Sunday, May 6, 2018

How the Comic Patchwork became the Gossips

How the Comic Patchwork became the Gossips
In 1938, Marguerite Wilson of Florida, known professionally as Carmel Wilson, immortalized a silk patchwork made by Eunice Waring Cook in a watercolor, now residing the National Gallery of Art.   Carmel was an artist for the WPA Federal Art Project.  She and fellow WPA artists Alfred Walbeck and Cora Parker documented several items provided by Mrs. F.N. Holley, Jr of Coral Gables, Florida.
 
Alfred Walbeck documented the Sampler wrought by Eunice W. Cook in the tenth year of her age in 1813.  Along with the Gossips patchwork picture, Carmel Wilson painted images of a Doll’s Straw Bonnet and a Doll that originally belonged to Eunice’s step daughter Eliza Williams.  Cora Parker ‘s watercolors depicted a Sun Bonnet and a Doll’s Bonnet.
 
Of all the items Hellen (Mullen) Holley offered to the WPA to document, the Gossips watercolor by Ms. Wilson has enamored many by its angular design and comical characters.  Just where did the design come from?   And how did Mrs. H.L. Holley come to own it?
 
Most people researching the pattern find the earliest image in Eva Nile’s 1884 book called Fancy Work Recreations.  Did Eva use the original patchwork as a design source?   Eunice Waring Cook passed away in 1881, 3 years prior to the publication.  Had Eva seen Eunice’s patchwork?  At the end of Eva’s book, she explains in a note, that whereas the greater part of the knitting and crochet was original, she used other sources to aid in making this volume.  Was the Comic Patchwork original as well?  Or did it come from another source?
 
These questions kept gnawing at me for many years.  First and foremost, what was the Holley-Cook family connection?  And, did the original Patchwork still exist?  In digging up the answers, I found the connection, plus a much earlier design source, and the original silk patchwork of The Comic Patchwork depicted in the WPA watercolor!


The Family Connection:
I began researching the family names Holley and Cook and came up with the name Mullen, Mrs. F.N. Holley’s sur name and traced that back to the name Wood, then Williams, and finally Cook.  Using a variety of on-line sources, I was able to sort through the genealogy and determine that Helen Holley was the great-great-granddaughter of Eunice Waring Cook.  So that is how the items the WPA documented came to be in Coral Gables, Florida. 
 
Further research needed to be done to find out where the patchwork was, if it still existed.  Contacts with Carlotta Owens of the National Gallery of Art indicated that they were unaware of the whereabouts of any of the items.  She did however forward to me copies of some of the actual data report sheets used by the WPA for the Index of American Design.  This confirmed the family lineage that I had researched.


The Design Source:
As my search continued, I tried to see if there was a connection between Eva Niles and the Mullen family, maybe they were in the same area?  Eva Niles also provided patterns/articles for The Modern Priscilla and Good Housekeeping – both had offices in the Massachusetts area.  Could they have met?  I could not find any evidence of any such meeting.

As I continued my pattern search, I found several books published in 1902 by Nellie Mustain that had the Comic Patchwork pattern in a section for Dainty Work for Deft Fingers. 

But what about an earlier source?  Finally, I found a reference to Comic Patchwork in the 1862 volume of Arthur’s Home Magazine, then in a newspaper ad in The London Times in late August, stating that Comic Patchwork, a new and useful ornamental work for ladies, would be in the September issue of The Family Friend magazine.  Both sources were confirmed on-line and references forwarded to Ms. Owens of the National Gallery.

In 1964, journalist Marguerite Mitchell reviewed the 1862 volume and published the Comic Patchwork pattern in the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph.  She wrote that the illustrations contained in each monthly section included needlework patterns, craft ideas such as a basket made of acorns and pine cones, designs for initials in intricate scrollwork, and a comic patchwork design whose pattern resembled a latter-day Picasso.  There was no connection to The Gossips at this point.

In 1950, a large format book The Index of American Design by Erwin Christensen was published, giving the public access to the works recorded by the WPA.  A b/w image of the applique picture, made by Eunice W. Cook was chosen as the front-piece to The Linen Chest section.

In the early 1960s, Woman’s Day published watercolor their magazine and subsequent Book of American Needlework by Rose Wilder Lane.  From then on, the design became part of folk culture.  Several enterprising people created stitchery and applique kits/design based on the gossip’s motif.  There may have even been a woodcraft kit, as I have one dated 1968, signed by Diane.  I even have a watercolor painting called The Gossips someone made, honoring the design – but left the piece unsigned and undated.

Several more publications in the 1970’s published the Gossip’s image.  Clarence Hornung referred to the piece as a humorous commentary in needlecraft in his book Treasury of American Design and Antiques.  In 1974, an Italian book by Ambrose Pierce used a colorized image on the cover, with the reference, In Copertina:  Tessuto applicato di Eunice W. Cook (Vermont).    The 1979 book Artist’s in Apron – Folk Art by American Women by Dewhurst, MacDowell and MacDowell put a feminist twist in the caption, indicating that the design may depict a confidential exchange of opinion concerning the controversial struggle for women’s suffrage.

In 1986, a documented connection was made.  Joyce Gross, editor and publisher of the Quilter’s Journal, republished the Comic Patchwork pattern from Eva’s Niles’ book and referenced The Gossips watercolor.  The article also mentions the postcards issued by the National Gallery of Art, and publications known to have reproduced The Gossips image.  In books published after Ms. Wilson’s painting in 1938, the design was referred to as The Gossips.  This was the first to connect the dots between the design names I have been able to find.

The design is still inspiring artists. Mixed media artist Barbara Olsen was inspired by the image from Artist’s in Aprons to create her version of The Gossips done in acrylics and papers in the 1990s.  In the early 2000s, quilter Patricia Cummings wrote an article for The Quilter Magazine, referencing Eva Niles’s version of the design, the 1984 pattern by Janet Kornfeind of Country Appliques and the Carmel Wilson watercolor rendering.

 

The Original Patchwork Found:
After going backward in time, from 1938, when the patchwork was first documented.  It was time to go forward and see if any of Eunice Ware Cook’s descendants had her prized patchwork.  Again, I went back to public records:   census, births, marriages and death records for more research.  In doing so, I found that Mrs. Holley was also a bit of a murder mystery writer and that the family owned a string of 5-10 cents stores in and around Coral Gables, Florida.

The Holley’s only had one child, and he had two children – a boy and a girl.  I followed up on his daughter, thinking that the items might be passed on to the daughter of the family.  Again with more records to search, I located a name and address.  It took about a year to summon up the courage to write and send a letter asking her about some family items that she may have, why I was interested in them and not seem like a wacko stalker.  I am glad I did, after a few days of sending the letter, she called me at home to chat about the research, and yes she did have the Gossips patchwork and the Sampler, but was unaware of any of the other items the WPA documented.

After several emails, and me sending her some of my research, she sent me some photos of the framed Gossips patchwork and 1813 Sampler made by her great-great-great-grandmother Eunice Ware Cook.

It is not known exactly when Eunice made her famous Gossips patchwork, but I suspect it was made using the Comic Patchwork design published in 1862 by Arthur’s Home Magazine.

After over 150 years the Comic Patchwork design is still fascinating and inspiring artists and will probably continue to do so for many, many more years.

 
Appendix A:  Sources and Other Notes
Pattern Notes:  Arthur’s version – only one with an ‘x’ in the corner, other versions mention the ”x” in the text, but it is not on the image; Niles version also has a missing line on the older woman’s shawl; Family Friend and Arthur’s have a black background; Niles is a line drawing,

On-line Image Source Only:  1862 ad; Pleasant Hours; WPA renderings; Colorado Springs Newspaper; Barbara Olsen mixed media

My collection:  1862 Arthurs (reprint and original); 1862 The Family Friend; Eva Niles;  Popular Amusements; Index; Woman’s Day Magazine; Woman’s Day Book (?); Wood Plaque;  Treasury of American Design; June Craft Stitchery kit; Italian Book; Artists in Aprons; Postcards (both versions); Janet Kornfeind pattern; Quilter’s Journal; Watercolor; The Quilter Magazine; Images of the Original Sampler and Gossips Patchwork

Family Research:  Findagrave.com; Vitals Records of Wrentham, Massachusetts; National Gallery of Art archives;  US Census data from 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940; Florida, State Census, 1935, 1945; Familysearch.org (Florida Marriage and Death Indexes); Newspapers.com; Books.google.com; Public Records miami-dadeclerk.com

WPA Artist – Carmel Wilson (Marguerite Carmel Wilson)
Carmel Marguerite Wilson was an artist for the WPA Federal Art Project, who worked professionally as Carmel Wilson and lived in Miami, Florida.  She did several pictorial maps used on postcards for Parrot Jungle and Clewiston Inn brochures in the 1930s; and in a 1954 Highlights of Greater Miami.  She prepared several other Florida maps in the 1950s.   

Scandal or Gossips a common theme featured on several trade cards and offered as an embroidery pattern in the 1880s.  The Kate Greenaway styled version was used in ads for stamping outfits and can be found on many period redwork embroidery and crazy patchwork items.

 
Appendix B:  Timeline - COMIC PATCHWORK BECOMES THE GOSSIPS - Over 150 years of history
[Numbers refer to the above image]

1804  Eunice Ware Cook was born, April 21, 1804 in Wrentham, Mass [1]

1813   Eunice Ware Cook made her Sampler in the 10th year of her age [2]

1836  Eunice Ware Cook married Luke Williams [1]

1862  The Times (London), Aug 30, Ad for Comic Patchwork in September issue of The Family Friend [3];
           Family Friend, Sept  1862 [4]; Arthur's Home Magazine, Vol. 20, Dec 1862, Comic Patchwork [5]
 
1881  Eunice Ware (Cook) Williams died, March 4, 1881 [1]

1884  Fancywork Recreations by Eva Niles; pages 322-324, Comic Patchwork [6]

1902  Popular Amusements for In-doors and Out of  doors by Nellie M. Mustain; Book VIII. Dainty work for deft fingers; Comic Patchwork, pgs 362-364 [7]
1902  Pleasant Hours of Amusement and Entertainment by Nelle  M. Mustain; Book VIII. Dainty work for deft fingers; Comic Patchwork, pgs 362-364 [7]

1938  WPA Artist Alfred Walbeck did a rendering of Eunice W. Cook's 1813 Sampler;  Id: 1943.8.15 [8]
           WPA artist Carmel Wilson did a rendering of Eunice W. Cook's Patchwork Picture "Gossips"  Id: 1943.8.528 [9]
 
1950  The Index of American Design by Erwin O. Christensen, page 103, Figure 211.  Applique Picture (b/w image)

1961  Woman's Day Magazine, November issue [10]
1963  Woman's Day Book of American Needlework by Rose Wilder Lane [11]

1964  Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph, May 2, 1964 - A review of Arthur's Home, 1862 by Marguerite Mitchell [12]

1968  Diane Wood Plaque [13]

1968  The United Stated Encyclopedia of History by Paul Henry Oehser, Vol 13

1972  Treasury of American Design and Antiques : Two Volumes in One by Clarence P. Hornung; Vol 2, pages 564-5, figure 2074; Thee appliqued piece, called "Gossips," introduces a humorous commentary in needlecraft by Eunice W. Cook of Vermont.  [color image]  Vol 2, pages 574-5, figure 2098, sampler designs.  [Description:  3 alphabet styles, 1 numeric with trees.  Text reads:  Eunice W. Cook's Sampler Wrought in the 10th year of her age A.D. 1813.  b/w image]

1972  June Craft Stitchery, Houston, TX; Kit JC-72 “The Gossips” [14]

1974  Racconti neri by Ambrose Bierce; Italian book with image on cover - In Copertina:  Tessuto applicato di Eunice W. Cook (Vermont) [15]

1979  Artists in Aprons- Folk Art by American Women by C. Kurt Dewhurst, Betty MacDowell and Marsha MacDowell; Page 48, Fig. 27.  Eunice W. Cook: The Gossips (detail from patchwork quilt).  Vermont, 19th century; 10.75 x 11.875-inch; (b/w image) [16]

1980s  Postcards: No. X-18 | Applique Picture, The Gossips (larger card, full image); [X-18] Gossip (smaller card, cropped image) [17]

1982  Postcard: No. X-18 | Applique Picture, The Gossips (larger card, full image) listed in Vol 21 (1982) issue of Quilter's Journal as a postcard in the Gross Collection [17] 

1984  Janet Kornfeind, Country Appliques; February 21, 1984 pattern for applique picture, The Gossips [18]

1986  Vol 30 - Quilter's Journal; Joyce Gross , editor/publisher  - Comic Patchwork from Eva Niles book republished along with listing of where the watercolor rendering image was published; selling the post card for $1 [19]

1980s?  Folk Art – Watercolor purchased on-line; undated, unsigned [20]

1990s  Barbara Olsen - THE GOSSIPS:  The inspiration for this piece came from a book titled "ARTISTS IN APRONS".
THE GOSSIPS.  The inspiration for this piece came from a book titled "ARTISTS IN APRONS".  I have always been interested in story telling quilts and young girls' samplers. This particular piece is from a patchwork quilt titled "THE GOSSIPS" by Eunice W. Cook, Vermont, 19th century.  I liked the angular shapes in this appliqued quilt and decided to see how it would look as a mixed media piece with acrylic and papers all done on 300 pound paper. I am very pleased with it and hope you will be, too.  This is a mixed media collage 22x30. [21]

2002  The Quilter Magazine - Cummings, Patricia L. "The Gossips." The Quilter Magazine; March 2002: 76-77 [22]
 
2015  Direct descendant of Eunice Ware Cook, current owner of Sampler and Gossips Patchwork sent me images from the wall in her bedroom, 4/27/2015.  Sampler made in 1813 [23]; Gossips patchwork – most likely made after the pattern published in 1862 [24]

There may be more references to this pattern out there, this is just a list that I have been able to document.





Sunday, April 29, 2018

1885 Crazy Quilt Puzzle


1885 C.W. Crazy Quilt - 40 blocks
Over the past several months I have been competing with other bidders for blocks from a crazy quilt dated 1885, with the initials C.W. elaborated embroidered on a bright red backing.  There were 40 blocks in total, with the overall quilt measuring 59 x 89 inches.  The blocks ranged in size from about 9x9 to 10x10 with some extensions to make the quilt into a rectangle.  The blocks were carefully cut apart and sold individually by the seller.  The quilt had some red bleed-through on several of the blocks, so were soaked prior to selling.  The blocks eventually found homes with 11-12 individuals and sold for about $3,000 combined.  I was lucky to get 11 of them.  The layout of the quilt in its entirety was never provided until the very end, in a snapshot an appraiser took in 2009.  Being the puzzle maker that I am, I collected the images for each block and ‘pieced’ them together based on the edges – matching the colors and stitches of each block.  It was always a thrill when I could place blocks sets together, find the corner pieces, or assemble the edge blocks in proper order.  The above is a result of those endeavors.  It was a great treat to see the lovely quilt in its complete form, there were so many great motifs, beaded designs, felt flowers, bits of lace, velvet appliques, silk puff flowers, etc.  There are several Kate Greenaway images; many bugs, bees, butterflies, grass hoppers and spiders (and webs of course); snowflake designs; fans, frogs, cats, mice, birds, anchors, interlocking rings, and American flag; and a lot of silly little stitched drawings – such as: a kangaroo, a wheelbarrow, cupid with an easel, skull and crossbones, a cat playing a fiddle, a baby sitting on a pillow, a little girl playing a drum with a dancing bug, a furry little man, a stick figure with an ax (x2), a fish, a man riding a rat, a mouse dressed in a tux holding a top hat, a parrot, a pair of cupids holding a banner with 1885, plus so many others.  Each block is eye candy and a marvel to look at, even with the red bleed through and some shattered fabrics.  Whoever the maker(s), they certainly had a good sense of humor and a great time stitching it together.  

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Another Ad – More of the Same Crazy Patchwork Stitches

Another Ad – More of the Same Crazy Patchwork Stitches

I noticed the similarities between the Durkee’s Select Spices ad and the Sapolio ad from 1886 – see blog posting http://quiltpapers.blogspot.com/2016/09/sapolio-advertising-novelties-crazy.html


The layout and artwork of the colored crazy patchwork sample were very much alike.  In further comparisons, many of the stitch designs are the same, just presented differently.  Below is the text from the center of the Durkee stitches page – a very good description on how to make a crazy patchwork.  It is close to the text on the Sapolio ad, but slightly different.  The two ads were probably designed by the same ad firm/artist.  Both were used for a nationally know product as a complimentary give-away for a store selling those products – a dry goods store and a grocery store.   Interesting to note – both companies warned buyers to “beware of all imitations” in many of their print ads.
 

Suggestions and Directions to aid in making CRAZY PATCHWORK.
     Putting together irregular pieces of differently colored satin, silk, plush, velvet, ribbon, etc., in odd and original designs, by silk thread of assorted colors, is what us called Crazy Patchwork.  In the, Fancy can have the greatest freedom in the way of decoration, and Imagination allowed full play in working designs on the patches with the needle.  Judgement, however, should always be displayed in harmonizing colors and arranging pieces, so as not to have a very light piece join one very dark in color.  Good taste displayed in this respect will make the work more effective when completed.
     Muslin is generally used as a foundation for patchwork.  The pieces should be matched as nearly as possible, turned under at the edges, then sewed together, and also to the foundation by invisible stitches.  Fancy stitches of various designs and colors (always in contrast to the pieces worked on,) should then be run across and along the lines where the pieces join together.  The more marked the contrast, and the greater the variety of colors displayed, the greater the beauty of the work when completed.
     Large pieces, such as quilts, etc., can be worked with more ease if they are arranged in squares of about twelve inches.  These can be joined together, and wide borders of satin, velvet or plush put around them, thereby adding to their attractiveness.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Brainerd & Armstrong Waste Embroidery Silk

Brainerd & Armstrong Waste Embroidery Silk

Back a few years ago, I posted some information about the silk manufacturing company Brainerd and Armstrong showing some pages from their 1885 Art Needlework, Knitting, Crocheting and Embroidery book.  I mentioned their ads for Waste Embroidery Silk for 40 cents, that included a sheet of Designs for 100 styles of Crazy Stitches enclosed in each package.  See posting at:

 
Fast forward to 2017 and I finally found that elusive sheet and box of Waste Embroidery Silk – quite by accident.  I had found an empty box some time ago, but the contents were long gone.  This time, I found a box with contents.  The ad only mentioned the floss contents and showed an image – not much to go on, but at about $10, why not get it.  Boy was I surprised when it arrived and had two little packages of non-floss in it – could it be…?  Yes it was – the sheet of stitches (A) and a sample of silk sewing thread (B)!  To my surprise, the sheet had the same two pages I had posted (out of the four from the 1885 book).  Both the envelope and sheet had not been opened up for over 100 years!  Below is the text found on the items.  Enjoy!

 
WASTE EMBROIDERY SILK BOX
FRONT:  Asst. Colors. ONE OUNCE WASTE EMBROIDERY SILK. VARIOUS SHADES, ODD LENGTHS, PUT UP BY THE

BRAINERD & SRMSTRONG Co.  HOW IT IS SOLD – 40 Cents a box (one ounce) sent post-paid on receipt of price.  For club rates, see end of box.  Address THE BRAINERD & ARMSTRONG CO., 469 Broadway, New York.

SIDE:  THIS PACKAGE CONSISTS OF EMBROIDERY -- SILK and FLOSS.  NOTICE. -- What we cannot do. WE CANNOT ASSORT ANY PARTICULAR SHADES. WE CANNOT ASSORT ANY PARTICULAR SIZES. WE CANNOT SELL LESS THAN ONE OUNCE.

BACK:  M_____[place for address and stamp]
Postmaster will please inform us if this package should miscarry, or remain five days uncalled for, and we will forward the necces-sary stamps for its return, and your postage.  Brainerd & Armstrong Co., 469 Broadway, New York.

SIDE:  As it is not always convenient to send currency in a letter, we will accept Postal Note or Money Order.

END:  CLUB RATES. For Ten ounces at one time, With $4.00 remittance, we will send one ounce extra without charge.

END:  Show this to your friends they are sure to want a package.

[TAB at end of Club Rates side]:  Benton & Co., Pat. Folding Box Manufa’rs, New Haven, Conn.

 

A: CRAZY STITCH PATTERN SHEET
A copy of this circular containing 100 different patterns of crazy stitches, will be sent to every person ordering one package of THE BRAINERD & ARMSTRONG CO.’s Waste Embroidery Silk, which is all good silk for embroidery and crazy work, consisting of about ten good colors in each package of one once.  Same quantity of silk put up in skeins of uniform length and sold in regular way would cost at retail about one dollar.  Send 40 cent postal note for one package.  To show the kind of work that can be done with Waste Embroidery Silk, we will, on receipt of 50 cents by mail, send one dozen beautiful Applique figures or one pair of Slipper Patterns, beautifully embroidered with silk on broadcloth or velvet; and the same may be returned and money will be refunded, if not perfectly satisfactory.

The Brainerd & Armstrong Co., Silk Manufacturers, Salesrooms: 469 Broadway, New York.  621 Market Street, Philadelphia.  35 Kingston Street, Boston.  5 Hanover Street, Baltimore.


B: ENVELOPE OF BLACK SEWING SILK SAMPLE

THIS SAMPLE IS SENT WITHOUT CHARGE.  This envelope contains a sample of Waste Sewing Silk, which sells at 30 cents per once in Black or Assorted Colors.  When ordering be careful to state whether you want Black or Colors.

Do not cofound the above with Waste Embroidery Silk, which is quite a different article, and sells at 40 cents per once.  Address THE BRAINERD & ARMSTRONG CO., 469 Broadway, New York.