.

1773 Sampler

The first thing I tried to find out was what building is embroidered on the sampler. This might give me a clue as to where the sampler was made.

At first I thought is was the cathedral  in Münster or perhaps the cathedral in Worms. Neither of them had the towers in the right places. Then I found photos of the Kloster Großcomburg near Schwäbisch Hall in Baden-Württemberg in Germany.

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It was founded in the late 1070s by the Counts of Comburg-Rothenburg on the site of their castle. The Stiftskirche St. Nikolaus appears to be the building that’s embroidered on the sampler. What makes it even more interesting is that, according to their website for tourists, from the front of the Stiftskirche St. Nikolaus visitors can look across to Kleincomburg Convent, on the crest of the hill.

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it was founded in 1108, it served as a priory for Großcomburg Monastery. Do you suppose it could possibly be that a member of the convent – perhaps a young girl who went there for schooling – embroidered this sampler? That certainly would explain the religious designs on the sampler such as the lion and lamb and the crucifix.

1773 Sampler

All the history aside (which is really my favorite part of collecting samplers!), what amazed me when I took the sampler out of the frame is that the back is exactly the same as the front. Above is a photo of part of the front of the sampler and below is a photo of the same section from the back side.

1773 Sampler reverse

I looked with my magnifying lamp everywhere for a single thread that was carried across the back and I could not find one. Not one! Turning it over, I also could see that the colours had barely faded since 1773. This tells me it was kept somewhere very safe and treasured by the embroiderer’s family or friends for the last 243 years.

1773 Sampler lamb

The lamb has been embroidered using a pale grey/white thread and touches of light yellow were added to help give the impression of the curly wool.

1773 sampler lion

The lion is hilarious! Obviously the embroiderer had either seen (unlikely I would imagine) or had a very good image of a lion, but she also decided he shouldn’t be frightening! His tongue is hanging out and he appears to be grinning! The mane is especially beautiful!

1773 sampler

And then there’s the building. I really hope I’m correct and that is really is supposed to be the Stiftskirche St. Nikolaus. There’s a bit of building on the right that isn’t in the photos I found online. However, building do undergo change, both additions and demolitions, and that could explain the difference. She’s taken great care to depict the windows in the towers and the windows in the main building. I didn’t find any other buildings with three towers – two at one end and one at the other, during my online search. To be really sure  I would need to find and ask a European architectural historian.

Or I could go there and ask!

Watch this space…

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Bateau Bayeux Deadline Appraoching

The deadline line is approaching and only 4 places are remaining so…

Bateau Bateux Course

If you’re interested in creating a small part of this historic embroidery, this is your opportunity to enroll in the online course Bateau Bayeux at “With Threaded Needle.”

If you’ve already registered and have a friend who has been thinking about joining the course, please remind them that the deadline is June 15 and forward this information to them.

If you know of a fellow embroiderer who may not have read about the course and might be interested, forward this information to them before the deadline passes.

For information and to register for the course, please follow this link to With Threaded Needle; Bateau Bayeux Course

No late registrations can be accepted for this course.

Thank you for helping me inform embroiderers who may not have heard about the course.

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