Kimberly Servello's Embroidery Blog

Kimberly Servello - Pattern Drawer and Embroideress

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Boxers Ornament for Boxing Day

Health, love and peace be all here in this place

By your leave we shall sing, concerning our King
Our King is well-dressed in silks of the best
In ribbons so rare no king can compare...

from a traditional carol 

I made this ornament in 2004, taking the motif from an old sampler.  It's worked in reversible blackwork or double running stitch using a single strand of silk.  The twisted cord was made with the same floss.

Many 16th -18th century samplers feature the male figures shown here, known today as "boxers".  I don't know if the boxers featured on samplers have ever been linked to Boxing Day.  It's just a concept that has  evolved in my warped thinking processes.

I believe the term Boxing Day, designating the December 26th holiday celebrated in Britain, originated during Queen Victoria's reign.  However,  the concept of giving the poor and people in service jobs, gifts in boxes on 12/26 may date back to the Middle Ages.

Jacqueline Holdsworth discusses the boxer figures found on samplers in the latest book published by Needleprint, titled, The Feller Needlework Collection: 1 (yes, there will be a part 2!), by Mary M. Brooks, Elizabeth Feller and Jacqueline Holdsworth.  The following excerpt is from the Feller book:

Boxer Ornament displayed with my cranberry transferware collection
"...features well-known figures that have been termed boxers long enough for the label to stick without in in any way designating their real identity.  Boxers they most certainly are not.  The do, however, conform to a type:  a male portrayed sideways, walking and extending an offering, usually floral in nature...There are many theories about these characters, some say that they derive from earlier forms in Italian needlework; that the intervening vase was once a dancing woman..."
(excerpt from page 154).

If you don't own a copy of the Feller Needlework book already, I highly recommend that you obtain one.  This first book features the early English works, including samplers,  of Micheal and Elizabeth Feller.   Like the other Needleprint publications it's not only a beautifully presented and well-researched book, there are lots of close up photos, making it possible to determine what stitches were used.  

For each piece presented, and there 186 pieces, the materials and stitches used are given.  The pieces include coifs, nightcaps, sweet bags, gloves, panels, samplers, a casket, mirror and even a pair of shoes. 

Also included are many essays about the origins of design and discussion of motifs.  Speaking for myself, this book is a design inspiration I will draw from for years.




  2. That's my favourite pink! A kind of dusty pink!
    Thanks for the heads-up on "boxes" and now I really *must* get the Feller book. (From Needleprint - I think they are sold out elsewhere)

  3. Simply Wondeful!!!!!
    I lve your work!!!


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