torsdag 12 maj 2016

Starting a "forever" project

I've been thinking about printing fabric for a dress for quite some time now. I started reading up on printed fabric in the Middle Ages already when I was working on my PhD - maybe 2002 or something, and it has been a sort of side interest all the time since then. It got even stronger after I got interested in the indian textiles trade in Antiquity and the Middle Ages and renaissance. I have  a pinterest board with early textile printing here.

It appears that most textile prints in Western Europe in the Middle Ages were used for innerior decoration - 13th-14th century examples from the Rhineland show rather coarse linen with monochrome print. These were cheaper alternatives to damasks and brocade of course.

 13th-14th century, German

Late 14th century, German

Linen were also printed with gold or silver; Cennino Cennini mentions recipes for printing with glue and gold or silver, a method that is still used in India to this day.

These are 12th-13th century German examples of silver print on textiles. The silver has of course turned black with age.

From Eastern Europe we also know of silks being printed with colours or gold and silver to imitate the expensive byzantine silks, this facebook group has a lot of images and info on those.

While interior decoration was probably the main usage of printed textiles, it was not the only - Cennini mentions it being used for children's clothes. Children's clothes tended to be made by cheaper imitations, and it is likely that the same type of imitiations may have been worn by the less well off who still wanted patterns on their fabric. We do know that in the 16th cnetury printed Indian cottons were used for clothing as well as interior textiles in Italy.

So this is my first attempt. It's a thin worsted and I'm using modern textile paint. I know that I have read about print on wool before the 17th cnetury, but right now I am too tired to remember that. I am quite sure that I will get back to this in later posts.

I was very happy when I found printing blocks at Panduro the hobby shop chain where I get my craft stuff. It appears that for once my hobby ideas coincide with a more general interest.

To make a gown I think that I will need to print ca 4 metres of 150 cm wide fabric. I will also have to fix the print by ironing every motif for five minutes. I may die from boredom, but I think it may be worth it.

My inspiration for the colour choice are both German 13th century statues from the Freiburger Münster:

Photo by Uli Frömming

And this wonderful Italian 14th century statue from the Bardini museum in Florence.

White fabric with a romboid or circular pattern, a little like mine, though in a tealish blue, can also be seen on the tomb of Eleanor of Aquitane, from the 13th century. On her sleeves. If you have a positive attitude.

Anyway, this is not real research or documentation, that will come. But you can see how I will be spending my free time the next weeks.

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