Material Culture Opens on June 4th
by Cari Quater
Material Culture: Domestic Cloth-Making in 18th-Century New England
Open June 4, 2022-October 30, 2022
This exhibition explores the material culture of early domestic textile arts and the tools used to produce linen and woolen cloth in rural New England homesteads. Material goods provide a window into standards of living, self-sufficiency, economic diversification, and the transition from frontier life to settled communities.
The specialized tools used to process flax and wool, and the spinning wheels and looms on display are instructive artifacts that reveal the necessary individual skills and the collaborative family roles in creating yarn and cloth. Loans from the collection of guest curators Peter and Nancy Cook and selections from the permanent collection of the Old Berwick Historical Society reflect the art of creating homespun textiles in common use throughout the 18th century.
The Cooks have each devoted over fifty years to researching and collecting examples of domestic textiles, tools, and implements. They have studied and practiced domestic industries related to the design and production of homespun fabrics common to 18th-century vernacular homes. In addition to their research and collecting, the Cooks raise Lincoln Longwool sheep and grow flax on their 18th-century farm where they process the fibers in the manner of the regions’ earliest settlers. Years of producing materials and collecting regionally significant historic textiles have led their efforts in providing demonstrations, tours, and workshops for families, students, and teachers at the couple’s home, Tare Shirt Farm.
The Counting House Museum is open June-October, Saturdays & Sundays from 1pm-4pm and by Appointment. Admission is by donation.