28 December 2015

Historical Sew Fortnightly no 12, Re-do.

I disappeared from the HSF for several months, but now the Hundred Projects have settled down and it is winter break and I sewed something:

I made this doll before and I have just finished its dress and given it a face, by request of Loops, who chose the colors.
I am very pleased with the thought to use a scrap of wool roving as hair; it is nice and fluffy and took seconds to sew on; now, we'll see how long it lasts...!

The ripply neckline results from my turning-and-stitching rather than using bias tape as instructed: a lesson learned.

Now, can one of you experts out there tell me whether this is actually what gauging is supposed to look like – like an obstructed flow of water, and with four rows of visible stitching?

The challenge: no. 12, Re-do. Let's call this a re-do of the earlier challenge "Out of My Comfort Zone". It is my first attempt at gauging. It is my first attempt at a 19th-c. dress, with the dropped sleeves and double darts and hook-and-eye closures.

Fabric: I thought this would be a quick test of a pattern for use by students, so... polycotton scraps *ducks and runs for cover*

Pattern: Great Auntie Maude's Favorite Doll, sold here.

Year: somewhere in 1840-1865 -- I'm going to guess I hit around 1860

Notions: three hooks-and-eyes

How historically accurate is it? The pattern is ultra-accurate. Ms. Clark says to paint on the hair and features. I didn't make the underpinnings or perfect the fit as instructed, the fabric is a blend, and I have my doubts about the visible machine-stitched hem.

Total cost: all from stash.

Is it suitable for beginners? I actually think making full-size baby clothing is easier. But working in miniature is quickly rewarding.

07 December 2015

Kate Henderson and "A Meeting of the School Trustees"

I have always been fond of this painting of an 1880's schoolmarm, making her case to the Board of Trustees.

A Meeting of the Board of Trustees, by Robert Harris

It looks like she wants something that they are disinclined to grant her.

The subject of the image (though not the actual artist's model) is a teacher from PEI named Kate Henderson.
That's about all the information readily available about this painting.

So it was a very pleasant surprise to me to find that someone has taken this painting I like so much and dramatized it:
One-minute film

But what is the real story behind the painting? -- I couldn't find it.
this week, Loops asked me to bring her some children's library books on "how to teach," and in one of them I espied suddenly the name "Kate Henderson".

Here's the story.
One of Kate Henderson's responsibilities in Pine Creek School, PEI was to teach Bible. She found that the children were merely reading aloud, not grasping the content; so she set them to acting out the stories.
This went over very well with the children, and when they came home they told their parents all about how they got to play Pretend in school with Bible stories.
The parents opined that this was sacrilegious; and issued a call: Fire the teacher!
The members of the Board -- the shopkeeper, the miller, the doctor, and the minister -- met and summoned Miss Henderson to defend herself. In the end, they suspended her for a week.
The minister had his doubts about the issue of sacrilege involved, noted that the children had seemed unusually interested in his sermon that week, and that Sunday he got up, asked some children to act out a Bible story, and preached on the subject of new ways of understanding the text.
Miss Henderson was reinstated and everyone lived happily ever after, the end.

03 December 2015

A Pre-Raphaelite Painting of Unknown Jews

This image is cropped from a painting by the pre-Raphaelite artist William Holman Hunt. According to the (unreliable) book I found it in, Hunt began painting it in 1854 on a visit to the Land of Israel, but made slow progress because he wanted Jewish models for his Pharisees and “the local rabbi” ruled that sitting for such a painting was not permitted, so no one was willing to model. (Can we think about that for a moment – a pre-Raphaelite painter wants models and no one is willing to participate.)

“The local rabbi” eventually reversed his ruling; the book is fuzzy on the details but implies that the reversal was due to Hunt's claiming the final picture would not be religious. (If this is accurate, then Hunt lied egregiously.)
I am curious who “the local rabbi” was, and what the psak really was, and whether any of these anonymous 19th century Jews of Eretz Yisrael are identifiable.

Hunt, I am sure, took a fair degree of artistic license; and when he exhibited the completed painting in 1860 it was with a bitterly anti-Semitic commentary. But I am intrigued that – to whatever degree – his painting has preserved these Jews' faces for us.