Shoemakers Dressmakers

Shoemakers Dressmakers (2022)

Paul Boultbee (b. 1951)

It wasn’t until the late 1990s that a whole family of shoemakers, dressmakers, and glove stitchers came to light. Charles Boultbee (1817-1883) was a boot and shoemaker. He and his wife Frances Kinsey (1824-1918) had eight children, seven sons and one daughter. Four of the sons followed in their father’s footsteps as boot and shoemakers: William Jackson (1843-1923), John (1848-1922), Thomas (1850-1928), and Charles (1856-1874). One granddaughter, Elizabeth Ann Boultbee Waldram (1867-1945) was a glove stitcher. Two other members of this family became dressmakers: Alice Ann Boultbee Martin (b. 1892), granddaughter to Charles, Sr., and his niece, Eliza Boultbee (b. 1862)

Since I had no Boultbee work upon which to base my response and therefore nothing to accompany the above piece, I researched the work of artisans of that period, while using more modern materials for my response. I covered my canvas with several layers of dress patterns as a base for the piece. The placement of the lines on this layer created an engaging compositional challenge. The two black pieces reference a 19th century shoe pattern (left) and a bodice dress pattern (right). To again reference the three-dimensional work of the artisans, I floated each of these pieces above the canvas on small squares of balsa wood.

Relationship: I am Charles Sr.’s fourth cousin, four times removed.