Carolyn Ellertson has collected aprons for over 40 years. In Up Close and Personal with Vintage Aprons Carolyn shares her collection, her memories and situates these textiles with a cultural context.
I have found no other medium which covers a broader section of the needle arts for a longer period of time, is international in scope, transcends language barriers and is as individual as the person who makes them. They are like fabric fossils which if analyzed can give many clues to their origin, period of time they existed in and materials available at the time – one of the few ways of dating them. Their fabric content, design and embellishments reflect professions, textile trends, politics, holidays, age, needle arts, special interests and even the military. Worn by caregivers, they are symbols of care and relief; by homemakers, the knowledge that your needs are being met by someone who cares; by children, anticipation of a new learning experience or the fun of a favorite hobby; and by artists who will leave something that might, quite possibly, outlive them – in some cases for centuries.
Sharon, You obviously have an impact on us and the market placce. I had trouble finding Pollock’s book on Amazon. All they had were used copies and the most inexpensive ones were sold out! That’s OK, I just paid a little more, still less than most books. This is a great subject to think, read, and dialog about.
Several things recently brought aprons back to my attention. A magazine focusing on them (Mary Jane’s Farm), a friend inheriting dozens from her mother…
The first Christmas after I was married, I made all of the adults in the family (men and women) nice, servicable (some embroidered, others painted) bib aprons in heavy denim—I still use mine regularly.
Looking at aprons from a bit of a distance now they remind me in some ways of being used by our former selves and mothers similarly to how we’re using APCs and ATCs today—a canvas with a fairly set format in which to experiment, play and have fun with design and stitching. Like APCs, aprons made wonderful gifts and were exchanged among friends. Perhaps our daughters’ first embroidery project will be an ATC or APC in place of an apron. Marjorie