Draginja Maskareli from the Museum of Applied Art, Belgrade, Serbia, attended the TRC Intensive Textile Course in November 2018. She wrote the following blog:
Thanks to generous support of the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia and the Museum of Applied Art in Belgrade, I had the opportunity to attend the five-day Intensive Textile Course at the Textile Research Centre (TRC) in Leiden, held in November 2018.
TRC is an independent research institute housed in the center of historic Leiden with a diverse study collection of around 20,000 items from all over the world. The collection includes textiles, garments, and accessories, from millennia-old archeological textiles to modern European printed textiles, from the regional dress of different areas to the collection of lace. Another impressive part of TRC is its library with over 3,000 books including a wide range of subjects relating to textile and dress. Visiting the TRC and attending the Intensive Textile Course was really a very interesting, useful and unique experience.
During my work as a curator of the Textile and Costume Collection at the Museum of Applied Art in Belgrade, I have noticed that the system we are currently using for cataloging textile and costume needs a serious update. This was especially evident during the work on the Europeana Fashion project and the development of a thesaurus compatible with the requirements of the digitization process. Keeping in mind that museums in Serbia are well into the digitization of their collections on a national level, I felt that it is the right moment to make a step towards the modernization of our textile and costume cataloging system. Of course, establishing a clearer and more accurate and efficient system requires some new skills, tools, and information. Having thoroughly analyzed available options, I applied for the TRC Intensive Textile Course, which is held at the TRC Leiden four times each year.
The intensive five-day course at Leiden was the right place to acquire functional knowledge for better and more detailed understanding of textiles and their structure. The nine participants in the course, taught by the TRC's founder and director Dr. Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, learned a lot about the main elements of textile fabrics: fiber identification, spinning and yarns, dyes and dyeing, weaves and weaving, non-woven materials and decorative techniques.
Gillian is an outstanding lecturer. Thanks to her huge experience and knowledge of the subject, she provides clear explanations, supported by various interesting items from the TRC collection. A very exciting part of the course was practical work, where she introduced us to the basic principles of spinning, dyeing, weaving etc. I have never had many talents for handicrafts, but I really enjoyed it, especially the weaving: besides three basic weaves – tabby, twill and satin, I also tried (and managed) to weave small portions of velvet, both solid and voided. Even a clumsy try to weave something really changes one's perception of textiles and helps understand them in a different way. Gillian often likes to point out that is the way to learn to appreciate the textiles.
The Intensive Textile Course was an important point in my professional development as a textile and costume curator. Besides intensive learning, I also had a great time during the coffee and tea breaks (accompanied with boxes of tasty Dutch biscuits) talking to the group of dedicated course participants from different countries and of different interests and professional backgrounds. The spirit of approaching Sinterklaas and Christmas that pervaded the whole city of Leiden also contributed to a generally pleasant and inspirational atmosphere, favorable for making new friends and acquiring new skills and knowledge.
Tuesday, 4th December 2018