Thursday, November 05, 2009

Tablet weaving: practice run part II

Thanks for all your comments on my SOS post! This is my second attempt, in pink and white silk (1200 dernier) from Devere Yarns. This silk gives a very smooth, soft and shiny braid :-). The braid is about 1 cm in width. In the upper row, you can clearly see the point where I reversed the directions of the tablets. It's not so obvious as in my first attempt, but I'm not sure whether I like it: it really disrupts the smooth surface... I also found it difficult to maintain the tension of the weft. I guess that in my next attempt, I have to pull the weft a little tighter, because now it really shows at the edges.

(A reenactors dilemma: reversing the tablets is done in the original work, but the braid looks much better without it. To go for "authentic" or to go for "beautiful"? I'm inclined to go for beautiful...)

I want to use this type of braid to make some 14th century garters. (I've put my embroidery projects on hold and I'm currently focusing on a set of ca. 1370 clothes. )

You can find a picture of the original in
Crowfoot, E., Pritchard, F., & Staniland, K., Textiles and Clothing c. 1150-c. 1450. Medieval Finds from Excavations in London, 4. London: The Boydell Press, p 133 braid C.
A pattern of this braid can be found here.

Recommended reading: Ecclesiastical Pomp and Aristocratic Circumstance

I just added a new book to my collection, Nancy Spies, Ecclesiastical Pomp and Aristocratic Circumstance: A thousand years of brocaded tablet woven bands. Nancy Spies tried to track and describe as much brocaded tablet woven bands as possible from the period 600-1600 (in Europe). The resulting book is a gem which offers a wealth of data.

The book consist of two parts and three appendices. In the first part, Spies describes the historical background of (brocaded) tablet weaving. She covers issues such as production, use, techniques, designs and tools. The second part is an amazing “DIY” craft manual: she describes how to weave brocaded bands (tips, tricks and trouble-shooting included) and she presents pattern draughts of a large number of bands from different museum collections, together with technical and bibliographical data of each band.

Appendix A present a list of bands by function in chronological order, very useful if you want to know more about e.g. brocaded bands used in 14th century relic pouches. Appendix B explains double-faced 3/1 broken twill, and Appendix C is a catalogue of bands listed by country, city and museum.

The book concludes with an extensive, annotated bibliography, which was put on-line by Weavershand.

The part of the book I'm reading currently deals with the analysis of metal threads (pp. 60-65). Spies discusses some really interesting references (see bibliography above), I hope I can find some of them :-).

A few posts ago, we discussed gold work on leather, and whether it was used on shoes ( I'd really love to have golden shoes, too bad that's not historically accurate for a 14th century craftswoman...). On p. 32, Spies shows a drawing of the shoes of King Philip of Swabia (1198-1208) “trimmed with brocaded tabletwoven bands sewn together with a looped stitch using gold threads.” Apparently, it could be done, if you were very rich...

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