Welcome to My Red Cape. Long ago in another time my husband Jack and I lived in a little old red house. It was the stuff of dreams to us for the few years that we were there. I live there still a number of hours every day in imagination, with old dolls and paintings and fabrics and feather trees. I draw inspiration and happiness from the memories of that space in time and share some of it here with friends who remember how to step with Alice through the looking glass and take delight in whimsies and antiquities.

For more than sixty years I have studied, collected, repaired, and loved antique dolls. They have been back ground music in my life at every stage, sometimes louder, sometimes subdued, but always there with me. To see only the posts about dolls on this blog, click the banner on the right titled Dolls for My Red Cape. Keep clicking “Older Posts” to see more. From time to time items are offered for sale under the banner “O’Neill’s Antiques” which was our shop name for many years. ~Edyth O’Neill

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Rachael's question about my new Hadley rug

Rachael wrote asking what I meant by a new Hadley rug, here is my letter back:

Dear Rachael, In the development of a separate American culture, English and other furniture traditions evolved here into a new and clearly different genre. In the 1600's and 1700's a distinctive style of carved and painted furniture was made in the New England colonies by a number of individual furniture makers or "joiners" as they were called. Most of these earliest pieces were oak chests, but Bible boxes, a few high back chairs and other pieces also received the carving and painting in deep colors of indigo, red and black and ochre. A notable table in the collection of Historic Deerfield has the distinctive carving on the apron. The early colors have worn away from most of the furniture and only tantalizing traces of color remain on a few examples but there is enough to know what these historic colors were!

As Americana collectors began to study and acquire this early New England furniture in the 19th century, the related objects were studied and similarities noted and bits of documentation pieced together. It was possible to identify some of the early towns and even craftsmen responsible for this work. The pieces of furniture were documented and referred to often by the place names where they were discovered. Thus one noted collector referred to a great carved storage box as "my Hadley Chest", naming it for Hadley Massachusetts where he had found the chest. Broadly, the furniture became known as "Hadley Type" and was made principally in the Connecticut river valley from Wethersfield Connecticut to Deerfield Massachusetts.

I have treated these and other related early carved furniture designs as documents of early American decorative art, and translated them to designs for rug hookers, particularly those who enjoy early motifs to complement pilgrim furniture, but the strength of these historic motifs transcends my first narrow purpose and they hold their own as beautiful in almost any setting today.
My group of Hadley rug designs includes a number of examples, including "Guilford Runner", taken from a Bible box found in Guilford Connecticut, and "Ipswich" taken from a great carved back chair. There is "Candle Mat" with the ubiquitous opposing hearts, and a "Tulip Wheel" design taken from the front of another carved chest. There are the chair pads "York", "Coventry", "Windsor" and "Greenfield". The half round "Hadley Welcome" rug is a favorite. This one hangs in my entry hall.
New this year is another Hadley design, "Cape Ann", a rectangular rug to be offered in two sizes by Barb Carroll whose company distributes all of my designs. I am excited about adding it to our home and hope it will also be enjoyed by many friends in the rug hooking community. When the rug is underway in a few weeks, I will picture it here. Edyth

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