Continuing with my fondness for old family photographs, I wanted to quickly stitch up something small — this is about 4 inches on each side (a little longer on the horizontal), based on one of my favorite photos.
There is a lot of nuance in the glances and the small details that has gotten lost in my simple lines, but I still quite like it. This photo is of my great-grandmother Anna and her two brothers: Mike in the center and Pete on the left. There’s another sister, Catherine who isn’t pictured (perhaps she’s taking it?). Evidently, I have a particular soft spot for photos of my great-grandmother. I do though, really love the smaller things that get glossed over in my stitched version, and am half-considering doing it larger.
(Also, can you imagine wearing tights to the beach?!)
I’ve been holding off starting to work on a second suffragette portrait for several reasons. First, the photo of Alice Paul I had been thinking of using just didn’t seem to be quite right for this project.
I certainly think it’d make for a good portrait, it just seems to be lacking in oomph.
And second, I’d signed up for an embroidery class (taking some sort of class has been on my list of things I want to do for a while now) that was scheduled to start next week. It was going to cover creating embroideries from photographic images. However, as there weren’t enough people enrolled (I was the first and quite possibly the only one signed up), the class was cancelled. Would I have learned a new technique or two? I can’t say, but I’d have loved to find out.
I was pretty bummed when I got the official cancellation email this morning. I have decided though not to linger on my disappointment. Just the other day, I picked up a few books on the suffrage movement at the library. One — Jailed for Freedom — I had started on my nook, but the free ebook is riddled with OCR errors and made it difficult to read. A hard copy is much easier. The other — One Woman, One Vote: Rediscovering the Woman Suffrage Movement — is a book of essays that was right next to Jailed for Freedom on the shelf and I figured why not. As luck would have it, as I was flipping through One Woman, One Vote, I came across what I think is the perfect photo for me to use of Alice Paul. I haven’t been able to find a digitized copy of the photo — either at the Library of Congress (my usual source), or at the Smithsonian archives, but I think my scanner will do the trick. I like it when things seem to fall into my lap. It makes me feel like they were meant to be.
The prospect of the class, which was entitled “Embroidering Life Stories”, also got me thinking about some of my favorite old family photos and about my experiments with transfers to fabric. There’s a good chance something along those lines will come next. Eventually. I’ve had some good brainstorms while riding the commuter bus to and from the office and have scribbled down lots of notes.
It feels good to be excited about things.
I’m still busy at work stitching up my first suffragette, Lucy Burns. She’s almost done, but work and life has been getting in the way of me getting it finished. Lucy was pretty bad-ass. See the section regarding her time in jail:
Upon her third arrest in 1917, the judge aimed to make an example of Burns, and she was the given the maximum sentence. Once again a prisoner at Occoquan Workhouse, Lucy Burns endured what is remembered as the “Night of Terror.” The women were treated brutally and were refused medical attention. To unite the women, Burns tried to call roll and refused to stop despite numerous threats by the guards. When they realized Lucy Burns spirit was not going to be easily broken, they handcuffed her hands above her head to her cell door and left her that way for the entire night. Burns was so loved and respected by her fellow suffragists that the woman in the cell across from her held her hands above her head and stood in the same position.
I was hoping that my portrait based on what I think is a pretty iconic photo of her at the Occoquan Workhouse would be done by today, International Women’s Day.
But I didn’t want the day to pass by without me mentioning her.
Away we go!
Just in time for the Suffrage Centennial Celebration (Have plans with friends this weekend, so I can’t go. Bummer.)
A few things have really started to crystalize in my mind. Firstly, the cross stitches are each hopefully going to be turned into a sort of banner — that will hopefully look like these on a smaller scale. I’m hoping to do some buttonhole stitch scallops to edge them. Which brings me to number two, color. The scallops and the suffragette portraits are going to be in shades of purple (the colors of the suffragist movement were purple and yellow).
(I just stocked up on purple!)
Sunday afternoon I’m planning a visit to the Workhouse Museum for some additional inspiration and because I can’t believe I haven’t been there yet.