2009 Weave of the week #38: French quilt fragment
October 4, 2009

French quilt fragment

French quilt fragment

This week’s weave (shown above) is a mounted fragment of an early 18th century child’s quilt from southern France that was given to me by one of my nieces, who has fabulous taste (doubtless genetic).  Even before I knew anything else about the piece,  its quiet charm won me over.

The piece is made of homespun and handwoven linen.  I did some research into blue dyes in Paul Rodier’s book The Romance of French Weaving, and although the soft blue color could have come from indigo — which was being imported into France well before the 18th century (from “Bagdad”) — I think that it probably came from “the powder made from the leaves of the [woad] plant which grew — which still grows [1936] –– around the Mediterranean and as far north as England.  We call it pastel, because during the Middle Ages it was always solid in little patties (pâtés).”  Sharon Mrozinski,  owner of The Marston House,  whence my textile came, e-mails, “The pastel is still grown and can be purchased in powder form in little sacks.”

The quilt’s white flowers were woven using a supplementary warp weave, with the tabby areas sett at 50 x 50.  It seems to have been woven on a multi-harness shaft loom,  because under magnification the flower design looks as if it uses approximately 16 harnesses, and many treadles.  The white warp ends almost stood out well enough on the blue ground (see detail) for me to be able to analyze the weave,  but there was no way to do that without taking the fabric apart,  and even then, the quilting — and the fabric’s frailty — would have made analysis difficult.

Quilt flower detail

Quilt flower detail

The Marston House is a store that specializes in French antiques,  textile and otherwise.  It’s lucky for my budget that it’s located in Wiscasset, Maine, but they have a lovely website with an attractive, impressive display of tantalizing textiles.

I rarely repeat the subjects of my “weave of the week” articles, because my aim is to make them as different from each other as possible,  and yet,  here I am writing about woven flowers,  natural dyes,  and France in the Middle Ages,  only a week after writing about those same subjects in the context of an article about the Cloisters.  I doubt that it’s only because of free association;  more likely  it’s because I’m just not ready to re-enter the 21st century yet.

Advertisements

2008 Weave of the week #5: Abstract jacquard
August 30, 2008

Vintage wool jacquard

Vintage wool jacquard

To me this swatch of vintage French woolen jacquard looks more like an abstract painting than like a textile. It was woven with fine wool set tightly (approximately 50 epi x 50 ppi), so that the tightness of the structure accentuates the colors and sharp angles between the fabric’s warp- and weft-faced satin weaves.

The piece reminded me of Abstract Cubist painter Lionel Feininger’s work, so I did a quick online search, and on NYC’s Museum of Modern Art’s website I found “Ruin by the Sea,” an oil painting with abstract geometric shapes and similar colors, that Feininger did in 1930 (to view the Feininger piece, go to www.moma.org/collection/provenance/items/593.66.html).