Yesterday, the TRC received a photograph from England of a donation that had just been put in the post to Leiden. It is a knitted poppy, recently bought in Helsby, near Chester, UK.
All over the world, and in particular in Great Britain, the armistice of 11 November 1918, 11.00 AM, is marked by people wearing a small red poppy, mostly made of paper, on the chest, to commemorate those who fell in the First World War (1914-1918).
On Saturday, 2nd November 2019, Gillian Vogelsang wrote:
In the early 1980’s, I was given a small cigarette box (TRC 2019.2410) filled with textile fragments. The box and its contents were donated by Elisabeth Crowfoot, the daughter of Grace Crowfoot and one of my teachers. It turned out that the textile fragments originated from Qumran 1, a cave in the Judaean Desert, east of Jerusalem, now in the Westbank territory, Area C.
This and other caves had become famous from the mid-1940s following the discovery of the so-called Dead Sea Scrolls, which were deposited in the caves at the beginning of our era (late 3rd century BC until 1st century AD) by a group of Jewish sectarian settlers.
The scrolls include some of the oldest known extant Hebrew texts that were later included in the Hebrew Bible, as well as many related manuscripts. In total the scrolls and fragments thereof represent some 900 different manuscripts.
Almost all of the Dead Sea Scrolls are now housed in the Shrine of the Book, Israel Museum, Jerusalem.
Before being deposited into the caves, the scrolls were put into pottery jars and textiles were used as padding and sometimes also as a sealing cover. After some two thousand years, the first of the jars were rediscovered in 1946.
In early 1949 the textiles from Qumran 1 were examined at the Norfolk Flax Establishment (England), and the material was identified as linen. A total of 77 plain and decorated textiles were catalogued and described by Grace Crowfoot (1879–1957) and published in 1955. It would appear that the textiles were torn up fragments of garments, such as tunics and mantles.
Anna Novitzky attended the TRC Intensive Textile Course last October. She works for the British journal Nature and she sent us the following blog:
I’m a textiles hobbyist. I knit, crochet, spin — anything involving fibres, I want to try. I’ve dabbled in many techniques, but never done much systematically, or covered much theory. I wanted to change that, to know how things work. The TRC course seemed the ideal opportunity to learn.
I arrived not knowing what to expect, but found exactly what I needed. We dived straight in, identifying fibres through our senses, the burn test, dyes and microscopes, interspersing hands-on experience with theory linked to our observations.
Over the week, we moved on to fibre preparation, spinning with various tools, dyeing, ‘inventing’ the loom, weaving, exploring non-woven fabrics from leather to lace and examining printing and embroidery. Fibre dyed with a range of natural dyes and mordants. We applied what we’d learnt by handling objects from the collection, a unique and rewarding experience.
It was a whirlwind of information and encounters that left me exhausted but exhilarated each day. A textile from the collection, with my chart of the pattern and my attempt to recreate it. I did things I’d long wanted to try: combing fibre; spinning on a charka. Others, I’d never dreamed of, such as examining 3000-year-old mummy cloth. Identifying, charting and recreating a woven pattern gave me a huge thrill.
Through it all, Gillian’s incredible expertise and depth of knowledge blew me away. I left with a renewed commitment to studying, understanding and experiencing textiles — and with my mind whirling with possibilities.
On Sunday, 27 October 2019, Willem Vogelsang wrote:
I just read in The Sunday Times that today marks the anniversary of the launch of a new synthetic fibre onto the (American) market, namely nylon. On 27 October 1938, DuPont announced the introduction of nylon for use in tooth-brushes. The succeeding year it was first used for women's stockings, or 'nylons' as they quickly became known. During the war, most of the production of nylon was diverted to military uses, notably for parachutes. Actually, parachutes first used to be made from silk, but with the Japanese occupation of the silk-producing parts of Asia, the Allies were soon turning to the use the newly developed synthetic material of DuPont.
I mention this anniversary, since the TRC Collection (such a mine of the weirdest, and sometimes most intriguing objects) houses three blouses made from nylon (TRC 2007.0833, 2007.0834 and 2007. 0835). They date to 1946 and were worn by a young woman from Leiden. She and her family received the nylon blouses in a care-package that was sent by her aunt who lived in America. The proud owner would show her friends these blouses that were made of this new and expensive material.
On Saturday, 26 October 2019, Willem Vogelsang wrote:
Leidsche Katoenmaatschappij in 1923 (TRC 2019.2383). We soon discovered that a similar cloth is housed in the Lakenhal Museum, Leiden (acc. no. 9067). It is decorated with printed texts and printed copper engravings. The cloth is a powerful reminder of the rich history of Leiden as a historic textile city, and the TRC is therefore very proud to have been donated such a cloth.This week, the TRC was given a cotton cloth of 89 x 51 cm, which was made by the
The cloth is in fact an advertisement for the Leidsche Katoenmaatschappij and what it could produce. It tells the world that the firm could print cloths in various sizes, in various colours, to celebrate the 25-year jubilee of Queen Wilhelmina (r. 1898-1948) as the reigning monarch of The Netherlands.
The Leidse Katoenmaatschappij was based in Leiden, and its factories and offices were located between the Herengracht and the Zijlsingel. Actually, not far, some ten minutes' walk, from the present premises of the TRC. The company originated in Lier, Belgium, where it had started operations in 1756 under the name of De Heyer en Co. The firm moved to Leiden in 1835 and some ten years later was acquired by Louis Driessen, who rapidly expanded the company and who later passed the company on to his sons.
The company was particularly famous for its use of 'modern' dyes and dyeing techniques. One of the sons, Felix Driessen, spent some time in Mülhausen to learn about the use of artificial dyes. In the years that followed he also travelled to the Dutch East Indies and America (for more information on the Driessen family, see the pertinent report in Erfgoed Leiden en Omstreken).
Gillian Vogelsang werd onlangs geïnterviewd door een journaliste van het Reformatorisch Dagblad. Het interview werd afgelopen zaterdag (19 oktober 2019) gepubliceerd. U kunt het artikel hier lezen.
On Sunday, 20th October 2019, TRC-volunteer Beverley Bennett wrote:
The TRC recently received a donation of a simple and unassuming utility quilt. It has a colourful top that is made from two lengths of fabric. This top is printed with a design mimicking a patchwork of half square triangles in a pinwheel arrangement. The two lengths are joined along their length by machine.
The backing of the quilt is different. It consists of simple feedsacks joined together. It is hand quilted in a basic Baptist Fan design. Because of the fabrics and the slightly coarse hand quilting thread, we have dated the quilt to about 1920-1930.
However, on examining the quilt, we realised it was unevenly ‘lumpy’ inside, which was a bit unusual and so we carefully unpicked a small corner of the quilt to see what was going on. We discovered an older quilt inside! More unpicking revealed a worn, tattered quilt that had been made from even older, recycled blocks.
The Hidden Quilt consists of bits of old shirts, dresses, etc., of a mid-nineteenth century date, which were recycled into diagonally string-pieced (a method of using long, narrow pieces of fabric), 5 inch squares and joined into sets of four, making (roughly) 10 inch blocks.
It is hard to know whether the blocks were used for making a quilt straightaway, but at some stage the blocks were joined, by machine, with used and patched denim pieces as sashing and more shirtings as corner posts. It was backed with a purple ticking type fabric and was then hand quilted in the Baptist Fan pattern with 5-6 stitches per inch as the cotton filling and the ticking is quite thick.
The Hidden Quilt had a long life, because it was well used and in tatters at the edges. There was clearly some damage that was repaired with a machine-sewn patch and, since the sewing machine dates from about 1860, we know the repair must have happened after that date. When exactly the Hidden Quilt was made, remains a moot point.
Finally the Hidden Quilt was recycled into the utility quilt we received, interestingly being quilted once again with the same pattern, in the same style and with virtually the same type of thread – could it have been recycled by the same person, for the third time, but some fifty or so years later?
The quilt, including its Hidden Quilt, will be on display in the forthcoming TRC gallery exhibition on the history of American quilts, opening in February 2020.