21 June 2015

"Wonder of Wool" exhibit at the American Textile History Museum

Coverlet, Pennsylvania, late 19th - early 20th century, detail.

From May 20 through December 31, 2015, the American Textile History Museum features a special exhibit, the Wonder of Wool: Ancient Fiber to Modern Marvel.

The show displays quite a variety of sheep- and wool-related objects illuminating the romance, and science, of this protein (animal-derived) fiber.  One highlight is a "please touch" wall of yarns as well as woolen fabrics, both woven and knit.

Adorable exhibit free bookmark - take several home. I did.

View of the Stevens gallery.

Tactile delight!

The image below is a wall collage of Green Mountain Spinnery mohair-blend yarn, from our neighboring state of Vermont. Luscious colors.

Wool takes dye beautifully.

The exhibit featured fashions old and new, including a late 19th-century catalog, and ladies undergarment, from "Dr. Jaeger's Sanitary Woolen System Co."  The British apparel company Jaeger was founded to produce long-johns based on the hygiene theories of German physician Gustav Jaeger (1832 - 1917.)

Before there was Victoria's Secret.

Up-to-date fashions.

The exhibit of modern apparel trumpeted wool's continuing role in high fashion, in part aided by the sustainability movement - sheep regrow their fleece each year.  Although I recognized some of the names represented, such as Massachusetts native Joseph Abboud and, of course, Pendleton, discoveries include newer labels Wool & Prince and Ramblers Way Farm.

After touring the exhibit we wandered into one of the educational spaces within the museum.  We were delighted to encounter the work of weaver Antonia Kormos on the classroom walls.

Classroom with looms.

Work by master weaver Antonia Kormos.

The Shepherd Boy, unknown artist, 1840's.

Although the information presented in the Wonder of Wool exhibit will be familiar to most textile mavens, it was still a treat to encounter 19th-century sheep-themed ephemera, such as this hand-colored wood engraving, from a design by an unidentified artist and sold by Boston vendor J. Fisher.   Note to the museum shop: I would happily buy a reproduction of this charming image if one were available.