Oh, surprises are so hard to sit on!

by Sayraphim on July 9, 2009

So I’ve been making a lot of stuff recently, but it’s all for an upcoming Fringe theatre show, so I can’t really show you. Otherwise it wont be a surprise and a joy for those of you who see the show itself. I know I shared Totem dolls as I found them on the net, but I figured that with 130 dolls in the show that even if I shared 20 dolls, it still wasn’t even a quarter of the eventual exhibition.

So instead I’ll talk about something I found in a craft book. Bet you didn’t see that coming!

The other day I was reading The Regency and Victorian crafts by Jane Toller. It’s an interesting little book about the slightly less well known crafts the Victorians engaged in. It was published in 1969, which means all the photos are in black and white, which is always a little frustrating when the author is talking about the colour of the item, but that aside, it’s an interesting read. Toller, an antiques dealer at the time of writing, described the the crafts of Shell Work, Paper Work, Feather Work, Hair Work, Felt-Work Pictures, Fluted Embroidery Work, Wax Modeling and ‘Drizzling’ or Parfilage.

Drizzling was one I hadn’t come across before, it started in France before the revolution and made it’s way to England. Participants in the craze worked with a simple tool to unravel the brocades, galloons, laces, tassels and braids of the earlier decades to extract the gold and silver threads. Often the precious threads were then sold, but only for a pittance. It seems that the addiction was not in the profit but in the amusement value. Imagine how many incredible pieces of material were unraveled and thus distroyed in this process!

The other interesting thing about the book is the theory Toller shares as to why it was considered correct for upper class ladies to be constantly absorbed in doing things. She writes that ‘the grace and beauty of a woman’s hands could be shown off to better advantage when empolyed with some suitable occupation. The proper movement of hands was an important part of the education of young females…‘ She goes on to note that everything young women were taught including the correct way of pouring tea and coffee, how to hold and manipulate a fan, embroidery, tatting, basically all their occupations were not created to ensure there were no idle hands for the devil to make mischief with, but instead to show off their dainty hands.

I’ve not come across that idea before. Pretty much everything I’ve read about why people crafted things in previous generations subscribes to one or more of the three following ideas:
Things that are Needed
Things that are Decorative
Things to Keep Busy

I found that really interesting, I always love a good theory.

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