Beginning in 1928, the Grenfell Mission sent out a call to socialites: When your stockings run, let them run to Labrador! The creative recycling of tattered stockings, dyed in soft hues, is just one of many innovations that made Grenfell hooked mats highly collectible folk art. In Silk Stocking Mats, Paula Laverty chronicles the development of a local craft into an art form. For generations Newfoundland women had augmented their family's unreliable fishing income with a matting season in February and March. Through the Grenfell Mission's Industrial Department, set up in 1909 to help develop cottage industries, the mat industry became an increasingly important source of income, reaching peak production in the late 1920s and early 1930s when the women's mats became renowned for their strong design, meticulous craftsmanship, and distinctive images chronicling life in the north. Reindeer, sled dog teams, polar bears, schooners, outports, and florals are but a few of the mat designs. Silk Stocking Mats is the result of over seventeen years of exhaustive research and draws on personal interviews with older women who recall their hooking days, the study of hundreds of archival documents, and careful examination of countless Grenfell hooked mats. Laverty's book is beautifully illustrated with photographs and descriptions, including rare and unusual as well as common mat designs.
Subjects: Art & Art History
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