Written reflection for part one

Written reflection for part one

I used mind mapping and a mood board to help me get started on the introductory project, both of which I found very useful for getting the ideas flowing. I enjoyed putting my story together, collecting relevant items and then composing them. I did a lot of drawings, probably way more than I needed to but I was unsure whether I was capturing the essence of the theme with my mark making and actually what was mark making- was it different to drawing?? I had never heard this term before so it’s taken a while to get my head around that and what it means. My doubt mainly came from joining the textiles Facebook page and seeing other people’s work on there and on various blogs. Although very useful to see how other people have tackled the projects and the support from the groups looks encouraging, I got very hung up on whether I was doing it right or wrong, whether I was understanding and fulfilling the brief and whether my work was good enough. I have found it very hard not to have any reassurance from a tutor along the way but understand that this is part of the course, learning to work on your own and making and justifying your own decisions. As the projects progressed I feel that I have loosened up slightly in my approach. Drawing with my eyes shut or while not looking at the paper has been really helpful and I have found that I normally like these images more than ones I have spent longer on. I have enjoyed looking at other artists and designers but am finding it difficult sometimes to articulate my feelings about their work, something I am sure I will get better at as the course goes on. I have learnt a lot from drawing the archive textiles, looking into the story behind them has fascinated me. Learning to look at the little details that help to tell the story and trying to capture that in my drawings.

I now nervously await my first tutor feedback!

Project one, exercise 1.2 Substance and story

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Substance- The Blue dress

  1. What is the textile made from?
  • What fibres are employed in its making? The blue dress is made from a heavy woven cotton with piping, lace, velvet trim and mother of pearl buttons.
  • Is there a manufactures label or an archival label to give you that information? No
  • If there is no label, are you able to find out some other way? The catalogue listing has some information
  • How can the textile be cared for? All items in the museums archive are firstly wrapped securely and placed in a freezer to ensure that any infestations are killed off. Then each piece is wrapped in acid free tissue paper and stored in acid free boxes. They are regularly checked for any signs of infestations reappearing.
  1. What methods have been used in its production?
  • Is it woven, knitted, another form of construction, or is it a non-woven material? The main fabric is a woven heavy cotton, it has a slight sheen to it. The lining material appears to be the same fabric in an ochre colour. The velvet is woven, I am unsure whether the lace detail is handmade or machine made.
  • Is it handmade or machine made? Is it possible to know what type of machinery was involved? If it’s handmade is the maker identified? The dress is handmade and I think the material it is made from would have been machine made.
  • What textile finishing methods have been employed? The fabric is unlikely to have any finishing methods applied to it given the age of the item. (Britannica.com) (Wikipedia)
  • Is there a print or any form of embellishment, or has a surface finish been added to the original textile? Do you know how this has been achieved? The dress has delicate lace at the cuffs, piping around the sleeves and neck and mother of pearl buttons all added by hand.
  1. 3. Where is the textile from?
  • Can you find out this information from Labels or from the archive information? No labels on the dress and no information in the catalogue of its origin.
  • Is it the final product (perhaps a garment the fabric has been made into) that reflects the ‘Made in …’ label? It is the final product.
  • Is it possible to be sure where the fabric is from? No
  • Is it possible to know where the original fibres came from? No
  1. 4. What problems have you encountered in trying to find out this information?
  • Why might traceability be important in textiles? To be able to track the origin/history of the textile. Questions like where the textile came from, how was it produced, the date it was made are extremely useful when working with older textiles as it gives a history of the textile.
  • What information are you missing and how might you find out more? I am missing quite a bit of information on this dress. There is not much information in the catalogue details, it just states it is an ‘untraceable find’. I asked Chris (the lady at the museum) and she said it was so old they didn’t have any records for it at all. She said it was probably from around the 1800’s. On the catalogue it has ‘Male?’ and by looking at various styles of Boys dress I feel it could be between 1830-1860 at a guess but it is very hard to pinpoint. Many boys dresses were darker in colour and had metallic buttons and chunky belts (V&A museum of childhood) whereas this dress has velvet and lace trims, making me wonder whether it was actually a boys dress.

 

Story

  1. What other visual indications can you gleam from closely examining the textile samples? If the textile has been made into a product, what can you learn from further visual examination?
  •  Is it well-worn and heavily used? It looks worn but not heavily so. There are some holes and moth damage to some of the velvet. There are 3 hooks and eyes missing and a stain on the right hem and some discolouration around the neck.
  • Is it fragile and delicate or durable and sturdy? It is delicate due to its age but I feel it was made to be sturdy as the cotton fabric is quite heavy.
  • Can you tell the age of the textile product? No, very difficult to pinpoint.
  • Are there any indications of patina due to wear and age? Some discolouration around the neck
  • Is there evidence of repair or alterations? I couldn’t see any signs of repair or alteration. There were some loose threads around the neck but these threads are calico coloured which does not match the rest of the stitching so I feel this may have been where an archive label once was but it’s hard to tell.
  • Can you tell the story or guess the story behind the life of the textile? When I chose the dress I thought it was a girls but the catalogue information states male with a question mark. I felt it was lovingly made, the stitches are tiny and precise with attention to detail. The mother of pearl buttons and the blue velvet trim give it a sense of luxury.

 

  1. Are there any elements of the design, detail, decoration or construction of the textile sample that indicate a story behind the textile or product?
  •  Can you learn more about these, where they originate from and any background meaning or message? As it is handmade and without a date it would be nearly impossible to trace any more information.
  • Are they made to last or are they supposed to be transient? Feel it was made to last as the material is sturdy.
  • Are they personalised in any way or have they been customised or repaired? No signs of repair. The lace and buttons could be signs of customization.

 

  1. Nostalgia is a recurring theme in textiles and within the broader spheres of design and art. Textiles have special roles to play, as we can attach memories, experiences and sensations, particularly to the wearing of textiles or their close proximity.
  •  Can you build up a story of the users or wearers of the textiles? Using my imagination I can. I can see a mother lovingly making this dress and I personally feel it was for a little girl. From the size of the dress I would say 2-3 years old maybe.
  • Do you feel any sense of nostalgia in relation to any of the three examples you have chosen? If so why? If not, why not? Not so much to this dress as there is no historical information about it such as where it came from or who it belonged to.
  • Was this a conscious decision when choosing the samples? Or could it perhaps have been an unconscious decision in your selection? No, I chose this dress because the fabric was different to the 2 other items I chose.
  • Do you feel any of these 3 examples reflect any sense of heritage, whether your own or someone else’s? If so, why and in what way? If not, why not? Definitely feel a sense of heritage from the dress due to its age, not to me but to the history of the Island.

Britannica website, Textile finishing processes, P13 https://www.britannica.com/technology/textile/Textile-finishing-processes

Wikipedia website, Mercerised cotton    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercerised_cotton

V&A Museum of childhood, Boys’ dress http://www.vam.ac.uk/moc/collections/boys-dress/

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Substance- The waistcoat

  1. What is the textile made from?
  • What fibres are employed in its making? The waistcoat is made of cream coloured watered silk, with a silk lining material for its back. It has watered silk covered buttons and hand embroidery.
  • Is there a manufactures label or an archival label to give you that information? No
  • If there is no label, are you able to find out some other way? Listed in the catalogue details
  • How can the textile be cared for? All items in the museums archive are firstly wrapped securely and placed in a freezer to ensure that any infestations are killed off. Then each piece is wrapped in acid free tissue paper and stored in acid free boxes. They are regularly checked for any signs of infestations reappearing.
  1. What methods have been used in its production?
  • Is it woven, knitted, another form of construction, or is it a non-woven material? The fabric is watered silk which is made by “woven silk cloth is calendared, or passed through giant rollers. The calendaring process crushes the fibres of the silk. Silk which has been passed through rollers will have a rippling pattern which resembles a large series of water stains.” (Wisegeek.com)
  • Is it handmade or machine made? Is it possible to know what type of machinery was involved? If it’s handmade is the maker identified? The material would have been machine made, the waistcoat was handmade
  • What textile finishing methods have been employed? Unknown
  • Is there a print or any form of embellishment, or has a surface finish been added to the original textile? Do you know how this has been achieved? There is hand embroidery
  1. 3. Where is the textile from?
  • Can you find out this information from Labels or from the archive information? The catalogue information states that the waistcoat was made at Haseley manor on the IW for a wedding held at Arreton church IW.
  • Is it the final product (perhaps a garment the fabric has been made into) that reflects the ‘Made in …’ label It is the final product
  • Is it possible to be sure where the fabric is from? No way to tell where the fabric was from but the waistcoat info is above
  • Is it possible to know where the original fibres came from? No, but Macclesfield was a big producer of silk textiles around the time the waistcoat was made. (Cheshirelife.co.uk)
  1. 4. What problems have you encountered in trying to find out this information?
  • Why might traceability be important in textiles? To be able to track the origin/history of the textile. Questions like where the textile came from, how was it produced, the date it was made are extremely useful when working with older textiles as it gives a history of the textile.
  • What information are you missing and how might you find out more? Chris told me that a local member of the Embroiders guild, a lady named Harriet, uses the waistcoat from the museum in some of her talks so I contacted to her to see if she had any more information. Unfortunately she had no more info on whose wedding the waistcoat was for, just information on the embroidery, the stitches used which is useful to know, and the meaning of the embroidery which I had already researched.

 

Story

  1. What other visual indications can you gleam from closely examining the textile samples? If the textile has been made into a product, what can you learn from further visual examination?
  •  Is it well-worn and heavily used? I feel that it was well worn as there is some fraying around one of the button holes and some small brown marks on the lining which are listed in the catalogue as ‘tea stains’. The catalogue also states there are some alterations but these were not visible to me when drawing the item.
  • Is it fragile and delicate or durable and sturdy? The back seems very fragile, especially the ribbons/tapes on the back as they are paper thin and look like they would crumble if you touched them.
  • Can you tell the age of the textile product? The age listed is circa 1820
  • Are there any indications of patina due to wear and age? Just some brown stains on the lining.
  • Is there evidence of repair or alterations? The catalogue also states there are some alterations but these were not visible to me when drawing the item.
  • Can you tell the story or guess the story behind the life of the textile? The waistcoat was made at Hasley manor for a wedding at Arreton church. I believe Haseley manor was owned by the Fleming family during that period (Wikipedia) & (wottonbridgeiw). You could research weddings in the parish of Arreton if records go back that far but it would be difficult to pin down whose wedding it was made for.

 

  1. Are there any elements of the design, detail, decoration or construction of the textile sample that indicate a story behind the textile or product?
  • Can you learn more about these, where they originate from and any background meaning or message? There is a very elaborate and detailed embroidery pattern on the waistcoat consisting of pansies, forget- me –nots, rose buds and leaves. The stems are done with stem stitch, the flower centres with French knots and the leaves with shaded green button hole stitch (from the email Harriet sent me). Flowers often had meanings in those days so I did a little research on them and found a blog post with a very similar waistcoat shown with a link to the V&A collections website (V&A website) and it also gave the meanings of the flowers (stalkingthebelleepoque). Roses meant love and rose buds meant the early stages of love or a confession of love, pansies meant thoughts, and forget-me-nots symbolised true love or remembrance, which definitely fit in with a wedding.
  • Are they made to last or are they supposed to be transient? This was made for a wedding but some alterations had been done to it. The similar waistcoat on the V&A site had been cut down from an adults item of clothing to a boys, so although initially made for one specific event this probably would have been worn many times. The waistcoat I looked at was also very small in size and as alterations were listed in the catalogue, I wonder whether this had been altered to fit an older child at some point after the wedding.
  • Are they personalised in any way or have they been customised or repaired? Unknown, other than the embroidery design.
  1. Nostalgia is a recurring theme in textiles and within the broader spheres of design and art. Textiles have special roles to play, as we can attach memories, experiences and sensations, particularly to the wearing of textiles or their close proximity.
  • Can you build up a story of the users or wearers of the textiles? Yes, because of the relevant information given about where it was made and why. I imagine it was quite a fancy wedding as the watered silk would not have been cheap and the embroidery design is very elaborate.
  • Do you feel any sense of nostalgia in relation to any of the three examples you have chosen? If so why? If not, why not? Yes, because it’s easy to imagine the wedding at Arreton church and see the story attached to the waistcoat.
  • Was this a conscious decision when choosing the samples? Or could it perhaps have been an unconscious decision in your selection? I picked the waistcoat because it was handmade on the IOW and also because I thought the watered silk and embroidery  would give interesting patterns to draw
  • Do you feel any of these 3 examples reflect any sense of heritage, whether your own or someone else’s? If so, why and in what way? If not, why not? Definitely! It was made on the Island for an Island wedding and I have been to both of the places where this waistcoat was made and worn.

Wisegeek.com, what is watered silk, http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-watered-silk.htm

Cheshirelife.co.uk  http://www.cheshirelife.co.uk/out-about/places/how-macclesfield-has-silk-woven-through-its-history-1-1569440

Haseley Manor, Wikipedia.org  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haseley_Manor

Haseley manor http://woottonbridgeiow.org.uk/wightlife/haseley.php

Flower meanings http://stalkingthebelleepoque.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/historys-runway-boys-waistcoat-1820.html

V&A collections http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O96388/boys-waistcoat-unknown/

 

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Substance- The lace veil

  1. What is the textile made from?
  • What fibres are employed in its making? The catalogue states cotton, but my first thought was silk and the factory where it was made was known for its silk lace.
  • Is there a manufactures label or an archival label to give you that information? No
  • If there is no label, are you able to find out some other way? Yes, the catalogue
  • How can the textile be cared for? All items in the museums archive are firstly wrapped securely and placed in a freezer to ensure that any infestations are killed off. Then each piece is wrapped in acid free tissue paper and stored in acid free boxes. They are regularly checked for any signs of infestations reappearing.
  1. What methods have been used in its production?
  • Is it woven, knitted, another form of construction, or is it a non-woven material? The fabric is lace net made on a machine, so I would assume a very lose weave to make the net?
  • Is it handmade or machine made? Is it possible to know what type of machinery was involved? If it’s handmade is the maker identified? Machine made at Nunn’s Lace factory, staplers, Newport IOW, probably on a transverse warp machine (t.NunnPDF)
  • What textile finishing methods have been employed? Unknown
  • Is there a print or any form of embellishment, or has a surface finish been added to the original textile? Do you know how this has been achieved? The lace has a pattern, not sure if it is Blonde lace as the factory was famous for making this type of lace.
  1. 3. Where is the textile from?
  • Can you find out this information from Labels or from the archive information? Made at Nunn’s lace factory on the IOW
  • Is it the final product (perhaps a garment the fabric has been made into) that reflects the ‘Made in …’ label Yes, it’s the final product
  • Is it possible to be sure where the fabric is from? yes
  • Is it possible to know where the original fibres came from? No, the silk would have been imported. Not sure where the cotton would have come from. This type of information may be available at county records.
  1. 4. What problems have you encountered in trying to find out this information?
  • Why might traceability be important in textiles? To be able to track the origin/history of the textile. Questions like where the textile came from, how was it produced, the date it was made are extremely useful when working with older textiles as it gives a history of the textile.
  • What information are you missing and how might you find out more? Unsure whether it is cotton or silk, unsure of where I could find more information. Page 23 of this document (Identifying handmade lace)shows a piece of Chantilly lace similar to the piece of lace I drew but the lace I drew is not handmade. I also found this photo on a google search. The photo links to Pinterest but It was a broken link. This is very similar to the piece I drew and is listed as antique Honiton applique lace bonnet veil 1830.

honiton lace

Story

  1. What other visual indications can you gleam from closely examining the textile samples? If the textile has been made into a product, what can you learn from further visual examination?

 

  • Is it well-worn and heavily used? It looks like it hasn’t been worn at all. It has a couple of very small holes which may be moth damage
  • Is it fragile and delicate or durable and sturdy? Very fragile
  • Can you tell the age of the textile product? This style of lace was in production at the factory between 1822-1870
  • Are there any indications of patina due to wear and age? No
  • Is there evidence of repair or alterations? No
  • Can you tell the story or guess the story behind the life of the textile? I believe it is a bonnet veil as it is very small and as it is black it may have been worn during mourning.

 

  1. Are there any elements of the design, detail, decoration or construction of the textile sample that indicate a story behind the textile or product?

 

  • Can you learn more about these, where they originate from and any background meaning or message? There is a design on the lace but I don’t know if it is a specific IW design
  • Are they made to last or are they supposed to be transient? Made to last I would think even though its delicate it probably would have been expensive.
  • Are they personalised in any way or have they been customised or repaired? No

 

  1. Nostalgia is a recurring theme in textiles and within the broader spheres of design and art. Textiles have special roles to play, as we can attach memories, experiences and sensations, particularly to the wearing of textiles or their close proximity.

 

  • Can you build up a story of the users or wearers of the textiles?
  • Do you feel any sense of nostalgia in relation to any of the three examples you have chosen? If so why? If not, why not? Again, yes as this piece was made on the IOW
  • Was this a conscious decision when choosing the samples? Or could it perhaps have been an unconscious decision in your selection? Yes
  • Do you feel any of these 3 examples reflect any sense of heritage, whether your own or someone else’s? If so, why and in what way? If not, why not? Definitely the heritage of the IOW as it was produced in an Island factory which is no longer there.

 

t.NunnPDF, page 1  http://www.iwhistoryextras.org/technology/tNunn.pdf

Identifying handmade lace, DATS in partnership with the V&A, p.23  http://www.dressandtextilespecialists.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Identifying-Handmade-lace.pdf

2 other sites I found interesting about IW lace

http://woottonbridgeiow.org.uk/wightlife/lace.php

http://woottonbridgeiow.org.uk/lace.php

 

Project one: Exercise 1.1 The Archive

The Isle of Wight is not known for it’s culture. We have museums for buses, tanks, radio’s  and dinosaurs but are severely lacking in any sort of museums that show art or textiles so I had to think outside the box a little for this project.

I began by researching Island textiles. I only got one hit and that was for several fulling mills on the Island in the 1500’s.        http://www.iwhistory.org.uk/RM/fullingmills/

I also found out that we had a lace factory on the Island from around 1827-1877, but further online research provided no more information than I had already found. http://woottonbridgeiow.org.uk/lace.php

I then considered Osborne House, holiday home of Queen Victoria. I found their online catalogue but the only textiles listed were cushions, couches and wallpapers.

I then researched Carisbrooke castle, probably best known for holding King Charles l in the months leading up to his execution. It was also the holiday home of Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria’s youngest child. I found out that the castle museum had a night cap supposedly belonging to King Charles so I contacted them to see if they had any other items of clothing or textiles I could look at. I was amazed when The lady I contacted, Chris, told me they have a collection of 1,500 items of clothing in their collection, the majority of which is in storage.

photostudio_1509745307598

Chris sent me a few pages from their catalogue data base to give me an idea of what was available. I decided against the nightcap as that is on display in the museum (photo below) but the other items I would be allowed to draw in private in their archive library.

20171031_152255  I was excited to see a black lace veil made at the IW lace factory on the inventory so chose that for it’s IW link. I also chose a watered cream silk embroidered waistcoat because it was made on the Island and the patterns of the watered silk looked interesting to draw. My last item was a child’s dress with blue velvet trim, chosen for the contrast of fabrics against the other 2 items.

Page 23 Questions- Definition of Textiles and how stories can be attached to textiles

P.23 Questions

At the start of project one there are two questions to answer before embarking on the actual project.

Question one

  1. In your own words, write a definition of ‘textiles’ in its broadest sense. What materials do you consider to be ‘textile’ materials? When is a material not a textile? Can you identify any examples?

When glancing at this question as I read through the course material, I thought, “oh yes, ok, that’s easy enough”. Turns out not so much when you start really looking into it!

My conclusion after much reading is that in the broadest sense of the word ‘a textile is any flexible material.’ 

Dictionary definitions seem to imply that a textile is an article made by weaving, knitting, knotting, and felting-any method of interlocking the fibres together, to create a material. So its definition seems to be in the process. It is a product of the process.

So the answer to the second part of the question seems to be ‘any materials made from fibres, natural or synthetic that have been interlocked together but still remain flexible.’

This would include natural fibres such as those from:

Animals-wool, fur, hair silk, skin (I’m not sure about skin as has it been interlocked together, without going into the science of how cells are made and the makeup of the skin I am just going to leave this with a question mark for now).

Plants-cotton, flax, jute, hemp, sisal, grass, rush, coir, straw, bamboo, rice, nettle, seaweed

Mineral-glass, metal

Synthetic-polyester, nylon, Lurex, carbon fibre, acrylic.

There are so many examples of textiles, from the obvious to the not so obvious. Clothing, bedding, home furnishings, boat sails, tents, parachutes. Textiles have a part in Industrial uses such as composite materials used in the making of boats and planes. Even medical textiles- bandages and sterile wipes to things like composite structures for bone replacements and a knitted structure called the Corcap cardiac support device which cradles the heart and provides ventricular support.

https://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapId=24249

Link for further information on the Corcap.

So when is a material not a textile? I think when it has not been created using the processes mentioned- the interlocking/interweaving of the fibres to make a material that has a certain amount of flexibility.

If you use a textile material or a collection of textile materials to make another item that is hard and rigid, is it still a textile or a material? For example, a motorbike crash helmet is made from fibreglass, carbon fibre and some type of foam on the inside for comfort. It is hard so that it protects your head, and although would probably dent during an impact it is not designed to be flexible. So is it classed as a textile material or has it made up from textile materials. Has the process in which it has been put together taken away the definition of a textile?? You would not look at a crash helmet and see a textile, although it is made up of textiles as per the definition of a textile.

It is a difficult question to answer and even more difficult to find examples. Something to ponder on a bit more as I progress upon this course.

Question 2

2. In what ways could textiles have stories or narratives attached to them?

Oh, in so many ways…..

Everything has a history and history tells a story. You may have to look deeper at some things to find that story but it will be there if you care to look.

Different ways of finding that story with textiles could include looking at –

The origin of the textile/fabric-where was it made, how was it made, who made it, what was it made for, who wore it, how old is it, how was it dyed, is it specific to a culture or a tradition, memories evoked from the item, where did the fibres come from to make the material…

I believe that people leave their energy imprint on items, especially if they have put their heart and soul into something and other people can pick up on that energy. Textiles can tell the stories of someone’s life, their culture, how they lived and died. It can give insights into the fashions of the times, and the processes of making the fabric/material/item.

I have lots of personal examples of textiles holding memories and having stories. My wedding dress for example. I couldn’t afford to buy my wedding dress and was going to  hire it but then my dad won a little bit of money and so he bought the dress for me. This was a really special gift to me as I don’t think I could have bared wearing the dress on one of the most important days of my life and then giving it back to the shop, while all the memories of my wedding would have been tied to it. My sister then wore my wedding dress for her wedding and my daughter has always said that she would like to wear it as well. So the dress will hold so many happy memories and may become a tradition in our family.

I still have the first items of clothing my children wore when they born, their hand knitted baby blankets and their christening outfits and they hold so many stories and evoke so many memories. One of the blankets was made by my great aunt who has since passed so it is a way of remembering her also. My daughters christening outfit consisted of a white satin dress that I bought new for her and a beautiful handmade old christening cape that I found in a charity shop for a couple of pound! I bought it because I was intrigued by the unknown stories behind it. Who had made it, who wore it, why would someone give something so precious away to a charity shop? So now that cape has my memories attached to it and my daughter knows the story behind why I bought it and if she has children and uses it then they will also know the stories attached to it.

I made a memory quilt for my daughter out of some of her baby clothes and she still has it on her bed today 14 years later. (Photo below) She knows what squares came from what item of clothing and when looking at baby photos she will often say, ‘that dress is now a part of my quilt’. I also made a wedding quilt for my sister. I transferred photos of her wedding day onto fabric and used these and the colours of her wedding to create the quilt. I also hand embroidered their wedding vows around the edge.

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I have my Nan’s cardigan. She died last year and when I hold it I can see her bustling around, making dinner, sitting in her chair and it brings me comfort.

I used to belong to a quilting group and listened to many talks about the history of quilts. Many of the fabrics used were old work clothes and even flour and feed sacks (interesting fact- that manufacturers once realising that women would use these sack materials in quilts and clothing, began making them in colours and then printing them with designs, see link for further information on this) https://www.mequiltshoppe.com/history-of-the-1930s-feedsack-fabric.htm

Quilting Bee’s were very common in America, where women would get together to help make or finish quilts. This was a good way for women to socialize, share news and support one another. They would all sit around the quilting frame working together, chatting with each other, how could their stories not be bound up with the stitches of those quilts? I also learnt how important it is today to put your details, such as, name, location, materials used, type of pattern etc. onto the back of your quilt so if it becomes an heirloom people will know the history of it.

You could also go right back to the growing and picking of fibres such as cotton before they were even made into textiles. Plantation owners in the British colonies could meet the high demands for cotton by using unpaid slave labourers. These slaves would work all day hand picking cotton, without a wage and with only their very basic needs being met. Many slaves died from poor conditions and lack of nutrition and medical care so that plantation owners became rich and cotton production could be met. Their stories have to be acknowledged when talking about textile production of the old days as it is such an important part of history.

During the industrial revolution many people worked in the cotton mills, doing long hours in usually poor and unsafe working conditions. Young children were employed as cheap labour and also because their tiny hands could reach parts of the machine that adult hands could not if something went wrong. Again, many met their deaths in the mills due to unsafe practises.

We still have child labour today in many countries like south Asia and Latin America, often with the children earning less than £1 a day. These stories are all attached to the manufacturing of textiles and something to be aware of. How many of us ask ourselves if our clothes or even home furnishings are ethically produced or are fair trade items?

Cultural Textiles are another example of how textiles can tell a story. I started by looking at Tartans from the Highlands.  www.scotshistoryonline.co.uk/tartan-history.html               I originally believed that each clan had their own tartan, specific to them, an identifying mark for their family name so to speak. After further research though, I found out that each district in the Highlands would have had a weaver and he would have made the same tartan cloth for everyone of that district. The different colours of the tartans came from the area in which the weaver lived as local plants would provide the dyes for the yarns, so colours were dependent on what was available in that area. So a piece of tartan could tell you what district it came from and the different families who would have worn that design.

Most countries have their own form of traditional dress, many of which you can recognise on sight- the Welsh traditional costume for example is very identifiable. https://museum.wales/articles/2014-06-14/Welsh-National-Dress-FAQ/              These are normally based on historic dress that can tell a story of how those people lived.

Tribal clothing or textiles from many different cultures have their own stories to tell. The clothing worn can be a sign of one’s rank or authority within the tribe, have spiritual significance or may only be worn for special tribal ceremonies. In some African cultures, they use their textiles as a means of communication. Based on the choice of dyes or threads they may have an historical or even spiritual meaning.  www.contempory-african-art.com

 

Other ways that textiles can tell stories is through narrative textiles- art works made from textiles to tell a specific story.

The Bayeux tapestry is probably one of the most famous examples, telling the story of the Norman conquest of England. The tapestry is embroidered on linen with coloured woollen yarns. http://www.bayeuxtapestry.org.uk/bayeuxinfo.htm

While I was researching different narrative textiles I came across this site https://artandremembrance.org/about/esther-krinitz/

Esther Krinitz was a holocaust survivor who in 1977 began to create pieces of fabric art to share her survival story with her daughters. Her original works have been exhibited and there is also a book sharing her story and artworks.

Another site I came across was https://cachandochile.wordpress.com/2010/09/11/chilean-arpilleras-a-chapter-of-history-written-on-cloth/  which details the history of Chilean Artilleries, works of fabric art telling stories of the devastation left behind from the 1973 military coup that happened in Chile. These works of art were made with the help of the Catholic Church to help find a way for women to be able to support their families. They were made on burlap and were then sold and the money raised given back to the women.

A quote from the site that resonated with me.  These arpilleras began to tell a story, to leave a history, a testimony in cloth, of what the women were experiencing. It was an emotional release, and for many it was a way of expressing what they could not bring their voices to say”

Many textile artists today work with narrative textiles, using their art to tell stories or create awareness of specific local or global issues. They can be a way of acknowledging a story, an idea, a travesty, a moment in time, an experiment. A way of evoking something within or waking something in another person who views the work. They can be a symbol of hope, a cry for help, obvious or subtle, translated in as many ways as a person can interpret it.

I could probably research forever on this subject and come up with many more references but I feel that I have covered a good range of examples here.

 

 

A few more drawings

I realised that I had not drawn very much of the textiles either with the other items or  on their own so here are a few more drawings I did to rectify that!20171021_144018

For this one I made a background using brown paper, parcel paper, deli paper and an old book page. I used an ink pen then gave it a wash with water and then added some white ink.

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I did this over the top of an old gelli print to try and get some more texture and depth into it. I used a ball point pen.

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I used charcoal for this one, using my finger to smudge trying to capture the drape of the blue checked fabric.

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This one is ultramarine blue water colour on water colour paper. Not that happy with this one. It’s a long time since I have used watercolour and I found it hard to build up layers.

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This one is white prisma colour pencil on black paper. I wanted to capture the silohuette and the way the direction of the checks change with the folds.

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I used a magnifying glass to really see the detail on the cheese cloth.

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I used a white prisma colour pencil on black paper. I am pleased with how this one came out and I like the contrast of the white on the black paper.

Texture and drawing

Photo heavy post. Some of the texture and drawings of the different items I gathered.

 

Close up detail of wicker basket and hessian sack texture.

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Hessian sack detail, HB pencil drawing on pastel paper, 15 minute drawing. I liked the pastel paper as it had a texture that could relate to the hessian pattern.

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Hessian sack detail, 4B graphite stick on kraft card, quick 5 minute drawing.

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Basket details, 2B pencil on cartridge paper. I found it quite hard to draw the weave pattern as its very complex so then I experimented with breaking the pattern down into simple lines.

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Basket detail, HB and 4B graphite sticks on matt side of brown parcel paper

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Basket detail, pen and ink, toothpicks and ink and fan brush and ink

Top left, breaking the texture down into simple marks. Top right and bottom, graphite stick rubbings of the basket texture on deli paper and cartridge paper.

Details of hessian sack. Top left, toothpicks and ink, top right, graphite rubbings of the sack and ink, brown pen, pencil and graphite drawings on cartridge paper and brown paper.

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Pen drawing of the whole composition. 45 minutes, cartridge paper.

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Graphite stick drawing of the whole composition. 20 minutes, quick sketch, kraft card.

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Pencil drawing of the whole composition, 30 minute quick sketch, brown parcel paper.

HB pencil and pen drawings of mushroom detail.

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Detail of the underside of a fly agaric mushroom.

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pen drawing of the detail of fly agaric mushroom. Done on deli paper to help show the fragility of the gills.

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Horse chestnut. Brown pen on pastel paper, 40 minutes. Trying to capture the glossiness of the chestnuts next to the spikiness of the case.

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Horse chestnut, HB graphite stick. 5minute, quick sketch using fast hard lines to try and portray the spikiness.

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Rosehips on brown parcel paper. Graphite stick, focussing on where the light hits the berries to try and portray the gloss and roundness. Then just drawing the outline and the space in between the berries.

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Willow charcoal stick on brown paper. Again, trying to capture the roundness and gloss of the berries by focusing on light and shadow.

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Various detail of the different mushrooms collected. HB pencil and pen on cartridge paper.

Foraging and composition

I decided to go to Parkhurst forest to forage for items for my collection. I was hoping to find some mushrooms, chestnuts and berries and I wasn’t disappointed.

I am no stranger to foraging, I love to wander in the woods gathering moss, fallen branches and leaves to decorate my home,and elderberries, blackberries, rosehips and  hawthorn berries to turn into herbal remedies for the winter months. At this time of year though most of the berries are gone or past their best but there was an abundance of sweet chestnuts and lots of different varieties of mushrooms. I am no mushroom expert and I would never eat any mushrooms as misidentification could be fatal, so I gathered these carefully wearing gloves as many can be harmful and poisonous.

There is something deeply satisfying about collecting wild food and turning it into a warming pudding on a chilly autumn day, or even better, creating elixirs and healing tonics for your family’s well being.  Healing and nourishing your body from the bounty of Mother Earth. It takes you back to simpler times when you would have only been able to eat what was in season- no supermarkets importing out of season goods from around the world! You would have had to go out and find your food, or work long and hard to sow and grow and then gather your own crops. Medicines, as we know them today, were non existent, or only available to the very rich and many were plant derivatives anyway. The women of the villages would know what berries and roots to collect to keep your body healthy through the long winter months, to clear colds, boost the immune and get rid of a fever. Reclaiming this knowledge and living simply from the land is once again becoming ‘fashionable’ as people look for ways to reduce their carbon footprint, leave the stresses of high powered jobs and return to a uncomplicated way of living.

This is the feeling I am trying to capture with this theme of ‘Nature’s larder’ . I am not sure if I have achieved this but I have thoroughly enjoyed interpreting this theme.

I had to work quite quickly when I got home before the mushrooms started to deteriorate. I found other objects which to me encompassed the feeling of foraging in the woods and making remedies with the items collected. These were my wicker basket, a hessian sack for storing foraged goods, blue and white checked cotton used on jam jar lids, a bottle of homemade elderberry elixir and a piece of cheesecloth which I use for straining. I wanted a varied mixture of textures and organic and non organic items.

I tried lots of different compositions and photographed them all for later reference. I tried hard to really capture the feeling of the theme. I enjoyed playing with all the items and arranging them in different ways to show the different properties of each. I liked the compositions with everything in the best as I felt that captured the feeling of abundance, an overflowing basket of goodies from Mother Nature. Although liking the overall compositions of everything being seen, I did zoom in and take close up photos of some of the items to create more intimate images for closer inspection. I took several close ups of the rosehips and the chestnuts as I was fascinated with the way the light hitting them gave them their rounded glossy appearance which next to the thorny stems of the hips and the spiky cases of the chestnuts gave quite a contrast. I used a heavy, natural , cream fabric as a backdrop for the collection. I wanted it to be neutral and of natural fibres so it was in keeping with the theme.

I made some quick sketches while everything was still fresh and then started on a few more detailed pieces.

 

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This was one of my favorite compositions as I could see the detail of everything and to me it summed up the abundance of the foraged items.

OCA Textiles- A Textiles vocabulary- Introductory Project

Hello and welcome to my blog. I have created this blog as part of my learning log for the OCA Textiles degree course. It has been a long time since I wrote a blog, so please bear with me while I find my feet.

My course folder arrived on Wednesday 11th October and I was excited to get going. I spent some time reading the first few projects and highlighting important information. I then found my way to the OCA website and set up my email and had a look around the forums and introduced myself. I then spent a couple of days working through the Introduction to higher education course and finally started work on the intro project on Friday.

I chose ‘Nature’s Larder’ as my theme. I started off by doing a bit of stream of consciousness writing to come up with some ideas relating to the theme.

Abundant, organic, fresh, natural, Mother Earth, Gaia, healthy, healing,growth, hidden,making, storing for winter, preserved, green, lush, vegetation, hedgerows, woods, autumn,herbs, mushrooms, berries, gathering, collecting,food, medicine.

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Then I did a bit of mind mapping to get further ideas of where I could take this. I came up with quite a bit so then I had to narrow it down.

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I went with ‘foraging’ and did another mind map and also looked through a book called Food for free by Richard Mabey (published by Harper Collins).

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By this time I had a good feel for the mood I wanted to create but it was dark out so I couldn’t go out collecting stuff. I wrote a list of items I had indoors that would go with the theme and decided to create a pinterest board for inspiration. I printed a few images off to create a ‘mood page’ in my sketchbook.

I am hoping to go out on Sunday looking for berries, chestnuts and conkers for my collection.