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.
Upon glancing at this embroidery, the designs exhibit a wide array of patterns and weaving techniques that reflect the intensity of the red color. Like many samplers, this textile is a combination of a functional educational exercise and aesthetic design choices. The maker, M. Heise, used the sampler to learn different weave structures that could be used for darning; at the same time, the zig zags, diagonals, checkerboard, vertical, and horizontal patterns create gradations of the color red from transparent to opaque in color. Only a single shade of red thread is being used to create color saturation as part of the technique, where it depends on how far or close the threads are being used in the warp and the weft.
Yi Lu Lo is a senior in Consumer Behavior and Marketplace Studies, also pursuing a Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Chinese Professional Communication.
This apron, made of paper printed with a floral design and ornamented with a color coordinated waistband and pocket, was part of the 1960s craze for paper clothing. The Kimberly Clark Corporation, was founded in Neenah, Wisconsin, in 1872 and made a range of paper products for the home. In the 1960s, they started to experiment with making paper products for the body, conjuring up domesticity in new ways. These paper dresses, aprons, and even bathing suits came in bright floral, geometric, or abstract prints that could be customized to different lengths and could be used for specific occasions. Although a paper apron would have limited functionality, it might have had more of a symbolic use as a signifier of traditional femininity marking women’s domestic roles as female head of the family or hostess for bigger parties or community events.
Laura Slusser is a senior in Consumer Behavior and Marketplace Studies, also pursuing a Certificate in Textiles and Design.
By identifying military insignia, this handkerchief on a red ground was a tribute to the United States Armed Forces during World War II. It was part of a set produced by J.H. Kimball featuring the insignia of different branches of the United States Armed Services on red, white, and blue handkerchiefs. Kimball was one of several prolific producers of handkerchiefs in the United States in the mid-twentieth century, commissioning a range of artists and illustrators to design seasonal, decorative, and commemorative images that were printed on cotton and linen fabric. These were advertised widely, encouraging consumers to collect the new designs as they were distributed through regional department stores. Handkerchiefs were intimate objects, carried close to the body, but could also have more public uses, for example by waving them at parades or rallies, so they were well suited for expressions of patriotism during the war era.
Prof. Marina Moskowitz is the Lynn and Gary Mecklenburg Chair in Textiles, Material Culture, and Design.