Jon Crispin's Notebook

Willard Patient Dress / Part 1

The Willard Suitcase Project

There are quite a few items in the Willard collection at the New York State Museum that are not part of my suitcases documentation.  These “institutional” pieces were too numerous to photograph, but this embroidered dress just had to be documented.  The work was done by a patient who is not identified, but I am in touch with some folks who worked at Willard who might know who created this.

The Willard Suitcase Project

This will be a photo heavy post with less text than in my usual posts, but the details in the dress are amazing and I wanted to share as many as I could.

The Willard Suitcase Project

It wasn’t just the amazing designs; the precision of the embroidery knocked us out.

The Willard Suitcase Project

The Willard Suitcase Project

There were a good number of cats on the dress.

The Willard Suitcase Project

This one seems to be hovering over a plant.

The Willard Suitcase Project

Not sure what is going oh above, but the orange is such a beautiful color.

The Willard Suitcase Project

This looks to me like a cat but what is it doing?  Any thoughts?

The Willard Suitcase Project

The Willard Suitcase Project

I love how this person’s hair is rendered.

The Willard Suitcase Project

The orange flower in her hair is lovely.

The Willard Suitcase Project

These little flowers are so delicate.

The Willard Suitcase Project

The Willard Suitcase Project

The Willard Suitcase Project

The watch and ring on this figure are such a nice touch.

The Willard Suitcase Project

Thanks so much to Peg Ross for helping me set the dress up in order to photograph it.  I am terrible at stuff like this, and as usual, she really made it happen.  And if I remember correctly, Connie Houde from the museum was also there to assist.

I hope to post the back of the dress (I want to keep calling it a shift; is that correct?) sometime soon.  I leave Atlanta later today but will head out to the Botanical Garden before my flight.  Thanks for following.

15 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. lynn said, on 09/03/2017 at 9:51 am

    The cat is wagging its tail — embroidered to show motion.

  2. Karen said, on 09/03/2017 at 10:20 am

    I love this– am enamored of the black balloony pants the man is wearing.

    • Georgia said, on 09/03/2017 at 11:14 am

      Those pants are awesome!!

  3. jmcalli said, on 09/03/2017 at 10:29 am

    I love this. My mother and grandmother used to do embroidery and painting similar to this. My mom was an art teacher for 50 years and my grandmother was a seamstress. This is a beautiful glimpse into the artistic sensibilities of previous generations.

  4. Lindsay said, on 09/03/2017 at 10:44 am

    So fascinating! My first thought on the cat (based on the plant shown earlier) was that it was popping out of a watering can. Although now that I read the first comment about a tail wagging, I like that idea too.

    Yes, I’d call it a shift. Thanks so much for sharing!

  5. penrise said, on 09/03/2017 at 10:59 am

    Absolutely gorgeous, Jon! I want this dress. And I believe the cat is holding a watering can and watering the woman. Giving her strength, if you will! That was my thought after seeing the cat in the flowers.

    Also reminds me of illustrations from Bangladesh – sort of like this one: https://www.google.com/search?q=bangladesh+embroidery&client=safari&hl=en-us&prmd=ivmn&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjujqrc5MnSAhVmsVQKHTSMAG8Q_AUIBygB&biw=375&bih=559#imgrc=RDUCbAiZ1ViamM:

    Amazing and heartrendering. Thank you.

    • joncrispin said, on 09/03/2017 at 11:02 am

      Thanks Penelope! I really appreciate that you are following along and love your comment about watering the woman. So thoughtful. Cheers, Jon

    • Tania M said, on 09/03/2017 at 1:20 pm

      I also thought the cat was watering the woman, but also thought that the water would then be blue.
      It is very beautiful.

  6. Georgia said, on 09/03/2017 at 11:13 am

    I can’t tell you how much I love this. I love to embroider and so appreciate it when I come across examples of it in resale shops and yard sales– I try to snatch them all up. Thank you for posting– It’s lovely!

  7. Patty Krysiak said, on 09/03/2017 at 11:38 am

    I love this. If it was available as wall art or wallpaper I’d buy it.

  8. […] via Willard Patient Dress / Part 1 — Jon Crispin’s Notebook […]

  9. Theresa said, on 09/03/2017 at 2:41 pm

    i was thinking that the woman with the high neck collar dress was cooking… i thought that was a pot on the stove maybe… i noticed the ring and watch also… so that detail was what the person remembered most about the person she embroidered.. i had pillow cases like this that i only bring out when my family has come. I have been told back in the day this was what one did as well as quiting.

  10. BL said, on 09/03/2017 at 3:27 pm

    It’s haunting.

  11. thanks John for photographing this so well and in so much detail. Yes I was there that day. It is one of my favorit pieces in the collection.

  12. […] is the back of the dress that I posted the other […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: