Symposium: Nantucket Needlework

Needlearts have long been a tradition on Nantucket. It was not just a hobby, but part of a young girl’s education and later an industry that provided employment for Nantucket women.

This symposium explores the history of this craft on Nantucket along several of Nantucket’s iconic businesses and what connects them.


Carefully Inwrought: Nantucket Needlework with Aimee Newell

Aimee E. Newell, Executive Director of Luzerne County Historical Society and former NHA curator, takes a look at the historic needlework included in the NHA textile collection.


A Garden of Stitches: Erica Wilson on Nantucket with Anne Hilker

Erica Wilson’s kits, catalogs, books, and press images often reflected her summer life in Nantucket. She took inspiration from the island and also helped foster a renewed interest in the teaching and execution of handwork. In this talk, Anne Hilker considers the ways in which Erica and Nantucket nurtured each other by looking at her career, embroideries, and stitching legacy.

Anne Hilker, a doctoral candidate at the Bard Graduate Center in New York City, is archivist of Erica Wilson’s embroideries and papers and the co-curator of next year’s exhibition on the work of Erica Wilson at the Winterthur Museum.


The History of Nantucket Looms with Liz Winship

Liz Winship, retired business owner of Nantucket Looms, talks about the common thread that ties several iconic Nantucket businesses together.


Care and Conservation of Fabrics and Embroideries

Elizabeth Gilbert discusses how to ensure the future of historic and new needlework.  She will share some do’s and don’ts of caring for, preserving, and storing modern fabrics as well as treasures of the past.  She will be showing actual examples of each process, using archival products and tried-and-true methods. After the presentation there will be time for Q and A.

Elizabeth earned her teacher’s certification in canvas work and crewel embroidery at the Valentine Museum in Richmond, Virginia, and her teacher’s certification in Advanced Professional Studies in the Textile Arts at the American Institute of Textile Arts at Pine Manor College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. She owned and operated a retail needlework business, The Crafts Centre, in Nantucket for nearly thirty years. She continues to be a designer, teacher, lecturer, and consultant, and her work is in collections nationwide. In addition, she is an interpreter at the Nantucket Whaling Museum and historic properties.


Mary Ann Beinecke’s Nantucket Textile Renaissance with Julie Stackpole

Julie Stackpole, daughter of Mary Ann Beinecke, discusses the birth of several Nantucket textile and needlework enterprises that all share a common thread.  Julie tells of her mother’s mark on the Nantucket landscape, with the birth of the Nantucket Needlewomen and the Nantucket Needlery.

Julie is a self-taught scholar of costume history. She has made costumes for many historical periods from medieval to modern, with emphasis on 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, for museums, reenactments, and community theater.  Her published book on American costume 1775-1805: Dressing The New Republic, documents an extensive collection of vintage clothing 1840-1940. She is also a member of the Costume Society of America.


Embroidered Narratives: Storytelling Through the Eye of the Needle with Susan Boardman

Susan Boardman is an extremely original needlework artist who has taken Nantucket for her muse. She talks about the notable historic and contemporary Nantucket women who inspired her to create her exquisite embroidered narratives and also describes her unique process. The collection of Susan’s narratives and the stories that inspired them are beautifully documented in Sometimes Think of Me: Notable Nantucket Women through Centuries by Betsy Tyler, now in its second printing, available in the online shop at

The Nantucket Historical Association preserves and interprets the history of Nantucket through its programs, collections, and properties, in order to promote the island’s significance and foster an appreciation of it among all audiences.

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