Nellie"s Needles

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Once Upon A Time I Was A Smocker

Well, I guess I am still one since I haven't forgotten how to smock. But once upon a time, smocking, creating patterns (published and unpublished), writing instruction and project books/booklets, as well as teaching the technique was a major focus in my life ... for about fifteen years. I even helped found a national organization, the Smocking Arts Guild of America (SAGA), in 1979. For a number of years I wrote a column titled, "Nellie's Needles" for the guild's publication. Now you know a bit more of my needlework history and the origin of my weblog's title.

Smocking is usually associated with baby and young girl's clothing. Since I had two sons who were well into boyhood, I was noted for applying smocking to non-traditional items. One of my creations is this framed piece.

"Kaleidoscope"
10"diameter x 4" depth

Kaleidoscopes have always intrigued me. At the time this was created I actively collected them. It has a dimensional form. The smocked circular design is set into a 3" high surround to give the effect of looking into a kaleidoscope. I used an almost black silk for all the parts including the mat on which it's mounted within the frame. The stitching is done with 3-ply cotton floss.
It used to hang at eye level on this wall, but got moved to a higher spot to make room for another art piece.
I'm not ready to retire this piece. I'm glad to have found a spot for it on that wall full of art.

12 comments:

Irishgirlsews said...

Small world, I do remember your books/booklets and reading your Nellies Needles in the SAGA guild newsletter. I was a very active smocker and belonged to the Rose Trellis Smokers in Portland, Or. Thanks for all those wonderful patterns. When I moved to Fl,everyone said, you will meet so many smockers, NOT True, I havent' met anyone that smocks.
Wendy Patrick

PAMO said...

What a beautiful piece! You are a master at design and machine work. I enjoyed reading about your history.
Pam

Kay said...

I didn't know that smocking could make a design like that! Thanks for the post: I learned something about you and something about a needle craft. I've never done any smocking, but I had lots of dresses with smocking that my mother did when I was little. I would have guessed that it went out of style about the time I began to do needlework, but then how did you become involved?

Paula said...

your place always looks like its own world...thank you for sharing more of it!

9:44 PM

Debra said...

Since I also had 2 boys, smocking was not something I got into at all; but, I did do a fair amount of counted cross stitch.

Diane said...

I have always wanted to learn to smock. I have done my own simple hand tied smocking but never the more intricate variety. I love that you did something so non-traditional with the craft!

jude said...

i like your smocked dot and how stunning it is taken out of its original context.

Libby Fife said...

Now we know! Thanks for the post Nellie and the info about smocking.

arlee said...

WOW! Smocking never turned me on, but that is STUNNING--and food for thought!

Heather said...

I love your Kaleidoscope design - beautiful smocking. I can remember wearing smocked dresses as a child, and I had a kaleidoscope too which I loved.

Allison Ann Aller said...

So innovative, Nellie! But then, you've always been that way, haven't you?
xoxo

Christine Thresh said...

What a wonderful art wall.