[HNW] Re: veils

Chris Laning claning at igc.org
Fri Sep 27 18:37:57 PDT 2002

At 5:14 PM -0400 9/27/02, Mike Newell wrote:
><A number of tomb effigies from the 14th and 15th centuries show women with
>elaborately pleated and ruffled veils, which might be created by some type
>of embroidery.>
>These goffered veils are most likely created through weaving. I had a copy
>of an article from Kaffen-und-Costumkunde (thankfully in English) which
>explained this. I believe I once saw a copy of an article from a weaving
>journal which also explained that this could be done in weaving by
>deliberately weaving the middle section tighter than the edges, thereby
>creating self ruffles. (sorry weavers, for mangling technical terms) I gave
>away the photocopy I had so I can't quote anyone more details

There are a couple of surviving ruffled veils from the royal tombs at
Las Huelgas, near Burgos in Spain, but they are clearly woven that
way, not embroidered. I haven't seen any other evidence of needlework
decorations on veils until the 19th century. You do see a lot of
illustrations of medieval women wearing various kinds of loose pieces
of cloth draped around their heads in various arrangements, and I
think this is the kind of "veil" being talked about. Someone who has
researched this more than I have told me that about 99.9% of the
veils illustrated in paintings and manuscript illuminations are plain

OTOH, you can always go for exotic materials -- sheer silk gauze from
Dharma Trading (www.dharmatrading.com) for instance. (No affiliation,
just a satisfied customer.)

A woman named Carla Tilghman also gave a very interesting paper at
last May's International Congress on Medieval Studies about what
kinds of weaving techniques would produce this intriguing edge. She
is a weaver and had samples to demonstrate that weaving a strip with
about an inch of warp left *loose* on each side (i.e. not pulled
tight under tension, as is normal in weaving) produces an edge that
looks very much like the surviving examples. So yes, the center is
woven more tightly and the edges more loosely.
O    Chris Laning
|     <claning at igc.org>
+    Davis, California

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