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Signed and sealed SIGNATURE CLOTHS; SOCIAL NETWORKING OLD AND NEW
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Over the last few years artist Lynn Setterington has changed direction several times. Her preoccupation however remains the same – highlighting the overlooked; be it objects, people, embroidery or folk traditions. So when Lynn came upon an early signature cloth on a research fellowship to the International Quilt Study Center in Nebraska in 2010, connections were made and a new chapter began.
The cloths, filled with embroidered names in all manner of configurations, record the lives of ordinary individuals and were made in the U.S. both as fundraisers and records of community from the 1850s onwards. As the York County quilt documentation project explains they were; “made to commemorate a single significant event such as a wedding or retirement. They were also used to acknowledge bonds of friendship and served as remembrances of friends and family when loved ones moved from a community or joined the Westwood migration.”
One of the most striking quilts was a fundraiser for the Red Cross in World War I. The quality of the now disintegrating sewn signatures is poignant and exquisite and could not be replicated in any other medium. Likewise, a cloth from Pennsylvania is made up of squares each containing hundreds of sewn names and signatures in different configurations. On closer inspection “worked by Mrs Belle Dutcher” can be made out, hidden amongst the mass of lettering. Having the traces of these individuals makes the cloths important as social history documents and wonderful legacies for family and community alike.
Having seen over 50 examples in one collection alone, Lynn decided to investigate the extent of UK signature cloths on her return home to Britain. This instigated visits up and down the country from the Imperial War Museum in London, to the Quilters Guild in York and The Beck Isle Museum of Rural Life in Pickering North Yorkshire. The picture that is (still) emerging is of embroidered cloths made across Britain decorated with signatures in various compositions.4 01
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MARGARETE HÄUSLER COMBINES NATURAL LINEN AND LUMINOUS COLOUR
Can you describe your studio? It’s an apartment in an old building in the centre of Berlin. In the summer I also use an old cabin on an island in a lake on the outskirts of the city. Can you tell us about the dyes and process you use? I use ecological textile colours based on natural pigments, suitable for dying and handpainting/printing - on linen and canvas cotton. Could you describe your current collection. It´s about colour and texture. The focus is on natural dyes and handpainted gradients based on vegetal or mineral pigments. I create tote bags, weekenders and cushions. My favourite materials are washed linen, cotton canvas and leather trimmings to provide a pure and sober look. The ‘understated’ designs are a hymn to artisan makers. Why do you focus on cushions and bags? I always loved bags and carry-all items, like containters, baskets, etc. In the fields of home textile creation a cushion has the perfect volume to explore "textile qualities", it introduces instant comfort and warmth into your home. But it’s just the beginning of a bigger range of handcrafted home and fashion accessories including throws and scarves. My intention is to explore a wide range of fabric themes in one product instead of creating many product variations. Did you explore any other materials before settling on linen? First of all I worked as a ceramicist. I used porcelain but found that material too cool,
too stiff and too predefined – predestined for a clean, white shape. With textiles I can play with materiality, colours and patterns – this captivated my senses. After studying textiles I created interior fabrics for well-known textile editors and undertook commissions for furnishing stores in both Europe and the United States. I advised companies in the fields of home fashion with consultancy projects including trend research and concepts for product development. I lived in Paris for several years working as a stylist and photographer for well-known trend forecasting agencies. In 2008 I created my own label and workshop. What do you think makes a handcrafted object special? It can provoke variations in colour, shape and surface texture. Where do you find your inspiration? Nature – the plant world, botanical collections, the seaside and water. The materials, colours and patterns I use should emphasise the aesthetics of the natural. It’s good to find natural, grounded products in these ‘virtual’ times. What is your favourite season? My favourite season is the spring. It isn’t really hot and it isn’t really cold either. It’s the time when you can take your bicycle out of the garage and just head off. Go to town or the surrounding areas and come home with a sunburned face from the first sunlight. My second favourite season is autumn because the leaves start to change their beautiful colours. Autumn is full of brown and berry tones and you start wearing warmer ‘wrapping up’ clothes. I like coats and woolly scarves. 4
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THE WEAVERS, EMBROIDERERS AND DESIGNERS BEHIND THE CORONATION
The English Coronation ceremony dates back to the 8th century and for the last 900 years it has taken place at Westminster Abbey. Queen Elizabeth II was crowned on 2nd June 1953 in a day of great pomp and ceremony, not least the elaborate gowns and robes worn by the sovereign.
Tradition dictates that the sovereign should arrive at Westminster Abbey wearing Parliamentary Robes of crimson or scarlet velvet, trimmed with ermine and leave the Abbey wearing purple velvet Robes of Estate. For the ceremony itself the garments are precisely dictated and have remained unchanged since the Restoration in 1660 when Charles II was crowned King. Once anointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the sovereign is robed in a plain white dress known as the Colobium Sindonis and on top of that the Supertunica or golden coat. The dress worn beneath these robes is left to interpretation but has in the past been an opportunity for the conspicuous display of wealth. Of the five Queens of England (and later Great Britain) crowned since the Norman Conquest in 1066, Elizabeth I wore a richly embroidered and jewel encrusted silver and gold dress and Queen Anne’s dress was gold tissue richly embroidered.
The Princess Elizabeth chose couturier Norman Hartnell, who first made clothes for Queen Mary, to design the Coronation Dress which took eight months of research, design and workmanship to make. Hartnell sketched out eight possible designs. It’s thought that the style chosen harked back to the dress worn by Queen Alexandra at the coronation of Edward VII in 1902 and featured iconic embroidery. At the Queen’s request the dress was satin, like her wedding dress, and featured a fitted bodice with short sleeves, square-cut neckline and full skirt flaring to a slight train. But most significant were the embroidered floral emblems of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth Nations strategically laid out in three tiers of overlapping panels framed by ribbed embroidered bands of gold crystals against a lattice-work design.
The embroidery, executed in seed pearls, crystals, coloured silks, gold and silver thread, was undertaken by the Royal School of Needlework and took 3,500 hours between March and May 1953. The emblems depicted were the English Tudor Rose; the Welsh leek; the Irish shamrock; the Scottish thistle; the Canadian maple leaf; Australian wattle; New Zealand silver fern; South African portea; lotus flowers for India and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and for Pakistan’s wheat, cotton and jute.
The dress was made up at the workroom at 26 Bruton Street under the supervision of Hartnell’s ‘first hand’ Madame Isabelle. Hartnell himself added an additional shamrock on the left side of the skirt for good luck. Hartnell also designed the plain white linen robe ‘the Colobium Sindonis’. The Coronation Dress took on a greater significance in the 1953 coronation because the Queen did not wear a surcoat which in the past had hidden the dress beneath.
The fabrics for the Robes of Parliament and Robes of Estate were specially woven by Warners & Sons following a tradition established by Edward VII in 1902 who specified British silk – this company were one of the few remaining firms continuing the Spitalfields tradition. The silk used to make the purple velvet of the Queen Elizabeth’s Robe of Estate, worn on departure from the Abbey, was sourced from Lady Hart Dykes silk farm at Lullingston, Kent – as it was for George VI’s Robe in 1937.
The velvet cloth was also dyed at New Mills in Braintree and was woven by two weavers, Lily Lee and Hilda Calver, who were specially called out of retirement for the task. The two lengths of 18 yards, 21 inches wide were made at a rate of 6”-9” per day and the women were made honorary members of the Worshipful Company of Weavers for their efforts. The Robe, embroidered with a border of wheat ears and olive branches symbolising peace and plenty, and the Queen’s crowned cipher centred in the train were embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework and made up by Ede and Ravenscroft in Chancery Lane.
The cloth of gold for the Supertunica was woven by Warners at a rate of 1” per day. The company were also commissioned to weave a host of other fabrics for the coronation including: the blue and gold ‘Queensway’ fabric designed by graduate of the Royal College of Art, Robert Goodden, which decorated the Abbey; the crimson silk satin covering the chairs of the Royal Dukes and Coronation Coach; a Canterbury Rose Silk damask used on the faldstools for the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and the Archbishop of Canterbury; a cream silk lute – a plain ribbed hand woven fabric used for the heraldic banners and a Torcello silk damask which covered the throne.
Little is known about the coronation cushion which was given to the College of Arms in recognition for the role their Officers of Arms in the Ceremonies of State most notably in the coronation. The cushion now sits in the College of Arms Marshall’s throne where it is on view to the public. Clare Lewis Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration, 30 June-7 October 2012, The Summer Opening of the State Rooms, Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA, T: +44 (0)20 7766 7300, www.royalcollection.org.uk
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BEHIND THE THRONE The Crown Jewels are guarded in the Tower of London in their own Tower. The collection contains over 23,578 jewels. The Crown Jewels and Regalia (sceptres, orbs, swords, ampulla etc) dates from the Restoration in 1660 when Charles II ascended the throne. The original Regalia was destroyed by Cromwell’s Parliamentary commissioners as a symbol of the ‘destestable rule of kings. The night before the coronation the Regalia is brought from the Tower of London accompanied by the watermen and lightermen from the City of London to the Abbey and guarded overnight by the Yeoman of the Guard. On Coronation Day the Regalia is placed on the High Altar The Sovereign is crowned by the Archbishop of Canterbury with the gold St Edward’s crown studded with sapphires, tourmalines, ameythysts, topazes and citrines. It weighs 2.23kg. The Imperial State Crown is worn to leave Westminster Abbey. When the crown is being used it is replaced in the display at the Jewel House at the Tower of London with a small sign which simply reads ‘IN USE’. There is a complete set of Coronation Regalia on display at the Undercroft Museum at Westminster Abbey, rumoured to be used for practise runs. The Imperial State Crown is set with 2,868 diamonds, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, 5 rubies and 273 pearls. The Maltese Cross is set with a sapphire supposedly taken from a ring found on the finger of Edward the Confessor when he was reinterred in Westminster Abbey by Henry II in 1163. Two of the four drop-shaped pearls are believed to have come from Catherine de Medici via her daughter-in-law Mary Queen of Scots. The pearls were sold to Elizabeth I on the death of her cousin in 1587. The diamond on the front is the 2nd Star of Africa or Cullinan II. At 317 carats it’s the 2nd largest cut diamond in the world. The Sovereign wears the Imperial State Crown for the State Opening of Parliament. The crown travels on a cushion in a separate carriage. At the back of the crown is the Stuart Sapphire weighing 104 carats. Tradition has it that the stone descended from the crown of the Scottish king Alexander II.
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Rush hour FELICITY IRONS WAS A FAST LEARNER
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When the last of a gargantuan length of rush matting was finally laid in the long gallery of Elizabethan mansion Hardwick Hall, rush worker Felicity Irons allowed herself a rare moment of pride. “When everyone had left, I drew breath and just stood there. This was the biggest piece I’d ever done. It took nine of us six months to make it. Fifty metres long, nearly seven metres wide, all handmade and fully fitted. I never thought we’d manage it.”
Lean, striking and immensely strong, 45-yearold Felicity sustains an industry that has all but disappeared from the east of England in the last 20 years. Her work – from delicate weaves to chunky coils of intense green bulrush – graces the tables, floors and seats of those with a taste for traditional crafts. Her chaotic workshop on a Bedfordshire farm is strewn with designs and projects, loose rush and half-finished matting as she strives to finish another sizeable order of some 30 chairs for an unnamed American client. “Oprah Winfrey?” she speculates, half joking.
What makes Felicity’s work so rare is her end-toend approach – she hand cuts and dries all her own rush every summer before heading back to her workshop for the rest of the year to plait, weave and sew her creations. Her craft is local because the gravel beds of the rivers Ouse and Nene offer some of the best rushes in the country. And it’s here on the edge of the fens in Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire that she slices them with a six-foot scythe, before piling them high on a wobbly punt – this year she and her small team harvested 2,500 “bolts” or bundles of rushes, all now stored in a 12th century barn next door to her studio.
East Anglian summers are usually dry and hot – suited to drying rush in stubble fields and atop hedges without risk of mould. If the sun doesn’t bleach them too strongly, they retain a vivid green that can make the ubiquitous continental rush and water hyacinth look flat and grey by comparison. If it rains, Felicity bundles her crop into a greenhouse before all is lost.
If she hadn’t broken her back in a car accident in Australia some 20 years ago, Felicity would never have started out in the all-but-vanishing rush industry. She trained as an actress; her dream was to study
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ATTIRE critical reporting of fashion trends 12 Inside story Amy de la Haye discovers we’re concealing much more than bus tickets and lost lipsticks in our handbags To marktheopeningofTheSimoneHandbagMuseuminSeoul,SouthKorea inJuly2012,www.simonehandbagmuseum.co.kr 30 COVER STORY Services to fashion Norman Hartnell’s romantic royal signature Amyde la Haye looksattheimpactthisdesignerhadonthepublicperceptionoftheQueen 36 Pied pipers How musicians took the lead in fashion Tocoincidewithtwoexhibitionsonthesubject: BritishDesign1948-2012InnovationintheModernAgeattheV&AandPOP!DESIGN CULTURE FASHION,attheFashionandTextileMusuem,CorinneJuliusfindsoutwhenpopstarsbegantocallthe tuneinthefashionworld
SUBSCRIBE 80 Free Margo Selby make up purse New subscribers and renewals will receive a make up purse worth £25 in one of her signature patterned weaves
WIN 81 This issue prizes for Selvedge readers include; an original Claire Fletcher tambourine painted to commission, Hand-woven log baskets worth £125 from Felicity Irons, six copies of the V&A book Queen Elizabeth II: Portraits by Cecil Beaton, handcrafted silk kantha purses from Toks Originals. Good Luck!
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INFORM the latest news, reviews and exhibition listings
03 bias /contributors A letter from the founder and comments from our contributors 07 news Designing Women: Post-war British Textiles, Tilleke Schwarz, After Bloomsbury, Art in Action, analogue life, Crafts at Bovey Tracey, The Printed Square, Julieann Worrall Hood, Collect 09 need to know Solomon and Sheba stumpwork 80 subscription offers This issue every new subscriber and renewal will receive a pretty woven silk purse worth £25
from designer Margo Selby. Visit the Selvedge website to sign up for our free newsletter, become our friend on facebook or follow us on twitter 84 listings Exhibitions, fairs, and events taking place around the world during June and July 86 read Cristóbal Balenciaga: The Work of the Master, by Miren Arzalluz 87 Reading List Be Dazzled! Norman Hartnell, Embroidery from India and Pakistan, Bags. Find out more from the Selvedge bookshop
88 view Six Yards: Guaranteed Dutch Design, They Wove for Horses: Dine Saddle Blankets, Portable Mosques: The Sacred Space of the Prayer Rug, Victoria Revealed 93 resources Websites, reading lists and sources for those who want to find out more about The Souvenir Issue 95 coming next The Sporting Issue: Fun and games with textiles. Aerial gymnasts, sail making, Jantzen swimsuits, Vera Wang, China, riding habits, saddle making ...
SELVEDGE ('selnid3 ) n. 1. finished di fferently 2. the non-fraying edge of a length of woven fabric. [: from SELF + EDGE]
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