20 August, 2011
Kitschy Vintage Plaques and Missing Wheel Pieces
Bought these two plaques at a thrift shop in Parksville, B.C. Jenny Jones, above is spinning flax from a distaff, and the Welsh Woman is spinning with a great wheel. There were some other plaques for sale as well, of ships or tavern scenes. The hook at the back showed they are made in England. A friend of the family tells me that these things were popular in B.C. for home decor in the 1920s. I find them amusing, with their rough patina, inexpensive metal, and coarsely realized images.
Strangely, the great wheel is depicted without a spindle or maidens nor a bat head as an alternative to maidens. I don't think this is a limitation of the medium, more likely a lack of understanding on the part of the artist regarding the way a great wheel should look. And to have the Welsh woman holding out a rolag on top of a wool handcard with one hand and putting her other hand on the wheel, that pose is completely staged.
Around the same time I found these plaques, I drove through Ladysmith, B.C. and saw a great wheel set outside an antique shop to serve as as advertisement. I was going down the highway at 70 km/h, so I can't be sure, but it looked as though the spindle and maidens were turned at an odd angle.
In an antique shop down the road in Chemainus, B.C. I saw most of a Canadian production wheel. I say most because while the bobbin and spindle were there, the flyer was missing. Imagine if you didn't know any better and thought you were getting a complete, functioning wheel.