Textile Tuesday: Red Edition: September
Join us once a month during 2022 on the CDMC Stories blog for Textile Tuesdays: Red Edition! Students in the UW-Madison Design Studies class “History of Textiles” (Fall 2021) wrote these posts, choosing the color red as the theme through which they explored the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection (HLATC). While of course red holds particular resonance for the Badger community, it also has a special place in the history of textiles. We can chart the development of textile dyeing and printing through the use of madder plants, cochineal insects, synthetically-produced alizarin, and other substances. Focusing on the color red allowed the students to feature a wide range of textiles from HLATC in terms of chronology, geography, use, and cultural meaning.
This book cover, produced between the years 1870-1889 in Delavan, Wisconsin, is a beautiful red silk on silk embroidered piece. It represents extensive time and expert craftsmanship, featuring pink and green budding blooms climbing up the title cover. Historically, book covering dates back to the fifteenth century, where metal and leather clasps were used to protect the interior pages. Up until the nineteenth century, book buyers would have their purchase covered by a specialist who would add custom embellishments and stylistic elements. The early nineteenth century brought increased industrialization, and the innovations in printing allowed book publication to become faster and cheaper, incorporating mass-produced covers. But individuals still might choose to create hand-made covers to protect their books and show their value. Delving deeper into this example, the cover most likely was a gift, as it was popular during the time to give books as presents. The rich red velvet, gold embroidered trim, and flower detailing provides additional evidence of the cover having emotional meaning beyond simply book protection. Though decades old, the Delavan book cover brings attention to the expert artistry and sentimental meaning behind the process of textile creation, and the close relationship between texts and textiles.
Samuel Riker is in his final year at UW-Madison, majoring in Textiles and Fashion Design, with a Certificate in Entrepreneurship.
This woven silk garment was made in China in 1937. The dress is ankle-length and wraps around the body with a long opening on the right side that can be fastened with eight wrapped buttons. Looking at this garment’s shape, length, neckline, and slit, it appears to be a traditional cheongsam (or qipao), a style of Chinese dress that became popular in the 1920s. This dress is consistent with some of the stylistic changes of the cheongsam that occurred in the late 1930s and 1940s by incorporating capped sleeves and a more form-fitting shape, in contrast to its original shape and design that incorporated long, wide sleeves and a looser fit. The most striking aspect of this garment are the six images woven into the fabric using a shimmery gold thread. A peculiar part of these motifs is that they are actually a repeat pattern all across the garment and travel vertically down the bodice. The depictions are extremely intricate, showing blooming trees, a seven-story pagoda, arching stone bridges, winding roads, and people carrying litter vehicles and covered carriages. The repeat pattern, along with the observation that this garment is a damask weave, suggest that it was likely created on a jacquard loom. Jacquard looms allow for complex and detailed patterns such as this to be quickly manufactured by using a series of interchangeable cards that control which warp threads will be raised as the weft passes between them. This garment serves as a rich piece of history, not only for its preservation over time, but also because of its political context. Its imagery recalls Chinese heritage, despite the dress being created in a time of major political transition: the fall of the Qing dynasty and the rise of the Communist party.
Quinn Kettering graduated in May of 2o22 with double majors in Finance and Risk Management, and a Certificate in Textiles and Design.
Apparel Fabric Fragment
This strawberry-printed apparel fabric was created by the Swedish designer Gocken Jobs. Working alongside her sister Lisbet, Jobs designed cheerful prints for the body and the home, the latter of which were applied not only to textiles but also to ceramics and other household goods. Their commercial design work started in the immediate post-World War II moment, first through hand printing and later through manufacturing. The sisters are best known for their floral and botanical designs. The hallmark of their designs were botanical images that could be interlinked to create a repeating pattern, covering the entire sheet of cloth; this strawberry-printed textile is one of them. They also created many designs for headscarves, tablecloths, handkerchiefs, tapestries and table runners, which became a staple idea for decorating Swedish homes. Gocken and Lisbet Jobs’ textiles enabled the Swedish family to flourish in the post-war period.
Caitlyn Ye graduated in December 2022, majoring in Retailing and Consumer Behavior, with a Certificate in Textiles and Design.