“Furnishers & Drapers” Death Becomes Her, Antique, vintage and decorative paper collage on 1898 Funeral garment invoice, 8 1/16″ x 5″, 2023

Occasionally, I come across invoices related to the funeral industry, so I set out to find more of them for my “Death Becomes Her” series. I read Tessa Boase’s fascinating book Etta Lemon the woman who saved birds, which talked about the 19th century fashion and obsession with feathers in women’s’ hats and how this intersected with the suffrage movement. The book highlighted all the bird species, some hunted to extinction for their feathers, and women who worked in deplorable conditions to bring these feathers to market.

I came across this invoice for mourning silks and started me thinking about how silk is produced thanks to Boase’s book. The moths that form the shoulders of the collaged figure are the domesticated silk moth, Bombax mori, they are pretty cute. I sourced the images of the moths from the Biodiversity library https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/, which has entire volumes of antique books with illustrations of a multitude of species.

You can see more of the series here: https://ansherman.com/collage-by-alexandra-n-sherman/death-becomes-her/