Exhibit offers ‘spinning’ works of art

Unidentified maker (perhaps workshop of Fyodor Kuznetsov; Russia, Archangel province, Puchuga village), Distaff, early 20th century. Single piece of carved wood with painted decoration. Collection of Michael T. Ricker.


ATHENS, GA – (AAPNW) – “To Spin a Yarn: Distaffs, Folk Art and Material Culture” opens Saturday, January 21, 2017 at the Georgia Museum of Art through April 16, 2017. This exhibition consists of about 40 decorated wooden distaffs, or spinning implements.

Dating from the 19th and 20th centuries, the distaffs come from regions across Europe (in Russia, Lithuania, Finland, Sweden, France, Germany, Albania, Greece, Serbia and Bosnia), each of which has its own style. Distaffs hold unspun wool or fiber during the spinning process. They could be used with or without a spinning wheel to create thread or yarn for weaving cloth. Because spinning was traditionally women’s work, the word “distaff” came to mean “female.”

This exhibition includes three different types of distaffs. Russian ones often featured a large, footed base, where the spinner sat. Short ones with no base usually attached to a spinning wheel. Long ones without a base were held under the arm or tucked in the belt. All three kinds could be used with a spinning wheel or a drop spindle. In addition to the distaffs, the museum will show a “walking wheel,” or large spinning wheel.

Distaffs were more than tools. In some ways, they were the equivalent of an engagement ring today: a gift from a young man to his hoped-for spouse. A more expensive and elaborately decorated distaff expressed wealth and status. Individuals made some distaffs, but a workshop-based industry also sprang up in response to demand. The giver and the maker were not necessarily the same person. The time and money spent on these objects also show the important place of cloth in a pre-industrial era.

For more information, www.georgiamuseum.org or call 706.542.4662.

Published by on January 2017. Filed under Art-to-Art Palette NewsWire/AAPNW, At the Museums dept, Georgia, News (Time related), PaletteBoards Section. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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