Sunday, June 4, 2017

Toronto Textile Museum

May 2017 - Toronto ON

My BFF and I went to the Textile Museum of Canada last week, a delightful little treasure hidden behind City Hall.






 it is an oasis of calm amid the bustling cityness of the Eaton Centre, Dundas Square, Odgoode Hall.


We did some walking around the area and had lunch at City Hall where we got caught in one of several downpours that had us walking underground back to Union Station with a few more stops. But I am going to concentrate on the museum in this post.

Information on the exhibits is from the museum website.




Kind Words Can Never Die presents an extraordinary collection of Victorian needlework mottoes stitched by anonymous women and girls in the mid- to late-19th century. Mass produced by American wholesale companies, standardized sheets of perforated cardboard were printed with messages such as biblical quotes, song titles and popular maxims of the time that reflected the cultural and religious milieu of the North American Evangelical Protestant middle-class: Do Right and Fear Not; What is Home Without a Mother?; Kind Words Can Never Die. Women ordered the motto from mail-order catalogues, stitched them using a simple satin stitch and hung them in the home in specially designed motto frames.





With the rise of industrial manufacturing, men worked outside the home in growing numbers, setting established home and family structures into flux. Women increasingly took control of domestic space as consumers and moral influencers. Their decisions of which mottoes to stitch and hang on the walls declared which of society’s ethical, cultural and religious edicts would guide the aesthetic and moral tone of the home. As objects of material culture, the mottoes attest to the work women did to cultivate carefully chosen personal and social values in their families.




This particular collection of mottoes was built by Jane Webster (1919 - 2009) from the mid- to late-20th century at her home in the Caribou Harbour area of Pictou, Nova Scotia. Family photos of the interior of the home taken in the 1940s show a few mottoes on the wall ­— just enough to spark a collector’s passion in Jane who had recently started spending time at the house.





Jane purchased the mottoes from farm auctions and received them as gifts, eventually amassing 173 examples that represent the vast majority of available motto texts. In Jane’s possession, the mottoes were relieved of their purpose as edifying agents and re-contextualized as curious objects displayed in the spirit of generosity, welcoming and wit.




We headed into the other exhibit we wanted to see, totally different from the samplers.

Huicholes – A People Walking Towards the Light showcases the art and lives of the Huicholes, an Indigenous group from western Mexico whose history dates back 15,000 years. Featuring dazzling yarn paintings created using traditional techniques, the exhibition includes ceremonial objects, handmade textiles and photographs documenting a unique and threatened way of life.

The most common and commercially successful products are “yarn paintings” and objects decorated with small commercially produced beads. Yarn paintings consist of commercial yarn pressed into boards coated with wax and resin and are derived from a ceremonial tablet called a neirika. The Huichol have a long history of beading, making the beads from clay, shells, corals, seeds and more and using them to make jewelry and to decorate bowls and other items. The “modern” beadwork usually consists of masks and wood sculptures covered in small, brightly colored commercial beads fastened with wax and resin.


The most common and commercially successful products are “yarn paintings” and objects decorated with small commercially produced beads. Yarn paintings consist of commercial yarn pressed into boards coated with wax and resin and are derived from a ceremonial tablet called a neirika. The Huichol have a long history of beading, making the beads from clay, shells, corals, seeds and more and using them to make jewelry and to decorate bowls and other items. The “modern” beadwork usually consists of masks and wood sculptures covered in small, brightly colored commercial beads fastened with wax and resin.



Huichol art broadly groups the most traditional and most recent innovations in the folk art and handcrafts produced by the Huichol people, who live in the states of Jalisco, Durango, Zacatecas and Nayarit in Mexico.


We bought a beaded mask in 2016 when we were in Puerto Vallarta which is in Jalisco.


12 comments:

  1. ...looks like a fun visit.

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  2. The mottoes remind me a little of home, Jackie, but I love the more intricate tapestry style. :)
    Many thanks for the link. Have a great week!

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  3. Wow, these yarn paintings are so intricate (way more skill I have with knitting!!) Really enjoyed looking at all the hart here - much appreciated for All Seasons, Jackie! Have a lovely week

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  4. Those yarn designs in the latter half are quite a sight!

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  5. What a fantastic place full of interesting treasures and history. I hardly sew a button on, so look on these pieces with wonder. Thanks for sharing. Have a great week :D

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  6. What a neat museum. Lots of interesting history there. The yarn paintings were so unique. Enjoyed your post.

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  7. What a wonderful place to visit. Thanks for sharing your photos.

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  8. I had no idea this existed, and I've been to Toronto a zillion times. I'll have to make a point of visiting some time. :)

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  9. Very interesting exhibitions! I like when small museums bring good stuff like this to the public. #TPThursday

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  10. I love the vibrant colours of these beads, plates and yarn paintings. I like to collect plates when I travel so this post is right up my alley

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  11. Somewhere else we missed when we were in Toronto last year - and another reason to go back! Of these two exhibitions, I particularly like the mottos. It's backstory is so interesting.

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