Commission work in progress of 17th century casket for Lady Paine's bedroom in Stranger's Hall, Norwich.
A POTTED HISTORY OF STUMPWORK
Stumpwork has it's roots in Raised or Embossed needlework that was practiced in Europe for more than a century before it became popular in Britain. The first pieces were worked by members of the church.
This media became popular in the reign of Charles I (1625 – 1649). The political unrest between Charles I and Parliament affected the demand for embroidery and the Broderer’s Company stated that trade was so much in decay and grown out of use that their members were impoverished and had to seek other ways of earning a living.
The Cromwell era (1649 – 1660) saw a great demise in elaborate furnishings and garments. No lavish embroideries were found in churches. However this did not mean that embroidery was stopped completely. Repairing household furnishings was labour intensive and so this task was felt to be virtuous.
The rich embroideries of Charles II (1660 – 1685) reflect the conspicuous spending at the beginning of his reign. Purchasing vanities was in vogue once more.
When William and Mary came to the throne raised embroidery became un-fashionable as Mary preferred canvas work. This swung the taste for raised embroidery towards a different media.
The Victorian period saw the re-birth of raised embroidery (now known as stumpwork). An attempt was made to revive domestic crafts. The Arts and Crafts movements aimed to re-create ancient embroidery techniques. Stumpwork however was not greatly favoured and only a few pieces appear in museums although work is probably still in families cherished as heirlooms.
An attempt to revive stumpwork into the 21st century is very strong. Art colleges and needlework schools teach this method as part of their syllabus. Modern pieces can be found in art galleries and exhibitions throughout the country.