HNW - Tristan quilt (long) amreid at
Mon Mar 26 22:23:45 PST 2001

Nancy and Sarah,
I've been following this scholarly discussion with interest!

Nancy wrote:
"...But a stronger point, to my mind, is that brown is just not a color that you
would think a medieval quilter would have used on such exquisite pieces of

My comment:
Nancy, is that because you don't like brown??  I've seen brown used as a colour
in embroideries from a variety of periods, and maybe our attitude to brown as a
colour is quite modern.  For instance, as recently as the 1970's brown was quite
a popular colour in decorator items (pottery, macrame & textiles etc), and in
the past few years has made a return in fashion.

Nancy also wrote:
Further, the singularly most popular color of silk thread, at least in brocaded
tablet-woven bands, was red.  Of course, an analysis of the dye would solve the
whole question!"

My comment:
Nancy, different dyes fade/change colour at different rates and in different
ways depending on the dyestuff, the mordant and the conditions the piece has
been subjected to.  I agree that the inference made that colour change only
comes from exposure to light might not always be true, but it is certainly a
factor.  When black fades from light, it often fades to a brown which would make
light exposure a factor if the thread had been black originally.  The other
thing which may be worth looking at in this discussion is that the tablet woven
bands you mentioned might be a different fibre, from a different time, using a
different dye/mordant etc.

All very interesting!  Thanks for the sholarly theorising guys!


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