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[AC] Mead Art Museum at Amherst College; [HC] Hampshire College Art Gallery;
[HD] Historic Deerfield; [MH] Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; [MH SK] The Joseph Allen Skinner Museum at Mount Holyoke College; [SC] Smith College Museum of Art; [UM] University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMASS Amherst

 


Maker(s):Deerfield Society of Blue and White Needlework
Culture:American
Title:doily
Date Made:1896-1926
Type:Household Accessory; Textile
Materials:textile: bleached (white) plain weave linen; polychrome linen embroidery
Place Made:United States; Massachusetts; Deerfield
Measurements:overall: 8 1/2 x 9 1/2 in.; 21.59 x 24.13 cm
Accession Number:  HD 88.072
Credit Line:Bequest of Dorothy W. Smead
1988-72t.jpg

Description:
Circular linen doily decorated with linen embroidery in three shades of blue, plus white, which has the letter "D" embroidered within a flax wheel motif marking this piece as produced by the Deerfield Society of Blue and White Needlework (1896-1926). The Deerfield Society of Blue and White Needlework was founded by Deerfield residents Margaret C. Whiting (1860-1946) and Ellen Miller (1854-1929) in 1896. Originally started as a way to preserve and document 18th and early 19th century embroidered bed hangings in New England, the Society quickly became a village-wide industry, and mirrored larger national and international Arts and Crafts interest. Although the original embroideries Whiting and Miller studied were wrought in crewel woolen yarns, these new reproductions utilized cellulosic threads, often linen, which were less susceptible to insect damage. The group’s members, all local women, engaged primarily in the production of domestic textiles, but also made some clothing and accessories. The Society was featured in numerous national exhibitions and publicized in magazines and newspapers throughout its thirty-year history. Both Whiting and Miller created most of the embroidery designs, which embroiderers executed using locally dyed yarns. Favorite stitches included New England laid, satin, herringbone, cross stitch, outline, French knots, blanket, feather, and chain. For most pieces, workers were paid a percentage of the price charged. The Society was well-known for the exacting design and execution standards put forth by its founders; only those pieces that met with their approval were allowed to be embroidered with the Society's seal, an upper case "D" within a flax wheel. This doily was cut out first, and then embroidered completely around the edge in New England laid stitch, using darker blue thread; the stitches include New England laid, satin, outline, couched filling stitch variation, and blanket stitch. Dorothy Wise Smead likely purchased this piece, and not made it. Areas of the ground have been repaired (darned), and there is water staining.

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