überlegen – to think, consider, ponder, deliberate

English social history is one of my passions. Currently I’m reading a book entitled England Under the Stuarts by G.M. Trevelyan published by The Folio Society. In a chapter called “State of England” he delves into the lives of the people in great detail. Much of it makes me thankful that I live today. However, when reading the following I realized how much many of us, as human beings, may be missing.

“(Something must be said) of certain general conditions of life which may have had influence on imagination. The most obvious of these was the perpetual contact of man, in the ordinary course of his work and recreation, with the force and beauty of nature.

The ungarnished streets….were yet neither ugly nor monotonous to the eye but were varied with every kind of gable and projection, decorated on the house fronts with oak carving and over the doors with quaint signs. In each village, oak furniture for farm and cottage was carved into pleasing forms, which now win the admiration of connoisseurs. The commonest objects – the family coach, the beer jug, the lintel of the door, the sign that hung over it – had a touch of natural taste, and often of true artistic effort.”

Man, I believe, is a natural creator and inventor. It’s in our nature. Homo Faber – man, the creator. The drive to create is strong in those of us who stitch. Why, otherwise, would we spend countless hours with our threads? We need to express who we are and what we value by making something, not buying something. Perfect or flawed, the things we create have in them natural taste and artistic endeavor. We strive to contribute to the natural beauty of the world by creating something.

To see first hand the ‘natural taste and artistic effort’ of the Stuart period in embroidery, visit the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. The photographs are extraordinary.

These gloves are from 1620-1640.They are almost 400 years old. They have been cherished and kept safe for almost 400 years. Judging from the number of mittens and gloves in the lost and found at our school, I would say it will be unlikely that any gloves from today will still be around in 400 years! We value the mass produced things we have so little that when things are lost, no one claims them.

It seems to me that when people get too far from nature, too removed from their creative drive, too busy, they often cope by buying something. They acquire a thing and hope it will bring them the same satisfaction as creating the thing. It usually fails. Is this perhaps why so many homes are full of things that no one loves, no one uses and no one cherishes? So much of what we have in our homes has been mass produced. The ‘natural taste and artistic effort’ are missing. Common objects have little, if any, unique style. Too many houses really do look the same. Is this because we no longer have contact with the force and beauty of nature? Is it because we have lost our sense of place within the natural world?

7 thoughts on “überlegen – to think, consider, ponder, deliberate

  1. That is a good question and one to ponder. I love the gloves, they are beautiful. I look forward to looking at the book “England under the Stuarts” when I see you next! The Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History has some very beautiful pictures! Thanks for sharing!

  2. You may be right, but those of us who embroider – or do other crafts – to beautify our homes, our friends’ homes and ourselves, maintain the contact and remind those we meet that there is more to life than mass-production.

    We also, I suspect, keep ourselves calmer and happier!

  3. I think many people today are so ‘time-poor’ that it is easier for them to buy than to make; also many things that we used to make at home for the sake of economy are now so cheap that it is not feasible to make them. I am thinking particularly of clothes. My mother used to make all our clothes but how many people do that now?

    On the other hand, I am a creative artist, and I find myself frequently buying things: but the things I buy are the work of other artists. I couldn’t bear to have mass-produced or reproduction ‘objets’ in my house, although I have noticed that non-creative people can’t tell the difference (or maybe it is lack of education).

    The answer to your question is complex and would take many pages to explain, and even then would only be the opinion of one lonely creative artist.

  4. You know what else I find interesting about those gloves? They were really worn by someone. You can tell. The impressions from the fingers are there. The leather has shaped around someone’s hand and there’s marks from living. They were beautiful, and clearly worth keeping for 400 years but they were real as well. I think that’s kind of courageous.

  5. That is why I make historically inspired costume. I have just finished an homage to the dress in Bouchers famous portrait of Mme de Pompadour in her study. https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/_xTtXn9VCyrU/TWVOxRk4KTI/AAAAAAAAB9k/ud0CgU9MKtM/s512/P1020981.JPG

    I made all the roses (by hand) all the trimmings, gathered the lace and the ruffles, starched and pinked the ribbons.

    I reminded myself constantly whenever my poor efforts with modern materials felt like fail that I, with my more than full time job (then) and working woman’s salary was attempting to recreate the gown of the Mistress of a King, one of the most powerful women in History with Staymakers, Dressmakers, Milliners, Tiring Women and maids up the yazoo.

    I finished the dress, and it taught me a lot about life in the past. Like I will never try to recreate the old embroideries in their entirety, no matter how tempting, I shall settle for motifs only.

    It will never be a reproduction, no one has the resource these days.

    But it’s a good homage, and I’m as proud of it as I am of some of my embroideries.

    And I mourn the past when people who had my skills and talents could earn a living at them, rather than competing with sweat shops in the Middle East, and hearing clients say “How much?” as if what we did was not worth anything.

    • Thank you Su! What a wonderful photograph of your incredible work. You look magnificent! The work and love you’ve put into this is enormous and it’s an heirloom of the future. Thank you again…how inspiring.
      Liebe Grusse,
      Kathy

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