Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Gawthorpe Hall

Yesterday I had the privilege of seeing a few of the lovingly made quilts from the Textile Collection and help Rachel (the curator) to photograph and archive 3 of their quilts.  The process was fascinating.  All of the quilts are stored in protective boxes with tissue paper and polyester film to prevent damage.  Each quilt is taken out of the box, while wearing white gloves) and accessed to see if it is sturdy enough to hang and be photographed.  If it is deemed to be too fragile, it is placed on the floor instead. 

Rachel inspects each quilt looking for clues to determine the date, fabric content, origin, damage and social relevance.  The quilt in the picture above had magenta fabric in it which was a new dye colour in the late 1860's.  The blue and white fabric in the very centre was from much earlier, and was probably the most precious fabric.  Much like today, we tend to put our best/favourite fabric in the centre or as the focal piece.

This quilt is actually an incomplete one.  It is only the top of the quilt.  It was paper pieced and had the original papers still inside.  You can read hand written words and numbers on it.  Fascinating.  Here is a close up.
The next quilt was stripy "thrift" quilt.  The wadding was mainly made from a woven blanket, but had a cut up wool jumper in it.  You can see the shape of the sweater outlined in the sunlight.
This section of the quilt (where the jumper was used) was very damaged.  It isn't clear why.  It could be something to do with the inserted jumper. It's hard to say. (Here's a picture of the back and front of the quilt)

The last quilt we looked at was a "whole cloth" quilt.  The front and back are one continuous piece of fabric, versus a pieced top.  It's design or art work was added through the quilting process.  They are much harder to photograph, as you can see.  Whole cloth quilts were mainly made in the North Country and in Wales.  Rachel used the clues in the design to work out which area it was from.
Thank you Rachel and Vanessa (Director) for inviting me to visit you at Gawthorpe Hall.  We are working on some exciting partnership visits in the near future.