This year we presented our paper at Nest XIV. “Colours in medieval textiles versus archeological textiles from Swedish cities” was the title of our abstract. Nest XIV was supposed to take place in Oulo in Finland but was first postponed a couple of times and then became a digital version on Zoom. All participants sent in their paper presentation in advance and only the session discussion was a live talk. A lot of interesting papers were presented! We can’t wait for the publication!!!
We are so happy that we finally can share some of our research that we have been working on the last couple of years, it has taken long due to the pandemic… But finally we can share the amazing colors and fine fabrics from the medieval seal bags from Riksarkivet / National archive
Fulled fabrics. The fabrics during the Middle Ages were often fulled. When fabrics from that time is found in the ground, the majority of the nap is often gone. That means the fabrics that we find give a different surface then the fabric originally had. Also fabrics other than archaeological, may have lost a lot of its fulled surface. Here we can see some evidence of that.
The examples are both from gilded leather coverlets, where the gilded strip ( or a twisted linen strip) has fallen off and exposes a fabric that has significantly more nap than the rest of the fabric. Both fabrics are dated to 15th or 16th century.
Today we would like to raise the idea of a perfect result. That seems to be a fairly modern approach. We see repeatedly during our analyses that the perfect result is a non existing thing during the Middle Ages. This embroidery from Ärentuna is a good example of that.
Check out the blue square with the yellow pattern in. During the sewing someone ran out of yellow yarn. And continued with a light orange yarn instead. That someone, was also a bit unfocused and turned one of the wings of the pattern upside down.
Misstakes happens all the time when people are doing crafts. But during the Middle Ages people seemed less interested in fixing them. We find this very heartwarming and would like to strike a blow for not correcting things too often. It’s a bit like live TV. Don’t mention it, then the audience will notice it, just move on and everything will be just fine.
The embroidery is dated 14-15th century. / Amica & Maria Please cred us if sharing photos. Click on the photo to enlage
Today we return to the Grödinge double weave. But today we focus on the animals of the middle section. We got lions, eagles and the animal combined by the two, griffins. At first sight all animals looks the same, but at a closer look, all the animals have some small individual parts. That menas that the pattern have been picked by hand during the weaving.
The weave is made out of white and dark blue wool and is dated to the 15th century.
Today the double weave can be found in the collections of The Swedish History Museum. / Amica & Maria Please cred us if sharing photos. Click on the photo to enlage
Today we give you an old textile and it’s reconstructed younger cousin. The Dalhem 1 coverlet, gilt leather and intarsia technique. Dated to 15th century. Today in the collections od The Swedish History museum.
Reconstruction made by many people. Read more about the project here: / Amica & Maria If sharing photos: please cred us.
The last few years we have put together an Advent calendar during december. Out plan is to do the same this year. But since the new plague hit our world we have not been traveling at all. And we might lack a bunch of “new” historical textiles to show you. We are doing the best we can to show you hidden gems in our photo collections. It’s possible that we bring up new angles of a piece that we have shown you before. Hope you can find joy in a recycled textile too.
Our first post is an embroidery: The peacock on the Masku coverlet, Finland. Intarsia technique. Wool fabric in green ( now with a blue tint since the yellow dyestuff have faded), dark blue, white and red. Also thin cotton or linen fabrics as decoration on the top of the antennas. The silvred/gilded leather have fallen off in the majority of places. The stitching shows where they were placed.
The coverlet is in the collections of the National Museum of Finland. Dated to 15th century. / Amica and Maria If sharing photos: please cred us.
We have gotten questions about how we manage to get such bright red color with madder on wool. We thought we would should share the recipe that works for us.
100%! We use as much madder as the weight of the goods we dyes. If we dye 100g of goods (goods = yarn or fabric) then we use 100g of madder. In order to get a good color, you need to plan your dyeing.
1. Good madder- buy madder that is powdered. It simply gives more colour than the cut root pieces. There will be a lot to clean up, but it’s SOOO worth it.
2. Soak the madder in lukewarm water. A minimum is 24h. If possible, let your madder soak for 3 days. It can go moldy but this does not affect the color. However, be careful not to inhale the mold spores. Soaking over time can start a fermentation and then the colour will get a more cold red tone and pull more towards the blue direction. Do not filter off the bath, keep everything in the dye bath. Also add one beer to the soaking bath. If you like you can also have a beer to drink.
3. Mordant. We use only alum as a mordant. 30% of the weight of the goods. Pre mordanting is the thing, don’t put dyestuff and mordant in the same bath, this will dull the colour.
The dyeing 1. Insert the soaked madder solution and your gods into the dye bath. Heat slowly up to 68-69 degrees. Maintain this temperature for at least 2-3 hours. Stir frequently. The madder powder sinks to the bottom of the tub! It will also get stucked in “pockets” in your fabric.
2. Let the goods cool down in the bath, preferably overnight- but watch out for pockets!!
3. Take up the goods. Shake out excessive madder back into the dye bath.
4. Allow the goods to dry before washing.
5. Shake the dried goods to get rid of your madder powder. We usually do this over a big plastic sheet. Preferably outdoors! Make sure to cover your mouth and nose. It’s dusty!! The madder is put back in the dye bath.
6. Rinse the gods until the rinsing water is clear.
Use the dye bath for the after bath. You can dye as long as you think it gives color. A lightly dyed fabric and be over dyed with a fresh madder bath, starting with a apricot dyed fabric, instead of a white, will give you a stronger red.
Today, 24th of December, we celebrate Christmas ( Jul) in Sweden. That means this is the last calendar post. We hope that you have enjoyed this years calendar and that you have seen things that you haven’t seen before.
Todays post is a Swedish embroidery. Wool on linen. Dated mid 15th century.
We have analysed the embroidery and a full report will come soon.
Merry Christmas and a Happy new year! / Amica and Maria
Photo: Historical Textiles- please cred if sharing.
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