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Published: 05 August 2017

By Andy Ross

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A book with a surprise

There is a new-to-the-library book with a lovely surprise hidden inside...

Elementary Textile Design and Fabric Structure by John Read was published in 1931, and, on seeing a copy on the Internet, a hunch purchase proved to be Really Worthwhile. The book itself is full of patterns and structures taught to "the young craftsman at the commencement of his career", and each page of threadings or lifts has a blank set of squares beside it so that the erstwhile student can complete the design. 

Between pages 76 and 77 "Chapter VIII - Poplin and Repp Structures" some pieces of paper fell out when we opened the book. A Synopsis of 19th Century Women's Fashions is a series of 21 drawings from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, dated 1959. Lovely line drawings and explanations of the way women dressed from 1800 until 1900, and a little piece of history in and of itself. 

And the other pieces of paper are just as tantilising. Perhaps Helen Shires who was at school at the RCA, and who owned the book, (although we may have the last name incorrect) was a teacher because in fountainpen-ink handwriting on lined paper are proposals for a two year course in hand loom weaving, and notes about how children of 7 and 8 years learn and act. And in pencil, notes for use in a lecuture, or so it looks. Who knew how interesting buying a new book for the library could be?!