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Cloth Labels

July 6, 2012

Oh, hello there. Remember the days of multiple posts per week, and my blog hopping around like a busy little bunny? Yeah, neither do I. Ha! It wasn’t that long ago! I do have finished objects to share. In fact, I’ve been living in one of them for a few days, and it’s now in the wash. Let’s hope it fits the same as when it first came off the machine (old stash, maybe not pre-washed), and we’ll bang out a photo shoot here at threadsquare HQ. And be prepared, as it’s high time I curl up with my reader for a few hours :) I’ve been logging so much time on the computer for a different project, and summer is so short here, that my free hours simply must be spent outside in an upright position, moving more than my arms.

For now, I’ll leave you with a little eye candy. A while back, I went on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Osborne Library at the American Textile History Museum with three other volunteers. I was really struck by the mill girls’ letters, one of which we were able to read the original. We didn’t view any of the Lowell Offering issues (a poetry & fiction periodical by the mill girls), yet if you’d like to peruse, here is a fantastic database. The photo geek in me loved seeing tin types and stereographs, as well.

At the end of the tour, we passed a table with scattered stacks of gorgeous colorful pieces of paper. Called cloth labels, they were originally attached to bolts of fabric. Apparently that is the extent of what is known about them. Yet they are so beautiful, like small illuminated manuscripts. Enjoy a sampling, courtesy of the American Textile History Museum, Lowell, MA. Please no pinning and/or reproducing. :) The museum was kind enough to share these with me, so let’s respect their copyright. If you’d like to see more, feel free to browse the Chace Catalogue online.

Have a great weekend, darlings. And to quote Kenneth King, let’s meet back here. I’ll be stopping by yours between now and then.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. July 6, 2012 1:21 pm

    oh, these are like candy…

    • July 9, 2012 3:38 pm

      I want them all! These were a few favorites, but they have so many in the collection. I’d paper my walls with them!

  2. July 6, 2012 2:16 pm

    I agree with Oona! These are absolutely beautiful! Although I’m left wondering what “toilet quilt” refers to… ?

    • July 9, 2012 3:38 pm

      It’s so weird, right?! That outmoded language is part of why I love that cloth label so. From what I’ve found so far, it’s similar to pique, and was used to make coverings for “toilet tables” (re: dresser, therefore a table runner of sorts), beds, or like items.

  3. July 6, 2012 2:50 pm

    Good grief woman, where have you been?! I hope all is well! How big are these labels? They are like little pieces of art-beautiful!!!!!

    • July 9, 2012 3:40 pm

      Oh, you know, around :) They’re pretty small, ranging from the size of a playing card to maybe 4×6 or 5×7 at the very largest.

  4. July 6, 2012 4:33 pm

    very cool! also wondering about the toilet quilt!!

    • July 9, 2012 3:43 pm

      I should really ask the curator, as she might know more. From all I can find online, it was a pique-like fabric used in the making of furniture coverings (beds, dressers, toilets, anything toiletry-related). I wonder if it was also used for laundry sacks, if laundry bags were used then?

  5. July 7, 2012 7:29 am

    Wow- total museum envy on my part! We have many old textile mills in my city and most have been burnt down- it’s so sad, all that remains is the housing. My husband is trying to photograph as many of the sites as he can get into- the buildings are so distinctive.

    • July 9, 2012 3:47 pm

      I think a lot of the mills have been lost to fire in Lowell, too, but the museum is pretty awesome, and in an old mill building. Their collection is huge, but getting behind the scenes was great… they have sooo much that never gets seen by the public. If only I were a scholar doing some research…
      Haven’t been to the quilt museum yet, but it’s also in an old mill building. I love the canals & buildings, but wouldn’t want to move there. Does your husband have a site for his photography? I’d love to see his photos!!

      • July 9, 2012 6:12 pm

        He is meadhawg on flickr……I know he’s slowly putting his mill shots on there…

  6. July 7, 2012 10:09 am

    oh my gosh i love these!! i’m also wondering about toilet quilt…

    • July 9, 2012 3:49 pm

      I’m not positive, but see above for the little bit of sleuthing I’ve done. The name is great! And Heavy Enough really gets me, too!

  7. twilltapetiffany permalink
    July 7, 2012 11:20 pm

    Pretty! And good to see you back here. I’ve been wondering where you wandered off to…

    • July 9, 2012 3:50 pm

      I know, lame, right? Getting back into the swing of things over here :)

  8. July 12, 2012 1:49 am

    ooh, I’d love to see that periodical. These are so cool. Corset jeans!

  9. January 6, 2013 6:38 pm

    What piece of research or exhibition are you most proud of in your career in the Museum? I have just finished working on the Love Lace exhibition with Lindie Ward . I am still in awe of the creativity of the artists and makers in this show! If you have not seen it yet, you should definitely go and see it! I am also really proud of working on the Australian Dress Register , first as a volunteer and then an Assistant Curator. It has been exciting to see regional museums and galleries re-consider their dress collections as significant in telling Australian history.

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