Textile Tuesday: Red Edition: December 

Thank you for joining this year on the CDMC Stories blog for Textile Tuesdays: Red Edition—this is our final post! 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. 

Beaded Doily 

Doily, beadwork, 5.75 x 5.75 in., 2017.06.028, Gift from the Estate of Kathleen “Katie” Orea Sweeney

This textile, the red and white colored beaded doily, is made up of glass beads that are strung together and tied in a circular shape with knots. Doilies have been typically used for protecting wooden furniture from becoming scratched or affected in any way.  Additionally, doilies have also been known to have the purpose of protecting wood from spilled tea when used on tea trays with cups. Other than protective uses, doilies are known to sometimes be a head covering or are placed on clothing and worn.  Additionally, non-textile types of paper doilies are commonly used as a mat under cakes and other pastries.  This particular red and white beaded doily was clearly constructed for decorative purposes, as it is more of a piece of artwork than a textile of functionality. The fiber that we usually associate as being the basis of textiles is hidden within the beads, so it appears that the beads actually make up the textile. There is a shiny luster that can be seen on the outside of the beads, making the doily very visually appealing.  The flower pattern at the center of the doily adds to the beauty of it, and is a true display of the talent and craftsmanship of the artist. This piece from the Textile Collection inspired me to want to incorporate the techniques in this doily into my passion of bracelet making.  Now, I want to take the types of beads that comprised the doily and try to use them in making a new type of knotted and beaded bracelet.  Overall, this beaded doily gave me a new perspective on everything that falls under the category of textiles. 

Marlie Forma is a third-year student in Consumer Behavior and Marketplace Studies, with a Certificate in Entrepreneurship. 


Chasuble, Italy, fifteenth century, silk and metallic embroidered panel on silk velvet, 44 x 26 in., 1994.10.001, Transferred from the Elvehjem Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Purchased by the Museum with the Edna G. Dyar Fund, 1971

Seeing this fifteenth-century chasuble brought to life the long traditions of the Catholic Church. Chasubles are vestments worn by priests during the Eucharist, and other important church services. The Eucharist is a ritual commemorating the Last Supper; church-goers receive wine and bread symbolizing the blood and body of Christ to show their commitment to Him, and it is seen as one of the most sacred acts within the Catholic Church. This particular chasuble has an orphrey, or decorative embroidered column, on a ground rich, red velvet, which has been cut in a pomegranate pattern. This orphrey depicts four saints in stunning embroidered made from silk and metallic thread. The construction of the textile depicts the importance of saints to Catholics. The embroidered figures were constructed separately from the background, and then they were sewn down. This technique adds dimensionality to the figures, and they would catch the light and draw the eye to them. The stark contrast between the shiny and vibrant depiction of saints and the crimson velvet turns a remarkable chasuble into a work of art.  

 Clara Padgham is a second-year student in Consumer Behavior and Marketplace Studies, also pursuing a Certificate in Textiles and Design. 


Adinkra Cloth 

Adinkra cloth, Ghana, c. 1970, printed cotton, 82.5 x 133 in., 2017.03.003, Gift of Kenneth W. Wood

The sample of Ashanti adinkra cloth from the Helen Louise Allen textile collection was made sometime between 1965-1975. Adinkra cloth originates with the Ashanti people. Adinkra is a collection of symbols that represent specific phrases or concepts; these symbols often are incorporated into the design of textiles, architecture, pottery, and other forms of material culture. Traditional Adinkra cloth is hand-printed, using natural materials such as gourds as the carved medium for stamping the symbols. It is a standard cotton canvas material with a repeated pattern printed over the entire surface. The fabric has been dyed to a bright orange-red color with a rough, matte finish. Grey-blue ink was used for the printing and its glossy finish contrasts with the surface texture of the fabric. The colors are also complementary which means that they have high contrast with each other. This works very well within artistic color theory. Utilizing colors opposite each other on the color wheel lends to a more coherent, yet colorful and contrasting aesthetic. 

 Stephen Rooke is a second-year student in Consumer Behavior and Marketplace Studies.