This is my first time trying a Kickstarter campaign to help fund a sampler reproduction by acquiring the funds to purchase the sampler. Essentially, at the $25 level, you are pre-purchasing the graph (you'll receive your graph a month before anybody else may purchase it.) You also receive bonuses at the $10 and $40 levels. Should I more-than-reach my monetary goal, everyone who has participated will receive something extra in the mail, to be determined by the final total. (I only need 69 people at the $25 level to reach my goal.)
Needlework samplers were historically stitched by girls in school (or at home) as homework assignments of sorts. Learning to mark linens was one goal, but girls also learned about geography, history, the Bible/religion, math, poetry, current events, literature and more by completing these works of art.
Sometimes, a sampler is all we have left of a girl or woman, and these samplers can shine light on that person's life and personality. Rightfully, collectors and auction houses put much value on samplers. Recently, an antique sampler sold for over $1 million at auction.
I purchased Jane Philpott's sampler (above) a few years ago, and reproduced it as a needlework graph; the original is on the left, and my reproduction is on the right. I also purchased her sister Sarah's sampler at the same time, done at the same school, with similar colors and motifs (below).
Sarah must have been more of a free-spirit, as she randomly chose a pinkish red to substitute for other colors and was a little more loosey-goosey with her thread carries on the back of the sampler. Still, the quality of both girls' works is top-notch.
Many samplers are symmetrical -- the left and right sides mirror each other, with a standard verse in the center. When I am looking for samplers to reproduce, I look for the unusual. The 1836 Louisa Horsey sampler has numerous fun-to discover and stitch elements like figures tucked into the border. I don't like stitching the same thing over-and-over, and so I look for samplers that are a little less predictable. The border on this sampler has several different types of flowers, which makes going 'round the outside a little more of a treat.
Animals on a sampler are a real plus for me (and many stitchers.) This sampler has got sheep, a squirrel, numerous birds, a dog, deer, bunnies, bugs and butterflies. A fancifully-dressed shepherdess and shepherd watch the sheep grazing in the grass, just like a mother and father shepherd their children.
Samplers often commemorated events, and this one points out the loss of one of the Horsey children as indicated in the gorgeous urn at the top of the sampler and the touching verse at the bottom. Really, this sampler tells the story of how much this family loved one another. Louisa stitched this sampler when she was 13 years old -- her brother Henry is remembered prominently, having died on the day of his birth.
'Sweet babe by death's cold hand in earliest bloom...
Torn from thy mother's bosom to the tomb:...
While o'er thy grave thy drooping parents bend;
Oh! May these parents hear a faithful friend!
Nor think thee only born but to bequeath....
Pain at thy birth, and sorrow at thy death:...
For when the great eternal day shall come;....
Then shall they meet thee at thy happeiest home;
And see their first dear pledge of mutual love
Blooming in spotless innocence above......'.
My husband asked if this wasn't a little too depressing for a sampler reproduction. I feel that a sampler infused with real feeling after a trying life event makes this sampler even more significant. The family experienced grief, but still had hope for the future. Sweet Louisa spent many hours creating this piece, laboriously stitching her siblings' names and birthdays and the poignant verse over-one. What did she think about while she was working? What did her parents say when they saw the sampler? I'd like to think that they're all together now in heaven.
The entire sampler is 18 1/2" by 12 1/4" (for size reference, imagine two sheets of printer paper stacked sideways, one on top of the other -- that is roughly the sampler's size.) The stitching is very fine in size and quality. The piece is worked entirely in silk in cross stitch, with some of the stitching done in cross stitch over-one. The chart will be reproduced in silk on linen, but will have a conversion to Anchor and DMC floss for those who prefer it.
It is possible for me to over-reach my goal, meaning I could receive more than the cost of the sampler through this Kickstarter campaign. If that occurs, the overage will be used to purchase another sampler for reproduction, and everyone who has participated in this campaign will receive something extra in the packages that go out. I will update with more specifics about a bonus if and when the goal has been reached.
Thanks for considering helping my project. Reproducing samplers is a lot of fun, and I feel a real connection to the girls who created the samplers I work with. Coming up with the funds to purchase a great sampler for people to stitch is the trickiest part (there is no shortage of beautiful samplers.)
(A note about copyright and old samplers: as these works were created hundreds of years ago, there is no copyright on antique samplers. Occasionally, someone will suggest to me that I reproduce a sampler in a museum's or other private collection by working off of a photograph.
Reproducing someone else's sampler (without permission) is in bad form and can create hardship and stress for that sampler's owner. When I reproduce, I always do so by purchasing the sampler for my own collection first.)
Risks and challenges
Potential challenges are few with this project. I have reproduced almost 20 reproduction samplers (most of them large).
The sooner the project is funded, the more quickly I can purchase the sampler and start working on it. I will be stitching this reproduction after it is charted. This way, there will be an accurate floss requirement list as well as a picture of the finished project. I reproduce samplers to look like the antique on the front of the sampler (and do not go by colors on the back, which can be a little more garish, as thread colors were more limited back then.)
I also will most likely use a hand-dyed linen in a count closest to what was used, not going above 40-count. Finer linens are available, and once I have the sampler, I will be able to figure out what the actual stitch count was. Some of the fabric companies offer higher count linens for those who would like to create something even closer to the original.
Worst case scenario is the sampler being lost in the mail while on its way to me. These packages are trackable and insured, but that's not to say something crazy can't happen. In the case that the original sampler is lost, insurance will refund my money lost, and I will purchase another sampler to fulfill this project. Let's hope everything goes smooth as ... silk!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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