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Table Linens

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  • Kammy Chinnock
    Hello, I have been lurking for a long time, and I have gotten all kinds of great ideas for furniture, painting rugs and making my own pavilion, but I have a
    Message 1 of 13 , Mar 30, 2013
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      Hello,



      I have been lurking for a long time, and I have gotten all kinds of great
      ideas for furniture, painting rugs and making my own pavilion, but I have a
      question about something that I have never seen discussed.



      What about table cloths? Did they use the nice linen that we use now? Did
      they decorate it in anyway? What about napkins? My household is from
      1530's Scotland, Northern Highlands.



      I appreciate any and/or all help in this matter!



      Kammy Chinnock





      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Karen_Larsdatter
      ... It s a question of where & when and also economic levels. The general trend seems to be for a clean, well-pressed white linen tablecloth. Even in humbler
      Message 2 of 13 , Apr 1, 2013
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        Kammy asked:
        > What about table cloths? Did they use the nice linen that we use now? Did
        > they decorate it in anyway? What about napkins? My household is from
        > 1530's Scotland, Northern Highlands.

        It's a question of where & when and also economic levels.

        The general trend seems to be for a clean, well-pressed white linen tablecloth. Even in humbler environments in the 16th century, you still see some attempt at a clean, white linen tablecloth on the table, at least on special occasions; http://www.wga.hu/html/b/bruegel/pieter_e/10/ provides one example.

        There are some lovely tablecloths with brocaded bands along the ends that seem to have been especially popular in the 14th and 15th centuries; see http://www.larsdatter.com/perugia-tablecloths.htm for some examples, or see http://www.larsdatter.com/perugia-towels.htm for examples of towels (which could have also been used as napkins).

        We do see some damask linen tablecloths in the 16th century as well.
        http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O315603/table-cloth/
        http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O315606/table-cloth-unknown/
        http://www.artvalue.com/auctionresult--16th-century-a-linen-damask-tablecloth-kort-1779315.htm
        There are a few examples of napkins made in this manner:
        http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O101359/napkin-unknown/
        http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O101364/napkin-unknown/
        http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O101377/napkin-unknown/
        http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O357677/napkin/

        The 16th century also brings along the table carpet -- see examples at http://www.larsdatter.com/carpets.htm -- but these seem to be used in non-culinary situations. (It would be much harder to clean a table carpet after a meal as opposed to a white linen tablecloth, really.) ;)

        I'd also recommend reading http://www.yorku.ca/inpar/babees_rickert.pdf to see some of the etiquette manuals from the late Middle Ages and Renaissance -- there are more references in there to the use of these sorts of table linens.


        Karen Larsdatter
        www.larsdatter.com
      • Laurie Clarkston
        Kammy,   As far as decorating go, the linen tablecloths would have very little in the way of decorated items.  It would be the plates, cups, silverware, and
        Message 3 of 13 , Apr 1, 2013
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          Kammy,
           
          As far as decorating go, the linen tablecloths would have very little in the way of decorated items.  It would be the plates, cups, silverware, and candlesticks--you will see this in some of the pictures Karen sent you.
           
          As far as decorations go:  If the house/castle/manor were having important guests, enough to bring out the bright-white linens, they would also have a sideboard or table displaying all of their silver plate and/or gold plates (platters, plates, bowls, candlesticks, pitchers, etc...) lined up to show off. 
           
          A lot of wealth would have been in plates, platters, and other objects and not used other than to display before important guest.  It would be placed out in a noted location (much like putting a collection of family pictures on the fireplace mantle, or on the piano for display--that we do today). 
           
          If they fell on harder times, these items would be sold off, or melted down and exchanged for coin or goods, since "banking" was not around then, and having a bag of coins was not always a good thing to keep around, let alone display...grin.  
           
          Cairistiona


          ________________________________
          From: Karen_Larsdatter <karen_larsdatter@...>
          To: Authentic_SCA@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Monday, April 1, 2013 8:16 AM
          Subject: [Authentic_SCA] Re: Table Linens

           
          Kammy asked:
          > What about table cloths? Did they use the nice linen that we use now? Did
          > they decorate it in anyway? What about napkins? My household is from
          > 1530's Scotland, Northern Highlands.

          It's a question of where & when and also economic levels.

          The general trend seems to be for a clean, well-pressed white linen tablecloth. Even in humbler environments in the 16th century, you still see some attempt at a clean, white linen tablecloth on the table, at least on special occasions; http://www.wga.hu/html/b/bruegel/pieter_e/10/ provides one example.

          There are some lovely tablecloths with brocaded bands along the ends that seem to have been especially popular in the 14th and 15th centuries; see http://www.larsdatter.com/perugia-tablecloths.htm for some examples, or see http://www.larsdatter.com/perugia-towels.htm for examples of towels (which could have also been used as napkins).

          We do see some damask linen tablecloths in the 16th century as well.
          http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O315603/table-cloth/
          http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O315606/table-cloth-unknown/
          http://www.artvalue.com/auctionresult--16th-century-a-linen-damask-tablecloth-kort-1779315.htm
          There are a few examples of napkins made in this manner:
          http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O101359/napkin-unknown/
          http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O101364/napkin-unknown/
          http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O101377/napkin-unknown/
          http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O357677/napkin/

          The 16th century also brings along the table carpet -- see examples at http://www.larsdatter.com/carpets.htm -- but these seem to be used in non-culinary situations. (It would be much harder to clean a table carpet after a meal as opposed to a white linen tablecloth, really.) ;)

          I'd also recommend reading http://www.yorku.ca/inpar/babees_rickert.pdf to see some of the etiquette manuals from the late Middle Ages and Renaissance -- there are more references in there to the use of these sorts of table linens.

          Karen Larsdatter
          http://www.larsdatter.com/




          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Chris Laning
          Yes, it s very disappointing to the embroidery-minded that the best table linens were usually quite plain ;) The quality of the linen and, sometimes, the
          Message 4 of 13 , Apr 1, 2013
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            Yes, it's very disappointing to the embroidery-minded that the "best" table linens were usually quite plain ;)

            The quality of the linen and, sometimes, the elegance of a woven-in design were apparently the things that mattered most for social status.

            On Apr 1, 2013, at 7:26 AM, Laurie Clarkston wrote:

            > Kammy,
            >
            > As far as decorating go, the linen tablecloths would have very little in the way of decorated items. It would be the plates, cups, silverware, and candlesticks--you will see this in some of the pictures Karen sent you.
            >
            > As far as decorations go: If the house/castle/manor were having important guests, enough to bring out the bright-white linens, they would also have a sideboard or table displaying all of their silver plate and/or gold plates (platters, plates, bowls, candlesticks, pitchers, etc...) lined up to show off.
            >
            > A lot of wealth would have been in plates, platters, and other objects and not used other than to display before important guest. It would be placed out in a noted location (much like putting a collection of family pictures on the fireplace mantle, or on the piano for display--that we do today).
            >
            > If they fell on harder times, these items would be sold off, or melted down and exchanged for coin or goods, since "banking" was not around then, and having a bag of coins was not always a good thing to keep around, let alone display...grin.
            >
            > Cairistiona
            >

            ____________________________________________________________

            O (Dame) Christian de Holacombe, OL - Shire of Windy Meads
            + Kingdom of the West - Chris Laning <claning@...>
            http://paternoster-row.org - http://paternosters.blogspot.com
            ____________________________________________________________
          • Kammy Chinnock
            Thank you all for the helpful hints about table cloths! That has saved me researching authentic designs for decorating them! I can just spend my time hand
            Message 5 of 13 , Apr 3, 2013
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              Thank you all for the helpful hints about table cloths! That has saved me
              researching authentic designs for decorating them! I can just spend my time
              hand hemming them!



              Kammy Chinnock





              From: Authentic_SCA@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Authentic_SCA@yahoogroups.com]
              On Behalf Of Chris Laning
              Sent: Monday, April 01, 2013 8:59 AM
              To: Authentic_SCA@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: Re: [Authentic_SCA] Table Linens





              Yes, it's very disappointing to the embroidery-minded that the "best" table
              linens were usually quite plain ;)

              The quality of the linen and, sometimes, the elegance of a woven-in design
              were apparently the things that mattered most for social status.

              On Apr 1, 2013, at 7:26 AM, Laurie Clarkston wrote:

              > Kammy,
              >
              > As far as decorating go, the linen tablecloths would have very little in
              the way of decorated items. It would be the plates, cups, silverware, and
              candlesticks--you will see this in some of the pictures Karen sent you.
              >
              > As far as decorations go: If the house/castle/manor were having important
              guests, enough to bring out the bright-white linens, they would also have a
              sideboard or table displaying all of their silver plate and/or gold plates
              (platters, plates, bowls, candlesticks, pitchers, etc...) lined up to show
              off.
              >
              > A lot of wealth would have been in plates, platters, and other objects and
              not used other than to display before important guest. It would be placed
              out in a noted location (much like putting a collection of family pictures
              on the fireplace mantle, or on the piano for display--that we do today).
              >
              > If they fell on harder times, these items would be sold off, or melted
              down and exchanged for coin or goods, since "banking" was not around then,
              and having a bag of coins was not always a good thing to keep around, let
              alone display...grin.
              >
              > Cairistiona
              >

              __________________________________________________________

              O (Dame) Christian de Holacombe, OL - Shire of Windy Meads
              + Kingdom of the West - Chris Laning <claning@...
              <mailto:claning%40igc.org> >
              http://paternoster-row.org - http://paternosters.blogspot.com
              __________________________________________________________





              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Janis James
              You know - I still like working a little embroidery on my table linens though. While not entirely authentic - a nice embroidered border makes me feel very
              Message 6 of 13 , Apr 3, 2013
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                You know - I still like working a little embroidery on my table linens though. While
                not entirely authentic - a nice embroidered border makes me feel very happy and
                having matching table napkins with a little embroidery in one corner to identify
                each user - also makes me feel good. I do tend to use a pattern/design from the
                time period with correct period colours and correct fabrics too. I might not enter it
                in an A&S competition, but when setting out a feast table I love the look.
                Cheers, Sine

                Sine Gunnsdottir
                Tir Righ/ AnTir




                To: Authentic_SCA@yahoogroups.com
                From: klchinnock@...
                Date: Wed, 3 Apr 2013 09:41:32 -0600
                Subject: RE: [Authentic_SCA] Table Linens





                Thank you all for the helpful hints about table cloths! That has saved me
                researching authentic designs for decorating them! I can just spend my time
                hand hemming them!

                Kammy Chinnock

                .





                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Karen_Larsdatter
                I ve gone ahead and set up a new linkspage with some more of the 16th century damask linen tablecloths I ve found; you can find it at
                Message 7 of 13 , Apr 4, 2013
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                  I've gone ahead and set up a new linkspage with some more of the 16th century damask linen tablecloths I've found; you can find it at http://larsdatter.com/damask-table-linens.htm

                  Sine wrote:
                  > You know - I still like working a little embroidery on my table
                  > linens though. While not entirely authentic - a nice embroidered
                  > border makes me feel very happy and having matching table napkins
                  > with a little embroidery in one corner to identify each user - also
                  > makes me feel good. I do tend to use a pattern/design from the
                  > time period with correct period colours and correct fabrics too.
                  > I might not enter it in an A&S competition, but when setting out
                  > a feast table I love the look.

                  Embroidered table linens are certainly not non-period, but it's less common, even in wealthier households (where, if we're in the 16th century, the damask linen could be custom-woven for the household's needs, anyway). There are examples of embroidered table-carpets from the 16th and 17th centuries -- one of the most well-known of these is the Bradford carpet, which you can find at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bradford_carpet or http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O78745/bradford-table-carpet-table-carpet-unknown/ -- though again, these are table carpets and not really table linens, so it's unlikely that food would have been served directly on top of this.

                  There's a rather nice little textile photographed in "Medieval Craftsmen: Embroiderers" that seems to be an embroiderer's interpretation of one of the Perugia-style brocaded linens (again, see http://larsdatter.com/perugia-tablecloths.htm for several examples). I've done an embroidered table-covering in this sort of style as well. It's easy to re-create the Perugia brocaded ornamentation with a needle and thread in a monochromatic embroidery technique.

                  Speaking of monochromatic embroidery, another style that I think would be eminently suitable for a southern Italian table would be the voided-work styles; most of the extant examples that remain are just the embroidered strips, but IIRC there are sufficient examples of 16th & 17th century Italian household linens with this style of embroidery that it would not be completely out of the question. This is the form of cross stitch that modern embroiderers often call Assisi work; you can see several period examples at http://www.larsdatter.com/voided-work.htm too.

                  Also in terms of Italian textiles, there is the lovely (and potentially embroidered) table-covering in this mid-16th century portrait by Bacchiacca: http://www.getty.edu/museum/research/provenance/provResearch?handle=plid&id=777
                  Like the table-carpets in various portraits at http://larsdatter.com/carpets.htm this also seems to be used as a table-covering in a non-culinary context.

                  It does make sense, though, if you think about it; as with undergarments, tablecloths would need to be cleaned very regularly, preferably bleached white to indicate their quality and cleanliness. (See http://www.larsdatter.com/laundry.htm for some images of how sun-bleaching linens was done.) For a household tablecloth that would get used under food, white linen would make quite a lot of sense. :)


                  Karen Larsdatter
                  www.larsdatter.com
                • Kammy Chinnock
                  The information is awesome! Sine, that is what I was thinking of, that I just wanted the table to look pretty. Setting a beautiful table always makes me feel
                  Message 8 of 13 , Apr 6, 2013
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                    The information is awesome!



                    Sine, that is what I was thinking of, that I just wanted the table to look
                    pretty. Setting a beautiful table always makes me feel good!



                    Karen, the links are wonderful! Thanks for research work. Your knowledge
                    is so appreciated!



                    Kammy Chinnock





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