Friday, February 10, 2012

Vintage Pincushions...

Yesterday, at quilt bee, my friend Margaret shared 2 vintage pincushions that were in her family. The first one is made of silk with a lace edge and has a very soft natural fiber as the filling. She took it apart right in front of our eyes, as she will try to restore as much of it as possible. We could not identify the fiber inside. Maybe some of you will have some ideas.

the silk, which is very thin, is quite faded on the top

the bottom section is less faded and sits on a glass base. not sure if the lace is crochet or part tatted.


here it is removed from it's glass base which has quite a jagged age. it was not glued but just stitched over the base. there were many needles found in the stuffing.

I, kidding, said that the glass base looked like a weapon. Maybe some violence was committed and the pin cushion was made to hide the evidence. My imagination goes wild sometimes.

just another view

The second pin cushion is in much better shape. It is quite large (about 6 - 7" in diameter)  and very hard to the touch. I imagine it is filled with emery. The lace piece was obviously moved from one side of the pincushion to the other, as you'll see in the images. The lace is a tape style bobbin lace and there is needle lace done in the center of each motif.

tape and needle lace doily over the satin like cloth pin cushion.

the reverse side of the pincushion where the doily originally was secured and the cloth exposed has faded leaving the doily pattern.

Margaret has lots of interesting vintage items left to her from family members and I love that she shares them with us. If you have any experience with these type items or have any idea what that fiber is in the first image, please share.


25 comments:

Ms. ∆×∆p×≥h/4π said...

seems to me that a clue to what the stuffing might be lies in the date of the cushion...and, your notion of "some violence" is likely to be correct, only probably only the violence of a broken glass accident - then the clever reuse of the remains.

Love the imprinted lace pattern on the reverse of the second cushion.

Doreen G said...

Deanna because of the age of the pincushion I think the stuffing may be Kapock or that's what we called it in Australia a long time ago.
It was used to stuff matresses back then and was a cotton based fibre.
And let me tell you it was very uncomfortable to sleep on-it would go all lumpy and we would have to shake it to get the lumps out.

Jane S. said...

That is some clever recycling of a broken glass base!

The lace looks like a combination of some needle-woven lace, and crochet. Very interesting design.

kat said...

That looks very like Kapok to me - a word I remember from my grandmother. You can read about it here
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceiba_pentandra
and as I recall it feels soft yet fibrous, and slightly dusty, if you know what i mean. I can both smell it and feel it, but can't remember what it stuffed.
Of course I could be wrong!
Love the pattern of lace left by the fading of the cloth

Jeannie said...

I have scoured antique and thrift stores for "make do" pincushions. They were really popular in the Pennsylvannia Dutch and Amish areas. When a candlestick or other glassware was broken, instead of tossing it, they would plop a pincushion on top.
Could the stuffing be rabbit? I love the faded design left by the lace. I love old pincushions. They have usually been well used and I wish they could tell their history.

Notjustnat said...

It's to me looks like a raw fleece from sheep, but I could be wrong of course! I use raw fleece for my pincushion. The lanolin in the fleece keeps pin and needle from rust - hugs Nat

lindamay said...

I agree, it sure looks like Kapok to me (from the Kapok tree).
Love the glass base.

Jacky said...

These are gorgeous...how lucky you are to be able to pull them apart and see how they were made. Love the glass base and was wondering if it was a glass or something. That definately fits the make do and mend days...I must remember that next time a special glass or something is broken.
I think it might be kapok too. That was used a lot years ago and I can remember they stuffed pillows etc. with it.
Jacky xox

Nanette said...

i'm pretty sure it's kapok too. I had a doll when I was little that was filled with it. the fibres cover the seed pod of what's commonly called a kapok tree.

I love that the pattern of the lace has imprinted itself, wouldn't that be good to try, to see how long it took to fade a pattern into a piece of fabric?

Lis said...

What an interesting set of photos. I adore the image left by the lace. I agree with the others about the kapok stuffing and that it's a fantastic example of recycling to use that broken glass - not sure health and safety would approve these days though! Please post a photo of the renovated item when you can.

Penny Berens said...

I will never look at a broken glass the same! And I simply love the shadow of the doily.

Yvonne said...

I love the needle lace doily - but especially the pattern it left from the fading. So interesting, too, to see what's inside and underneath - all the sharp edges hidden in the soft.

Serena said...

no idea what it is, but do know what natima said is correct. wool or fleece is excellent for conditioning your needles.

Appalachia for the most part, which doesn't grow a lot of cotton, historically relied on wool/fleece etc for their quilts and stuffing.

I would look to where Margaret and her family are from originally. Which I'm guessing is some portion of Australia?

liniecat said...

Yup, kapock....it has a particular look to it after long use. Love the notion that a pin cushion would be formed over a broken item like that!
How interesting to see both of those cushions too.

deanna7trees said...

thanks to all who have weighed in on this. Margaret sent me this link today and now I'm leaning more towards the fleece than the kapok.
http://fabricartbylinda.blogspot.com/2011/04/washing-raw-fleece.html

Ingrid said...

If the stuffing is raw (unwashed) fleece it should have felt quite sticky and had a distinct sheep/animal odour. Love old needlework tools and it would be wonderful to know their history, just having them is a treasure.

Drucilla Pettibone said...

definitely looks like kapok ... i love vintage pincushions and yours are beautiful. that reverse doily-dye is amazing!

kaiteM said...

i know everyone else has said it but i'll repeat it - kapok definately, it has that colour and silky look to it.

Penny Berens said...

Good morning Deanna. I just wanted to let you know I'm preparing a post giving you and others "The Liebster Award". hope you don't mind.

aracne said...

Hi Deanna, if you have a doubt about kapok/wool why don't you burn a little strand and smell it?
The odurs are very different, the vegetable fiber smells like burnt paper, the wool is stinking like burnt hair.
I love the shadow of the doily too.

liniecat said...

Youve got an award from Tanglewood Threads!
Many congratulations!!

karen said...

these are so gorgeous......I laughed at your vision of a hideous crime!!

deb said...

Love the reverse side of the pincushion!

bwilliams said...

What a great example of creative recycling...make do ordo without. Looks like kapok filling to me as well...seems like o remember reading or hearing somewhere that they used it to stuff life jackets in WWII?

Anneliese said...

I am still on your blog finding things I love! The lace pin cushion - a delight and the broken glas pincushion - oh oh - what a lovely idea - what a dangerous idea.

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