Textile Display Methods

As part of my visit with Carmela Quinto, Curator of Collections at the Millicent Rogers Museum (MRM) in Taos, NM, we looked at some of the methods used to display textiles. After ascertaining that the textile is suitable for mounting or hanging, an appropriate display location is chosen to avoid exposing the textile to UV light or other possible damage.

Accession number on textile at MRM

While textiles may be temporarily identified with an acid-free paper tag, the permanent means of identification is to sew a strip of cotton muslin with the accession number marked in permanent ink onto the back of the textile. Archival markers are available for this purpose.

Weft-faced textiles such as Rio Grande textiles, are hung with the warp threads in the vertical position to give the best support to the textile.

 

Velcro strip attached to back of textile at MRM

One method to hang textiles for display uses Velcro strips. A strip of Velcro is sewn onto a slightly larger strip of cotton twill or muslin, which in turn is sewn onto the back of the textile at its vertical top end. Small textiles may have two short strips. Larger textiles have one strip that is the width of the textile. Very large or heavy textiles may have a number of strips, each the width of the textile, and at varying distances along the vertical dimension. The other side of the Velcro is attached to sealed or varnished wood strips that are affixed to the display wall.

Sleeve attached to the back of textile at MRM

Another method to hang textiles for display uses sleeves. Cotton muslin is cut to the width of the textile and sewn into a hollow sleeve. The sleeve is then sewn onto the back of the textile at its vertical top end, leaving the sleeve ends open. The sleeve can then accommodate either a flat metal bar or a varnished wooden dowel.

 

 

Textiles hung with flat metal bars at MRM

At left, flat metal bars work well with the spacers which are used to create an airspace between the textile and the display wall. Below, a wood dowel  through the sleeve, with eye screws at each end, works well for hanging a textile from the ceiling.

Textile hung with wood dowel at MRM

 

Rio Grande Textile Weaving Details

When I visited the Millicent Rogers Museum exhibition, “A Feast for the Eyes, Rio Grande Blankets from the Collection”, I wanted to view the details of the two main forms of weaving the textiles. Rio Grande textiles are traditionally woven on European horizontal two-harness looms, which limit the width of the textile, although the length is only limited by the length of the warps. Textiles of four to five-and-a-half feet in width were usually made by one of two methods: double width or two widths seamed.

Double width detail, from MRM exhibit

For double width textiles an additional two harnesses were added to the loom behind and below the top harnesses and the weaver shuttled between the top and bottom harnesses in a continuous weave. For strength, additional warps placed closely together were added at the join of the top and bottom harnesses, resulting in the telltale ridges in the vertical center of textiles woven in this manner.

Two widths seamed detail, from MRM exhibit

 

Textiles made from two widths seamed are just that: two separate textiles are woven, using the same pattern of banding and stripes for each, and then seamed together along the vertical center. This method requires great weaving skill to create two separate textiles whose bands will perfectly align when the textiles are seamed together.

The Millicent Rogers Museum exhibition provided a myriad of examples of each weaving method. Although I had studied diagrams and seen photographs of these weaving methods, there is no comparison with the understanding that results from viewing actual textiles in detail.