Posts Tagged ‘history’

Rush Seats – Sitting with History

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Imagine with me for a second a land where the river flows are a way of life, the rainy season is meaningful enough to dictate religion, and desert stretches farther then the eye can see even after walked in for weeks. This land grows and swells in population, those people use the vast resources that the river provides. In this river growth are stingy but resilient plants that can be pulled and rolled together in malleable ways making it possible to craft things big and small – from rope to containers for food, even roof tops. With the ever increasing availability of tools, wood and the birth of carpentry, eventually rushes were used to create seat bottoms. Rush held up kings and emperors to peasants and tyrants. As human existence grew and moved across land and sea these swamp growing rushes were found to exist in some form across the plains of Eastern Europe to the damp lands of the British Isles – continuing the growth and perfection of the use of rushes.

The craft of creating rush seats began to grow with the development of those who carried the torch of apprenticeship and linage. The rush seat bottoms were an inexpensive and easy way to create an extremely durable part of a chair, but also able to easily replace when necessarily. The natural fiber meant it also softens with time, making it more comfortable with use. The chair designs have changed from the Romans and Vikings to today, but the idea stays the same, using fibers to create a functional and stylish pieces. Movement across oceans, like to the US shores, had an influence and changed the type of rushes used to create with. The decreasing price in fabric from the industrial revolution and the availability of cotton made rush seat bottoms become small handicraft type fare. During the end of the 19th century, rush saw massive growth due to the Arts and Crafts movement; city people saw it’s rustic style as way to hearken back to at time of yore and it became a classic Americana look. This created a large rebirth creating with rush. Unfortunately a lot of the craftsmen had been lost to the two great wars  in the early 20th century and thus the craft of rush seat making hit a down turn again.

Recently there has been a large resurgence in the country style, and for handmade crafts in general. Sturbridge Yankee Workshop has carried rush seats in many forms for many many years. Our famous and impeccably crafted Ladder Back Chairs and Stools have the historic rush bottoms to complement their flawless country style. Looking for a bench with a touch of country flair? The Rush Seat Bench is the perfect size for underneath a window, in a mud room or hallway, or as a way to display your favorite decorative pillows. The bench is built here in the US and constructed with great care, stained by hand, and the imported seat is added to finish off the beautiful country bench.

From the dry sands of time forgotten to your living room, when you have a piece of furniture with a rush bottom there is history behind it.

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Toile – Then and Now

Friday, June 17th, 2011

Toile in blueMost everyone recognizes the fine lines of this fabric, not many know it’s name. It exists in the ethereal of memory of younger years and regal things, of plates on the wall and tea pots – but mostly of grandmother telling us not to touch.

Toile de Jouy (or toile for short) emerged from main land Europe from deep inside the French monarchy in the late 18th century where it immigrated to England and eventually to our shores. There has been waves of popularity in between then and now, ans so once again toile become quite popular – for adding interest to a window, a special dinner set, chair pads, ceramic adorned spoons, and now even stitched into summer dresses; we try not to think about the time when the pattern was added to men’s shirts in the 70s.

The patterns aren’t of any exact scene, the style is an amalgamation of farming or country scenes, flowers or bushes, and large blocks of detailed patterns are all indicative of toile. Although the term is quite loose and even our Williamsburg Toile Quilt is simple monochromatic flowers on a white backdrop, it is one of those patterns that if you see it you know it.

With the popularity and just plain prettiness of this fabric type, we’d be glad to have it sprinkled in small parts of your beautiful home.

Have great Toile pieces? Love a piece of Toile you got from us? Share them in the comments below .

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March is Women’s History Month!

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Betsy Ross PrintTop 10 Firsts in U.S. Women’s History:

  1. On October 24, 1901, 63-year-old Annie Edson Taylor, a schoolteacher from Michigan, became the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.
  2. In 1921, American novelist Edith Wharton became the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction. She won the award for her novel The Age of Innocence. In 1902 she built The Mount, her estate in Lenox, Massachusetts.
  3. Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, when she traveled from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland to Ireland in approximately 15 hours in 1932. Before this historic flight, she found employment first as a teacher, then as a social worker in 1925 at Denison House, living in Medford, Massachusetts. When Earhart lived in Medford, she maintained her interest in aviation, becoming a member of the American Aeronautical Society’s Boston chapter and was eventually elected its vice president. She flew out of Dennison Airport (later the Naval Air Station Squantum) in Quincy, Massachusetts and helped finance its operation by investing a small sum of money. Earhart also flew the first official flight out of Dennison Airport in 1927. As well as acting as a sales representative for Kinner airplanes in the Boston area, Earhart wrote local newspaper columns promoting flying and as her local celebrity grew, she laid out the plans for an organization devoted to female flyers.
  4. In 1943, The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League became the first professional baseball league for female players. Louise Arnold from Pawtucket, Rhode Island was the star pitcher for the South Bend Blue Sox, which won the championship in 1951.
  5. The first African-American tennis player to win a singles title at Wimbledon was Althea Gibson in 1957. Gibson also became the first African American woman to join the Ladies Professional Golf Association tour, in 1964.
  6. In the 1960’s, the Women’s Social Movement peaked on topics like seeking equal rights and opportunities for women in their economic activities, their personal lives, and politics.
  7. Women’s History Month, now celebrated annually in the United States, grew out of a week-long celebration of women’s contributions to culture, history, and society organized by the school district of Sonoma, California, in 1979.
  8. Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman appointed to serve as a justice of the Supreme Court. She was appointed by President Reagan in 1981.
  9. In 1992, Manon Rheaume was the first woman to play in a National Hockey League game. She helped lead Team Canada to gold medals in the 1992 and 1994 World Hockey Championships and a silver medal at the 1998 Nagano Games.
  10. Kathryn Bigelow made history as the first woman to win the Oscar for Best Director. She received her award in March 2010 for her 2009 Iraq War movie The Hurt Locker.

American Spirit SignMartha Washington Print

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