16-18 October 2015
Notes on Saturday afternoon sessions
Jacqueline Hyman, known by many for her textile conservation expertise, spoke about her work to conserve two silk Mamluk headpieces that had been found in storage boxes at Leeds University. I learned a lot. The Mamluk sultanate (1250-1517) stretched across Egypt, Syria and Palestine and controlled trade routes between Europe and the East. The wearing of head-covering was law in this society. The caps had been squashed in their storage box and Jackie showed us how intricate care was needed to tease out the fibres and identify the layers within the caps. Silk, linen, cotton and paper were all used. The caps were made in segments with amazingly fine stitching holding the layers together. Jackie had had to clean off dirt and remove dead insects, she had made mounts for both of the caps, but I think we were all really impressed with her innovative use of a Lakeland jelly strainer to create a humidification chamber.
Paula Hulme’s interest in wills and references in them to beds and textiles, started with a family history course at Keele Univeristy. She spoke about the 10 wills dated between 1540 and 1680 that she had analysed as part of a larger study of 88 wills written by women. 1550-1650 saw a growth in the prosperous middle classes alongside the growth in the wool trade. Beds and their furniture (by which is meant the bedcovers and hangings) were mentioned in 75 of the 88 wills. Many covers were embroidered to match the curtains and the valances were often heavily embroidered as they were handled less. The best bed would be on show in the parlour. The second best bed would be the matrimonial bed. I think we all took this as clear evidence of improvement in the lot of women since the 1500s.
Rachael Howard did a magnificent job telling us about the influence of Red Work on her textile work, despite a faulty projector bulb that did not show the red in her illustrations. Rachael had started her career with a 6 month placement at an embroidery factory in new Delhi. She records her experiences with quick, vital sketches that then become incorporated into her textile work. She squirrels away all sorts of notes and children’s drawings, which later turn up in her work (note: don’t leave your shopping list in the supermarket trolley). She told us she had been influenced by quilting in general but particularly by story quilts. She runs masterclasses and workshops for all ages and enjoys working on outreach art projects with children.