Friday, 4 March 2011

EG visit to Warner Archives 2nd march 2011

Embroiderers Guild members with Kate Wigley (Left) from The Warner Archive

On Wednesday some of us from the Colchester branch of the Embroiderers' guild visited the Warner Textile Archives in Braintree for:

Dynamic Decades day     10.30am – 3.30pm

An introduction to the design style of the 1930′s, 40′s & 50′s. A look at Warner & Sons through these dynamic decades of design. See the original fabrics and wallpapers from our amazing Archive. Talk by Kate Wigley.
Warner Textile Archive

Some of the beautiful silks from the Warner Mills
The day was both inspiring and fascinating.

The archive holds a huge collection of flat fabric samples, the collection is of national importance and second only to the V&A. The archive holds a unique record of the history of textile design since the 18th century. The unique quality of Warner archives is that it is housed within the old Mills of Warner Textiles and has volunteers who were staff from the days gone by of it being a working mill.

The fabrics and wallpaper samples are now being stored using known preservation techniques therefore can not be handled by the public, staff will wear protective gloves to show sample. Although we realise all of us who love textiles also love to handle them we are sure that you will all appreciate the importance of preservation of this unique collection - especially when you hear Kate explain just how important it is.

The wallpaper samples are particularly delicate and some are partially crumbled away but are still fascinating to look through. Noticing the old prices in shillings printed on the reverse of the 30's wallpapers caused a great deal of interest to the group, it was particularly interesting to see which designs commanded a premium.

There is also a huge 'document collection': items of fabric collected from around the world by the designers through the years as inspirational pieces. Some of the items received an 'ohh' from us which makes us think about the 'ohh' that the designers made who collected the piece many years ago.

Seeing the progression of design in both leading textiles and the textiles that were commonly used in homes through the years was a fascinating contrast. Still reflected in today's behaviour - so much is available but our homes are still filled with basic fabrics (obviously cost is a major factor in this). The similarity of some of the fabrics to today's designs was also of great interest. There were several fabrics of the 30's that looked as if they were for sale in Ikea now!

We will definitely be visiting the archive again, either as a group for a practical study day or individually (probably both), there is so much to see and staff are more than happy to show items or selections on request. A great source for study and design inspiration.

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