Whether made by schoolgirls to practice their needlework skills, by amateur embroiderers to collect stitches and patterns, or by professionals to provide examples of their work, samplers have served to display the best in embroidery techniques. For centuries, both designs and stitches have remained remarkably consistent, with traditions passed on from teacher to student, mother to daughter, or master to apprentice. “Common Threads” explored the remarkable continuity found among samplers made in Egypt, Continental Europe, Great Britain, Turkey, the United States, and Mexico from the fifteenth-to the nineteenth-centuries.

The sixty samplers in this exhibition included traditional schoolgirl exercises such as band and white-work samplers as well as rarer examples that incorporate beadwork, darning, and knitting. In addition to discovering alphabet interpretations, biblical verses, and floral borders, viewers also explored images of farmyards, insects, and goldfish bowls.