Rundlet-May House

Sewing Bird

Designed in the nineteenth century to assist with hand sewing, this bird-shaped clamp served as a ‘third hand” for one of the Rundlet or May women of the house, and was also possibly household staff. While fixed to the edge of a table, squeezing the tail together opens the bird’s beak which will clamp shut to hold a piece of sewing taut while it is being worked on. Stamped 1853, this everyday object was elevated to decorative with the rendering of the bird’s feathers, beak, and eyes.