The CHS Gift Shop: Featured Items for Spring

hand blown glass vases

Hand Blown Glass Vases by Nunwell Glass

By Sara Plante, Visitor Service Associate, Connecticut Historical Society. 

As the winter finally wanes and spring unfolds, opportunities to explore our state and take pleasure in nature increase. As you venture out to enjoy the warming weather and general greenery, consider a stop at the Connecticut Historical Society’s gift shop.

We carry many Connecticut-made items that will perfectly compliment your spring. What better way to celebrate this gorgeous time of year than with a hand blown glass vase to display emerging flowers? Or perhaps a historic cross stitch pattern of one of the Elizabeth Foote bed-rug flowers?

Hand Blown Glass Vases by Nunwell Glass

The manufacturing of glass items has been a part of Connecticut industry from early on. On January 28, 1783, William and Elisha Pitkin along with Samuel Bishop were granted a monopoly on the glass manufacturing business from the Connecticut General Assembly. Pitkin Glass Works was formed (known as Pitkin, Woodbridge & Company between May 1815 and into 1817) and thrived until about 1830 when the lack or cost of wood for fuel caused the works to close. This was one of the first glass factories to emerge in Connecticut. Between the late 1700s and the early 1900s, fourteen others were recorded as existing within the state.

Although many of these early companies no longer exist, the glass industry persists in our state through small businesses like Nunwell glass. The beautiful vases featured in this post were hand blown by glass makers Andrew Pyle and Leslie French. Andy and Leslie have been making glass together since they met in a glass studio in Kent, Connecticut in 1986. With a shared passion for glass and glass making, they soon began collaborating on projects and looking for shared interests. As a glass making team, Andy does most of the blowing and shaping; whereas Leslie loves color, so she combines the colors and manipulates the various decorative elements. They founded Nunwell Glass in 1990 as a means of focusing this fusion of ideas. Married in 1992, Andy and Leslie have their home and studio in Lime Rock, Connecticut.

More information on Nunwell glass can be found at

Elizabeth Foote’s Flowers by the Posy Collection

Elizabeth Foote’s Flowers by the Posy Collection

The Elizabeth Foote bed-rug can currently be viewed at the Connecticut Historical Society in the Connecticut Decorative Arts: Masterpieces from the CHS Collection exhibit. Click here for more information on this exhibit.

Created around 1778, this 82 x 76 ¾ inch (roughly 6.8 x 6.4 feet) bed-rug was created by Elizabeth Foote of Colchester, Connecticut. It is an excellent illustration of the immense devotion of time that textile productions took in women’s lives. Each flower within the composition has a unique profile as well as a different darning stitch pattern. Three of these unique flowers were taken and translated by the Posy Collection into several of the cross stitch designs that we sell in our store.

The Elizabeth Foote Flower #2

Click here to purchase, the Elizabeth Foote Flower #2 is also available to purchase online.

The Posy Collection’s creator, Posy Lough, has been translating America and American history into counted cross stitch kits for more than three decades. Her projects have taken her across the country — from New England to the Deep South and into the Great Midwest, Southwest and Far West. Her kits depict the homes of our presidents, our historic sites, our gardens and farms, and our natural wonders. Each project has an underlying theme relating to our American heritage. 

More information on The Posy Collection can be found on their website:

About the Author 

Sara Plante is Visitor Service Associate at the Connecticut Historical Society. She welcomes and orients CHS guests, oversees purchases, responds to a diverse array of inquiries and provides support to CHS programs, educational outreach, exhibitions and operations. Proud to play a role in bringing Connecticut’s history to life for CHS visitors, she is inspired by her colleague’s work to preserve and promote the CHS collection. Sara believes in the importance of incorporating history into our daily lives, using the past to inform our present.

About the Connecticut Historical Society

Established in Hartford in 1825, the Connecticut Historical Society is the official state historical society of Connecticut and one of the oldest historical societies in the nation.

Located at 1 Elizabeth Street in Hartford, CHS houses a nonprofit museum, library, archive and education center that is open to the public. The CHS campus houses a research center containing over 3.5 million manuscripts, graphics, books, artifacts and other historical materials.

CHS programs and exhibits help Connecticut residents connect with each other, have conversations that shape our communities and make informed decisions based on our past and present.


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