Many thanks to 
Janina Poskrobko, 
Conservator in Charge and
Cristina Balloffet Carr,
Conservator at the 
Department of Textile Conservation, for inviting me and for your support of my work.

Many thanks to Antonia Capasso,
Associate Administrator for the excellent organisation of this talk.
Last but not least, thanks to all of you who joined the talk yesterday ❤

database in progress!

…research is also about sharing!

I count myself privileged with many good ideas and comments from others!

Here is what an art hsitorian and specialist in database wrote to me :

“I think even for me as a trained art historian I was amazed about the implications of the canvas. I had never thought about it before and I think most have not yet. So to create a platform for your information would be a starting point to focus the research of others onto this aspect of the artwork. By bringing different data over time periods and artists will give future researchers the possibility to ask profound question about the why and how. And if we could have a wide variety of data we could start using data mining techniques to find hidden relationships between the artworks and the craftsmanship over time periods and space.”

work in progress!

The importance of the weave draft !!!

…”why does a textile look as a plain weave the one side and a twill weave on the other?”

…”why does it looks like there is a diagonal in a plain weave canvas? “

Questions that came into my inbox and in zoom conversations…

Analysis of the textiles show that these are woven as a 3 shaft twill.

Included both weave drafts: the warp in grey and the weft in white.

On the one side we see more warp and on the other side we see more weft.

The warp relaxes ‘under’ the weft after taking the textile from the loom.

two sides of a linen textile in conservation
two sides of a canvas in an historic painting
fabric views on top
3 shaft twill pattern, weave draft warp faced
3 shaft twill pattern, weave draft weft faced

The Warburg Institute

Thanks to The Warburg Institute for this message

“We are delighted to be able to offer you a full fee waiver for your place”

Here is what I wrote in the application for a bursary :

“Textile weave drafts are authentic codes.

The research and reconstruction of historic canvases with a woven pattern at Lab O, the laboratory for handwoven canvas, has already generated considerable interest within the world of technical art history and materiality.

Technical art history includes a great many publications on paintings, but there is a comparative lack of information on the canvas as a textile.

The first hand weaving manual dates from 1677, but the patterned textiles it describes had been woven from the 14th century onwards. A few historic textile fragments are preserved in the V&A and MET archives.

More than 250 painters’ canvases from the 16th and 17th centuries are on a canvas with a woven pattern.

Complex weave patterns were secrets guarded by the guilds.

I would like to enrol in this course in order to learn:

– whether complex weave patterns were memorised via secret communications;

– more about the role of the birth of printing in this process; and

– whether codes were used, other than graphic weave drafts.

I include an image showing paintings for which the weave draft, unique for each pattern, has already been recovered.

Lab O is a self-supporting research organisation. It would be a great honour to the Old Masters and of great assistance to Lab O if the Warburg Institute were to support this research with a bursary.

Even if this course comprises no direct relation to textiles, it will afford an improved understanding of communications in the period of research interest.

Helena Loermans / Lab O

Odemira, Portugal, 2022″

Thanks to Ralph de Rijke, language consultant, for corrections

Lab O at the Courtauld…

…thanks to the conservators, art historians and students of the Technical Art History Research group at The Courtauld for the interesting discussion after my presentation last Tuesday…a collector’s box with samples is on its way !

so much has happened in six years !!!

2016 – 2022 !

…the very first presentation of the very first reconstruction of the canvas of El Greco’s “The Burial of the Count of Orgaz” was in 2016

Until date I have analysed and recovered the weave draft of more than 23 canvases with a complex woven pattern.

I have woven nine reconstructions…

….on my way forwards to more…

Thanks to all who have believed in this project since its start !


Paper accepted at the conference:

The Widespread Role
of Clothes. Textile Production
and Clothing Concepts in Society
Interweaving Perspectives

Helena Loermans

Research and reconstructions of historic canvases. How to structure
data and weave drafts?

The peer-review process has come to a close. We are pleased to inform you that your proposal has been accepted for Track 2 — Pattern Recognition: Structuring data methodically. We would be happy to host your talk on Thursday the 23th of June.

Track 2  Pattern Recognition: Structuring data methodically

Even though it does not strike us at first glance due to clothing’s artistic expression: producing clothes is solved by converting creative ideas into a mathematical concept and applying it to a specific problem. It is a complex task that almost always includes an impressive fusion of diverse skills, elaborate strategies and creative thoughts. Consequently, a vast amount of wide-ranging information is archived in the material culture and other relevant sources related to the many functions of clothing and clothing production. However, carefully and systematically extracting those data from the sources is just the beginning. 

How can we structure the collected data to gain those interesting hidden insights that go far beyond an individual object or a specific group of sources? How can we achieve methodological and systematical standards and intelligently interlink our data so that the collected information is best possibly comparable, reasonable and in its structure adaptable and expandable? How can we analyse, understand, communicate and exchange relevant information?  

Track 2 aims to explore how to structure and interlink data efficiently and, by doing so, to learn how to problem-solve, think creatively, and ask meaningful questions. Furthermore, it intends to discuss how to wire data and our thoughts by extension. Track 2 welcomes all aspects of data structuring, machine learning, and methodological approaches in this field. Relevant topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Structuring Data-Sets: The Challenges of Data Digitalization
  • Digital Metrics and Evaluation Tools: Analysing, Systemizing and Sharing Data
  • Data Cultures in Dress and Textile Research
  • Decoding Archived Knowledge: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue
  • Practice: Defining Quality Standards and Understanding the Big Picture
  • The Future of our Collective Memory: Data and Data Science