Thursday, July 17, 2008
We spent the afternoon visiting New Bedford's Whaling Museum. It's one of those places that is an amazing place to visit and people from all over come to see New Bedford's history but when you live near it you never visit. I have taken Alice there a few times already and every time she is in awe by the enormous size of the whale skeleton's. Pictured above is KOBO (King of the Blue Ocean) a rare Juvinile blue whale that was accidentally struck and killed by a tanker. It was brought ashore in Rhode Island in March 1998. I tried to take a panoramic picture of the skeleton. Not all the seams match, but you get the idea.
They were also having a textile exhibit. New Bedford is not only known for their whaling but also widely known for their abundant textile mills. This exhibit was dedicated to textiles made throughout New Bedford history starting in the late 1700's. I almost hit the floor when I saw the first example of a work done by a child. A 4 year old child!!!! A quilt by a 4 year old girl!! My daughter is 4, I can't imagine her making a whole quilt! I am going to stress that this girl was 4 one more time then I will be done. She was 4!!!
Among the other textile wonders were a child's dress from 1881 that was hand stitched and embroidered. Even after the sewing machine relieved women from the tedium of stitching long seams by hand , mothers still felt obligated to hand-sew their children's clothing. By 1900 companies specializing in children's clothing started to import hand made frocks from Portugal, and Puerto Rico where fine sewing skills were common and labor costs were low. Looking at garments like the ones pictured below blow my mind, to think of the time that was put into one garment. Today clothes are mass produced and are practically disposable. Will our clothes stand the test of time? Most likely not!Other examples were a wedding dress made for Mrs. Gideon Nye in 1860 and then refashioned later into a wedding dress for her granddaughter Annie D. Swift in 1890.
A maternity dress made for Quaker, Susan Waln Morgan Rodman, circa 1822. The dress was originally made for her mother some thirty years earlier in the 1790's. This dress was later refashioned for Mrs. Rodman to wear during her pregnancies. The skirt front tied seperatly around the waist, and the bodice was detached from the skirt at the front, making the front adjustable for wear during pregnancy.
I could go on and on about everything textile. I suggest that if you are in the New Bedford area you should check out KOBO, his friends and the array of fine sewing and quilting examples at the Whaling Museum. I am going to leave you with a picture of the miniature whaling vessel at the museum. The 89-foot, half-scale model of the Bark Lagoda, was built in 1916 inside the museum. You can step aboard and see what life was like on a whaling boat.