Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Sudbury silk

I was in Sudbury yesterday to deliver my membership form for The Print Workshop at Gainsborough's House. As well as allowing me to use the beautiful old printing presses and other printmaking facilities, I will have a free pass for the house and exhibitions. In my post about Salford Black runner beans I mentioned the Lancashire mill towns - nothing could look further from the smoky, dirty image of an industrial scene than this view across the Stour valley on the outskirts of Sudbury, but this is the home of the British silk weaving industry.

Just behind the walled garden at Gainsborough's House is the back of one of the existing silk mills, I decided to walk around the corner to the factory shop. Vanners have been weaving sumptious silks since the early 18th century, now they produce lustrous jacquard weave silks for ties, scarves and curtains. In the small shop I spotted two tea-chests full of remnants of jacquard silk, a sign next to a pile of large carrier bags said '£5 per bag' - so I just had to rummage and to fill a bag. These are the silk fabrics I came home with - now I'll have to create something gorgeous with them!


  1. Wow ... I had NO IDEA that silk weaving was going on in Suffolk all this time. What a wonderful haul - beautiful colours and weaves. It will be so interesting to see what you make of it ... what a treat in store for us all


  2. May you make ties from the silk? Would be interested to see them if you do! And if you don't I will still come back and have a look!


  3. Celia, the different silks look almost edible. Looking forward to seeing what you make with them.

  4. What a great find you made - I love the patterns and the colours. Now I'm curious as to what you will do with them. Hmmm... I just made a tote bag from silk with Indonesian batik ... that was fun.


  5. You lucky, lucky girl. I am so envious! Think of the wonderful cushions you could conjour from that delicious pile... sigh...

  6. Hi Joanna, silk weaving in Sudbury is a survivor of the vast textile industry of the Stour valley which started with the medieval wool merchants whose wealth built those fantastic churches in Lavenham and Long Melford. The towns along the valley were all built around weaving and textiles - Courtaulds in Halstead and Gurteens in Haverhill are two of the famous names.

    I have got plans for these - but not ties Andrew. Your tote bag sounds fabulous, Kate. Maybe cushions, Toffeeapple. I'll put so photos in a few weeks.


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