TRC Blog: Textile Moments

String piecing

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Annelien van Kempen was one of the participants to the TRC workshop on string piecing on 31st January, as given by Linzee McCray. She proudly sends us a series of photographs of her 'Spring Sack', sized 66 x 45 cm, which she finished after a week's hard work on the basis of what she learnt at the workshop.

Annelien van Kempen Atelier: Trix Terwindtstraat 2, Leiden Postadres: Buitenruststraat 32, NL - 2271 HB Voorburg T 06 15626367 E  Dit e-mailadres is beschermd tegen spambots. U heeft Javascript nodig om het te kunnen zien.  W http://www.annelienvankempen.nl  Luchthollers: https://www.pixum.nl/mijn-fotos/album/5833342 

   

Feedsack and quilting week

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Andrew Thompson interviewing Linzee McCray, 1st February 2018. Photograph by Shelley Anderson.

Andrew Thompson interviewing Linzee McCray, 1st February 2018. Photograph by Shelley Anderson.

We have just had a very busy, noisy and instructive week at the TRC. From the 30th January to the 3rd February it was feedsack and quilting week at the TRC. It was organised as part of the TRC’s current exhibition about American feedsacks, their social and economic context and how they helped clothe and warm (literally) thousands of Americans between the 1920’s and 1960’s. The week was made possible by Linzee McCray, author of the book Feed Sacks: The Colourful History of a Frugal Fabric (2017). The week was originally organized so that Linzee would give the lectures and workshops, while I would give the guided tours. However, it quickly became apparent that Linzee felt very much at home with the Dutch and so she offered to give all the guided tours as well.

Tuesday (30th January): Linzee gave a lecture on the history and use of feed sacks to a full audience (this lecture was the first of the activities to fill up very quickly). The participants heard the multi-faceted and at times complex story of feedsacks.

Wednesday (31st January): There was a workshop on string piecing, the use of strips of cloth to produce enough blocks to create a quilt. Again the workshop was full so the group was divided into those with sewing machines and those who wanted to hand sew. The TRC workshop is a large room and flexible, so it was easy to accommodate the 16 people who had signed up for this fascinating event. Cloth, thread, people quietly chatting, as well as the hum of sewing machines filled the TRC. During the Wednesday afternoon, Andrew Thompson came to the TRC to make a film about the feedsack exhibition and to talk with Linzee about the history of feedsacks. This film can be seen on YouTube.

Participants to the feedsack and quilt week, inspecting the items on display. Photograph by Shelley Anderson.

Participants to the feedsack and quilt week, inspecting the items on display. Photograph by Shelley Anderson.

Thursday (1st February): This day saw Linzee giving a talk about Art quilts of the Midwest. This was based on her experience with making various art quilt exhibitions, with the central question: ‘what is quilting’ (the American definition of three layers of cloth stitched or fastened together in some manner was used), followed by ‘what is an art quilt’? It was clear that some people were in agreement with the term art quilt, while others were not. What everyone agreed with is that this type of quilting takes the technique of quilting towards a new direction.

Friday (2nd February): Friday included the second workshop on Stitch-and-Flip, a quilting technique for using every single last scrap of cloth in various colourful manners. Again the workshop was filled by enthusiastic quilters, some of whom came to every single event on each day of the quilting week.

Saturday (3rd February): Today was a question-and-answer day about American feedsacks and quilts and various people came with suitcases filled with both! There was a lively discussion concerning the history and nature of the objects brought for discussion. And in between the quilt questions, Linzee was able to give two guided tours. Before we knew it, it was half past three and nearly time to stop.

During some of the discussions that took place during the feedsack and quilting week, there was a call made for creating an International Quilting Centre that could act as a source of inspiration and knowledge about quilting – the mainstay would be American quilts, but the whole world (literally) of quilting would be included, ranging from European, Middle Eastern, Indian to other Asian items. The TRC is ready to accept this challenge! However, it would require considerable funding and space to make this idea into a reality. On the other hand we have already been offered, as donations, several quilt collections from the US and the Netherlands to ‘kickstart’ such a centre. Linzee and Sherry Cook in the US have also offered to talk with friends and collectors to help make this International Centre a reality.

The feedsack and quilt week was a great success thanks to all the TRC colleagues, Linzee McCray in particular, and the financial support of the American Embassy, The Hague. The exhibition can be seen until 28th June.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, Sunday 11th February 2018

   

Ancient Siberian bling

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Golden vase from Kul Oba in the Crimea, 4th century BCE, with a relief showing group of Scythians.

Golden vase from Kul Oba in the Crimea, 4th century BCE, with a relief showing group of Scythians.

“Scythians: Warriors of ancient Siberia” was a recent exhibition at the British Museum (London). The Scythians were a nomadic people who, during the period of 900 to 200 BCE, dominated the grasslands from southern Siberia to the Black Sea. They were fierce fighters, a fact written about by the Assyrians, the Persians and the ancient Greeks (the latter also admired the Scythians’ drinking prowess). The Scythians were also master craftspeople.

The exhibition showcased stunning examples of Scythian gold work, including elaborate gold belt buckles, earrings, and plaques to decorate clothes, quivers and bow cases, and gear for horses. The larger gold buckles and plaques often have textile impressions on their backs, which is evidence of a specific way of casting.

Detail of the golden vase illustrated above (not the same scene as above). The two Scythians depicted have the characteristic long hair and beard. One of them has a high pointed cap. They both wear trousers and a tunic.

Detail of the golden vase illustrated above (not the same scene as above). The two Scythians depicted have the characteristic long hair and beard. One of them has a high pointed cap. They both wear trousers and a tunic.

There were many examples of beautifully preserved textiles. The Scythians buried high-status individuals in kurgans, or burial chambers built of wood and stone. The organic remains were often frozen, and so preserved for over two thousand years. There were coats of squirrel fur (the fur on the inside) finely sewn with sinew. On one woman’s coat, the stitches were less than 1 mm long. This same coat was trimmed with fur that had been dyed with indigo and madder, and decorated on the outside with intricate, differently coloured, leather appliqués. The appliqués were further decorated with small bronze plaques that had been covered with gold foil. Interestingly, the cuffs of the narrow sleeves had been sewn shut, a feature seen on other such coats.

Both men and women wore woollen trousers (additionally, women wore long woollen skirts). There were several expertly woven wool fragments on display—some dyed with five colours (blue, green, red, orange and yellow). People were also buried with unique, high head gear, made from leather and felt; some burial mounds also contained decorated felt stockings; and woollen rugs or coverlets.

There were two objects on display that I will remember for a long time. One was a beautiful felt swan figure, which dates to the third century BCE. It was found with three other similar swans and may have been sewn to decorate a cart. Stuffed with straw, with a black bill and yellowish-red tail feathers, it is charming. The other object was a red leather woman’s shoe. This dates from the late fourth to the early third centuries BCE. The toe is decorated with thick sinew wrapped with tin foil, to imitate silver. But it’s the sole of the show which shows real bling: edged with dark beads, small cubed pyrite crystals were stitched to form three diamond-shaped patterns. Even sitting on the floor, showing the soles of her shoes, the woman who wore this wanted to be fashionable.

The exhibition is now closed. Hopefully it will be on tour to other museums before it returns to its home in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia. If it is, don’t miss it.

Shelley Anderson, Sunday 28th January 2018

   

Gingham Girl, Hajj clothing and bark cloth from Indonesia: New acquisitions for the TRC collection

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Bark cloth garment from Sulawesi, Indonesia, c. 1945/1950 (TRC 2018.0042).

Bark cloth garment from Sulawesi, Indonesia, c. 1945/1950 (TRC 2018.0042).

It is only the third week of January, but we are already including some new and very diverse objects into the TRC Collection. The first few items include an original Gingham Girl cloth and notebook, both from c. 1925 and acquired in the context of the current exhibition at the TRC about feedsacks. The  acquisition of these items means that we have an almost complete range of objects on display that really represent the fascinating history of the American feedsack.

We are also welcoming groups of quilters coming to the exhibition. They are especially attracted by the many quilts made from feedsacks, and their intriguing and colourful designs. So far, the 'Flying Geese' quilt seems to be the most popular. The exhibition can be seen until the end of June 2018. One the groups that we welcomed was actually a birthday party. Perhaps an idea for others?

Woman's cloth for a Turkish woman, used for the Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca (TRC 2018.0038a).

Woman's cloth for a Turkish woman, used for the Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca (TRC 2018.0038a).

Another range of new acquisitons is equally fascinating. Mrs. E. Güney, a long-standing friend of the TRC who is very active within the Turkish community in Leiden, came to the TRC with various items relating to Turkish Muslim life, namely, Hajj and Umrah clothing for men and women, worn when on pilgrimage to Mecca. This set included two prayer cloths, prayer beads and books explaining how to perform the Hajj and Umrah, in both Arabic and Turkish. In 2017 she gave the TRC a range of cloths, soaps, perfumes, etc, relating to the burial of a Muslim. Over the next few years she wants to build up the Turkish collection at the TRC in order to represent this aspect of Turkish life in The Netherlands. The objects are donated in the name of the Stichting Güney, Leiden.

On Friday last (26th January) we were given five bark cloth garments that date from about 1945/1950. These come from eastern Sulawesi (Indonesia) and were given by the Van Strien family. They had initially been given to Mr. P.T. van Strien, who was appointed as a Dutch colonial administratior to the region in 1945. The garments include two sarongs, a blouse and a large roundel. All of these have been painted with stylised foliage, birds and geometric shapes, mainly in brown and black. Because of the Japanese occupation of the islands during the Second World War (1939-1945), there was an acute shortage of cotton material for clothing and many people were forced to wear bark cloth garments.

Gillian Vogelsang, Saturday 27th January 2018

   

Happy Saint Distaff Day

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Saint Distaff

Saint Distaff

Today, 7th January, is Saint Distaff Day. You may never have heard of her, and to be honest, she never existed. But she has been adopted as the patron saint of the TRC, so - Happy Saint Distaff Day to you all.

St. Distaff is a medieval English joke. We discovered her when preparing an exhibition on handspinning in 2011.  The 7th of January was an unofficial medieval celebration. It  observed the day that women went back to household work after twelve days of celebrating Christmas. It was the day that women could make jokes at the expense of men. The men themselves returned to work on the Monday (sometimes called Plough Monday) immediately following St. Distaff day.

A distaff is an ancient tool used by spinners to support extra fibres (usually flax or wool) while at work. So it is an appropriate 'female' tool for a 'saint' to be named after. 

Shelley Anderson, Sunday 7th January 2018.

   

TRC Zijden Kousen Project: De eerste proeflapjes

Vier ervaren breisters van het TRC Zijden Kousen Project, 29 december 2017.

Vier ervaren breisters van het TRC Zijden Kousen Project, 29 december 2017.

Sinds de aankondiging van het TRC Zijden Kousen project zijn we overladen met enthousiaste reacties. Momenteel zijn er meer dan honderd deelnemers voor de workshops waarin we de zijden kousen van het Texelse zeventiende-eeuwse scheepswrak gaan reconstrueren. Er zijn zelfs mensen die vanuit de Verenigde Staten en Canada mee willen doen.

Ter voorbereiding op de workshops die begin 2018 plaats gaan vinden, zijn enkele ervaren breisters alvast aan de slag gegaan om ons te helpen de juiste breipennen en zijden garens te selecteren. Op vrijdag 29 december kwamen ze bijeen en begonnen aan de eerste proeflapjes. Op pen 0.7 en 1, want dikker gaat het helaas niet worden.

Lees meer: TRC Zijden Kousen Project: De eerste proeflapjes

   

Genius at work: Paul Poiret (1879-1944)

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‘Chez Poiret’, cover of Les Modes, with designs by Paul Poiret, drawn by Georges Barbier, April 1912. Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

‘Chez Poiret’, cover of Les Modes, with designs by Paul Poiret, drawn by Georges Barbier, April 1912. Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

Paul Poiret was an influential fashion designer in Paris. Nicknamed ‘Le Magnifique’, he produced innovative fabrics and clothing for both women and men that incorporated bright colours, Japanese-style kimono sleeves and graceful drapery. His dresses for women were all designed—shockingly for the time—to be worn without a corset. The Gemeentemuseum in the Hague has designed the exhibition ‘Art Deco’ as a fitting tribute to him, and to the many other creators of this iconic, early 20th century style.

‘Art Deco’ features furniture, stunning jewellery by Cartier and paintings by Kees van Dongen, Sonia Delaunay, Picasso, Dufy and Iribe. But the exhibition’s highlight are the dozens of garments by Poiret. There is ‘Toujours’, a velvet, ankle-length dress with grosgrain ribbon, created in 1911, and a stunning 1912 silk dress in deep blue. My favourite is a Poiret from 1923 called ‘Braque’, after the painter. It is a white silk dress with large black geometric patterns.

Poiret incorporated avant-garde art styles like Cubism and Constructivism in his designs and hired painters like Picasso, Modigliani, Raoul Dufy and Paul Iribe to work for him. Garments by other designers are also on display, most notably the cream-coloured pleated silk ‘Peplos’, designed by Mariano Fortuny in 1914.

Part of Poiret’s genius lay in his comprehensive vision. When he opened his house Maison Martine in 1905, he concentrated on interior décor and fabrics. In addition to his corset-free clothing and shoes, he introduced new features such as the home bar and sunken baths. His bright fabrics with large floral patterns, and the use of luxury materials such as fur, velvet, silk and satin, caused a sensation, as did his perfume line. He also pioneered ways to sell his creations by inventing the cat walk, and toured with his models around the country. He designed costumes for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes and for the new medium of films.

But it was his ambitious vision that also led to his downfall. At the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (from whence comes the term ‘art deco’), Poiret showcased his work by outfitting three barges on the Seine. The first promoted his perfumes, the second was a restaurant, while in the third, with the tapestries of Dufy as back drops, daily fashion shows where held. This, plus the new styles of designers such as Coco Chanel, led to bankruptcy in the late 1920s. It is said that when Poiret first saw Chanel’s iconic little black dress, he said to her, “But who are you in mourning for?” Chanel fired back, “For you.”

‘Art Deco’ is on at the Gemeentemuseum in the Hague until 4th March 2018.

Shelley Anderson, 9th December 2017

   

Hoe herken je kant?

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Kanten kraagje voor een japon, begin 20ste eeuw. TRC 2017.3324.

Kanten kraagje voor een japon, begin 20ste eeuw. TRC 2017.3324.

In het weekeinde van 4 op 5 november werd in het atelier van het TRC de boeiende workshop van Olga Ieronima over het uitgebreide onderwerp “hoe herken je kant” gehouden. Hoewel het buiten goot en de regen op de lichtkoepel van het atelier van het TRC kletterde, luisterden binnen zeven zeer geïnteresseerde en in textielkennis al ervaren deelnemers naar Olga’s heldere uitleg van de verschillen tussen bijvoorbeeld naaldkant en kloskant, geborduurd tule en gehaakt kant, filetwerk en tamboereerwerk en bijvoorbeeld hoe machinaal kant eruit ziet.

De zeer ervaren Olga had haar eigen grote ronde kloskant-kussen meegenomen en gaf daar een korte demonstratie van. Er was ook een kloskant-kussen in the TRC collectie met alle variaties die er te vinden zijn in soorten kantklosjes. Waarschijnlijk is die indertijd klaargemaakt toen het TRC in 2014 een expositie “Over kant Gesproken” had opgezet, waarover toen een alleraardigst informatieboekje is geschreven.

Bovendien had Olga voor elk van ons een uitgebreide en uitgeprinte beschrijving van de geschiedenis van de kanthistorie, uitgewerkte fotovoorbeelden en tekeningen gemaakt dat we als naslagwerk voor later konden gebruiken. De voorraad én de kwaliteit van de enorme variatie aan voorbeelden van kant van het TRC zijn immens! Ze lagen allemaal keurig gesorteerd klaar om niet alleen bekeken, maar ook aangeraakt en gevoeld te worden. Dit is een bijzondere specialiteit van het TRC, die door de deelnemers erg gewaardeerd werd.

Na afloop van dit weekeinde wisten we veel meer over kant én kregen we ongelooflijk veel bewondering voor de makers van kant én konden we zelfs (weliswaar met enige moeite) de verschillende soorten kant van elkaar onderscheiden! Helaas regende het nog steeds flink toen we tevreden naar huis gingen……

Esmeralda Zee, donderdag 16 november 2017

   

TRC weekend workshop on lace

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TRC weekend lace workshop, 4-5 November 2017

TRC weekend lace workshop, 4-5 November 2017

There were eight participants (from four different countries) at the TRC’s recent weekend workshop on “Identification of Lace”. The workshop was expertly led by Olga Ieromina, a TRC volunteer and an enthusiastic lace maker herself. Olga began by giving a working definition of lace as a decorative openwork fabric, in which the pattern, and any ground that links the pattern parts, are gradually built up by the interworking of free threads.

She explained four different markers that can be used to identify lace: how is it made (for example, handmade or machine made, the type of stitches used in construction, etc); what type of lace (needle lace, bobbin lace, hairpin lace, etc.); what kind of thread is used (examples included linen, silk, cotton, synthetic, wool or metal); and the lace’s country of origin and date.

A brief history of lace followed, from its 15th century origins in southern European embroidery and cut work, through the 17th century’s stunning needle lace (much of which originated in Venice), to the rise of Flemish bobbin lace in the 18th century and on to the 19th century’s machine lace.

TRC weekend lace workshop, 4-5 November 2017

TRC weekend lace workshop, 4-5 November 2017

We then began the most enjoyable part of a very enjoyable weekend—identifying, examining and handling many different and beautiful examples of lace in the TRC collection, from continuous to guipure, looped or appliqued; made by hand and by a variety of machines (including Puschers, Barmen and chemical). Our learning was enhanced by a series of short video clips, which showed how different laces were made and by the experiences of the participants themselves, whether we were curators, collectors, craftswomen, conservators or in the vintage business. Olga also produced a very useful handout on lace identification for each participant. I came away from the workshop with more knowledge and even more admiration for the creators of such complex and beautiful textiles.

Shelley Anderson.

Friday, 10th November 2017

   

Syriac Orthodox display opened

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Display of clothing and objects associated with Bishop Mor Julius Yeshù Çiçek. 5th Nov. 2017. Photograph by Gewargis Acis.

Display of clothing and objects associated with Bishop Mor Julius Yeshù Çiçek. 5th Nov. 2017. Photograph by Gewargis Acis.

Sunday 5th November: The last few days have seen some interesting events and developments at the TRC. As seen from a previous blog, we had a donation of a christening gown dating from 1947. It is embroidered with the names of 17 babies who had been christened in the gown. An item about it was also put on the TRC’s facebook page and many people have seen the item and reacted to it.

Saturday and Sunday saw a new development at the TRC, namely a two-day course on the identification of lace and its many different forms and types. The course was given by Olga Ieromina, one of the TRC volunteers and a dedicated lace maker and responsible for the TRC’s collection of lace. More details about the course will come online shortly.

In the meantime Willem and I have been hard at work at the Syriac Monastery in Glane, in the east of the Netherlands. We have been helping the community to prepare a display about the previous Syriac bishop, called Mor Julius Yeshù Çiçek, who died in 2007 and who had a strong influence then, and indeed now, on the monastery and the people associated with it. Saturday was spent getting the final details of the exhibition in order, text boards hung, podiums and stands covered, objects in order (especially three outfits worn by the bishop) and finally getting the object descriptions written and translated into Dutch and English. Two showcases for the display were provided by the Volkenkunde Museum, Leiden.

Lees meer: Syriac Orthodox display opened

   

Doopjurk met een rijke geschiedenis

Doopjurk uit 1947 gemaakt van parachutezijde, met geborduurd de namen van 17 dopelingen, tussen 1947 en 2013.

Doopjurk uit 1947 gemaakt van parachutezijde, met geborduurd de namen van 17 dopelingen, tussen 1947 en 2013.

Het TRC ontving vandaag wel een heel speciale nieuwe aanwinst voor de collectie: het is een doopjurk die in 1947 werd gemaakt van parachutezijde dat de grootvader van de baby tijdens de oorlog ergens had gevonden of gekocht. Hij had drie dochters, en die kregen elk een stuk van de zijde. Twee zusjes maakten er een blouse van; de derde een doopjurk voor haar eerste kind. Geen gemakkelijke klus, want de jurk moest worden gemaakt van een schuine baan stof met een schuine naad in het midden aan de voorkant. Om die naad een beetje te verbergen, borduurde de jonge moeder langs de naad de naam, geboortedatum en geboorteplaats van haar dochtertje. Later voegde zij daar nog aan toe de datum van de doop, de naam en plaats van de kerk, de naam van de dominee en de bijbeltekst van de doop. 

De doopjurk werd daarna in de familie nog heel veel gebruikt, en elke keer werden alle gegevens weer op de jurk geborduurd, en na zeventien dopelingen is de jurk bijna helemaal vol. De laatst geborduurde tekst is die van een baby die in Harderwijk werd gedoopt op 12 maart 2013.

 

Lees meer: Doopjurk met een rijke geschiedenis

   

Strengthening the TRC archives and research facilities

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Girl with child from Walcheren in Zeeland, in the southwestern part of the Netherlands, in local costume. Photograph was taken in 1929.

Girl with child from Walcheren in Zeeland, in the southwestern part of the Netherlands, in local costume. Photograph was taken in 1929.

The TRC Leiden has just been given a small photo album that dates from 1929. It depicts daily life in Zeeland just before the Second World War. A way of life, including many of the garment types that have now vanished. The album includes 39 photographs taken during the holiday of Mr and Mrs N.G.J Schouwenburg from Amsterdam. They and their young daughter, Gera, then aged one, were in Zutphen in Overijssel, in the East of the Netherlands, and in Oostkapelle in Zeeland (in the south) for a holiday. It would appear that they were part of the vicars and elders associated with the Dutch Reformed Church (Nederlands Hervormde Kerk), as they stayed with Mr. van Paassen (Zutphen) and Mr. Gijsman (Oostkapelle), both of whom were vicars of that particular Protestant denomination. The album contains both family images of the Schouwenburgs and Gera (she regularly appears in the photographs).

With respect to the TRC interest in dress and identity, the images in this album present a fascinating glimpse of life for a middle class urban family (the ladies are wearing some wonderful cloche hats), who were clearly interested in the regional dress still worn on a daily basis by men, women and children in Zeeland.  We are now working hard on identifying all of the regional dress forms represented in the photographs.

These photographs can be found at the TRC Digital Collection under the numbers 2017.3322 (a-z, and za-zo), or by typing in Schouwenburg. One of the aims of the TRC is to present online a range of photographs and other images relating to textile and dress history from around the world. If you have any photographs that you know the date, place and perhaps even the people depicted, and you would be willing to donate to them TRC can you please let us know at Dit e-mailadres is beschermd tegen spambots. U heeft Javascript nodig om het te kunnen zien. . Many thanks!

Gillian Vogelsang, 31st October 2017

   

National Silk Art Museum, Weston, Missouri, USA

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Stevengraph showing Queen Victoria, woven in Coventry (England) in 1841.

Stevengraph showing Queen Victoria, woven in Coventry (England) in 1841.

I first became interested in Stevengraphs after the TRC acquired several examples (see TRC 2013.0419 and 2013.0462 via the TRC’s digital collection). Stevengraphs are pictures woven from silk. Originally in shimmering white, silver and black threads, designers later used coloured silks to create pictures. Stevengraphs are named after the English weaver, Thomas Stevens, who developed the process.

Stevens began producing silk bookmarks and greeting cards in the 1860s, using mechanical looms and punch cards. These affordable silk pictures became very popular in Victorian England, and gradually became larger and more detailed. It was a delight, then, to discover a museum dedicated to Stevengraphs.

The National Silk Art Museum in Weston, Missouri (USA) has some 300 silk pictures on display, ranging from small souvenirs of various World Fairs, to portraits of celebrities and royalty, to large reproductions of paintings by Rembrandt, Goya and Raphael. There is also a special display of embroidered post cards of World War I, similar to those in the TRC collection. The majority of the pictures, especially ones depicting religious or sporting scenes, are from France, not England, produced by firms such as Neyret Freres.

The exhibition opens with a display (post cards, photographs and stereoscope slides) on the history of silk production, with an emphasis on 19th century American involvement in silk. In 1603, silk worm eggs and mulberry seeds were sent to the British colony of Virginia, by order of the English king, in the hope of establishing a silk industry that could compete with French and Italian silk production. Crops like tobacco and indigo, however, proved more commercially successful. There were many silk mills, mostly in the eastern USA, during the latter half of the 19th century and early 20th.

Stevengraph showing Joan of Arc.

Stevengraph showing Joan of Arc.

In the 1830s there was a get-rich-quick craze (similar to the 17th century ‘tulip mania’ in the Netherlands), which involved planting hectares of mulberry trees in order to raise silk worms. The craze ended in failure, and most American mills imported raw silk from elsewhere.

The collection of the National Silk Art Museum began as a sort of craze, too, according to the curator John Pottie, who has put together the collection. “I collected sports memorabilia. In 1980 I bought a small engraving of French billiard players. When I got it home I realized it was silk, not an engraving.” Pottie fell in love with the way silk pictures change in light. “It’s almost as if they are breathing,” he said. Everything about Stevengraphs, from the way they look to the way they are produced, fascinates him. It is easy to see why after seeing the collection on display.

Shelley Anderson, 25th October 2017

   

Modest clothing

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Mormon modest clothing for a temple visit, Utah (US).

Mormon modest clothing for a temple visit, Utah (US).

Earlier this year, the British BBC reported on an unexpected but growing fashion trend: modest clothing. While reporters found many different ideas about what constituted modest clothing, there was agreement that the trend is being fueled by younger Muslim women who do not want to compromise either their faith or their sense of self-expression through what they wear.

But modest fashion, with dress hemlines below the knee and higher necklines, is also important to many other people. Among these are members of the Church of the Latter Day Saints (LDS or Mormons), a Christian religious group that began in the USA in the 19th century. There are approximately 15 million Mormons around the world today, with over half living in the US. “Our bodies are sacred, so we need to clothe it appropriately,” one American Mormon told me. “We dress modestly in order to not call attention to ourselves. This means not exposing our bodies, so no see-through or sheer clothing, but also not wearing loud colours. I think it boils down to showing respect for myself and my body.”

Both Mormon men and women should dress modestly, she said. “In an everyday situation you probably won’t be able to spot an LDS member. Maybe at the beach, because men would wear longer swim trunks, and women would be in a one piece bathing suits—no bikinis.” Clothing worn to Sunday church services is mostly a personal “matter of taste,” she continued. “I have a long red dress. It’s modest, but I don’t wear it to church because it’s loud.”

Mormons who are initiated and make additional spiritual commitments also go to a temple. The clothing worn to temple must be all white, which symbolizes purity. Women wear white dresses with long sleeves, which are either mid-calf or ankle length, and white shoes. Men wear white suits and ties and white shoes. Larger temples may rent out this clothing, which is considered sacred, or believers can buy the clothes at LDS clothing centres.

Other clothing that is considered sacred is special underwear. Called ‘garments’, these are available at LDS clothing centres only for Mormons who have made certain personal commitments. “Garments remind us of the spiritual promises we have made. They’re sacred. The only time you don’t wear them is in the shower, or swimming, or when you are being intimate.” Garments are always white—except in the case of Mormon military personnel. The LDS and the US military have agreed that Mormon service members can wear camouflage garments.

While I was allowed to photograph the modest clothing for sale at a LDS clothing centre in Utah, I was not allowed to photograph the sacred garments.

Shelley Anderson, 8th October 2017

   

Syriac Orthodox community in Glane, the Netherlands

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Joost Kolkman photographing Father Antonios of the Syriac Orthodox Church in the St. Ephrem monastery, Glane, the Netherlands. Thursday, 5th October 2017.

Joost Kolkman photographing Father Antonios of the Syriac Orthodox Church in the St. Ephrem monastery, Glane, the Netherlands. Thursday, 5th October 2017.

The last few months we have been helping with a small exhibition about the life and work of His Eminence, Mor Julius Yeshû Çiçek, the former Syriac Orthodox archbishop for Central Europe, at the St. Ephrem Monastery in Glane, in the Netherlands. On the 5th November there will be a memorial service at the monastery in honour of the bishop, who died on the 29th October, 2005, and was laid to rest at the monastery on the 5th November.

Thanks to the help of the Volkenkunde Museum in Leiden, two large showcases can be used to present items relating to the life of Mor Julius Yeshû Çiçek, including his calligraphy equipment and amazing artwork. There will also be three outfits that he wore and other items, such as his slippers (worn during services) that are decorated with pearls. Joost Kolkman, our indefatigable TRC photographer and web designer, Willem and myself were busy at the monastery on Thursday, sorting out items, dressing mannequins in the bishop's clothing, taking photographs of objects, buildings, statues, etc. We really enjoyed the day, working together with the ever so friendly, helpful, and very resourceful members of the community.

We also worked on the next Syriac project, which is about monastic and liturgical dress. Joost took beautiful photographs of some of the priests and monks, and their clothing.

The photograph shows the team in full swing: Joost takes a photograph of Father Antonios, I am holding up a piece of foam board to redirect the light, and Willem took this picture. In the background you can see one of the large showcases on loan from the Volkenkunde Museum in Leiden.

Gillian Vogelsang, 8th October 2017

   

African Textiles Study Day in Brighton

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Just had a few days in Brighton on the southern coast of England. I was attending a one-day meeting on Fashioning Africa, which is a project organised by the Royal Pavilion and Museums. The Project is about looking at, talking about and collecting African fashion, both traditional/classic forms as well as items made by specific fashion designers in various countries, including Ghana and Nigeria.

The meetings were very well attended, with colleagues, students and other interested people from all over Britain (and one from Holland) attending and taking part. There were two sessions, one with lectures and an afternoon session focusing on objects. For the first time ever I was described as a global textile specialist! I quite like the title.... now to make it true. Anyway, going back to the morning talks, it was fascinating hearing from the various speakers and how they approached the subject, the question of ethical collecting, and why should a British museum collect African garments? However, the question was turned around by referring to the large Afro-British population here, therefore why would you NOT collect items that represent their cultural background?

The afternoon session was spent looking at various groups of objects and explaining some of the different ways of looking at them, why were they made, what are they saying, etc. Participants moved from one table to another. There were tables with woven, dyed, and embellished forms, and some specialists explaining. At my table (embellished), I was not sure whether I had said the same things to all the groups, or had missed things out, let alone talked about all the objects. But the questions, comments and suggestions kept me going. There were some really interesting points made.

There was also a mystery object that the museum had put on my table..... Anyway, it turned out to be an Egyptian appliqué, something I know a little about as we had an exhibition on this subject at the TRC some years ago (for the TRC digital Egyptian appliqué exhibition, click here). Quite a relief.

One thing that was clear is that people's knowledge of fashion was good, but lacking in how to recognise basics, such as what is made of cotton, what is hand sewn, different types of weaves and embellishments. It has made me really think hard about a 5-day intensive textile course just on African textiles. If you are interested let me know and I will see what we can arrange with Brighton.

It was good having the chance to talk with colleagues, see people I had not seen for a while (including several who had been to Leiden on the normal 5-day intensive textile course), and to meet with students and enthousiasts with a passion for textiles and the stories they can tell.

Gillian Vogelsang, 1st October 2017

   

TRC as a cultural ark

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Four of the nine frames illustrating the various stages in binding and dyeing an ikat cloth.

Four of the nine frames illustrating the various stages in binding and dyeing an ikat cloth.

The last few days have been spent sorting out, tidying up and getting on with cataloguing and updating items for the TRC Collection, following the very busy week we have just gone through. Among some of the items registered is a wonderful series of frames made by the ikat weavers from Kalimantan (Borneo), who were at the TRC in August. The nine frames illustrate the various stages of setting up, binding and dyeing a set of warp threads (‘web’) using the ikat (resist, binding) technique before the coloured threads are woven into a piece of cloth.  At the same time the TRC acquired a loom used in the making of an ikat cloth, as well as an example of the finished product. All of which can be viewed on our collection online (nos. TRC 2017.3127- 2017.3129).

The design chosen by the weavers for these pieces (both on the frames and the finished item) is a stylised boat, symbolising the journey through life - both for me and the TRC. This symbol led me to think about one of the functions of the TRC, namely as a ‘Cultural Ark’, a title we were given by the Yemen Ambassador a few years ago when he came to see our Yemeni dress collection, while talking about the current civil war in the country that is causing so much havoc in so many directions.

Basically the TRC Leiden is a ‘boat’ that is home to examples of different production techniques, textiles, garments, and so forth that are not only stored here, but equally important, these items can be viewed, researched, published and exhibited, so that everyone around the globe can see them (actually or digitally), as well as preserving these objects for the future. The library, lectures and workshops are all part and parcel of the TRC experience and journey to becoming one of the most accessible cultural heritage resources (anywhere).

Over the next few weeks we are going to highlight various aspects of the TRC Collection, things that are old, new, large, small, smelly….. but all with a story to tell. Not bad for a ‘little’ institute in Leiden!

Gillian Vogelsang, 20th September 2017

   

Amish Plain Clothes

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Amish apron, Jamesport, Missouri, USA, 2017 (TRC 2017.2999).

Amish apron, Jamesport, Missouri, USA, 2017 (TRC 2017.2999).

Jamesport, Missouri (USA), is a small farming town surrounded by hectares of maize fields. Its official population is approximately 500 people. There is one other thing you should know about Jamesport, which made it perfect for my mission of expanding the TRC’s collection of North American textiles.

Jamesport is home to the largest community of Amish people west of the Mississippi River. Some 165 Amish families live and farm around the town. You can see them driving horse-drawn buggies on the roads (the use of cars and electricity is considered too worldly). They worship according to their Anabaptist beliefs and still speak the German dialect their ancestors did when they first came to North America in the 1700s. They also wear a distinctive form of clothing that they call ‘plain’ or ‘simple’ dress.

I wanted to buy some examples of this clothing for the TRC. Amish clothing is unadorned, in muted colours. The women wear ankle-length dresses, with an apron and bonnet; the men long trousers with shoulder straps. The clothing appears old fashioned in the 21st century and immediately distinguishes the wearer as a community member.

Pair of trousers for an Amish man, from Jamesport, Missouri, USA, 2017 (TRC 2017.2986).

Pair of trousers for an Amish man, from Jamesport, Missouri, USA, 2017 (TRC 2017.2986).

It was easy to find Amish quilts for sale in Jamesport. This distinctive style is immediately recognizable: dark colours (except for the pattern known as Star of Bethlehem or Broken Star), no checks or prints, with a centre dominated by an abstract motif, frequently of bars or stripes or blocks, with wide, unadorned borders. Amish quilts are also very collectible and sell for USD 1000 to USD 2000.

Amish clothing, however, wasn’t so easy to find. Fortunately, two shops in Jamesport gave me the same advice: drive down the hill for three miles, cross the railroad tracks, and look for the first building on the left. The directions were spot on: inside this shop were rows and rows of used Amish clothing, plus pickles, preserves, and other home goods for sale.

All the clothes were of a synthetic mix (except for a few pairs of denim trousers), and were of factory woven material. The clothes were also all skilfully home made, except for the men’s long sleeved white shirts (TRC 2017.2981), which were factory-made. Male trousers (TRC 2017.2982, 2017.2986) had a buttoned fall-front flap, with pockets and shoulder straps in the same material. While trousers for adult males and younger boys had buttons, some clothes for infants (TRC 2017.2984 and 2017.2983) used metal snaps. Many Amish consider zippers too worldly and will not use them.

While the male clothes showed no personal embellishments, there were small differences in some of the adult women’s dresses (TRC 2017.2995a, 2996, 2998). Almost all were loose fitting and ankle length, in solid pastel colours (primarily blue, grey, and green), with no prints or checks. Some featured a yoke or bib in the same material and most had a pocket. Sometimes an apron was made of the same material as the dress. While all the sleeves reached below the elbow, some women had made close-fitting cuffs, others loose. On some dresses a thin strip of the dress material has been sewn around the cuffs, a discreet embellishment. I did find one unfinished woman’s white dress with thin stripes (TRC 2017.2997), which made me curious about its story. All the clothes can be seen in the TRC’s on-line catalogue at www.trc-leiden.nl.

18th September 2017, by Shelley Anderson

   

Opening of the Central Asia exhibition, and much more

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Opening of the TRC exhibition "Dressing the 'Stans', 12th September 2017, by Prof. Peter Frankopan.

Opening of the TRC exhibition "Dressing the 'Stans', 12th September 2017, by Prof. Peter Frankopan.

This last week has been extremely busy thanks to a wide range of activities taking place at the TRC Leiden. Monday was spent putting the last touches to our new exhibition called Dressing the ‘Stans’: Textiles, clothing and jewellery from Central Asia. This exhibition was created as part of the Asia Year celebrations in Leiden that culminated in the opening of the Leiden University’s new Asia Library by H.R.H. Queen Maxima of the Netherlands.

The TRC exhibition (which was not opened by the Queen), was in fact opened on Tuesday by Prof. Peter Frankopan, Oxford University and author of the now famous book The Silk Roads (2015). Prof. Frankopan gave a short, but very much to the point, talk about the important role of textiles, especially silk, in linking cultures and groups together over the centuries. The exhibition will be on display until mid-December, so you will have ample chance to see it. In addition, in a few weeks’ time a digital version of the exhibition will appear on the TRC digital exhibition list (which is getting longer and longer with a range of very different exhibitions!).

Dressing the 'Stans' exhibition, from 12th September until 22 December 2017.

Dressing the 'Stans' exhibition, from 12th September until 22 December 2017.

Anyway back to Tuesday, the opening was followed by a light buffet, which gave everyone the chance to talk with Prof. Frankopan and to see the exhibition. Various guests promised items from home for the TRC Collection. Speaking of which, we were offered some Dutch regional dress items from one family from Nieuwland (Nieuw- en Sint Joosland) in the south of the Netherlands. Thanks to the generosity of one of the ‘Friends of the TRC’ who was at the opening, these items will be coming to the TRC next week and will enhance our growing Dutch regional dress collection.

Wednesday was spent with visitors to the exhibition, sorting out administration and getting my lecture ready for the following day. Thursday was spent meeting people at the Pieterskerk Leiden, following the opening of the Asia Library by Her Majesty. I was also able to talk with more people about the TRC (including the new British Ambassador to The Netherlands). Networking and getting the message about the TRC known to a wide range of people is important! And yes, we were offered as a donation some more textiles by an elderly lady whose father and mother collected embroideries and other items from Asia.

In the afternoon I gave a lecture as part of the Opening celebrations. To my surprise, it was a full house and people were standing (well one person was, but as it was Peter Frankopan, I am not complaining!). It was fun to talk about the exhibition and what we are doing to such an interested group.

Friday was spent tidying up, photographing and cataloguing some items from Turkey related to the Syriac Orthodox Church, as well as Afghan garments and textiles kindly given by May and Rolando Schinasi from Nice in France (all these are now online, see our catalogue). We also sorted out and sent off a grant proposal to the Prins Bernhard Cultuur Fonds. This proposal is all part of a really exciting project that the TRC recently got involved in – if you are a knitting fanatic and interested in a challenge, please keep an eye on the TRC website! I can say no more at the moment, but it's BIG.

And now to find twice as much space and four times the amount of money to house, present and enjoy everything! But before all of that happens, a cup of tea and a biscuit are required.

Gillian Vogelsang, Saturday 16th September 2017

   

Koperasi Jasa Menenun Mandiri and the TRC

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Participants to the ikat workshop having lessons on how to weave on a body-tension loom.

Participants to the ikat workshop having lessons on how to weave on a body-tension loom.

For the last fortnight (12th – 24th August 2017), the TRC has been host to two weavers, Mapung Salomina and Emiliana, and Mrs. Musrikah Siti. Mrs. Siti is a museum curator and representative of the Koperasi Jasa Menenun Mandiri, a weaving co-operation with well over 1200 members, of which c. 300 weave on a daily basis. All are from from Sintang, Kalimantan (Borneo) in Indonesia. Their visit was facilitated by Esmeralda and Theo Zee, both of whom with strong connections with Indonesia.

A series of ten workshops and lectures were presented to over seventy participants. These meetings helped people to understand the process of ikat production, from the preparation of the cotton threads (using a spindle wheel), to the binding of the warps for ikat making, the dyeing of the threads and the weaving of the end product. In addition, there were extra workshops on various basic basketry and beading techniques.

The weavers, Mapung Salomina and Emiliana, set up two ikat looms in the TRC Gallery and this number was increased to four for the weaving workshops. This meant that each of the participants had at least thirty minutes working on the loom, learning and understanding the basic movements and techniques required. Every movement was watched and corrected by Mapung and Emiliana. It was hard work, especially for people who are not used to working with body-tensioned looms. But it certainly increased everyone’s appreciation of, and respect for what is involved in making an ikat textile in this manner.

The strict approach of the teachers was reflected in the binding lesson, when one (unfortunate) participant had spent a long time binding some warp threads only to have all bindings removed because they were not done in the ‘proper’ manner! A fact that was appreciated by the participants, as Mapung and Emiliana made it clear that the groups were there to learn new techniques and not to develop their own forms. The need for the participants to change how they thought about a design, how to describe it and more importantly how to communicate it from the brain to fingers was very apparent. People learnt a lot about themselves as well as about Sintang forms of working.

Lecture on the identification of Indonesian ikats, by Esmeralda Zee.

Lecture on the identification of Indonesian ikats, by Esmeralda Zee.

These workshops were very well attended and intensive – there was a lot to take in within a relatively short period (generally three hours), so the socialising and gossiping that is found in many Western sewing bees and quilting parties was not encouraged! Which is not to say that the TRC staple of tea/coffee and biscuits was absent. These were seriously needed.

The educational function of the TRC also came to the fore in two lectures that were given, one by Mrs. Esmeralda Zee, assisted by Mrs. Musrikah Siti, Mapung Salomina and Emiliana, and the second by myself, about non-Indonesian ikats, based on historical and modern examples in various museums, as well as in the TRC Collection. The use of deep fringes on the Ecuadorian ikats was especially noted. Mrs. Musrikah Siti is now going to develop a series of talks about non-Indonesian ikats to show how Indonesian forms fit within a global setting.

The weavers came with a variety of items for sale, some of which the TRC has purchased. In addition, we have acquired one of the looms used for the workshops – with the web, heddles and sticks all in place as well as ordering a series of small-scale frames that show step-by-step how a Sintang ikat is made. These will form the basis of a digital exhibition about ikats from around the world to be published in the near future.

The closing ceremony on Thursday afternoon (24th August 2017) was carried out by Prof. Bambang Hari Wibisono, the cultural attaché of the Indonesian Embassy in The Hague. His presence was greatly appreciated by all, as it confirms how important such cultural exchanges and events are, both in Indonesia and the Netherlands.

Gillian Vogelsang, 27th August.

   

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Financiële giften

The TRC is afhankelijk van project-financiering en privé-donaties. Al ons werk wordt verricht door vrijwilligers. Ter ondersteuning van de vele activiteiten van het TRC vragen wij U daarom om financiële steunGiften kunt U overmaken op bankrekeningnummer NL39 INGB 000 298 2359, t.n.v. Textile Research Centre, Leiden. Omdat het TRC officieel is erkend als een Algemeen Nut Beogende Instelling (ANBI), en daarbij ook nog als een Culturele Instelling, zijn particuliere giften voor 125% aftrekbaar van de belasting, en voor bedrijven zelfs voor 150%. Voor meer informatie, klik hierVoor het overmaken van giften, kunt U ook gebruik maken van Paypal: