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