Jul 16, 2010

French Arts and Crafts embroideries

As the Arts and Crafts movement gained in popularity at the end of the 19th century, the 'natural' look became a theme in home decor and found expression in many decorative hand-made objects. The crafts were usually done by women and included pottery, needlework, painting and more. French homemakers, who were skilled at needlework favored pieces made of natural linen which were then hand-embroidered. The charming motifs were also 'natural', i.e. plants, flowers and fruits. These linen pieces took many forms, including bags, knitting bags, letter and lingerie holders, pillows, valances, umbrella covers - the list was only limited by the imagination of the creator. Many women subscribed to stitchery magazines and used the ideas and patterns offered on the pages.
The first picture below shows a bouquet of mistletoe. The mistletoe was embroidered on a hand-made linen valance that would have been hung across the top of a doorway.
The second is a lined 'envelope' for storing silk stockings or fine lingerie. The motif, oddly enough, is also mistletoe, but this piece was bought in a different region of France several months after the valance above.
The linen holder hung from the loop at the top. Its purpose was to held letters or correspondence which would have been slid in from the side.
The last photo shows a small drawstrong handbag. Be sure to note the fancy scalloped top edge and the variegated drawstring that matches the colors of the embroidered motif.

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