Thursday, February 5, 2015

Gold Ey'd Sharps

On a quick google, I find nothing about Gell Bros of Germany and the small paper packet of "gold ey'd" sewing needles ^ I found at the Thrift Store. 

Is it the case that so many sewing notions were produced (since sewing was such an integral part of women's everyday lives) that they haven't all been catalogued yet? Unlike cars...

Even when I was a little kid in the '60s, it was common enough to sew a button back on, if not to make an actual piece of clothing, but sewing was mostly a chore or a rather dweeby hobby.

I was surprised when fiber arts became cool in the 21st century--especially knitting, which was something fusty grandmothers did in my generation.
I wondered if its new popularity had something to do with how little off-keyboard handwork anybody does anymore that results in a tactile thing.

I saw this idea reflected in Margaret Atwood's MaddAddam (2013). I picked it up after mentioning her novel Handmaid's Tale that had scared me so much as a young woman. This is plenty scary too--it's the last of her trilogy about life on Earth after biological terrorism (created to cleanse the Earth of human chaos) wipes out most humans, and it's full of the wonderful inventiveness that I like in u-/dystopias about our future.

But before the human wipe-out, she writes (p. 169), there was a revival of live carnival attractions, acrobats, and musicians:
"The online world became more and more pre-edited and slicked up, and ... the rough unpolished physical world was taking on a mystic allure ....
...Displays of skill lacked tangibility in the digital realm and were therefore distrusted: how could you tell it wasn't just special effects? But when the Floating World magician put a handful of needles in his mouth you could see they were real needles, and when they emerged threaded you could touch the thread...."


The Crow said...

Treasure those needles, Fresca. Most needles sold in the US today come from China. The eyes are rough, shreds the threads. The needles are made of inferior steel which warps and rusts easily and quickly. The made-in-China needles break easily, become dull or develop burrs.

Whenever possible, I buy notions made in the US, a scarce commodity. Otherwise, I look for imports from England, France or Germany.

Those needles you found are worth their weight in gold - perhaps not in money, but certainly in quality, workmanship and longevity. Truly a treasure!

Julia said...

Have you read Octavia Butler? She's one of my favorite (dystopian) novelists and (sadly) noteworthy as a black woman writing sci fi. I haven't read Atwood, though.

I set some needles aside in ephemera for you to take a peek at! And just took some photos a few days ago of some Gellbros 15 No. 3, along with a few others--we can rectify that non-googlable situation.

Right after I finished my undergrad, without it being a conscious choice, I threw myself very heavily into the tactile--refinishing floors, sewing frantically, etc. It was a totally novel experience, but I remember going into things (no creating classes that semester) with a lot of willpower to stay focused on my thesis and classes. I came out of it like a coiled spring after all that typing/reading/focus (academic papers don't feed the need to create for me, but I need that too).

I agree with Atwood about that world, but it bleeds into the digital. I noticed it in (digital and analog) visual trends many years preceding her work and I still see its influence, though tamped down a bit.

Did you ever read Deleuze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus? They have a section using felted vs woven fabric as a metaphor that I really enjoyed as a textile entry point into thinking when I read it many years ago.

bink said...

Beautiful needle package. I bet the needles are first rate too.

I love the idea that there is a revival of physical attractions/arts in Atwood's book. That seems right somehow. And certainly it seems to hand in hand with today's digital word--we're most interested in cooking from scratch and all the rest of the domestic arts--than futurists predicted. They thought once we had visual phones, we'd be living on Space Food Sticks.

The Crow said...

Back again. Another blog I follow (She plays with needles) posted the recently. I thought you might find it of interest.

Zhoen said...

I'd love gold eye'd needles, even if I don't sew more than necessary.

My memory of the 70s was of a lot of macrame and crochet. I crocheted myself a sweater vest, and an afghan for my niece, and made a quilt. None of any quality, but I felt a sense of accomplishment.

Can't imagine sewing for fun, though. Hurts my neck, always has. But I mend and make simple things, draft excluders and makeshift curtains.

ArtSparker said...

Jackpot! my 3 1/2 years on Etsy and a rudimentary knowledge of German pay off. "Gellbros" is one word - in German, brother is "Bruder". Check it out! I found one sold on Ebay, different design.

Fresca said...

CROW: Alas, the original needles are not in this packet... :(

Oh, cool~
" This Sunday, February 8, 2015, is the celebration of Harikuyo, the Festival of Broken Needles--the day when the needleworkers of Japan take their used and broken needles to the shrine to respectfully put them to rest. "
THANKS! I'm going to enjoy that blog.

JULIA: I have requested Octavia Butler's "parable" books at the library.
I haven't read read Deleuze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus--can you lend it to me?

BINK: I still want to live on Space Food Sticks! :)

ZHOEN: Ohgodyes, macrame! I hear it's back...
"A sense of accomplishment"---that's the thing, I believe.

ARTSPARK: Hey, thanks! That's a cool item by Gellbros.