Recommended Books, November 2016
October and November have suddenly come and gone at the TRC, but the period included the garment and textiles collection being expanded with a group of Dutch urban garments from the 1920’s to the 1950’s. To our surprise, there were numerous 1940’s garments, including an item of British clothing with a CC41 mark (TRC 2016.2213), which dates to the Second World War (1939-194). These urban additions to the TRC Collection are reflected in some of the books showcased here.
In addition, more and more publishers are discovering the TRC and Books Showcased and are sending books on a wide variety of subjects. Which is wonderful for the TRC Library, but also for all our followers on the TRC Website and Facebook. We are actively pushing for more books to be published on textiles, dress and accessories! So please support these (and other) publishers by buying their books!
You can click upon the illustration of the book cover for information about ordering the book.
ALVAREZ, Nilda Callanaupa (2012). Tradiciones Textiles de Chinchero, Herencia Viva (Textile Traditions of Chinchero: A Living Heritage), Loveland (Colorado): Thrums. ISBN: 978-0-9838860-1-3. Spanish and English. Softback, 169 pp. glossary, bibliography. Price: US$ 34.95.
This bi-lingual book presents a wide range of information about the local traditions and techniques in the production of textiles for a wide range of uses. The techniques discussed include raw materials, spinning, dyes and dyeing, as well as weaving (back strap looms) and a more recent introduction, knitting. There is a well-illustrated section on the various main designs, their names, origins and meanings. Many of these designs, for example, are said to be based on items of daily life, such as a cow’s eye (p. 104), rope (p. 107), or a meandering river (p. 104). All of these forms as well as many others, are clearly illustrated in colour. It is worth noting that the glossary at the end of the book is in Quechua (the local language), Spanish and English.
Recommendation: As with other Thrums books this is a combination of beautiful illustrations, details and intriguing information. It is clear that the author knows and enjoys textiles and wishes to spread her love of the subject to a much wider public. The book, however, immediately springs into the Chinchero without saying where, who, what Chinchero is (see for example, p. 5). A short introduction for non-specialists, especially those living outside of the Americas, would be appreciated. For the benefit of the reader, Chinchero lies in the southern highlands of Peru in the province of Urubamba.
BROWN, Mike (2014). CC41 Utility Clothing: The Label that Transformed British Fashion, Sevenoaks: Sabrestorm. Hardback, ISBN: 978-1-78122-005-4, pp. 127, no bibliography, notes or index. Price: £19.95.
Part of a series of booklets about different aspects of twentieth century fashion and clothes. This particular volume is about clothing during and after the Second World War (1939-1945), until the end of rationing in 1952. In particular, the CC41 mark was used to indicate objects (not just clothing) that were considered to be well-made and lasting (although the latter was not always the case apparently, as there was no rubber for elastic, men’s braces were not flexible and were soon useless). The text provides considerable information about the social, political and economic reasons behind the CC41 mark, the production of Utility clothing and the use of coupons and rationing of garments for men, women and children in general. There are many illustrations of actual garments, contemporary illustrations, as well as cartoons, relating to CC41. More details about what the actual CC41 marks and numbers actually meant would have been useful in order to help identify items in various collections. However, it would appear from the text and the author that the whole CC41 system was not logical or organised in an orderly manner, so a lot more work has to be done on this subject in the future.
Recommendation: A useful book to have if you are involved in dating mid-twentieth century West European urban garments, re-enactment groups, or simply those enjoying wearing 1940’s attire. It is a fascinating visual introduction to the subject, but it does suffer from a lack of footnotes and bibliography, which makes going deeper into the subject difficult.
CANEPA, Teresa (2016). Silk, Porcelain and Lacquer: China and Japan and their Trade with Western Europe and the New World 1500-1644, London: Paul Holberton Publishing. ISBN: 978-1-911300-01-4. Hardback, pp. 4679, bibliography, appendices, index. Price: £70.
A glorious book, literally, which is full of beautiful illustrations of many different forms of material culture (from paintings to tea bowls) from a variety of cultural backgrounds. At first it is a bit of a surprise that the date range is ‘only’ limited to about 150 years, namely from the sixteenth to mid-seventeenth centuries. The range of details, facts, discussions, and so forth, makes it clear that there is considerable wealth of information, actual, visual and written, that needed to be taken into consideration. The book is biased towards ceramics, porcelain and lacquer work, but there is a significant section (c. 80 pages) on the Chinese silk industry and trade with Europe and the New World. More specifically, it includes the trade with the Iberian Peninsula, the Low Countries (especially the Netherland), England, as well as the Spanish colonies in the Americas. In addition, there is a sub-section on European influences on the Chinese silk industry. The information is provided in a well written manner, with plenty of details (and footnotes) from a variety of different contemporary sources. It is clearly well-researched.
Recommendation: This is one of those books that is a sheer joy to browse through as well as to read in detail. Dealing with the range of data involved is a remarkable feat in itself. Yet be warned, it is not easy to simply sit down and read this book because of its sheer weight! This book should be in the library of anyone interested in the history and (international) culture of sixteenth to seventeenth century Europe as well as those working in the field of Chinese and Japanese export wares during the same period. It is thought provoking and helps to show how trade was such an important part of life among those who could afford these and similar objects and why copies were made for those lower down the economic ladder.
CHANDLER, Deborah and Teresa CORDÓN (2015). Traditional Weavers of Guatemala: Their Stories, Their Lives, Loveland: Thrums. ISBN: 978-0983886075. Softback, 140 pp., fully illustrated in colour, short bibliography and glossary. Price: US$34.95/€32.
This is a beautifully illustrated book that looks at the lives of twenty, mostly indigenous, living artisans in the western and northern highlands region of Guatemala. There are interviews with twelve weavers, three embroiderers, two spinners, one jaspe (a form of ikat) maker, a netter/looper and a basket maker. While their gender and age differ, they are all experts in their work. Each describes the essential role making textiles has in their life, a role which often combines personal and community identity, economic livelihood and creativity. The book is a reminder to those of us spoiled by cheap, mass produced textiles, just how time-consuming and vital textile production was for most of our human history. Weavers explain the changes, both good and bad, that the introduction of a new loom, such as the cinta loom for weaving ribbons, may bring about; others speak about the yearly changes, often subtle, that fashion demands even in traditional dress.
Recommendation: While the emphasis is on how people experience their lives, there is enough technical information to interest weavers, no matter what their skill level may be. The wealth of colour photographs of textiles will appeal to designers and collectors. The book will also appeal to anthropologists, readers interested in fair trade and to the general textile lover.
COLENBRADER, Sjoukje (2013). When Weaving Flourished: The Silk Industry in Amsterdam and Haarlem, 1585-1750, Amsterdam: Aronson Publishers and Primavera Press (Leiden), ISBN: 978-94-90782-05-4. Softback, colour and b/w illustrations, footnotes, appendices, bibliography and index. Price: €38.50.
Much has been written about the French silk industry, but there was an equally vibrant industry in the Netherlands, based around Amsterdam and Haarlem in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. This book by Dutch textile and costume historian, Sjoukje Colenbrander, looks at various aspects of the Dutch silk production and the important role paid by the Huguenots who had fled religious persecution in France. Many of these refugees were skilled silk weavers and they settled in Amsterdam and Haarlem. Their presence was to help found and support this important, luxury commodity in all its forms for over two hundred years. The books looks at the role of the industry in various parts of the country, the relevant laws and local restrictions, the role of the various guilds, as well as types of fabric produced in Amsterdam and Haarlem in greater detail. It also has chapters on the designers who created their own designs as well as those who copied the more fashionable French forms (especially those from the famous silk city of Lyon). In addition to these detailed discussions and descriptions, which are well illustrated with numerous contemporary documents and actual textiles and garments, there are also several appendices that discuss a range of subjects such as wages, the production of moiré in Haarlem, as well as a technical glossary.
Recommendation: This book will be of interest to anyone interested in the history of European silk textiles since the Renaissance period to the eighteenth century, as well as those working in the field of costume history (in all its many forms). It is not a dipping book, you need to take time to read and absorb the wide ranging details presented. This is a serious book for a serious textile library.
HERRIDGE, Elizabeth (2016). Bringing Heaven to Earth: Chinese Silver Jewellery and Ornament in the Late Qing Dynasty, London: Ianthe Press (in association with Paul Holberton publishing). ISBN 978-0-9955577-0-3. Paperback, fully illustrated in colour, extensive references and bibliography, pp. 200. Price: £40.00.
This is a beautifully designed book with a wealth of material. It looks with great detail at fifty pieces of Chinese silver jewellery, dating from 1850 to 1930, held in a North American private collection. Most of the pieces are either bracelets or necklaces; there are also the occasional ear clip, brooch, ring or bracelet box. Each piece is described in full detail, front and back, with several accompanying full colour photographs (including any markers’ marks or hallmarks). The author puts these details into context, for example, by writing about whether a man or woman would wear the piece, why (women might have worn dragons, with their strong yang energy, in order to balance the feminine yin energy), and on what occasion (funerals, weddings, etc.). The images or iconography portrayed are discussed (many pieces show Daoist or Buddhist symbols, such as pomegranates, flowers, dragons, Immortals, monkeys, scepters or bodhisattvas (enlightened beings)). There is also a description of how each piece was made (or repurposed, in some cases), with techniques such as carving, gilding, filigree and enameling. The materials used are as varied as the techniques: there are agate and jade bead necklaces; other necklaces of glass, lapis lazuli or amber beads (including one perhaps from Bakelite); a carved amethyst bracelet and a brooch made of gold, jadeite and a tiger shark tooth.
Recommendation: The book concludes with an interesting essay by the author on her approach in researching the collection, giving even more context for the pieces. This book can be enjoyable strictly for the beautiful photography, but also for anyone with a serious interest in Chinese jewellery.
An exhibition catalogue for a display of art lace and related objects produced by a number of artists. The exhibition was first staged at the Museum Brugge in 2008 and then went on to a number of other museums in Beligum over the next few years. The lace objects included a range of objects, from small and intricate hearts (Tjeb), to lace dogs (Marcel Wanders) and lace bedecked trees (Noëlle Cuppens). An intriguing item was a lace wheelbarrow (Cal Lane). Some items were in linen, others in plastic. There was even a leather lace scarf created using laser-cut technology. It is clear from the catalogue that there was an emphasis on non-bobbin lace techniques that could and can be used to create the effect of lace, which of course brings up the question, what is lace. It is clear from this book that the exhibition was intented on giving the word lace a very broad definition. Even the paper dust jacket of this book has been cut to imitate a sheet of lace, which gives an intriguing effect and feel to the whole book.
Recommendation: This book has proved to be a challenge. It is worth having for the illustrations and as a source of inspiration for all lace makers (whatever the technique used) involved in modern, art lace making. On the other hand it is frustrating because the text and the illustrations are not linked. There are references to artists, paintings, objects, but nothing to indicate (such as see fig. XXX), where the related items are. So it is a good book for visual inspiration, but irritating as a book about lace.
This is an interesting little book, which focuses on the history of glove-making in the UK. Gloves perform a wide range of functions, from sports (think baseball mitts or boxing gloves) to heavy labour. They also have a highly symbolic function, separating aristocracy from ordinary folk, and the spiritual from the mundane. They can be a statement not only of fashion, but also of respectability, as in the Victorian age, and of authority. Gloves became important in England during the reign of Elizabeth I precisely for these reasons. A report from 1566 states that Queen Elizabeth I “pulled off and put on her gloves over one hundred times so that all might enjoy her graceful movements.” Glove making provided a livelihood, not only for tanners and leather workers, but also for cutters, perfumers and embroiderers, as gloves in the sixteenth century could be decorated in gold and silver thread, tassels, jewels, and scented with a variety of costly materials.
Recommendation: While the publication’s social history is interesting, its best feature is the history of glove making itself. This book was published in association with the Worshipful Company of Glovers of London, a professional guild that gained official recognition in 1349, and the sense of pride in the craft is tangible. There is a short list of further reading and a list of places (museums, glove factories) to visit. The book is well illustrated with photographs and prints. This book would serve as a good, basic introduction to anyone interested in the history and manufacture of gloves.
WALFORD, Jonathan (2008, 2011). Forties Fashion: From Siren Suits to the New Look, London: Thames & Hudson (first published in 2008, first paperback edition dates to 2011). ISBN: 978-0-500-28897-9, pp. 208, many colour and b/w illustrations, bibliography, index. Price: US$29.95
Jonathan Walford is the founding curator of the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto and a founder of the Fashion History Museum in Canada. As such he has been deeply involved in the history of fashion, especially in the twentieth century. This book reflects is background. It contains many details and illustrations concerning mainly North American fashion in the 1940’s. Although it should be noted that there are also numerous chapters concerning rationing in Britain and the concept of utility and anti-fashion during the Second World War (1939-1945). In addition, there are chapters on women’s fashion in the Pacific region, namely in Japan, Australia, New Zealand as well as Canada. There are also chapters on fashion in Paris, during and after the war, and in Germany after the war. Walford’s range of subjects gives a more complete picture than is often given in books about 1940’s fashion, but because each chapter is relatively short (text wise), there is a nagging feeling that there should have been just a few more details. The range of images is impressive, but sometimes the close-up details seem to hide a lack of written information (see for example, p. 60, two, small rhinestone and metal brooches on a single page).
Recommendation: This is a dipping book that helps bring to life a period that was complicated by a world war. It is worthwhile having for those interested in women’s fashion during the mid-twentieth century and those looking for inspiration. The sections on the relevant Japanese and Pacific fashions presents (for a European reader) an interesting and new element. Available at: http://www.thamesandhudsonusa.com/books/forties-fashion-from-siren-suits-to-the-new-look-softcover
WIKLUND, Doris (2010). Old Swedish Weavings from North to South: A Collection of Everyday Swedish Weavings from 1850-1950 (translated by Becky Ashenden), Shelburne (Massachusetts): Vävstuga Press. ISBN 0-9741505-3-3. Hardback, pp. 272, colour and b/w illustrations, many weave and threading charts, index. Price: US$ 58.00.
A series of 144 descriptions, photographs, weave and threading charts and drafts for a wide range of traditional Swedish textiles. These, and similar textiles, were used for upholstery, curtains, pillows, towels, and so forth. Most of the projects are accompanied by short stories about the people who wove or owned these textiles. The various projects are divided into: Block damask, simple block weaves (M's & O's, halvdräll, overshot and crackle), multi-shaft weaves (kuvikas, twill variations and double weave); simple household textiles (fabrics for clothing, pillowcases, towels, curtains and upholstery), shawls and ranor, art weaves (monk's belt, rosepath, krabbasnår, rölakan, slarvtjäll, noppväv, upphämta and dukagång) and rugs (with rags, weft-faced and repp).
Recommendation: A book for weavers! This book is a joy to dip into and can be used to encourage anyone of any level to try their hand at weaving. It will keep the reader/weaver occupied for many months if not years to come. A secondary (but equally valuable) use of this book is to help those with textile collections to identify the various types of Swedish textiles and/or weave forms.
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