Dichisurile Ralucai

Web Name: Dichisurile Ralucai

WebSite: http://www.dichisuri.ro





Dichisurile Ralucai

Journalist and social media communicator as profession, traveller, chocolate eater and dog lover as passions

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September 13, 2022

France - Silk Museum

I promise I'm not spending all my time in textile related museums, I'm on holiday and as I usually do, I went to the closest tourist information centre and picked up some leaflets that might be in our interest. Without any planning I've stumbled upon the French Silk Museum, an hour away from our house. Tell me that in a similar situation you would have done it differently!

It's our third year holidaying in this region, started in 2020 at the cause of the pandemic, and discovered it is not that awful. Yes there are some things that bug me, and this year a new one is traffic, but overall this region (South of France) still has a lot to offer. To clarify, we are not on Cote D'Azur, which to me is a bit overrated, we are closer to the border region with Spain.

Now, on to the museum. On its name Musée de la Soie de Saint Hippolyte du Fort, it is a small one in comparison to other museums I've visited, but it is very interesting and abundant with information. You see, in Romania, silk, particularly one made out of silk worms is very sought after, but the craft is almost lost. There is still one family who makes objects out of silk, but that's it. The situation is not that different in France, there are some manufactures and some local artists who still use silk, but not to the scale it once had.

Apparently, at one point (1853) the silk produced in this region (Cévennes) was 85% of the whole silk produced in France (26,000 tons of cocoons). After that it slowly declined until 1938 when the artificial silk (nylon) was invented. There were so many micro silk mills in that region because of the proper climate, because there were planted a lot of mulberry trees, what the worms eat, and because the attics of most houses were aery. Even to this day when you see on a house round windows at the attic, that was possibly a silk mill at one point.

In 1978 the Association for the development of the silk industry in Cévennes decided to not let this craft go extinct and created this museum and started teaching courses on how to take care of the worms and create silk.

The museum has three sections which follow the process of production of silk from silkworm feeding room to the finished product and a particular interest for me, the silk fibres and silk embroidery. Unfortunately it is machine embroidery, but interesting none the less.

Spoiler (in case you thought otherwise) the silkworms are killed in order to extract the silk, what you see in pictures are worms selected for the breeding process. Yes they were alive, I've recorded them, but posted the movie only on Instagram, as this platform is a bit fussy when you want to mix mediums, photo and video.

I've liked that, where possible, the explanations were in French, but also in English. Here is how the cocoons rest on branches.

I was impressed by the history of silk production in the area and you can clearly see that children also worked in those micro factories.

Also women with small children

I've tried to take as many pictures as possible, but will not post them all because you have to see for yourself the whole process and appreciate more when you encounter natural silk.

Silk threads, the whole process from cocoon to thread

And then from thread to fabric.

Silk embroidery

Natural dyes on different types of threads

A raw silk that looks very similar to the one we are using on embroidery.

A corner where you could touch
Would I come from Luxembourg to visit this particular museum? Clearly NO. Would I visit it once in the region? Definitely YES. It is interesting not only for textile enthusiasts, it costs, I think, 6 euros, to visit and you can spend two hours at least reading everything they exhibit. Also if you like machines, as my husband, you will not be disappointed. I didn't even took pictures of the machines. Sorry.
I hope you liked reading my little post as much as I loved putting it together. I am more active on Instagram @mademoiselle.raluNo comments:

August 23, 2022

Belgium - Texture - The Flax Museum

You will probably have to get used with me talking about textiles, be Romanian Blouses, museums, workshops, examples... cause this is my interest now. So when I've heard that there is a flax museum in Belgium, no less, I made it possible for me to visit it.

It is not close to Luxembourg (even though a two hours drive is close), but unless you are a textile passionate as myself, I don't see the point of going to the museum form Luxembourg. BUT if you go to the Belgian seaside, a detour is doable and in the process you go far away from the Brussels traffic so win-win situation, in my eyes.

To be honest, I found out recently about the existence of Belgian linen and I was as surprised about it as I was of Irish linen. Somehow in my head linen was sourced from the Baltic States, especially Lithuania. But it makes sense and it also makes me dive even deeper into the world of natural fabrics. If you know a comprehensive book about linen, please point it my way.

They say that the North Sea Region (Caen in France, going through Belgium coast and ending in Amsterdam) with it alternation of rain and sun, makes it ideal for growing flax, even more, that in 2020, 80% of the flax produced in the world came from here. They are making linen here for more than 160 years.

So first thing first, I use "flax" and "linen" terms and I understand flax as the plant and fibre and linen the product. There are different types of linen and I think that the Belgian one is more for household consumption than for clothing, so maybe that is why it was never on my radar and judging by their prices I would say, it wouldn't be very soon.

Now on the museum. It is in the town of Kortrijk in an old flax distribution centre, the entrance ticket is 6 euros and the visit can last from one hour to depending how enthusiastic you are about linen and textiles. The museum has three rooms on three floors, the first one is The Wonder Room and I have to say I've enjoyed that the most.

What you see today is the result of merging two collections, the flax tools and memorabilia belongs to Bert Dewilde, who started collecting them in 1960, and opened a museum in 1982. The second collection came into being because of the donations of finished products made from flax. So, Annick Dewilde put together what you can admire in the third room.

I've liked the tactile difference between fibres, I enjoyed looking through the lenses at different fabrics and admired the objects made from flax that are not at all textiles.

The second room, the Lys Room, tells the history of the flax production in the region, it shows the heavy machinery used in the industry, you can read testimonials, see movies, is the most extensive room to visit. I've liked some of the tools used in the flax production and found the display interesting.

The third room, The Treasury, depicts objects made out of lace, cause if you say Belgium, than the first textile that comes to one's mind is lace. If you've ever ended up in a lace museum or lace shop, the third room will look a bit poor, only a few displayed items, interesting description, I admit, but they are only a few. What I found more interesting was the movie and the legends and the explanations of scenes embroidered on lace. So if you make it there, be sure to listen to the explanations, they are in the middle of the room, you can't miss them.

The shop, on the other hand was disappointing, to me. Yes they have a lot of books about the topic of the museum, but most are in Flemish, they have some towels, but not many, and for the embroidery enthusiast they have linen threads made in China :( I found only one bobbin of Belgian linen, 9 euros, and had to have one, even though I can't use it in embroidery, but maybe I can use it in putting the whole blouse together, in sewing the blouse, maybe.

This is from the first room, the ground floor one and this and the next picture display I confess I've liked the most. This one shows you the different fibres, natural and synthetic and you can touch the fabric resulted from those fabrics. I've touched for the first time a fabric made of wool, which was not knitted.In my region, in Romania, Iași, people of old times would wear blouses and not only made of wool from a certain sheep, they would spin the wool well so that the fibre was thin enough for looming. Unfortunately the craft is lost, or at least I don't know of any person making this process by hand, so to at least feel the wool fabric to me was precious.

Next thing was seeing through microscope different fabrics. Very interesting!

Objects made from flax, this was a cocoon, which to me looked alien like, but who knows what our future holds...

On the second floor, Ilinca liked this children's house

Postal bags made of flax

A belt

Lace bobbin

Spinning wheel

From the third floor

My linen bobbin, made in Belgium. They had white as well, but I plan to use it when I'll make another hemp blouse.
Normally I would say to go on my Instagram @mademoiselle.ralubut lately all the changes that the platform is putting in place are not to my liking. I don't have tone of time to spend there either, so...we'll see.No comments:

July 19, 2022

France - The village of old crafts in Meuse - Vieux Metiers Azannes Museum

I am a bit in a hurry to write this post, because only the next weekend you can visit the "museum". Also, it's not quite a museum is more of someone's home turned into a museum showcasing old crafts from the village world. Otherwise, if I've convinced you, keep an eye on their website or their social media to see the next events.

It is rather close to Luxembourg, if you go towards Verdun. So it is doable. And despite the very crowded parking, the village did not seem that crowded. Let's put it in another form, after a pandemic, I haven't felt in any way awkward.

Also, because of the size of the place (17 hectares) and the limited number of buildings, I think that without the open days, the village would feel a bit deserted. But, during the open days, all the crafts showcased in the village are live, you can make (and buy) bread, tarts, you can see how the hats are made, how the Christmas creche is made, how textiles are made and washed, you can print stuff, you can experience a plethora of agricultural works, including beekeeping, and also discover how the people who were doing those crafts lived.

The village was opened in 1990 and although I am old enough to remember the 90's, since then, 32 years have passed. You can read about its history here and also see the way it evolved.

It is very child friendly and buggy friendly, from the entrance you have a place where you can get a cold water, something to eat and ice-cream and on a hot day like the one we visited the museum you don't have to worry you will not be hidrated.

The entrance fee is 16 euro, a bit much, but the prices inside are minimal (1 euro a water, 2.5 for a goffre, 1.5 for a coffee).

I hope I've convinced you to give it a try, if not, here are a few pictures.

First craft, The HatterI was watching a lady making a straw hatIlinca looking at some rather creepy old dollsThe school was closed, as we are on holidays after all, but it looked cosy and some of the benches looked familiarThe embroiderer.I'm not sure it is an official craft, as I'm not sure people in older ages would go to some specific person to embroider stuff, but there is this embroiderer with the feminine embroideress; someone who ornaments with needlework.I know in Belgium there were and still are lacemakers, which this lady also did.The horse was doing some agricultural job, maybe mincing the seeds, I don't know, but as I am essentially a vampire afraid of sun, I did not dare to venture closer to find out. It looked like the horse was on a treadmill (look into what a treadmill is and maybe, just maybe this is its ancestor).In one of the houses there was a family gathering. I felt a bit awkward looking at them, but they gave me butter and cheese and next door there was a bread oven... well you can guess what I did.The girls and I in front of a lovely house which I believe was the house of the Weaver. It had around it all the steps from sheep wool, to thread, to a loom and finally a lot of washing machines.The washing part of the houseThe washings hanging on to dry
Although I looked at the textiles, where I found them, what were the chances that the first embroidered piece I found had some carnations on it? If you are new here, my name in Turkish is carnation and after knowing that, I consider it to be my happy flower.Watching the washing happen. Say that really quick!The blacksmithPart of the museumSpeaking of embroidery, I payed attention to the textiles, as you already know me. In Romanian we call these wall pieces, "peretare". They exist even today. I've liked this one in particular with two girls helping their mother cook.I've spotted the embroidered piece from the previous picture on a place that sold goffres, but it was back in the shop, where I had no access. So I've asked someone to take a picture for me and they kindly let me inside pointing out to me the margins of a shelf. I know a friend of mine who dreams of having shelves like this and I took a picture for her. Also, examining it closer, I feel this embroidery was machine made, but well ... when you look for brodeuse in French you are welcomed by a ton of pictures of machines, so I feel it's fair.A flax stays and a linen oneCloseup of the flax one as we all know how linen looksWashings in the lavoir (the place where women would wash clothes).I like that some of the villages in this area kept their old lavoirs and you can see them today. I wrote about one in Luxembourg, here.The CarnationsAnother flax garmentAnother embroidered piece. Told you I was looking for them. This one looked hand-made.If we are in this region we cannot pass by without talking about lace and embroidery.This looked to me like a sampler, a piece of embroidered cloth on which a young lady would showcase her embroidery skills. I've wrote about a collection of samplers from Scotland, here.Loved this windowBonus: once you cross the border into France, the landscape fills with sunflower fields (say that real quick!)
I am aware half of the museum is not in these pictures, but either we decided we were going to leave some things for our next visit, or it was too hot to even think about taking to phone out.

That's it folks! As always I am more active onmy Instagram@mademoiselle.raluplease give me a sign if you make your way through the heat to visit this place.

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