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Opening of the TRC American Quilts exhibition, 5th February 2020, by Marja Verloop, the Deputy Chief of Mission of the American Embassy, The Hague.Opening of the TRC American Quilts exhibition, 5th February 2020, by Marja Verloop, the Deputy Chief of Mission of the American Embassy, The Hague.On Friday, 7th February 2020, Gillian Vogelsang wrote:

The American Quilt exhibition has just been officially opened (5th February 2020) and it was a most inspiring event with lots of visitors!

It started with a lecture by Susan Cave on the history of American quilts. The talk was illustrated with photographs of quilts form the exhibition and numerous anecdotes based on Susan’s long experience of working with quilts.

Additional, and more technical details were provided by Beverley Bennett. Lynn Kaplanian-Buller presented details about Mennonite relief quilts (three of which are on display in the exhibition).

A few days ago I published a blog about TC (Technically Correct) embroidery, and I have just come across a fascinating example from the 17th century of something Non-Technically Correct. It is the initialled handkerchief of King Charles I (reign: 1625-1649) of England, who was executed on the 30th January 1649.

The handkerchief and other items such as his silk shirt, pair of gloves (also embroidered) and part of his black cloak are now in the Museum of London, They will shortly go on display in an exhibition at the Museum about executions in the city. All of the items mentioned above were worn by King Charles when he went to his own execution.

Embroidery chart for the initials of Charles I, used for his handkerchief associated with his execution on 30th January 1649. To the right the TC version, to the left the actual, non-TC version.Embroidery chart for the initials of Charles I, used for his handkerchief associated with his execution on 30th January 1649. To the right the TC version, to the left the actual, non-TC version.

On a much lighter note, the handkerchief bears the initials C.R. (Carolus Rex) under a royal crown. The crown is worked in back stitch using a black silk thread, while the initials are in cross stitch. The original cross stitches are of varying sizes, in order to create the appearance of regularity. They were worked over various numbers of warp and weft threads. If an actual version of the initials is produced based on the number of stitches then the letters are of different sizes (to the left in the chart). If a 'correct' version is produced (to the right), then more stitches would be required than actually was the case!

Is this an example of quick work that looked okay from a distance due to the circumstances of when it was required? Or something else? We will probably never know.

Gillian Vogelsang, 1 February 2020

Mennonite women in North America engaged in making quilts, 2005. Mennonite women in North America engaged in making quilts, 2005. In 1994, twenty relief quilts made in 1945 by North American Mennonites for the Dutch were given into my care. Last year I lost one…. and that was okay. Here’s the story.

After WW2, Russian Mennonites fleeing westward were allowed to stay in The Netherlands for a short time providing that the Dutch Mennonite (Doopsgezinde) community would house, feed and clothe them.

Short of supplies themselves after the Honger Winter, Mennonites in Canada and the US sent over pallets of food, clothing and quilt blankets, which they’d been preparing since 1940.

The relief was coordinated by the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), founded in 1920 to assist Russian Mennonites to emigrate to Canada after WW1. Many of the key people in the 1945 efforts were themselves refugees from the previous war. Helping now was their way of repaying and passing on the comfort they had received.

Wissa Wassef tapestry panel woven by a young boy, Imam, aged 12 (TRC 2020.0214).Wissa Wassef tapestry panel woven by a young boy, Imam, aged 12 (TRC 2020.0214).A major influence on Egyptian decorative textiles in the 20th century was the work of Habib Gorgi and his son-in-law, the architect Ramses Wissa Wassef (1911-1974). Both believed that children were (and are) endowed with creative powers and potential that should be encouraged.

In 1951, Wissa Wassef established the Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Centre, near the Giza pyramids. The aim of the Centre was to teach Egyptian village children to create art, and tapestries in particular. Ramses Wissa Wassef encouraged the children to weave images based on things they saw around them in their villages, such as women talking, making bread, washing, men working in the fields or fishing, weddings, birds, fish and so forth.

 

Uncoverings 2019Uncoverings 2019On Tuesday 28th January 2020 Gillian Vogelsang wrote:

A few weeks ago Kim Baird (North Dakota, USA) got into contact with the TRC about her visit to the TRC in Leiden last year, how much she enjoyed it and also our forthcoming American Quilt exhibition. She mentioned her work with the American Quilt Study Group.

This organisation was founded by Sally Garoutte in 1980. What began as a small group has now grown into a unique and highly respected international organisation. Its goal is to preserve the story of quiltmaking - past, present, and future, and it has become a major source of information about the study of quilts, quiltmakers, related textiles, and processes. 

Coptic medallion of linen and wool, tapestry weave, 6th-7th century, Museo Nazionale di Ravenna.Coptic medallion of linen and wool, tapestry weave, 6th-7th century, Museo Nazionale di Ravenna.On Sunday, 26th January 2020, Shelley Anderson wrote:

Ravenna, Italy, is better known for its Byzantine mosaics than it is for its textile collections. But during a recent visit I saw some beautiful textiles. The first collection was in the Museo Nazionale di Ravenna, housed in a former monastery next to the Basilica of San Vitale. This museum is home to a large collection of Coptic textiles. The display rotates regularly, but some current pieces include a lovely tunic band showing the birth of Aphrodite (7th-8th centuries CE), and a wider decorative band (7th century CE) of pomegranates and leaves. There was also a large Coptic medallion depicting flowers and fruit (6th to 7th centuries CE), made in a tapestry weave from wool and linen. Next to this was a case displaying, again in a linen and wool tapestry weave, two long bands showing a warrior saint (7th to 8th centuries CE).

An embroidered panel with a cross stitch centre and a drawn thread work border (1794, Amager, Denmark; bequest of Mrs. Henry E. Coe, courtesy of the Cooper-Hewett Museum, New York 1941-69-116).An embroidered panel with a cross stitch centre and a drawn thread work border (1794, Amager, Denmark; bequest of Mrs. Henry E. Coe, courtesy of the Cooper-Hewett Museum, New York 1941-69-116).On Saturday, 25th January 2020, Gillian Vogelsang wrote:

While working on the forthcoming quilt exhibition at the TRC and on the Encyclopedia of Embroidery series at home, I was struck by the modern need for precision and symmetry and how computers and their need for 'accuracy' have changed our lives. And in this case, also embroidery.

A feature of early twenty-first century embroidery, for example, is the use of computer programmes in order to create and re-create certain designs, and the distribution of such patterns online via social media groups such as Pinterest. Many of these designs are worked out on graph paper (or rather the computer equivalent) and then copied and mirrored, so quickly producing a symmetrical design.

However, when working with sixteenth century and later designs it is clear that what may look symmetrical was not necessarily identical on both sides of a central line. For example, eighteenth century cross stitch samplers from Amager in Denmark are full of small variations in the place and the way different parts of the overall design are worked out. Furthermore, it is clear that the embroiderer did not always ‘correctly’ count how many ground threads, and indeed which of these threads they were working the stitch over. From a distance these samplers look visually regular, but they are not ‘computer’ regular. But are these samplers therefore inferior?

Embroidered crown of a woman's cap from Denmark, c. 1860 (TRC 2012.0465). For more information, click on the illustration.Embroidered crown of a woman's cap from Denmark, c. 1860 (TRC 2012.0465). For more information, click on the illustration.The TRC is working on the Nordic/ Scandinavian section of Vol. 3 of the Encyclopaedia of Embroidery (Bloomsbury, London). The TRC Collection unfortunately houses relatively few examples of Nordic work. We are therefore looking for examples of embroidery from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

If you have any examples you are willing to donate, can you get into contact with the TRC at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.?

Donations of relevant books and articles are also most welcome!

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Hogewoerd 164
2311 HW Leiden.
Tel. +31 (0)71 5134144 /
+31 (0)6 28830428  
info@trc-leiden.nl

Open on Mondays - Thursdays
from 10.00 - 16.00.

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Stichting Textile Research Centre

Entrance is free, but donations are always welcome!

TRC Gallery exhibition:
5 Febr. -25 June 2020: American Quilts

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Donations

The TRC is dependent on project support and individual donations. All of our work is being carried out by volunteers. To support the TRC activities, we therefore welcome your financial assistance: donations can be transferred to bank account number NL39 INGB 000 298 2359, in the name of the Stichting Textile Research Centre.
 
Since the TRC is officially recognised as a non-profit making cultural institution (ANBI), donations are tax deductible for 125% for individuals, and 150% for commercial companies. For more information, click here
 
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