This is the back of the dress that I posted the other day.
There is more of the beautiful orange thread on this side, as well as some very fanciful figures.
In the image below, I love how the two horizontal lines at the bottom of the dress seem to me to indicate water. And is that a spigot just above the lines?
Here is the reverse side of the above figure. I was thinking at the time we were shooting that people who do embroidery might like to see this view.
This figure is similar to one on the front of the dress.
The faces she does are so expressive.
Here is another detail of a hand, and I am not sure what is represented coming out of what appears to be a pocket.
The figure below in the box looks like either a kind of face or something from the depths of the ocean.
Is this another face?
Her use of lines is very cool.
I have been trying to figure out how the grid below fits in to the overall design. At first I thought it represented a building, but I am not so sure.
And here are just a few more shots of the reverse side of the dress.
Thanks for checking this out. I will continue my efforts to find the name of the Willard patient who created this. In the meantime you can continue to see the latest uploads of the cases at the Willard Suitcases site.
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.
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.
It wasn’t just the amazing designs; the precision of the embroidery knocked us out.
There were a good number of cats on the dress.
This one seems to be hovering over a plant.
Not sure what is going oh above, but the orange is such a beautiful color.
This looks to me like a cat but what is it doing? Any thoughts?
I love how this person’s hair is rendered.
The orange flower in her hair is lovely.
These little flowers are so delicate.
The watch and ring on this figure are such a nice touch.
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.
One of the loveliest aspects of my work on the suitcases is connecting with wonderful, smart, and knowledgable people. After this morning’s post, I received a comment from Dhyan about the photograph. You can read her comment here. (Scroll down to see it.) She seemed to know so much about the subject that I emailed her a full resolution image of this wider shot. Here is her response. I am sure she won’t mind me reprinting it.
I enlarged the picture to 500% and took a really close look at it. Here are some other things I notice.
Top Right: I believe that band was probably done as “draw work” Some of the threads are selectively pulled out and the rest are used to make the patterns using an embroidery thread to hold them in place.
Did you notice how beautifully woven the folded fabric on the right is? You don’t see THAT any more. My grandmothers had some table cloths that looked like that. How they could ever bring themselves to put them on the table with grandkids around is a mystery to me! I do believe they were heavier handed with Clorox in those days!
I noticed at the bottom there is a line that says “Royal Society No 5….” That probably means that she bought this piece of fabric from an embroidery fabric company. Probably the zig zag line was already on the fabric when she bought it but the pattern she would have filled in is above it and probably on other parts of the fabric as well.
The blue edging is crochet. Because the pattern is penciled in or stamped on, I wonder if that was already on the piece when she bought it but maybe not. Still I think I would have done the pattern first and the edging last so maybe it was on there already. She may have been bringing pieces of uncompleted work to do at the asylum.
One more thing. The piece between the blue edging and the left edge piece, that looks like a lace border, maybe the top of a camisole, is tatting. I have actually never seen tatting done but I know you have a kind of spindle that looks a bit like a guitar pick and by going over and under and around the through you make those edgings. Look at the VERY edge that is not crochet which is why I think it is tatting.
The only thing that is a bit bothersome if the green embroidery with the colored flowers. That is not up to the quality of the rest of her work. Wonder what the story is with that?
Anyway, thank you so much for showing it to me. I loved looking at it. People don’t know much about embroidery these days. I once had the opportunity to look at a very, several-hundreds-of-years old embroidered Chinese jacket and spend about an hour pointing out details to the owners. It was silk, Jon, with tinier stitches than I had ever seen.
Anyway, thank you again for a lovely half hour of procrastination! J
Dhyan, I am not sure if you were aware of her history, but Margaret was Scottish by birth and didn’t come to the States until she was a young adult. I would guess that she acquired her skills with the needle before arriving here.
It is a good time for me to thank all of you who are following this project. I really do feel close to those of you who comment, and pay so much attention to this unique collection. Cheers, Jon