About This Blog

My current research obsession is centered around purses and pouches from the European Middle Ages, and the accompanying hardware and passementerie. It is my hope to not only study extant items but also learn via reconstructive experiments; these will be limited for the most part to the textile components, however in the future I hope to explore the production of the metal frames.

28 February 2009

How could I forget?!

Last April, during a 2-week holiday in Switzerland (I really needed to get out of NY and away from my job, who could blame me?), I happened upon this velvet purse in the Historiches Museum in Lucerne:

Unfortunately, I don't have much information to share with you. It was described as a "purse of blue velvet lined with buckskin"; the acquisition number is 2E-2.04.01.

Surprisingly the museum director, a Dr. Heinz Horat, was kind enough to speak with me. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to produce much more information than what I already had (yes, he actually went and dug through paperwork for me). He explained that many of the museum's acquisitions were collected in the 19th century, during which time the building was an armoury. Thus, when it was turned into a museum, they were rich in artefacts but poor in documentation. Dr. Horat surmised that the purse dated from the 18th century.

19 February 2009

Embroidery complete

The brickstitch embroideries I've been working on are complete, and ready to be turned into purses. Here's what they look like so far (not to scale):

16 February 2009


Living history and fiber geeks alike can all drool over this with me.

While looking around online for textiles to use for my purses, I stumbled across Malleries. They have some pieces of (and I'll have to take their word on this of course) 16th century Italian silk. Imagine using 400-year-old silk for your clothing and accessories, eh?

It comes at a price, though. This bit, reincarnated as a table runner, costs $2,800, and this bedhanging can be yours for only $6,400!

14 February 2009

A selection of pictures from the Germanisches Nationalmuseum

First, a trapezoidal purse. Well, not just any trapezoidal purse, but one I've seen black and white images (here, here, and here) of before, and now have finally seen in person:

Bestickte Tasche mit Liebesgott und Liebespaar (GNM # T 1213)
ca. 1301–1315

I'll definitely be talking more about this (and trapezoidal purses in general) in a forthcoming post, so I'll hold off commentary for now.

Some hunting purses. These were all amazing, particularly the second one down for its embroidery and beadwork, and the third one down for sheer size. Dimensions weren't given, and I'm not so hot about eyeballing size. But let's just say that normally when I think of "purse", I think of something dainty, or something small but utilitarian to strap to your belt. This thing reminded me more of a book-bag. Seriously, you could stuff one of your hunting dogs in this thing.

[top] Jagdtasche, sog. Schwedler (GNM # ???), ca. 1650 - 1699
[center] Jagdtasche, sog. Schwedler (GNM # W 3188), ca. 1600 - 1649
[bottom] Falknertasche (GNM # W 1576), 1728

Still not sure how to translate "Falknertasche", but possibly a falconer's bag? I'll ask my German teacher.

Next, an extant girdle pouch, and some artistic representations. Would you believe that the museum didn't have a little info plaque for this little leather beauty? Me neither. I'm pretty sure I circled the case a few times looking for one but all in vain. Better luck next time (yes, I really hope there's a next time).

[top] leather girdle bag; acq. # ???, date ???
[bottom] details from the Geißelung Christi (GNM # Gm 113a), ca. 1400 - 1410
Click here to see the whole painting.

A reliquary bag. I'd be very interested to try an make something like this, with the small metal plaques and pearls and metal thread everywhere. All my photos of this piece are a bit hazy, due to the glare off the glass. However, I'd like to point out the fact that, yes, there is a mirror placed underneath the purse, so you can see the reverse side. What a novel concept! Other museums, take note.

Reliquienbeutel (GNM # KG 562), ca. 993

Lastly, two paintings and a sculpture:

[left] Werkstatt des Hans Traut (?), Altar aus der Nürberger Augustinerkirche
(GNM # Gm 142-148), 1487
[middle] Meister der Lyversberger Passion, Die Anbetung der Könige
(GNM # Gm 989), ca. 1460
[right] Adam Kraft, Relief von der alten Stadtwaage
(GNM # PI 2849), ca. 1460 - 1509

There are plenty of other pictures I could put up here, but these were the highlights. More detailed commentary will have to wait for another day.

03 February 2009

The calm before the storm..

..the image storm that is. Went to Nürnberg this past weekend, and I have a ton of images - mainly from the Germanisches Nationalmuseum - to share here. Just need a bit of time to sort through them all, so stay tuned!