Crewelwork was the most popular technique Erica taught and formed the bulk of her kit designs. These kits brought crewel to home stitchers with methods and materials that were simple and affordable. Erica maintained that her crewelwork kits were a type of sampler, utilizing a variety of different embroidery techniques.
In 1962 Erica signed a lucrative contract with Columbia-Minerva, a company that sold a variety of types of yarn, for the marketing of kits using its Persian yarns. She continued to produce her own designs with higher quality Appleton crewel wool, promoted and used by the Royal School of Needlework.
In the 1960s and 1970s, handmade personalized gifts became popular, as did “homemade” items that showed personal expression. This ad from Columbia-Minerva, which appeared in Vogue magazine, shows a young man giving an Erica Wilson kit to his wife or girlfriend, hoping that she will finish it quickly so he can give it to his mother. All of the finished needlework pieces shown on the walls and sofa are designs by Erica.
© Columbia-Minerva/The Vogue Archives
Although contemporary in design and coloration, Erica’s “Country Life” borrows from seventeenth-century prototypes. A perennial favorite, it was produced in slightly different versions by both Columbia-Minerva and Erica herself.
Gift of the Family of Erica Wilson 2015.0047.016.001 and .002
Erica often sought inspiration in the art she saw around her. This picture is a liberal adaptation from one of American Quaker Edward Hicks’s paintings The Peaceable Kingdom. Her version replaces its shadowed composition with clear bright colors and renders the animals with slightly humanized expressions.
Gift of the Family of Erica Wilson 2015.0047.018; The Peaceable Kingdom by Edward Hicks, Gift of Henry Francis du Pont 1961.0501
Illustrated in Erica Wilson’s Embroidery Book from 1973, this design was adapted by Erica from an embroidery designed by Vladi’s sister Tanya Josefowitz and used as part of the crewelpoint correspondence course. Because crewelpoint uses a variety of stitches but is worked on needlepoint canvas, Erica called it “a good way to start if you have never done needlepoint before.”
Gift of the Family of Erica Wilson 2015.0047.015.001
Erica enjoyed playing with scale. In her TV episode entitled “Thinking Bigger,” Erica used heavy rug wools to create quick embroideries featuring striking texture and contemporary colors. This panel measures 6 feet, 1 inch by 4 feet (73 x 48 centimeters).
Courtesy of the Family of Erica Wilson