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Hands-on activities bring Colonial era to life

Published 11:45 am, Sunday, October 20, 2013
  • Textile specialist and colonial re-enactor Arlene Parkhurst recently gave a spinning and weaving demonstration at the New Canaan Historical Society. Above, she explains how cochineal (bugs) are used to make intense red dye, still used today. The ìmordentî (metallic salt to make the dye colorfast) determines the intensity of the pigment. Normally, alum or copper vitriol was used, along with cream of tartar. Indigo made a dark blue, cochineal made an intense red, madder root made a rose red, sumac made a yellow, Queen's Anne Lace makes green. Photo: Contributed Photo / New Canaan News
    Textile specialist and colonial re-enactor Arlene Parkhurst recently gave a spinning and weaving demonstration at the New Canaan Historical Society. Above, she explains how cochineal (bugs) are used to make intense red dye, still used today. The ìmordentî (metallic salt to make the dye colorfast) determines the intensity of the pigment. Normally, alum or copper vitriol was used, along with cream of tartar. Indigo made a dark blue, cochineal made an intense red, madder root made a rose red, sumac made a yellow, Queen's Anne Lace makes green. Photo: Contributed Photo

 

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Arlene Parkhurst, of Redding, a textile specialist recently was the guest speaker at a Colonial spinning and weaving demonstration at the New Canaan Historical Society's Hanford-Silliman house.

"Hands-on activities allow us to bring daily colonial activities to life, and we're so grateful to Arlene for her time and expertise," New Canaan Historical Society Executive Director Janet Lindstrom said.

"Arlene's background is as a textile specialist. She's worked with museums and in re-enactments, and regularly runs lessons, workshops at lectures on fiber-based crafts, textiles, and clothing, from the 17th through the 20th centuries."

The society is planning on hosting a series of lessons and "Sit and Spins" this winter, as part of its year-long 125th anniversary celebration.

New Canaan resident Susan Serven, who is a society volunteer and board member, said, "What most interested me was how `green' spinning and weaving is. Ms. Parkhurst demonstrated how sheep were sheared, how wool was `carded' and spun by hand, and how common New England plants were used -- and still are today -- for making the dyes. It was all part of a local, sustainable system that seems to be on trend today."

For information, visit www.nchistory.org.