Saturday, 24 May 2014

The ladies are amused

18c.silkwork on papeAfter collecting silk on silk and decorative feather pictures from 18c. in old, junky shops (and never seen in proper antique shops till several decades later), I moved on to various other genres known as Ladies' Amusements; there were the pictures of fruit, especially peaches and those with a 'bloom'', painted on velvet, and called 'theorems' a short-lived fashion, (problems with the paint running). These are somewhat similar to the 'sand' pictures where different coloured sands, usually from Alum Bay, Isle of Wight, were carefully spread on to gummed paper - the specialist was a Mr. Benjamin Zuber who often illustrated animals and rustic scenes, rare and expensive. He decorated dining tables at Windsor Castle with sand designs, and must have caused the butlers a sandy problem! In addition I still have some exquisite silk needlework on a paper base, completely reversible and sandwiched between two sheets of glass, called 'fichy' something, a very special skill taught to the young ladies who were sent to French convents to learn to sew a fine seam, and I have only once seen examples, in a Scottish castle, worked by the young ladies of the house in 18c. Mine were bought from a dealer, the late Gabriel Olive, who had a shop in Wincanton. I bought a lot of old family needlework from him and he had the most delightful stock as well as a great knowledge of fine work, samplers in plenty, and quaint cottage needlework, not very expert, but full of simple charm.

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