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Erica; Creatures Great and Small

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Creatures Great and Small
Program Number


Series Description

Needlework series with Erica Wilson. “Erica Wilson, noted American authority on needlework, invites the viewer to explore the exciting possibilities of indulging his creative and artistic talents. In this series of color videotaped 15 minute programs she illustrates the wide vocabulary of stitches used in many types of embroidery including traditional crewel, needlepoint, bargello, and crewel point.

As well as demonstrating these stitches, Erica gives professional hints on creating useful and decorative objects. She encourages personalizing an original or derived design through the selection of motif, materials, stitch, color, texture, and size. C. 1971-2 Series release date: 1971

Program Description

Alternate title: Creatures Wild and Tame

In this episode, Erica goes on a “needlework safari,” depicting various animals in stitchery. Erica shows how to translate wildlife photography via tracing paper onto needlepoint canvas, as well as how to select colored yarns that match the subtle variations in the colors of animals’ fur and how to lengthen a split stitch to make it look more fur-like.

For the projects in this episode, she depicts lion and leopard cubs in needlepoint, the Chessie Kitten (the logo of the Chessie System, the holding company that owned the C&O and B&O railroads) in crewelwork, as well as a pictorial embroidery depicting a rabbit, a fawn, and a prairie dog which states, “To love something is to give it room to grow.” Erica notes about this piece that, like many people, she is very concerned about human population growth and the loss of animal habitat.

Erica also discusses needlework inspired by Bible stories and children’s literature in this episode. She shows a rag book on Noah’s Ark that she made for a young child, as well as needleworks that she did of Beatrix Potter characters including Mrs. Tittlemouse in crewelwork, Mrs. Tittlemouse stitching the American flag in the guise of Betsy Ross, and free form Mrs. Tittlemouse, Peter Rabbit, and Squirrel Nutkin dolls in heavy rug wool.

The first of the historical pieces shown in this episode is a needlework depiction of the Garden of Eden done in New Jersey in 1874. The piece features numerous appliquéd animals and birds. Erica uses this piece, as well as children’s drawings of animals, as inspiration for a naïve bestiary appliquéd wall hanging on linen. Erica also shows a whitework quilt from 1851 depicting a federal eagle. She takes this whitework quilt as inspiration to do whitework embroidery of a rabbit on organdy.

Stitches demonstrated in this episode include tent stitch, lazy daisy stitch, shadow work, split stitch (her preferred stitch for doing fur), and turkey work, which Erica uses to make lions’ manes and rabbits’ tails bushy.



Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


MacLeod, Margaret I. (Series Producer)
Chicago: “Erica; Creatures Great and Small,” WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed October 25, 2016, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_42FFEE103E704BC483C3DB36F10A81A5.
MLA: “Erica; Creatures Great and Small.” WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. October 25, 2016. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_42FFEE103E704BC483C3DB36F10A81A5>.
APA: Erica; Creatures Great and Small. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_42FFEE103E704BC483C3DB36F10A81A5
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