Sailors Woolworks alternately known as woolies, embroidered ships, or silkies were produced from 1840 until the time of the first World War. These pieces are pretty singular because they were created by sailors passing the time while on board, keeping their minds and fingers agile, of the seascapes and the ships that they saw on their ocean journeys. These works were created out of yarn and threaded via needle through canvas mostly. Woolies that were created by the men of the sea were very often unsigned. The outcome was a naive, simplistic ship/seascape, but they are highly coveted particular by many collectors in such places as Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. The woolworks are quite beautiful and yet the unstudied manner of the craftsmanship can be very charming. Woolies are often showcased in private homes along the Northeastern seaboard of the US or on the isles of Great Britain where these works were originally created.
“Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing, only a signal shown, and a distant voice in the darkness; So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another, only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.”
–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Courtesy of Earle D. Vandekar of Knightbridge Inc.