bullet Needlework - Ornamental

The Moravians developed a unique style of ornamental needlework that was taught at their schools like the Moravian Seminary for Young Ladies in Bethlehem. The style included a circular picture suspended on an open and unworked silk field. The central motif was grounded on an irregular-shaped island and then surrounded by a branching fruit, floral or ribbon motif.

While plain sewing was offered to all students, fancy ornamental needlework like this cost extra. The patterns, designed and drawn onto the silk by teachers or ornamental artists, were shared between teachers at Moravian schools. This style of needlework was worked from 1788 through the 1820s when ribbon work became popular. Adeline Geer, from Amelia County, Virginia, was 11 years old when she created this needlework piece while a student at the Seminary.

ornamental needlework

Adeline Geer, 1815, silk and chenille on silk, Moravian Museum of Bethlehem, a member of Historic Bethlehem Partnership.

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