Sunday, 7 February 2016

A rare opportunity

Recently,  I was able to join a party from Cambridge Guild to visit the Fitzwilliam Museum textile archives. We were given a talk and shown some of their handwoven tapestries that the museum is not able to have on public display.

Click here to see all my photos from the session.

The tapestries had been the collection of a local couple, donated to the museum. We were pleasantly surprised to be allowed to handle and photograph them.  The room was small and there were twelve of us there, so some of the photographs you can see are from unusual angles.

The tapestry warp runs across the hung tapestry. The tapestries were woven from the left or right of the cartoon, not as we worked, bottom to top.


Tapestry weavers, take heart

Just look at the back of this tapestry! 

On the back of each tapestry there were ends visible. Non of the yarn ends have been darned in, no attempt has been made to remove them or tidy them up. There are even rows of stitches where the slits between the woven areas have been joined using a cotton or linen thread. Making this a speedier weaving process. There are trails of weaving yarn across areas to get to the next area in that colour.

The tapestries we saw were smaller, for the masses.  They are from the more commercial side of the company catering for those with a disposable income which enabled them to purchase these works of art. There are larger tapestries in the historic buildings of Europe.

The Aubusson Company had artists design the cartoons from which their workers then wove the tapestries. They may have woven several versions of the same cartoon.

The signature on each tapestry is that of the designer rather than the weaver.

A lovely day, with the opportunity to see some masterful work.

MS, Chair.

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