Amgueddfa Blog: Tecstiliau

In September 2021 I was given the chance to work with the Llangorse Textile as part of my master’s degree placement at the museum. The Textile, is dated to the 10th century, made from linen and silk, and is embroidered with fine motifs; however it was discovered charred and waterlogged after the crannog in which it was found had been destroyed by fire. It is very delicate and vulnerable to harm owing to the fire damage. For more information on the Llangorse Textile, please see the list at the end of the article.

The project I was set was to create new mounts for the undecorated pieces of the textile that aren’t on display, so they can be stored safely. They had been previously stored on boards with specially cut out depressions and covered with mesh and film to protect them. In the years since, the fragments had shifted slightly and so I was charged with making new mounts to keep the fragments safe.

The new mounting method had already been devised by the conservators at the museum (and used to display the decorated pieces of the Textile in the Gweithdy Gallery at St Fagans) by the time I arrived. Following this method, I cut out pieces of board to fit the shape of each textile fragment so they could be slotted together like a jigsaw puzzle. This was an important part of the process because this method of mounting allows the pieces to be moved around and reinterpreted.

The board was covered in specially dyed jersey fabric which has a slight knap that holds the textile fragments to the surface without the need for sewing to secure it, as this would damage its fragile structure. This was then trimmed, and a calico backing sewn down to neaten it.

After the mounts were made, then came the daunting part – transferring over the pieces of textile from their old mount to their new ones! I consulted the original conservation notes to ensure loose pieces were located in the correct position; a tricky exercise as the Textile is an almost uniform black colour owing to the charring. Instead, the direction of the warp and weft of the small pieces, as well as their shapes were used to position them correctly. This was the part of the process that took the longest and required the most scrutiny!
All museum objects have assigned numbers, so that they are easily identifiable and therefore the next task was to create labels for the Textile. Because the pieces are so fragile, I created small tags and sewed them to the calico backing of the mounts so they can easily be tucked away when being stored or displayed but can also be accessible in the event they need to be consulted. This means that the tags won’t drag across the surface of the Textile. For added security in case the tags got lost, I also wrote the numbers on the calico backing.

Finally, it was time to think storage. As the problem with the old storage method was slippage, that was the main factor that needed to be addressed. The nap of the jersey halted movement to a degree, but it wasn’t enough. Therefore, I packed an archival box with foam and pinned around the freshly mounted textile pieces; the heads of the pins holding the mounts in place. The foam will help to reduce shock and by placing pins around the pieces I have ensured that they can’t move within the box.

It was a thrilling opportunity to be able to work on such a unique piece of Welsh heritage and I would like to thank all the museum conservation staff for being so welcoming and sharing the wealth of their knowledge.

Further Reading/References:

Amgueddfa Cymru. 2007. The Llan-gors textile: an early medieval masterpiece. Available at: https://museum.wales/articles/1344/The-Llan-gors-textile-an-early-medieval-masterpiece/ [Accessed 4 January 2022]

Lane, A. and Redknap, M. 2019. Llangorse Crannog: The excavation of an early medieval royal site in the kingdom of Brycheiniog. Oxford: Oxbow Books

Roedd Augusta Hall, Arglwyddes Llanofer ( 21 Mawrth 1892 – 17 Ionawr 1896) yn eiriolwr ac yn gefnogwr brwd i Ddiwydiant Gwlân Cymru a thraddodiadau ein Cenedl. Yn Eisteddfod Genedlaethol 1834 cyflwynodd draethawd yn dwyn y teitl `Y Manteision yn Deillio o Gadw'r Iaith Gymraeg a'r Wisg Draddodiadol' ac ennillodd y wobr gyntaf. Cymerodd yr enw barddol "Gwenynen Gwent".

Melin Wlân Gwenffrwd

Yn 1865 comisiynodd adeiladu Melin Wlân Gwenffrwd ar ystâd Llanofer ger y Fenni. Cyflawnodd y felin yr holl weithrediadau ar gyfer cynhyrchu gwlân a chynhyrchu brethyn trwm a oedd yn cael ei wneud yn ddillad i'r gweithwyr yn y tŷ ac ar y stad.

Gwisg Telynor o Stâd Llanofer

Gwnaed deunydd o'r felin hefyd yn ddillad i Arglwyddes Llanofer a'i ffrindiau, wedi'u steilio ar ei syniadau ei hun o wisg draddodiadol Gymreig. Parhaodd y felin i gynhyrchu tan y 1950au gan ddefnyddio offer a osodwyd gan Arglwyddes Llanofer.

Gweithiwr ym Melin Wlân Gwenffrwd

Mae Amgueddfa Wlân Cymru yn Nrefach Felindre yn gartref i gasgliad cynhwysfawr o offer a pheiriannau sy'n ymwneud â hanes prosesu cnu gwlân yn frethyn. Mae yno hefyd gasgliad tecstilau gwastad cenedlaethol a'r casgliad gorau o flancedi gwlân Cymreig gyda lleolbwynt wedi'i dogfennu sy'n dyddio'n ôl i'r 1850au. Mae'r rhain yn amrywio o flancedi tapestri brethyn dwbl mawr sydd bellach yn gasgladwy iawn, i flancedi iwtiliti sengl, gwyn o'r Ail Ryfel Byd. Yn y blog hwn, mae Mark Lucas, Curadur Casgliad y Diwydiant Gwlân ar gyfer Amgueddfa Cymru, yn rhannu ei wybodaeth am dreftadaeth blancedi Cymreig a rhai enghreifftiau gwych o'r casgliad pwysig hwn.

 

Yn draddodiadol roedd blancedi Cymreig yn rhan o ddrôr waelod priodferched. Roedd pâr o flancedi Cymreig hefyd yn anrheg briodas gyffredin. Byddent yn teithio pellteroedd mawr gyda’u perchnogion yn ystod y Chwyldro Diwydiannol, wrth iddynt chwilio am waith. Felly, mae blancedi Cymru wedi ffeindio’u ffordd ledled y byd, gan ychwanegu ychydig o esthetig cartrefol i ystafell yn ystod y dydd, cynhesrwydd yn y nos a chysylltiad pwysig i adref.

 

Blancedi Lled Cul

Blanced Lled Cul - dau hyd cul wedi'u pwytho gyda'i gilydd.

Blancedi lled cul oedd y cynharaf, wedi'u gwehyddu ar wŷdd sengl. Fe'u gwnaed o ddau led gul wedi'u gwnïo gyda’i gilydd â llaw i ffurfio blanced fwy. Blancedi gwŷdd sengl o'r math hwn oedd yn gyffredin cyn troad yr ugeinfed ganrif pan ddatblygwyd gwŷdd dwbl a oedd yn galluogi gwehyddu lled ehangach o ffabrig. Fodd bynnag, ni throsodd llawer o'r melinau llai i’r gwŷdd dwbl, ac o ganlyniad, roedd blancedi lled cul yn parhau i gael eu cynhyrchu mewn symiau sylweddol yn ystod y 1920au, 30au a hyd yn oed yn ddiweddarach.   

 

Blancedi Plad

Blanced Plad

Roedd patrymau plad yn boblogaidd yn ystod y bedwaredd ganrif ar bymtheg, fel arfer yn cynnwys lliwiau cryf yn erbyn cefndir hufen naturiol. Roedd cyflwyno llifynnau synthetig ar ddiwedd y 19eg ganrif yn caniatáu i wehyddion gymysgu mwy o edafedd lliw i'r dyluniadau, gyda rhai cyfuniadau lliw yn gynnil, eraill yn drawiadol. Parhaodd llawer o felinau llai i ddefnyddio llifynnau naturiol ymhell i'r 20fed ganrif. Gwnaed y llifynnau naturiol o fadr a cochineal ar gyfer coch, glaslys ac indigo ar gyfer glas, ac aeron a chen amrywiol ar gyfer arlliwiau eraill. Mae gan yr Amgueddfa Wlân Genedlaethol ei gardd llifyn naturiol ei hun ac mae'n cynnal cyrsiau a sgyrsiau trwy gydol y flwyddyn ar liwio naturiol.

 

Blancedi Tapestri

Blanced Tapsistri Cymru

Tapestri Cymru yw'r term sy'n cael ei rhoi i flancedi gwehyddu brethyn dwbl, gan gynhyrchu patrwm ar y ddwy ochr sy'n gildroadwy ac sydd erbyn hyn, yn eicon i ddiwydiant gwlân Cymru. Mae enghreifftiau o flancedi tapestri Cymru wedi goroesi o'r ddeunawfed ganrif ac mae llyfr patrwm o 1775 gan William Jones o Holt yn Sir Ddinbych, yn dangos llawer o wahanol enghreifftiau o batrymau tapestri. Blancedi wnaed gyntaf o frethyn dwbl, ond arweiniodd ei lwyddiant fel cynnyrch ar werth i dwristiaid yn y 1960au, at ei ddefnyddio i wneud dillad, matiau bwrdd, matiau diod, nodau tudalen, pyrsiau, bagiau llaw a chas sbectol. Oherwydd gwydnwch y gwehyddu brethyn dwbl, mae'r deunydd hefyd wedi'i ddefnyddio ar gyfer rygiau cildroadwy a charpedu.   

 

Blancedi Melgell

Blanced Melgell

Mae blancedi melgell yn gymysgedd o liwiau llachar a meddal. Fel y mae'r enw'n awgrymu mae'r wyneb wedi'i wehyddu i gynhyrchu effaith waffl sgwâr dwfn gan roi ymddangosiad melgell i'r flanced. Mae'r math hwn o wehyddu yn cynhyrchu blanced sy'n gynnes ac yn ysgafn.

Gyda'r sylw presennol a rhoir i flancedi Cymreig fel eitem addurniadol yn y cartref, mae yna lawer o ddiddordeb mewn hen flancedi, eu patrymau, a’u dyluniadau. Mae blancedi hynafol wedi dod yn boblogaidd iawn gyda dylunwyr cartref ac maent i'w gweld yn helaeth mewn cylchgronau décor cartref. Fe'u defnyddir fel tafliadau a gorchuddion gwelyau mewn cartrefi modern, gyda llawer o ddylunwyr tecstilau blaenllaw yn ogystal â myfyrwyr yn ymchwilio i hen batrymau er mwyn cael ysbrydoliaeth ar gyfer eu dyluniadau newydd.    

Blanced Caernarfon

Daw llawer o’r enghreifftiau gwych yng nghasgliad blancedi’r Amgueddfa o felinau ledled Cymru a roddodd y gorau i’w cynhyrchu ers talwm. Uchafbwynt yw'r casgliad o Flancedi Caernarfon. Cynhyrchwyd y rhain ar wyddiau Jacquard mewn ystod o liwiau. Dim ond ychydig o felinau a ddefnyddiodd wyddiau Jacquard, a all wneud dyluniadau a lluniau cymhleth. Mae blancedi Caernarfon yn dangos dau lun, un gyda Chastell Caernarfon gyda'r geiriau CYMRU FU a llun o Brifysgol Aberystwyth gyda'r geiriau CYMRU FYDD. Credir i'r blancedi hyn gael eu gwneud gyntaf yn y 1860au, a'u cynhyrchu diwethaf ar gyfer arwisgiad y Tywysog Siarl ym 1969. Mae rhodd ddiweddar i'r Amgueddfa yn enghraifft gynharach o'r flanced sy'n cynnwys dwy ddelwedd o gastell Caernarfon. Wedi'i wehyddu â llaw, mae'n cynnwys gwall sillafu – gyda Chaernarfon yn ffurf Saesneg yr enw: Carnarvon.

 

Back in 1998, long before I started my current job as Senior Textile Conservator at St Fagans National Museum of History, I spent two work experience placements at the museum, helping my predecessor Clare Stoughton-Harris.  I had just started on my 3-year post-grad course in Textile Conservation the previous year.  The course was based in apartments within Hampton Court Palace.  I saw an ad for a placement at St Fagans on the Centre’s noticeboard and decided to apply. A few weeks later, I found myself driving over to Cardiff to start my placement.

My first stint was for 3 weeks, over the Easter Holidays.  The work mainly consisted of preparing St Fagans castle for re-opening after refurbishment, so it involved a lot of surface cleaning, but we also got around to wet cleaning a carpet.  The image shows Clare sponging the carpet in the detergent bath in the studio. 

When I came back in the summer, my project was to improve the storage conditions of the shoe collection.  Most shoes were stored on open shelving, with several pairs stacked on top of each other.  Some were not wrapped at all and were gathering dust, and others were wrapped in yellowed newspaper as you can see in the 2 pictures below.  That’s me, unwrapping and examining some children’s shoes!

As they were, the shoes were also very inaccessible as it was impossible to know which pair was wrapped in each bundle of tissue paper.  So I remember assembling endless flat pack boxes and re-packing the shoes… so here they were in their lovely new storage boxes:

Once the contents of the Old Costume Store moved into the Collection Centre at St Fagans in 2008, the project was improved upon by adding thumbnail images of each pair, clearly attached to the outside of the box, so here they are in their current configuration!

From 1998, it took another 7 years, and jobs with the National Trust, in Norfolk, a private studio in Dublin and 2 years at the British Museum before I was became the Senior Textile Conservator at Amgueddfa Cymru. Now I have the occasional pleasure of overseeing students myself and can return the favour of giving them the chance to expand their experience and help them along their career path!

 

Recently, we’ve been privileged to accept a fabulous new accession into our collection.  It is a set of three silk garments which belonged to Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn, 4th Baronet, who lived between 1749 and 1789.  He owned vast areas of land in Wales, was active in politics and was a great patron of the arts.  You can find out more about him here:

Image of painting of Watkin Williams-Wynn from our 'Collections Online'
Small pastel portrait from the museum's collections

As part of Sir Watkin’s lavish lifestyle came an opulent wardrobe.  The garments we have acquired are a matching set of waistcoat and breeches made from grey silk, woven with silver metal thread, silk embroidery and metal thread trim,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

as well as an embroidered waistcoat of flamboyantly pink satin. 

 All three items have passed through the Textile Conservation Studio over the last few weeks to record the garments’ construction, materials, and condition, before packing them up to go into storage.  The grey set of waistcoat and breeches were in remarkably good condition, but I was worried about the embroidery on the pink waistcoat.  The embroidery consists of undulating bands of white net which covers small florets made of paper.  The bands run down both sides of the centre front and across the lower edge as well as across the pocket flaps.  Other embroidery features are foliage and blossoms made from chenille thread and mauve ribbon-worked rosette flower heads. 


The white net is made from silk which has been coated with a stiffening agent.  This stiffening agent has made the net brittle and the yarns have cracked in many places resulting in areas of loss and loose areas.  Those loose remains of the net were vulnerable to snagging and abrasion and I was afraid that further pieces would break off and become lost.  Equally, the paper flowers that lay underneath and were formerly protected by the net were now exposed and also at risk of damage or loss through accidentally brushing against them.  As it was, a number of petals had pulled away from the stitches that held them in place and had curled up and become creased and distorted, with several petals and some entire flowers becoming lost. 


To protect the fragile areas I decided to apply an overlay of very fine white Nylon net.  This net does not disturb the aesthetics of the embroidery while at the same time providing protection to the vulnerable net and paper underneath.  Before I could start, however, I had to humidify the paper petals to re-shape them and arrange them in their correct position. For this, I dampened the paper with deionised water applied with a fine paint brush.  Once it was wet, the paper was pliable and creases could be removed.  To apply the net overlay I stitched it in place with small running stitches using a thin white silk organzine thread.  I used a curved needle as the garment had to remain flat on the table (to avoid unnecessary movement).  It’s only now that it has been conserved that the waistcoat is strong enough to go into storage.

There was something else that was interesting about the waistcoat: The rear panel is made from tabby woven cotton fabric and the lower section is made of cream silk.  As it is now, the seam allowances are facing outwards and raw edges are visible.  It is not unusual that areas of the garment that aren’t on view are made from less expensive materials and that the stitching might not be as carefully executed as on the visible areas, however, the current configuration and some indication of previous stitch holes suggests that the waistcoat would have had an outer back panel and what is visible currently, is simply the back section of the lining.  There is therefore a strong indication that the waistcoat may have been altered and the original back getting lost in the process.