When we go on holiday, I always ensure that I research the textile museums in the area. This is probably because my husband is mad on visiting airfields and cathedrals, and the kids always have their own agenda, so I’ve got to find things that interest me or die of boredom!
Last summer we stayed in a gite in Alsace in Eastern France, and went to Mulhouse, where there was the perfect combination – a textile museum and a car museum! So I had a blissful afternoon at the Museum of Printed Textiles while Edmund took the kids off to see the cars.
The thing I found most interesting was that they didn’t print with dyes in the early years. They printed (using wooden blocks) with different mordants (which are the things which, in natural dyeing, make the dyestuff bond with the fabric) and then put the whole thing in one dyebath. Using different mordants produced different colours on the cloth.
It is well worth seeing – they have demonstrations of the printing techniques there, too.