Friday, September 20, 2013

From Under the Pile

Aside from loving to travel, being with my family, reading, and hiking with my dogs, I also love to cook.  I've been getting cooking magazines for a very long time.  In fact, I was just reminded that I've been getting cooking magazines since I had my first apartment when I discovered this VERY old Food & Wine magazine in a stack of cooking magazines I'd been saving.... since 1988.


Oof.  It's time for a purge of my magazines.

I'm not telling you this to give you the wrong idea of who I am.  Please don't call The Learning Channel hoarder intervention show to get me help.  I am NOT a hoarder.  I am, however, guilty of keeping magazines when I was a beginning _____________ (fill in the blank with either home owner, quilter, art quilter, cook, gardener) as reference, and then forgetting I had those reference materials.

Instead of just tossing everything I'd saved, I went through each magazine to determine what it was that made me want to save it in the first place.  In each magazine I tore out the pages that still intrigued me -- techniques and recipes, mostly -- but certainly not as much as had originally caught my eye.  However, in a Holiday 1999 issue of Traditional Home I came across an article about the old Braquenie patterned fabrics from France.  I doubt I gave pause when I first saw this article.  I wasn't doing much quilting back then.

But now I know that Braquenie (acquired by the French fabric firm, Pierre Frey in 1991) had been making carpets and tapestries since 1823 and cotton fabrics since 1843.  The patterns that are printed and distributed today by that name are from the copperplates, patterns, and archives of an even older company, Oberkampf, that Braquenie had acquired more than 150 years ago.  Oberkampf had been a supplier of cottons since the 1760s.

Here's an excerpt from the article by Katrin Cargill:

   It was almost 250 years ago that the first multicolored patterned cottons known as "indiennes" and monochrome figurative toiles de Jouy rolled out of the house of Oberkampf, headed by the famous German printer Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf, the leader in the field of wood-block and copperplate printing on fabric, which high-styled Parisians turned into both dresses and cushions.
   As favored as storytelling toiles were, the main production was in floral designs, which reached a crescendo in popularity under the patronage of the Empress Josephine.  Oberkampf developed pictorial patterns scattered with flowers, fluttering ribbons, and garlands, and mixed in more exotic designs that had first come from India in the 17th century.
   .... Braquenie toiles and floral patterns are often historically correct re-editions based on old designs, some of which were first produced by Oberkampf in the mid-1700s.  Braquenie prints are recognizable by their evently spaced large-scale patterns and deep, fresh colors that have transcended literally hundreds of decorating styles. 
   How to spot Braquenie?  The lines should be as fine and clear as an old-master print, and the fabric should feel delicate to the touch....."Old French cottons feels almost like silk," says Kathryn Berenson, author of Quilts of Provence.  Back then they used longer cotton fibers, which were stronger and more lustrous.  If not overexposed to sunlight, printed cotton develops a mellow patina.

The caption under this photo by Peter Walters reads, "Above left: An original 150-year-old Braquenie fabric, Le Perroquet, on a chair at the Chateau de Montgeoffroy, has developed a mellow, creamy color.  Above right: Today, the same Braquenie pattern has been reissued in its original vibrant colors." 
How's that for a bit of textile history?  Personally, I found it fascinating.  I didn't know about Braquenie or Oberkampf.  I also didn't know that the cotton fibers they used centuries ago were longer.   Did you?

I'm hoping I'll find more little gems as I continue my purge.  I'll let you know if I do.

1 comment:

Natalya Aikens said...

Now that's definitely a gem!