Special interview this month in Friends of Haptic and Hue with @helenaloermans, the woman who realised that many of the Old Masters painted onto complex hand woven linen. She has dedicated her time to deciphering the different weaves and researching the canvases. Listen to the secrets she has discovered in The Weave Beneath – The Canvases of the Old Masters.

Please click on the image to listen to the podcast…

-Piero di Cosimo

painted two of his works on a canvas with a woven pattern, 1490

In the xray of one of the paintings we find a horizontal seam in the canvas.

Many thanks to the conservator of the Wadsworth Atheneum for sharing the high resolution xray image.

In the photograph of the other painting, found on the website of the National Gallery of Canada, we can see a horizontal seam.

Both marked with a red line.

I am very curious to know if the pattern of both canvases are the same and I hope to get access to the xray of “An Allegory of Civilization”

Another interesting detail in both paintings is the pattern of the scarfs…

-Automated Thread Count analyses

“Evidence Unraveled, 17th-Century Canvas Exposes”

a very interesting project in Museum Bussemakerhuis in The Netherlands! https://www.museumbussemakerhuis.nl/…/ontrafeld…/…

It is about the reconstruction of a plain weave canvas from the 17th century.

Density of warp and weft has been found by Automated Thread Counting software.

“Automatic thread counting software, developed by Professors Don H. Johnson (Rice University) and Professor C. Richard Johnson, Jr. (Cornell University) provides thread counts, referred to here as thread density, covering the entire painting. These density measurements have proven to be far more informative than spot counts, even highlighting the potential inaccuracy of manual spot counts. (source: https://www.ece.rice.edu/~dhj/TCAP/ITC.html

Automated Thread Counting analyses can create “Thread Density- and Thread Angle Maps” which lead to finding spots in the canvas where “cusping” and “weft snakes”, a subtle cusping-like feature, become visible. (between others)

My curiosity to seeing if this software would provide the information about thread count in canvases with a complex woven pattern has lead to a pilot trial with Professor Don H. Johnson at rice University.

“The current algorithm does have trouble with “fancy” weave patterns, like diamond. In most cases, the analysis of twill and herringbone is possible. A lot depends on the quality of the x-rays.

But there is hope for an improved thread counting algorithm !”

I would love to discuss this topic with both textile- and computer engineering lovers!

-invited to be the keynote speaker at this forum …

…feeling so honoured to be invited as the keynote speaker at the upcoming forum in Vermont USA !

Thank you Rabbitt Susan Goody for your support, amazing work and love for historical textiles !

The Textile History Forum seeks papers and presentations on all aspects of textile history from the Pre-Columbian period through the twenty-first century, including textile

technology, costume, quilts, weaving, dyeing, spinning, technological innovations and textile availability. The Forum is looking to include additional aspects of material culture i.e. how textiles fit into their cultural and social places, how textiles are valued, ceremonial use of textiles and the individuals who made and used them.

The Textile History Forum encourages the submission of scholarly work from historians, anthropologists and economists as well as independent researchers, individuals working the field, crafts people and collectors. Current and unpublished research is especially encouraged. Those interested in presenting a paper at the Forum should submit a one-page proposal. In addition to formal paper presentations, those interested in presenting a “work-in-progress” are also encouraged to submit a few paragraphs about their work. The Works-in-progress sessions are short presentations and no written paper is required.

“What can archaeological finds and the close inspection of artefacts, specifically textiles, reveal about the past?”

Image depicts a fragment of beige textile with intricate geometric woven pattern. Folded and creased as found at Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk.
Image depicts Anna Forrest holding one of the textile finds from Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk. Image credit:National Trust/Mike Hodgsen

Many thanks to Ksynia Marko and ICON Textile Group for the opportunity to share the interesting work by Anna Forrest on the archaeological textile finds.

By connecting the patterns in historic canvases and the textile finds we may find answers to the questions that arise ..

I love where disciplines join!

Thanks to all of you who were there on the 14th of November.

… the story of how we ‘incidentally’ met is amazing on itself ! Feels as if I was ‘guided’ by an Old Master to be in Anna Forrest ‘s online talk about The Oxburgh Hall finds, and stay there… My heart started to beat faster when Anna spoke about the textiles and I could not believe my eyes when she ‘choose’ to show the piece of textile above in close up…

Announcement of the talk: ICON Textile Group

10 November at 10:00  · 

There’s still time to book tickets for our talk next week on Monday 14th November on Archaeological textile finds, such as the wonderful examples shown in these images, found at Oxburgh Hall – National Trust. With Anna Forrest and Helena Loermans.

What can archaeological finds and the close inspection of artefacts, specifically textiles, reveal about the past?

Find out at our next talk, which will be in two halves. First we will hear from former National Trust curator Anna Forrest about the underfloor discoveries made during the reroofing project at Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk, finds ranging from fragments of late 16th c. books to high status Elizabethan textiles, and then we will learn from Helena Loemans how close weave analysis can add to our understanding of how textiles were made, and their origins.

Image credits:National Trust/Mike Hodgsen