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AXMINSTER: Carpet experts in day long symposium

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

INDUSTRY EXPERTS: Jane Dean, Heather Tetley, Susan Lady Stern and Dr John Church

INDUSTRY EXPERTS: Jane Dean, Heather Tetley, Susan Lady Stern and Dr John Church


Those attending Axminster Heritage’s carpet symposium were treated to a day of two halves - history in the morning and the present day in the afternoon. Attendees included the Master of the Worshipful Company of Woolmen, representatives of other livery companies and members of The National Trust. The symposium was held on Friday, May 9th, starting in Thomas Whitty House. Dr John Church, Axminster Heritage chairman, said: “Susan Lady Stern suggested this some months ago. She is now the expert on original Axminster carpets and she gave a fascinating paper on Thomas Whitty carpets in the time of the great architect Robert Adam, pointing out how he worked with Whitty so that the design of his plasterwork ceilings was replicated in the carpet much like a mirror image. “Heather Tetley, senior carpet conservator, followed up this with a talk on cleaning and repairing these 18 century carpets, which are now considered to be wonderful works of art. “She recently conserved the two Axminster carpets from Dumphries House, (made here in 1759 only a few years after Whitty started his manufactory).” The final morning lecture was given by spinner,weaver and dyer Jane Dean, of The Worshipful Company of Dyers. She talked about vegetable dyes and the source for the varied colours, also describing how to extract the blue from woad, yellow from weld and red from madder - and, how even today, some dyers use stale urine as a mordant. Dr Church added: “After lunch Axminster Carpets arranged an illustrated talk by Gary Bridge, who compared the old methods of designing on squared paper with the use of computer both for the design and the selection of colours at the loom when it is programmed by a disc . “The afternoon ended with a conducted tour around the factory, which was led with great enthusiasm and knowledge by Josh Dutfield.”

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