The present time is the Renaissance period of Handicrafts. Never were national home-industries more fully recognised or held in higher honour than they are to-day. Needleworkers of the highest rank are studiously examining old stitches and deftly reproducing them with the improved implements and various materials of modern times at their disposal; aided and inspired, too, by the designers of high standard who have made such a thorough study of the "Art of national industry," and who have brought their wider experience
A Bold Design, the main feature being a Cross in an Oval.
Wheels form the centre of all those patterns.
The simplicity of the stitches is here shown. The charm of the work lies in the colouring and their highly cultured taste to bear on the subject and thus brought it to a completion the goal of its initiators' aim.
AN ENLARGED SECTION OF THE CENTREPIECE.
Every kind of national industry has its romance, its own record of steady development, and its own distinct characteristics, which account for its charm.
One of the most charming of old national industries recently brought, to light and recognition is Amager-work, so called from the island of Amager, just outside the city of Copenhagen. It portrays the products of the traditional occupation of the inhabitants of that island in a quaintly pictorial manner. Their flowers, shrubs, and herbs were their models, as well as the medium through which they obtained their lovely mellow tints. The subtle gradations of shades found in old Amager colours speaks of an inborn aesthetic instinct, and the prodigality in design, in which new juxtapositions of colour are continually occurring, bespeaks a surprising understanding of the inherent relations of colours. The clusters, wreaths, and "patches" of flowers, all copied "full face" and seldom with any stalks, constitute the designs of Amager-work. The endless variety of colours, achieved by means of plant-dyes, and arranged in exquisite effect, are its distinctive charm.
In addition to the technically i nteresting type of design, exquisite studies in tone and harmony of colours, there is something essentially Dutch in the character of Amager-work (though its revival and present form is entirely due to the Danes). And no wonder! for the Amager colony was imported from Holland. King Christian II. married a Dutch princess in 1515, and it was undoubtedly owing to her influence that he, in the following year, imported some 30 Dutch families on account of the fame of that nation as gardeners and dairy-farmers. He gave them the fertile island of Amager as a settlement, and the tax he levied on them consisted of dairy produce, vegetables, and herbs for the royal household and retinue.
A BEAUTIFUL. CENTREPIECE.
From a Copyright Design by Mr. Chr. Permin, of Copenhagen.
From that day till now has the Amager people's fame as gardeners maintained its supremacy. And it is one of the most picturesque sights of Copenhagen - and one that no visitor should miss - to see the vegetable and flower-market or "Amager - tory" in the city of Copenhagen, the Amager wives in their quaint dresses, and the stalls overflowing with what truly look like prize vegetables and flowers.
They have preserved their Dutch type, and many of them wear the national dress - maybe somewhat modified since 1516. But they are undoubtedly strong and independent as a clan, though loyal to the core to the adopted land of their forefathers. It was these settlers who initiated the Amager-work.
It has been said that the hall-mark of decorative art, as distinct from merely pleasing ornamentation, is the former's appeal to one's emotions and intellect through the medium of one's senses; and national industries are said to approach the rank and standard of art in proportion as they reveal the soul of the people. Few national industries appeal, to my mind, more directly to one's emotions than
A D'OILY IN SHADES OF RED, BLUE, YELLOW. BLACK AND WHITE.
Amager-work. The rich, ripe tints of the thriving cottage-blossoms, arranged in prettily contrasting colours, the bright, plentiful blossoms, tell of cottage-gardens, of love for Nature, and of something more besides. The very mode and man-ner in which the flowers are used as models for their embroideries, and the amplitude of their embroidered works, tell a romance of a wish to please someone with a gift, to the beautifying of which gift the beloved flowers must be sacrificed. They are always most becomingly arranged and then "copied" with many stitches and with much and careful choosing of colours. Such a piece of stitchery is pervaded with folk-lore and radiates romance.
The modern Amager-work owes its revival and justly-earned reputation to Mr. Chr. Permin, in Copenhagen. He has made a thorough search for authentic models in the shape of Amager aprons, cloths and cushions, etc., and, with his staff of able workers and designers, has not only revived the old industry, but made it to meet modern requirements. And he himself is a past-master in colour-schemes. The work is most fascinating, and, as the stitch is the same as used in plain embroidery, it is easy. The variety of colours makes it clear for the eyes as well. Everything hinges upon a correctly poised design and the real Amager colours. L,ast, but not least, Amager-work is most applicable and distinctly decorative.