I spent today with the Textile Champions of the Harris Museum and Art Gallery. These volunteers meet once a month to assist with the conservation of the museum's sizable textile collection and today we were helping to clean and make new storage for a wonderful collection of mainly Victorian needlework samplers.
These were previously kept in large cartons separated with acid free tissue and the goal was to create a 'wallet' for each individual sampler so that they would not only be protected but also more accessible for anyone who wants to study them. We had a little production line going with each sampler being carefully cleaned and dusted then measured and its details recorded on card backing cut to fit. This was then put into a custom made plastic envelope before being returned to storage.
It was such a thrill to be able to see and examine in detail these wonderful pieces of embroidery, some by children as young as six years old. The amount of painstaking work that had gone into them was astonishing, especially considering that they would often have been stitched by candle light and must have taken so many hours to complete. Most have verses from the Bible or Christian homilies with domestic or natural scenes, although I did see one tiny piece which appeared to be commemorating the Crimean War.
If you want to see more detail, just click on the pictures above.