I am still enjoying this slow cleaning. I got to the tea-towel draw and found many with stains, so, into the soaking bucket. Unfortunately a lot had to be put into the rag bag, which was a windfall for my cleaner. I thought that I would just replace them with new ones from Ikea but found that there is a supply chain problem and there was not one to be found. I then thought I would try the Thrift shops and not only did I find two new ones for $1 each I also found some old embroidery. My thinking was this would be something I could use for my collage work.
The tea towels were either a gift or of great personal value to their previous owner. Neither had been used but folded and stored carefully. One was from Sicily,
Trinacria was the earliest known name of the island of Sicily and that is the symbol in the corner.
(The head refers to Greek mythology, it is said to be Medusa, a gorgon (monstrous creature) with a head of snakes, a beautiful woman seducing men who, upon looking at her, were turned into stone. In the past, it was customary to place a trinacria behind the home’s door as a symbol of protection for the house - the Medusa would have turned to stone whoever wanted to hurt the family living inside.
The hair on the head of the gorgon is a snake intertwined with stalks of wheat, to which three legs bent at the knee are attached. The arrangement of the three legs refers to Eastern religious symbolism. The three legs represent the three capes of the island of Sicily: Peloro (north-east), Passero (south), and Lilibeo (west), which form the three points of a triangle.
The three stalks of wheat were added in Roman times, when Sicily was a major wheat provider of the Roman empire; overall, they symbolize the fertility and prosperity of the region.)
The other from "Etruria" in Italy. This is the ancient country, before Rome, and takes in modern Umbria and Tuscany (Toscana). I have very pleasant memories of Florence and love the embroidery from this region.
Someones Nona had died and things that were of value to her, but not her children, were passed onto Vinnies. I think the embroidery was probably her's as well.
One piece I will use for collage. (It cost me $4.00) There are many pieces like this in Thrift shops. The lace has holes in it and the cotton fabric will take printing ink well.
The second table cloth is another story. I don't think I can cut this one. It is all hand stitched. (It cost $8.00) Someone has put a lot of time and love into this, I imagine it was part of a 'glory box' and stitched as part of the household goods brought to her marriage and then to Australia.
The cotton fabric of the cloth is of a type I have not seen before. I'm pretty sure it is cotton and not linen. It has a fairly heavy weight to the fibre and although the weave is plain I think it has been woven on a mechanical loom. The stitching isn't fine, rather like something a teenager would have stitched, especially the edging. (Oh, how I remember trying to get my scalloped edges all with regular stitches at that age.)
The cut work motives are beautifully stitched with what I think would be a fine pearl thread.
The detail in the middle of the flower also speaks of a teenage stitcher.
I think the stitcher began in the middle when they were enthusiastic about stitching this or it was stitched by a more experienced person. You can see that they were just glad to get it finished when they got to that scalloped edge.
So this piece stays to honour the life of the stitcher. I will thank her each time I look at it.