The Kempf Family, the “Kanapee”
Shawl, and Bibliography
Kempf, Norman R. The Kempf Family History: Johann Georg and Gottliebina
Kempf. np, np, 1989.
Mitchell, Johanna. The Stolz Family History, 1850-1974,
np, np, 1974.
Swiontek, Loretta Gebhardt. The Kempf Family History, np,
Gottliebina Stolz Kämpf preserved a family legacy in textile
design, which has survived through four generations of her female
descendants. Gottlieba is recognized for folk-art genius in designing
and creating her textile treasures of “Paradies-Decken,”
commonly known as “Bunte Plachte” shawls.
Gottlieba was trained in textile artisan techniques during her
youth in her native village of Alt-Elft (officially Fere Champenoise
Mare), also a Lutheran bishop’s seat, founded on the west
bank of the Kogelnik River in 1816 on the Budshak Steppe of Bessarabia.
In 1883, when preparing her “mitsift”/bridal dowry
of domestic household textiles for her arranged marriage into the
Kämpf (Kempf) family of Beresina village, nineteen-year-old
Gottlieba Stolz insisted for no outside help – only herself
independently completing all textile procedures: to show merit and
worthiness that she was a bride adept as a future family provider
in a domestic household.
This outstanding talent was symbolized in creating her most-prized
“Paradies-Decken”/“Blachte (plachte) Schal”,
usually described as “bunte gestrifte woll-blachte”
in Swabian dialect. Her choice of intensely bright aniline chemical
dyes, recently available since circa 1853 by German textile chemists,
was obvious over choosing traditionally muted-hues from natural
dyestuffs as dried insects and dried plants with urea mordants,
which were gathered from concentrated urine of boys or young stallions.
Gottlieba insisted that she process all eighteen artisan-skill
phases from shearing wool fleece off of a squirming sheep, warping
the loom, weaving the weft into a tapestry weave, to fullering and
blocking the final textile.
Gottlieba’s “bunte”/vivid-hues, “gestriffe”/vertical-striped
“blachte” (plachte) shawl, for her wedding of 1884,
remained unembellished without lace fringe, according to traditional
ways, until she was an “empty-nester” circa 45 to 50
years of age. Circa 1914, after her two older daughters Marie and
Ottilia were married, Gottlieba carded and spun her wool yarn to
create a bottom-fringe border with fillet-crochet of “lozenge”/diamond
motif, also a folk design common on decorative picket fence panels
of Alt-Elft village. The variable color “torque” on
her scalloped edge also echoes a distinctive folk-memory, (also
repeated in Caroline Schlabz’s lace “color-torque”
on her plachte of Beresina and Wittenburg villages). As some Bessarabian
plachtes display cross-stitch/ needle-point patterns, superimposed
on crochet pattern-lace for further dramatic effect. Gottlieba did
not embellish her fillet-crochet lace with embroidery techniques.
Information for the Kempf and Stolz families was excerpted from
three family histories, plus private oral interviews by Jay Gage