Some of our more contemplative readers might be interested to learn that the Clothworkers’ Centre will also be home to more than eight-hundred pattern books and swatches. The majority of these are held by the Textiles and Fashion section, though there will also be a good number from our colleagues in the Asian Department.
The preparation of these books for travel and storage presented a series of challenges quite different from what we’d experienced with other object types. Although they fall within the textiles collection, these objects are made predominantly from paper and constructed as books. I confess to great ignorance in the fields of paper conservation and book-binding, and so the impending move to Blythe House gave us the opportunity to have the books properly examined and treated by the V&A’s book conservators. They and their team of conservation students from Camberwell College spent considerable time cleaning, measuring and making bespoke boxes (with museum numbers stencilled on in the V&A typeface (naturally)).
A few of our pattern books in store at the Clothworkers’ Centre © Victoria & Albert Museum, London
These books are popular for curatorial study, as can they offer a frozen view of manufacturer’s output, in a certain material, at a particular time. It is anticipated that these will prove very popular objects for our visitors to view, especially in light of their orderliness, extensiveness and the pleasing and reflective experience offered by page upon page of lovely patterns.
Sample book of Club Ties, museum no. T.200-1993 © Victoria & Albert Museum, London
The Clothworkers’ Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles and Fashion is part of FuturePlan and will be open to visit by appointment later this year.