Sunday, June 19, 2016

Finally made it to the Newcomb Pottery exhibition

Boiling hot day, but I decided before I forgot about it yet again, to get to Princeton Art Museum to see the Newcomb Pottery exhibit. It's a small and wonderful museum, with great connections resulting in great acquisitions and loans, and this exhibit is typically very good, and compact, too.

Slightly daunted to find that the entire street on which I usually park was dug up, requiring several blocks' more hot walking from the nearest spot, where a nice lady stopped me from feeding the meter, no need on Sunday, I pressed on.

And I was happy to find that in addition to the art pottery I expected to see, there were some lovely examples of embroidery on fine linen and crash.  One of the things I noticed as I studied the ceramics was the Japanese influence in the style, the design and color choice, simplicity with sophistication.  

The best of the pottery was created in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, when Japonisme was sweeping Europe, and the Japanese woodblock print was influencing European painting dramatically. So when I found that one of the early teachers at Newcomb was in favor of studying Japanese style, not surprising.

But here's the other exciting thing: though the coverage in the accompanying material talked about the branching out into art embroidery as a respectable way for a woman to earn a living at that time, they did not mention that the stitching itself is in fact sashiko!  This is a Japanese running stitch form, which can be used for wonderfully complex and beautiful designs.  This gave me a number of ideas, even though officially I'm not working on stitching at the moment.

So stitchers, it's worth going for the whole exhibit, but particularly to honor the Newcomb stitchers.  There's also handmade precious metal jewelry and table objects. 

It's all in the spirit of the Arts and Crafts movement, in the midst of the industrial revolution, trying to secure a place in the world for handmade and beautiful items, when the trend was toward mass production and the wonders of the new machinery to do it with.  Newcomb also honored its own local southern history and depicted their scenery and local trees and flowers in their work.

The whole show is so good, and it's there till early July, so there's time to get over there if you are in the central NJ region. There are always several other displays happening, but I usually can only manage to see one exhibit before I'm all looked out. You might have more stamina, and take in several areas in a visit.


  1. Sounds like a great place to spend a few hours. Must admit to a great deal of curiosity to know what 'crash' is as referenced to embroidery. Care to enlighten us who are in the dark?

  2. Crash is a coarsely woven fabric. Often used for art needlework.

  3. Forgot to add it's used for kitchen towels that sort of thing. It's cheap enough to use when pure linen wouldn't be, though I believe there is linen in it.

  4. Question from a commenter with no visible email, so here's your answer, Rebecca. The PVC embroidery frame link to the PDF is in my blog post for April 15. Go there and scroll down. Can't give it now, tablet doesn't cut and paste.


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