Durán Textiles AB - Swedish 18th century textiles reconstructed in India
Durán Textiles AB proudly presents our collection of woven silks and printed cottons and silks, all copies from originals in museums and collections.
In Sweden there is an intense interest for the 18th century in design, fashion and interior decoration. The “Gustavian” era 1768-1792 is considered as the pinnacle of Swedish culture. We share this enthusiasm and our company is based on the combination of our complimentary fields of expertise and background.
Martin Ciszuk is a textile artist and a researcher in textile history, with a special focus on textile technology and silk weaving. He was educated in hand weaving at the University College of Borås, and has a MA degree in textile history from the University of Uppsala. He studied jacquard weaving in Florence, Italy and textile technological analysis in Lyon, France. During his education he made reconstructions of 18th century silks, but in Europe there are not many opportunities for full-scale production of replicas, mostly for economic reasons.
Laila Durán is a tailor with 18th century fashion as a speciality. She has also been running a wholesale and import business for exclusive fashion fabrics, with customers at the costume ateliers at Scandinavian theatres and opera houses. There she often met a demand for reproductions of historical textiles.
Through her work with textile import Laila Durán got in contact with textile producers in India. The personal contact and the small scale production made it possible to make relatively small orders, and we could have full control over patterns, materials, and textile qualities. The idea to produce copies of 18th century textiles could then become real.
The original fabrics are located by Martin Ciszuk, partly from published material, but mainly from visits in museums and collections. He makes the documentation and analyses of the original textiles. He also designs the technical construction of the textiles and the adoption to modern looms. Laila Durán makes the collection, chooses the patterns and decides the range of colours. She is also responsible for the marketing and selling of the fabrics.
The first part of the collection is based on documented 18th century fabrics from Swedish museums. The fabrics are as close as possible to the originals considering technique, material and pattern size. To make a commercial collection we have made all patterns in more than one colour, using the 18th century colour scheme, so that the fabrics can be put together in matching combinations. All the fabrics are presented on our internet homepage www.durantextiles.com There you can find photos of the fabrics, together with documentation of the originals, and photos of costumes and interiors made from the fabrics.
During the production of our fist woven silk Viola, we found it necessary to go to India to conduct the production, to discuss technical solutions and to get an understanding of the production. It was important to know how it was organized and what were the possibilities and restrictions. We spent three weeks in March 2003 in Bangalore, an industrial town in the inland of south India. There were no European tourists in the town, but an expanding IT-industry – the town is nicknamed as the Indian Silicon Valley. The city is enormous, the traffic frightening, with cars and mopeds running in left-hand traffic constantly honking. There were cows in the streets and colourful Hindu temples, but also big shopping malls and modern construction sites. Everybody spoke English with more or less of an Indian accent beside several local languages Hindi, Kanada, Tamil etc. The food is spicy, hot and tasty, and you got used to eating with your hands. The climate is hot, but air-conditioning makes it comfortable indoors. March in Bangalore is considered as spring, which meant 30-35º C by day and 20-25º at night. We stayed at a guest apartment and were very well taken care of by our Indian working partners.
The woven silks
The first fabric we reconstructed was given the name Viola. It is a small patterned silk from the Anders Berch collection, Nordiska Museet (museum of Swedish cultural history and Ethnology, Stockholm), dated 1741-72. All the fabrics in the collection were given new names; most have a connection with flowers and plants. The flowers on this silk can be interpreted as violets, but the name was also homage to Martin Ciszuk’s teacher and mentor Viola Germain costume historian and designer in Uppsala. The Berch collection is published by the Swedish textile researcher Elisabet Hidemark, with technical analyses by Ulla Cyrus-Zetterström. This splendid publication, combined with analyses of similar fabrics made by Martin Ciszuk, is the base for some of our first reproductions.
The original is a small sample cut from the end of a piece with a woven marking: “P.F. No 748”. It is mounted on a playing card with the text:” No 35. Lizeré à deux harnois 6 à 8 quart. om dagen”.
The silk is woven with a white warp and two wefts, red and white. The two wefts alternate and float on the face side in the pattern; otherwise they are bound by the warp faced rep structure of the background (Gros de Tours) and are bound on the reverse. The French name for this technique is Liseré. The marking on the end border is the initials of the (unidentified) manufacturer and the number of the loom. It indicates that the silk was woven in Stockholm, probably around 1750. The text on the card refers to how much of this silk that could be produced in one day - around 90-120 cm. Small patterned fabrics of this kind were used mainly for men’s costumes, often as a coat, waistcoat and breeches in the same fabric.
The pattern repeat was not complete on the small sample. A photo of the sample was scanned and by cutting, turning and putting pieces together in the picture software of the computer, the complete repeat was reconstructed. This was possible because the pattern is composed by flowers and leaves that are repeatedly mirrored on top of each other. The photo montage gave a picture of the original fabric. With this as a base a technical drawing was made where the pattern repeat was isolated and the different bindings and weft floats were indicated with separate colours. This draft was transferred to computer software for jacquard weaving and adjusted to the repeat and densities in warp and weft of the power loom. The jacquard technique gives a lot of opportunities for patterning, but the mounting of the modern looms can not be changed. Pattern entering, warp and weft density is constant in a specific loom. The trick was to use the given conditions and create a fabric that was as close to the original as possible. Every colour of the technical drawing was programmed for the different structures. The pattern file was transferred to a floppy disk and sent to the weaving mill and after some days a woven sample was sent back. After adjusting some technical details, colour samples were made. We chose to make the pattern in the original colours, red-white, but we also made three other colourings, using hues from the 18th century colour scheme: green-gold, brown-violet and light blue–yellow. A complication when putting colours together was that all the three colours from the warp and two wefts were mixed to a fourth nuance in the gros de Tours ground. Pensé is a silk similar to Viola, also from the Berch collection.
For these we made matching stripes: Viola Rand, which is a vertical satin/gros de Tours stripe and Celadon which is a horizontal stripe in patterned rep. The original is the ”Celadon suit” a pale green silk suit worn by the Swedish king Gustavus III when he visited Catharine the Great of Russia in 1777. The suit is preserved in the collection of the Royal Armoury - Livrustkammaren, Stockholm It has been analysed by Ulla Cyrus–Zetterström and published in the book Royal silks.
We have made two silks in drouget: Näckros and Konvalj. Droguet was the main product from the Swedish silk manufactures in the 18th century. The pattern is formed by a pattern warp floating on a tabby ground and bound on the reverse in tabby. Droguet was primly used for men’s suits, but in Swedish collections there are also examples of women’s short gowns, jackets, shoes and coifs. These fabrics were originally woven in Stockholm. Näckros is from the Berch collection and was produced by the manufacturer Anders Meurman around 1760. The original for Konvalj was woven at Anders Westman’s silk mill and is found in Adolph Modeers collection of samples ”En del af Kunskapen, Stockholmsfabrikerna 1766” –“A piece of knowledge, Stockholm manufactories 1766”, kept at Nordiska Museet, Stockholm.
Our first silk damask is named Flora. Martin Ciszuk noticed the pattern because the same fabric in different colours was used both in a green woman’s jacket in Fornsalen in Visby, and a blue waistcoat form Herrborum castle, Östergötland. Later, green bed curtains in the bedroom of Karl XIV Johan, Rosendal castle, were discovered, and most surprising a red dress, made in the 1960s from 18th century fabric, which was bought by a colleague in a second hand store in Uppsala. The same silk damask was obviously used for both clothing and furnishing.
Because this large scale patterned damask was found in several colours in different Swedish collections Martin Ciszuk supposed that it was produced in Sweden. Continued studies lead, however, to other results. The loom width of the silk, c. 79 cm is unusual for European patterned silks during the 18th century, which mostly have a width of c. 50 cm. The selvedge, the binding in 8-end satin and the three straight repeats differentiate this damask from other damasks in Swedish collections, which have 5-end satin and two mirrored repeats. At a study visit in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, another fragment of damask with the same pattern was discovered. There are more examples from colonial America, and it was clear that this fabric was a Chinese import. This lead to the conclusion, that the damask in Swedish collections was also produced in China. It was imported by the Swedish East Indian Company, Svenska Ostindiska Kompaniet, active 1731-1813. The shipping lists in the archives register large amounts of imported damask. It is fascinating that these fabrics now can be identified. (Some of the documents could be viewed at: www.ub.gu.se/samlingar/handskrift/ostindie)
All the silks in our collection are machine woven in 100% natural silk and have a width of 140 cm. The silk mill is a big and modern factory on the outskirts of Bangalore. The raw silk is bought from China and Brazil. It is doubled and twinned to the demanded thickness in the spinning mill. The silk skeins are then dyed to the desired colour, rolled on bobbins and prepared for warp and weft. The silk is woven in power looms with electronic jacquard machines. Each piece is 120 meter long. As the whole process is located under the same roof, the possibilities are good to make fabrics in the desired colour and quality, to control the production and to receive a high quality product. In the end of the production line the fabrics are inspected and compared to a protocol that has been following the product from the raw silk stage. If there are any mistakes it is noted who was responsible and which machines the silk has passed. The labour in the mill is noisy and monotonous, but the localities and the equipment are modern, safe, and there is no child labour. The mill has a certificate of environment protection. The silk is washed in olive soap after dying, and the mill has built its own sewage treatment works.
Block printed and painted cotton fabrics were a luxury product in the beginning of the 18th century, imported from India and China. In Europe and Sweden great efforts were made to imitate the patterns and the technology. Cotton got cheaper through production and import from the American colonies, and printing technology improved in the latter half of the 18th century. The printed cottons then became immensely popular, and were used by all classes of society. Several 18th century cotton printers are known from Sweden, mainly thanks to the research and the publications of the Swedish textile historian Ingegerd Henschen.
In India it was possible to reproduce the old patterns. Production is small scaled, and in some aspects it is still using 18th century technology, which gives our fabrics an authentic character. All fabrics are hand printed. Most of the fabrics in our collection are screen printed, but some are block printed with hand carved printing blocks, and some have details painted by hand.
The Berch collection contains a number of sample prints on paper. Some of these have notes indicating that they were used by cotton printers in Stockholm during the 1740s. From these we made: Ranka, a screen printed large scale rococo pattern with hand painted details, and the small patterned screen printed Vallmo and block printed Lingon. It was a common method during the 18th century to paint some of the colours on the printed fabrics by hand, because some pigments did not fit the printing technology. Often black, brown and red was printed, while green, blue, and yellow and pink was pencilled after printing. The Indian printers explained that screen printing all the colours would give a better, more exact pattern, but we appreciated the irregularities from block printing and hand painting, which gives some of the vivid character from the 18th century prints. Like the silks, we made all the patterns in at least two different colours to make the collection balanced and commercial. We chose a quite heavy 100% cotton fabric as ground for the prints. It resembles the hand woven original fabrics, made from hand spun yarns. This quality is fitting both for clothing and furnishing, in the same manner as the 18th century cotton prints were used.
The pattern Sippa originates form the late 18th century. It is a typical striped ”Gustavian” pattern (compare Louis XVI), originally made at the cotton printing manufactory in Sickla, Stockholm, and preserved at Nordiska Museet as a bed curtain. On the Swedish island Gotland there is a collection of books, printing blocks and sample prints on paper from Tobias Lang’s cotton printing manufactory in Visby, active1784-1836. Using these, we made the block printed and hand painted Linnea. It has a scattered pattern of small flowers, which is typical for the last decades of the 18th century. We also made the screen printed Rose. The last pattern is in rococo style and must have been out of fashion when Lang’s manufactory was active. Maybe he got the paper sample as a journeyman in Europe and never used it, or maybe the old fashioned pattern was popular on the rural island.
In the collection of Gotland county museum (Fornsalen) Martin Ciszuk examined a woman’s short gown from the mid 18thcentury. It had a very simple cut in a model sometimes called ”kassack” or “kassekin” (and is described in an article in Garderobe 2003, the annual of the Swedish costume society). The fabric is an advanced print of a type that probably was not made by Tobias Lang. It is block printed, first with wax or clay and dyed red, leaving uncovered areas white. After that, black is block printed and grey and yellow is hand painted. Our reconstruction is named Anemon. It is screen printed in four colours. When working with this print it was important not to make the pattern too neat and exact. The Indian pattern drawer who prepared the patterns for the screens cleaned the pattern and smoothed all the irregularities in the original so much that it got an “Indian” appearance. We had to argue that the lines should be uneven and that there should be a bit of miss fitting of the pattern to obtain the character of the original block print.
We also printed some of the cotton patterns on silk. This was also done in the 18th century in combination with hand painting, especially in India and China. Together with the machine embroidered silks these are suitable as dress fabric. We are now preparing reconstructed woven silks with large scale garland and flower patterns that were used in women’s wear.
We are impressed by the skills of the Indian craftsmen and happy for the cooperation with these producers who made it possible to revive some of the textile treasures of 18th century Sweden. We feel very happy that textile historic knowledge, craft skills and commercial production are joined in our collection.
The first fabrics were delivered during the summer of 2005. We presented the collection with an exhibition, in cooperation with the Swedish fashion designer Martin Bergström, at “Svensk Form” in August. Our fabrics have been used in articles on interior decorations in Swedish newspapers: Gods och gårdar, Laga lätt and Expressens helgbilaga. They got first page pictures in evening papers when the Swedish princesses Viktoria and Madeleine went to a costume ball in dresses made by Duran Textiles and Laila Durán.
In the spring collection 2006 we have included two cotton prints from ”kavaljersflygeln”- the chevalier’s wing at Gripsholm castle. We have expanded the collection with six cotton prints from collections in America, where we now have found enthusiastic retailers
On the 11th of September 2006 there will be an opening at Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, of an exhibition with 18th century costumes made from our fabrics.
All the fabrics are in stock, and can be ordered via our home page www.durantextiles.com The site is continuously updated with photos and news about the company and the collection.