Rabbit Goody at General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen

The General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen of the City of New York, founded in 1785, continues to pay tribute to the art of craftsmanship, with five monthly lectures scheduled from January through May. The Artisan Lecture Series promotes the work and art of skilled craftsmen to assist in ensuring their unique knowledge is understood and carried forth for future generations. The Lecture Series is curated by General Society member, Jean Wiart, known for his many contributions to ornamental metalwork.

At her March 13 lecture Master Weaver Artisan, New York History contributor and Master Weaver Rabbit Goody, will lecture on the work of her weaving studio, Thistle Hill Weavers, a small mill modeled after the trade shops of the 19th century.

Goody has been in the weaving trade for over 35 years as a hand weaver, as a museum educator, and as a weaver and designer in her own small weaving mill. Her study of historic textiles and history of technology combine to allow her to weave reproductions using traditional methods and transitional technology.

You can see the work of Thistle Hill Weavers at many historic sites around the country, including George Washington’s Mount Vernon- Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello- The Henry Ford Museum- Harper’s Ferry National Park, Harper’s Ferry West Virginia- Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, Akron, Ohio, Rock Hall, Lawrence, NY- The Farmers’ Museum, Cooperstown NY- Martin Van Buren’s home in Kinderhook, NY, and Valley Forge National Historic Park, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Thistle Hill also weaves for the film industry and has been a major contributor to over 50 films including John Adams, Road to Perdition, The Narnia series, Master and Commander, Life, The Prestige, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, Beowulf and the movie Lincoln.

“The art of craftsmanship and the skill of craftsmen have always been celebrated and rewarded over the centuries,&#8221 curator Jean Wiart said. &#8220At the General Society, we want to assure that this special mastery for creating beautiful objects will survive down through the years and continue to be rewarded and prized.”

Other artisans in the lecture series will include Miriam Ellner, Verre Eglomise Artisan, April 10- and Gregory Muller, Master Stone Mosaic Artisan, May 8. Lectures are scheduled for 6:p.m. in The Library at 20 West 44th Street, New York City. More information can be found online.

Rabbit Goody: A Rare American Ingrain Carpet

Ingrain or Scotch carpeting was a main stay of early 19th century carpeting for households both common and wealthy. Woven as a two layer double cloth with geometric or curvilinear designs, ingrain carpeting became popular through the last half of the 18th century and blossomed in the 19th century.

One of only four known American produced ingrain carpets is in the collection of The Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities (SPLIA). It also has the most supporting information about its manufacture at Jones Mill, located in Cold Spring Harbor, NY. Advertisements from Jones Mill appear in the newspapers during the 1830&#8242-s and document the production of figured ingrain carpeting among other fabrics.

Ingrain carpeting woven by American fancy weavers in the first half of the 19th century is distinct from the imported Scotch and Kidderminster carpets. The American versions use locally produced softer grades of wool and have a slightly different structure, more akin to the structure of woven coverlets of the same period.

It has been extremely difficult to document the American carpets because with the use of soft wools, the carpets were less durable and ended up being worn out, cut up and used for smaller rugs, and simply disappeared.

We’ve been working at Thistle Hill Weavers to reproduce the Jones Mill example both in its original color, and in a blue and white version which will be installed in SPLIA’s restored Sherwood Jayne House.

Master Weaver Rabbit Goody write about historic textiles. Her weaving studio, Thistle Hill Weavers, in Cherry Valley, NY, is a small mill modeled after the trade shops of the 19th century.

Call For Papers: Textile History Forum

The Textile History Forum, to be held June 8th-10th, 2012 at Hyde Hall in Springfield, NY, seeks papers and presentations on all aspects of textile history from the Pre-Columbian period through the twenty-first century, including textile technology, costume, quilts, weaving, dyeing, spinning, technological innovations, and textile availability. Current and unpublished research is especially encouraged.

Those interested in presenting a paper at the Forum should submit a one-page proposal by March 31st, 2012. Proposals chosen for presentation will be announced by May 1, 2012. Final papers are due by May 31st. Authors will retain copyright and are free to publish their work in other venues. Final papers should be no more than 16 pages long, including citations, bibliography, and illustrations. Read more

Hyde Hall: A New Director and Textile Treasures

For those of you who are not familiar with Hyde Hall, I had the greatest treat a few weeks ago: the new Executive Director, Dr. Jonathan Maney, and I perused the textile and trim collections that have survived at this Regency mansion.

Hyde Hall, a National Landmark and a New York State Historic Site, located in Springfield, NY, was built by George Clarke between 1817 and 1834.

Its importance to material culture historians is based on the extraordinary survival of furniture, textiles, textile ornaments, and receipts for the period of its building. Everything is fully documented.

Rarely do we have the opportunity to put so many pieces together to understand both the style and color way for window treatments in a high style Regency mansion circa 1830.

More important to those of us who work in rural areas, Hyde Hall is not located in an urban environment. Rather, it is far afield from the population centers that we normally associate with high style culture. Hyde Hall is perched high on a bluff overlooking the northern tip of Otsego Lake, about 60 miles west of Albany, New York.

We know that the draper/upholsterer came from Albany as did much of the furniture, and we know the exact volume of fabrics, trim, and ornaments that were ordered. We have surviving fragments of the original red damask, tassels, trim, and ornaments for the grand dining room and the drawing room. These great rooms are elaborate, handsome, and very well preserved.

Hyde Hall offers us the opportunity to study, educate, and reproduce the window treatments with more documentation than nearly any other historic site could ever hope to find.

Rabbit Goody is a textile historian and owner/weaver at Thistle Hill Weavers. She is also the director of the Textile History Forum.

New Contributor: Rabbit Goody, Textiles Expert

Please join us in welcome our newest contributor here at New York History, Rabbit Goody. Goody is a nationally recognized textile historian who has served as a consultant to major museums, private collections, and the film industry. Her reproduction fabrics appear in many movies, including Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Master and Commander, Amistad, The Titanic, Cinderella Man, Polar Express, The Prestige, Transformers, and the new Indiana Jones movie.

Goody has extensive experience working as a consultant to museums including dating and identifying textiles in specific collections- making recommendations about ex­hibits, storage, and con­ser­vation- helping museum staff to develop appropriate and workable furnishing plans that include historically accurate soft furnishings, from carpet to loose covers to window treatments- and developing plans for textile rotation. She has worked with many living history sites to coordinate the use of historically accurate repro­ductions with original items in the museum’s collections.