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Sister Mary Ann Hill's Receipt Book: Nineteenth Century Shaker Dye Recipes

  • 32500

Sister Mary Ann Hill came to the Canterbury, New Hampshire Shaker Community as a little girl in 1811. By 1830, she was a Deaconess, and her responsibilities included the allotment of provisions, supplies, and clothing to the Community. The clothing part meant she learnt a lot about dyeing cloth, and back then, all color came from natural dyes. In 1857, Sister Mary Ann gathered all of her natural dye recipes into a hand written book. Two years later, when she was asked to go aid the "poor, suffering & afflicted" at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Community in New Gloucester, Maine, her book was one of the treasures she brought with her, along with a domed paper box filled with dyestuffs. She spent the rest of her long life there at Chosen Land, working in some of the same workshops that we did to make our version of her book a century later.

Brother Arnold Hadd and Convivio's John Cutrone researched and printed Sister Mary Ann Hill's Receipt Book at Chosen Land in the summer of 1997. It was John's second summer print internship with Brother Arnold, an incredibly special time. Our experiments included dyeing wool using Sister Mary Ann's recipes. The wool we used was from the Shaker flock, which back then numbered 53 sheep (it's a larger flock now). The book is printed letterpress in the Shaker Print Shop in the dairy cellar of the Dwelling House. It's printed from historic metal types (extremely rare Graybar Book, perhaps as old as the recipes themselves) in an edition of 200 copies on Mohawk Superfine paper, handsewn into yellow paper covers (much like the original). The hand lettering is Sister Mary Ann's own, taken from her original book. Includes a photograph of Sister Mary Ann, and a vintage copper cut illustration of, of course, a sheep. 32 pages, 1997.

This is a Red Wagon Press book (our pre-Convivio days). The edition is sold out, but we recently came across a couple of copies we are willing to part with. A true rarity; as far as we know, these are the only copies currently available anywhere; the other 198 are all in Special Collections libraries and private collections. Near pristine condition. A portion of each sale benefits the Shaker Library, where this book was researched, and where you'll find Sister Mary Ann's original notebook.

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