Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dating the Dargate Book

There is neither provenance nor dates available for the Dargate book. It was given a circa 1830 (+ or - 5 years) designation by two textile historians.  One suggested it most likely was from Alsace, a major textile printing area in France. I just came across an interesting date in the book, The Fabrics of Mulhouse and Alsace, 1801-1850. In Mulhouse, the firm of Nicolas Koechlin & Freres developed  woven muslin with satin bands for printing in 1829. This was followed the next year with the printing of flower motifs on 'organdie with woven squares'.

This is a scan of a sample from the Dargate Book of an organdy (sheer crisp cotton used for dresses and curtains) with woven stripes plus a delicate horizontal band in pink which was printed with floral sprigs.

Depending on your browser, you should be able to zoom in on this picture to get a closer look at the woven stripes.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Textiles of the Fur Trade Era

My favorite lecture/research topic is Textiles of the Fur Trade Era. What did the calicos and chintzes listed in those Fur Trade Era merchant ledgers really look like: pattern, scale, coloration? There are a few surviving examples in museums, in linings of moccasins and bags and wrapped up in medicine bundles. Many of these are bright and bold. Here are several in red and yellow on my website that I chose for their Trade Era look.

Earlier this month Ron and I attended the 35th Annual MSU American Indian Council Pow Wow here in Bozeman. The colors of the costumes were wonderfully eye popping!

These jingle dresses make a distinctive sound. The silver cones were made from tobacco can lids. One young lady who was very proud of her dress and her hertiage told me originally they were buffalo dewclaws.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Textile History Conference at the Museum of the Rockies

We have a marvelous time on Saturday! There were 54 attendees plus presenters at our first Textile and History Conference in Bozeman, MT. Along with 4 presentations (I did one on the textiles and quilts of the 1890s) and a display of 4 quilts from the museum's collection, there were many  'textile' conversations with old friends and new acquaintances throughout the day. Here are a few of the slides I used to illustrate my talk. These blocks are date 1880-1910.

The 1870s and 80s were called the Madder Decades. Here is a block with great madder style prints.
One of the colorations of half mourning--a Chocolate. It matches perfectly the wrapper on a Hershey's Milk Chocolate bar!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Fugitive purple cotton prints

Often 19 th century purples are referred to as' fugitive'. When you look at a quilt, a garment or a length of cloth, what was once a lovely purple could now be a soft shade of brown. Early 19th century cotton purples would have been dyed with a number of natural dye sources; logwood, seashells or most often madder. The first synthetic dye, Perkins Purple 1856, worked best on wool and silk. A chemical purple dye was available in 1862 but many of the fabrics printed at that time have reacted to both sunlight and humidity, changing to brown. I recently had the wonderful ! opportunity of studying a large group of quilt blocks from the upper Ohio Valley, 1880-1910. Here is one of these blocks. The print is changing from a fairly vibrant purple to that often seen soft brown. You may, depending on your browser, be able to put your cursor on this block and zoom in on the purple print.

I am lecturing on quilts of the late 19th century next Saturday, April 10, 2010, at the conference, Prairie Points and Backstitches, at the Musuem of the Rockies in Bozeman, MT and showing 135 slides, including this one, to illustrate my talk.  If you are interested in attending, please call me at 406-580-3358. 

If you would like me to speak to your organiztion about textiles and quilts of the 18th, 19th, or 20th centuries, please contact me at 406-580-3358 or