Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Home Beautiful: A Quilted Tea Cozy, 1931

Tea Cosy
Made as part of the Rural Industries Bureau Scheme
Commissioned by Muriel Rose, c. 1931
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This charming quilted tea cozy, meant to cover and keep warm a teapot, is attractive.  But, it’s part of a larger story of considerable importance.  It was made as part of the Rural Industries Bureau Scheme to assist miners' wives in South Wales through the period of economic crisis which followed The Great War.

In 1928, urged by King George V and Queen Mary who, together, visited Welsh mining towns to meet with the impoverished residents, the Scheme's aim was to establish home industries among the women of the such mining communities.  The goal was to open these industries to a wider market, allowing for increased income for families stricken by rough financial times.  The Bureau provided £30 for materials and wages and orders were given to the most promising quilters. The women were provided with Durham quilts as samplers which they could copy. 

In the autumn of that year, the first commercial exhibition of their work was held at Miss Muriel Rose's “The Little Gallery,” off Sloane Street, London.  This exhibition proved to be an enormous success, bringing in many orders for the women of these Welsh villages and helping the industry tremendously.

This tea cozy was purchased from Miss Rose's gallery.   Miss Rose was integral in helping impoverished Britons,  promoting the works of leading craftspeople and playing a major role in re-establishing patchwork and quilting in Wales.  Miss Rose cleverly undertook a commission to fill an order from Claridge's hotel for quilted bedcovers to use in their new Art Deco wing and passed this order on to the Welsh women—a triumph for all concerned. 

The tea cozy we see here, from the V&A, is quilted yellow silk backed with cream silk. Yellow thread was used for the quilting.   Made in Wales by a now unknown quilter, this was one of many orders placed by Miss Rose in the 1930s. 

And, yes, it does look like the Pope’s mitre.  But, I’m sure that was unintentional.  

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