Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Latest Textile Study Tour

Photo source: The Craftsman, Vol. 19, 1906, pg. 236

Traveling is always an adventure and the best way to approach it is: whatever happens, happens. Whatever is, is. When the "unexpected" occurs, take it as an unexpected gift from the gods. The same is true of this new technology I am trying to learn to harness.

I have now taken three of Deb Roberts' Textile Study Tours and highly recommend them. I'l tell you abaout the latest one I took and fill you in on the others later.

About 30 of us arrived in Barcelona the day before we were to sail, visiting the Textile Museum and Center of Documentation in Terressa, and then boarded the Emerald Princess. I have tried to find you a link to this museum but none that I found do the museum justice. [See my opening statement.] The ship's next stop was Marseille, where we toured the Muse de la Mode Marseille as well as the Musee Provencial at Chateau Gombert to see the antique quilted petticoats and pick up more great books. Even if I don't read French, the books were worth it for the photos and the dates.

Then it was on to Liovorno/Pisa/Florence and the Museo del Tessuto in Prato. Rome, Naples and Pompei followed. The Greek Isle of Mykonos. Istanbul. Kusadasi (Turkey), the jumping off place to Ephesus. Ah, Venice! Here we glided into harbor at least 5 stories higher than anything in the city, giving us an unparalleled advantage of height to view this historic city. And, finally, two nights on Lake Como where we had a curator-guided tour of the silk production museum, Museo didattico della Seta. (Check out the July 2008 issue of the Smithsonain magazine at Smithsonian Magazine.

Thanks to my experiences on three Deb Roberts Textile Tours, I now truly appreciate visiting museums telling the story of texile production history in the various regions of Europe. Don't overlook the Museum Textile Terressa if you are ever in Barcelona.

Some more interesting leads about the textile production history of Europe:

Some more interesting leads about the textile production history of Europe:

European Textile Routes

Textile and Clothing Museum

I was very pleased to discover the magazine Datatextil that the Terressa museum publishes twice a year. It is in both Spanish and English on each page. I bought one back issue (18 Eruos) and wish I had bought all of them, but you know how hard it is to schlep so much weight these days on airplanes! I bought issue #17 because of the article "Indigo Blue: Fabrics of the Miao and the Dong of Southwestern China."(I was interested in this subject because of my visit to that area to photograph the spring festivals in 1996.)

However, once I began reading the whole issue I became very excited about all the articles. Two in particular caught my attention: Los textiles en La Piscina (Textiles in the swimming pool) -- the story of the transformation of a community's former Art Deco swimming pool into a museum in France covering 11,000 square metres. An abandoned textile workshop next to the swimming pool was included in the redevelopment plan. The textile department is now divided into two sections, the Applied Arts section and the tissuetheque -- the section which houses fabrics and sample books. The history of this museum’s collections goes back to 1835 with the creation of the first textile industrial museum, the Industrial Museum of Roubaix, which housed huge sample books that reflected the textile production of the time.

Twintex Museum.

You can see some photos of the La Piscina Museum here.


Also in the same issue was the article "The Twintex Museums project and the Perspectives for Development of the European textile museum network." From the article I quickly gleaned that a new organization had been formed -- Association of the European Textile Cities -- to help consolidate transnational networks, joint projects involving cultural institutions as well as production sources within the textile industry.

Their aim was to "encourage reflection on the roles of textile museums in the profound changes taking place in Europe's textile cities." How exciting to learn that this conference had been held in Prato (Italy) at still another museum we would soon be visiting -- The Museo del Tessuto. If you are ever in Florence, be sure you take a side trip to Prato to visit this museum.

It was exciting to learn what Europe is beginning to do to capture and document and integrate the history of their industrial textile production. Our guide at The Museo del Tessuto in Prato, whose father and grandfather were once deeply involved in textile production in Prato, said the town fathers are a little late to the table with the project, but better late than never! The museum had some very colorful and interesting traditional ethnic African pieces on display while we were there. Click on the British flag in the left hand corner of this website to get an English translation. See Prato Textile Museum

Another wonderful website to visit, though we were unable to visit the collection itself while on our own tour, is The Zucchi Collection. The collection is actually located in three different storage locations and contains some 12,000 designs and 56,000 printing blocks which span three centuries from 1785-1935 and is available for study to scholars and fashion people alike. Do take time to browse thru this website. You will be utterly delighted at the detailed photos of the printing process and design, though I wish images were larger! Here is the link to a brief history about the collection. Be sure to click on the name Giordano Zucchi when you reach this page.

Farmer Karen

Sometimes quilters herd sheep and goats, too. (After all, wool batts are sometimes used in quilts, right!) A couple of my quilt friends and I volunteer to help a local farmer here on Lopez move his sheep from one pasture to another several times a year. One year I was even enrolleld as a mid-wife at the last minute because my hands were so much smaller than the farmers. What an experience that was!

During a move of the herd in August 2008, we got caught in the act by the Wall Street Journal. I'm the one with the crook in my hand.

What a hoot to come back from the textile tour and find the story in my in-box. And wouldn't you know, the museum magazine I just shared with you also had an article about taking wool to the primary schools to teach the youngsters about their textile heritage! The school here on the island does a lot of this kind of teaching, too! We also share quilting with them as well!

If you can't get the address to the Wall Street Journal site to "link" with a click here you'll have to type...wall street journal lopez island... in your search engine to come up with the article, if you are inclined to pursue this story.

The story is actually about how one of the farmers on Lopez came up with a mobile slaughter house that proved much more humane than carting the animals off-island to a slaughter house. The subject matter of the article may not appeal to you but it is actually an important step for small independent farmers who are trying to create sustainable independent organic farming communities outside big agra-business.

More later about our classes in French boutis on-board the ship!