Category Archives: Features

The View From Where You Sit: Personal Magnification Devices

Microscope: 3 convex lenses in the inner cylinder, fitting into shagreen (snakeskin)- covered tube, with gilt-bronze finial cap and tripod stand, optics by Passemant, ingénieur du roi, France, c. 1750 photo: metmuseum.org

by Melody Amsel-Arieli   Simple magnification devices, like water-filled spheres and rock crystal (quartz) “burning glasses” were known around the Mediterranean and across the Middle East in ancient times. These evidently served not only to light kindling but also to cauterize wounds and enlarge texts. According to Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder, Nero viewed gladiator […]

The Genius of the Reticent Inventor – Alexander Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell made the first long-distance telephone call in 1892, reaching Chicago from New York photo: Stefano Bianchetti

by Maxine Carter-Lome, publisher   “The Boston Advertiser prints an interesting account of an experiment in carrying out a conversation by word of mouth over a telegraph wire, made by Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Watson. … In a distance of two miles, with Mr. Bell in Boston and Mr. Watson in Cambridge, conversation was […]

The Sears National Quilt Contest

The flyer for Sears’ Quilt Making Contest featuring the Century of Progress Building reached out to women by asking “You can ‘bake a sweet cake,’ but can you ‘sew a fine seam?’”

An essay from Quiltindex.org by Merikay Waldvogel   The Sears National Quilt Contest organized by Sears Roebuck & Co. in connection with the Chicago World’s Fair (known officially as “The Century of Progress” Exposition) was announced in the January 1933 Sears Roebuck Catalog. They offered $7,500 in prizes – including a grand prize of $1000. […]

Samplers: An Evolution of Purpose & Design

British darning sampler, signed: Frances Boyce/1780, silk on linen, 20 ¹⁄₈ x 20 ¹⁄₈” framed, courtesy www.metmuseum.org

by Melody Amsel-Arieli   Samplers are pieces of fabric worked to demonstrate mastery of ornamental embroidery stitches and motifs. This fine art arose in the late Middle Ages when English nuns and needlework professionals created exquisite, gold and silver-gilt embroidered ecclesiastical and secular textiles. From about 1350, however, their quality declined. Materials became less lavish, […]

Memorial Quilts: Expressions of Remembrance

Civil War Memorial Quilt from the Quilt Index and the Massachusetts project. Each of the white strips and the stars are inscribed with the name of a Massachusetts soldier, his company and the date he enlisted.

Graveyard Quilts for Mourning By Judy Anne Breneman, womenfolk.com Before modern medicine the loss of beloved friends and family members was all too familiar. Childbirth was dangerous and it was a rare mother who didn’t lose one or more children. Husbands were lost through war or accident. Bereavement was a part of everyday life. Ways […]

Friendship Quilts: A Gift of Remembrance

Oak Reel block dated 1846, Enoch and Mary Worrall quilt, dated 1850. (Starley Quilt Collection)

by Maxine Carter-Lome, Publisher In the summer of 1854, inside an enormous four-story brick house at the corner of Main and Andover in Ludlow, Vermont, Ella-Elizabeth Spaulding joyously prepared for her approaching wedding and move west. Ellen, as she was called by all her friends and family, thought back to those exciting spring days several […]

Erica Wilson: Sharing Joy through Embroidery

Crewelwork sampler, one of the early projects worked by Erica at the Royal School of Needlework. Their first few projects were designed for them. Students had to pay for their own materials and most proudly kept their projects for the whole of their lives. 2015.0047.004 A, B, Gift of The Family of Erica Wilson, Courtesy of Winterthur Museum

By Linda EatonJohn L. & Marjorie P. McGraw Director of Collections and the Senior Curator of Textiles at Winterthur Museum     Until relatively recently, scholarship on women’s needlework has focused on the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries. Susan Burrows Swan, whose book, Plain & Fancy, was first published in 1977 and reissued in 1995, […]

Inspired by Plants: The Glass Flowers as a Window into Botanical Education

The Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants on permanent exhibition at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Harvard University Herbaria. Photo by Jennifer Berglund

By Donald H. Pfister and Jennifer Brown, Harvard University Herbaria Unless otherwise noted, all images courtesy of the Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants, Harvard University Herbaria / Harvard Museum of Natural History. Photos by Natalja Kent © President and Fellows of Harvard College   When we look at the Ware Collection of […]