Embroidering women and turning men: Handiwork, gender, and emotions in Sweden and Finland, c. 1720-1820

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This essay focuses on handiwork elites and genteel classes made in Sweden and Finland, c. 1720-1820, and the emotions linked to handicrafts, the making of artefacts, and the objects themselves. It explores gendered learning and making of handiwork, positive and negative emotions linked to and conveyed through artefacts, as well as spaces and places for handiwork. In early modern Europe, handiwork was an essential part of the elite lifestyle and daily life. Girls and boys learned to sew and turn; manual work was essential for elite culture and its transmittal from generation to generation. The objects made were often intended as gifts, given as tokens of friendship, but also as visual symbols of the skills and status of their makers. Home was the axiomatic place for handiwork, but royal courts were also places for elite handicrafts. Moreover, handiwork offered both women and men mental places and spaces, evoking emotions and embodying them into the artefacts made. The sources for the research are textual, visual, and material. Letters and diaries are explored as well as paintings, engravings, and objects such as samplers, worktables, and lathes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)306–331
Number of pages26
JournalScandinavian Journal of History
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • handiwork
  • elites
  • 18th century
  • 19th century
  • Material Culture


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