Thursday, April 19, 2007

All after a days work.

I had a half hour appointment at 12.30 today in the Macclesfield County Court, a town I have never been to. To get there I found myself on Silk Road. The court turns out to be in Silk House. Oh yes and opposite are two silk museums! Well, these things have to be done don't they?

The first museum, a former silk factory was officially shut for a private group but the guide took pity on me and snuck me in for a one on one tour before they arrived.

So you think you have a lot of thread?!

This machine kind of spins out the silk thread which then goes on this jaquard loom.

The whole factory like this, was opened in 1820 and was still running in this state in 1981!

Turns out Macclesfield was a big place for silk - first buttons then fabric. The second museum was about the production of the silk fabrics and was housed in the old Macclesfield School of Art which trained a lot of the designers in industry. As a City and Guilds student, the best bit for me was seeing their work and sample books. These photos are just a sample - the work dates from 1949- 1952.

Sometimes I get a bit frustrated doing tiny samples - I want to get on and do the whole thing but boy did I suddenly have a penny drop in my numb skull today. Fisrtly wouldn't it be nice if the journals we are keeping now were of interest to someone else 60 years later? I sometimes keep swatches of the fabrics I am quilting with but then wonder what is the point given that I have the whole quilts. But then I saw all the fabric swatch books on show and reaslised that we are in fact creating a record of history. This swatch book has fabric on it with the face of Queen Victoria woven into it.
Historical records need not just be the formal exhibit in the National Museums. Social history of individuals can be just as valid.

Secondly I was able to go to a special exhibition upstairs where some local embroiderers had produced work of their own design based on either a pattern book or a print block in the museum collection. I got to see the original item, the new one and the design book showing the progress. At this point a penny kind of dropped in my numbskull brain. This one item and book is by Carolyn Allott.

There are actually two other silk related museums in the town but I didn't have time for those because I had already planned to drive 15 miles or so to Stockport to see an exhibit curated by the Quilters Guild in the UK which I had accidentally discovered when googling for quilty shops in Macclesfield ( well you don't go somewhere new without checking, do you?).

By co-incidence the theme was very similar. There is a local heritage house in Stockport called Staircase House and the local quilters had been asked to produce wallhangings inspired by part of that building. No design books this time but still a piece on the wall about the original source. I had this exhibit all to myself and had a great time not only pondering the thought processes but also looking at the exectution and the stitchings. Here are pictures of my favourites three with their explanatory boards.

Don't you love this frame?

I left desperate for time to sit and play making samples of the techniques I had seen! Sadly, work means it won't happen for a while but I trust the inspiration will not wear off!

1 comment:

Helen said...

Fab post. Lucky you being able tosee that wonderful history. I am jealous!