White cloths with richly designed indigo dyed blue bands are abundantly represented covering tables and private altars as well as draped over server's shoulders in artwork of the 13th-15th centuries. They also appear as towels hanging near lavers in domestic scenes, were an essential component in childbirth for bathing mother and child, and are even found being worn as veils and turban headcoverings. Produced in Italy where the cotton was available for the weft threads, these distictive linens were a major export item to the rest of the Europe and England, as shipping, port and guild inventories attest.
The process of reproducing this type of linen began when Gwen combed the world's museums for extant medieval textile of this type, as well as photocopying dozens of paintings, manuscripts and illustrations showing them in use. We translated museum records, inventories, read Guild restrictions and waded through port records to understand how they were made. In order to replicate the patterns as closely as possible, we corrected scanned images of existing textile fragments pixel by pixel. Those corrected scans were used to create the designs of the coloured bands and diamond pattern weave of the ivory coloured body. Once we had designs, it took us nearly 18 months to find a company who had the hand-guided Victorian looms capable of making this type of fabric. Woven with 100% flax linen warp, 100% cotton weft and indigo dyed blue bands, our reproductions rival the originals they copy.
These beautiful linens will be as at home on your holiday table as in a medieval hall. The towels are a lovely touch in a guest bath, or used as table runners. The tablecloths will become a foundation for a gorgeous table, and can be transformed into beautiful cafe’ curtains, clothing such as skirts or jackets, bedding and bath items. They make wonderful wedding, anniversary, and housewarming gifts.
We are pleased to announce that our reproduction linens are currently in use at Barley Hall in York, England and at Archeon in the Netherlands.
Barley Hall's Great Hall
A dinner in one of Archeon's Medieval homes.