Amgueddfa Blog: Textiles

Mae’n swyddogol – peidiwch da chi â bod heb ddilledyn melfed yr hydref hwn! Dyma farn rhai o gylchgronau mwyaf dylanwadol y byd ffasiwn ar hyn o bryd. Ond er y chwiw presennol am bopeth melfed, mae’r defnydd moethus hwn wedi bod yn rhan o gwpwrdd dillad y genedl ers canrifoedd lawer.

Yn hanesyddol, fe ystyrir melfed fel dynodydd cyfoeth a statws – ffaith sy’n cael ei amlygu yng nghasgliadau gwisgoedd a thecstiliau yr Amgueddfa. Mae’r casgliadau hyn yn cynnwys gwrthrychau fu unwaith yn eiddo i rai o feistri tir enwocaf Cymru – teuluoedd cefnog, fel y Morganiaid o Dŷ Tredegar, a oedd yn addurno eu tai ac yn gwisgo defnyddiau costus i ddatgan eu cyfoeth i’r byd.

Ymhlith yr eitemau sydd ar gof a chadw yn yr Amgueddfa mae siaced felfed lliw eirin tywyll a wnaed yn 1770 ar gyfer Syr Watkin Williams-Wynn, y Pedwerydd Barwnig. Wedi ei eni yn 1749 ar ’stâd Wynnstay, ger Rhiwabon, roedd Syr Watkin yn adnabyddus fel un o noddwyr amlycaf y celfyddydau yng Nghymru. Yn ogystal â phrynu darnau o gelf, crochenwaith a dodrefn gan gynllunwyr mawr y dydd, roedd hefyd yn hoff o wario ar ddillad.

Pan oedd yn 19 mlwydd oed, aeth Syr Watkin ar Daith Fawr o Ewrop – rhan annatod o lwybr bywyd bonheddwr ifanc yn y cyfnod hwn. Rhwng Mehefin 1768 a Chwefror y flwyddyn ganlynol, bu’n crwydro Ffrainc, Y Swistir a’r Eidal. Mae llyfrau cyfrifon ’stâd Wynnstay yn dangos iddo wario £220 ar ddillad yn ystod y daith. Prynodd wisgoedd ym Mharis, siwt felfed blodeuog yn Lyon a llathenni o felfed gan sidanwr yn Turin.

Mae’n bosibl mai’r felfed hwn a ddefnyddiwyd i wneud y siaced sydd erbyn hyn ym meddiant yr Amgueddfa. Nid siaced bob dydd mo hon – mae hi wedi ei theilwra’n gywrain a’i brodio gydag edafedd sidan, rhubanau a secwinau aur. Mae’n debyg mai teiliwr yn Llundain fu’n gyfrifol am ei thorri a’i gwnïo. Roedd teilwriaid ffasiynol y cyfnod yn cyflogi nifer o frodwyr proffesiynol i addurno eu gwaith – dynion, nid menywod, oedd y rhain.

Yn 1770 cynhaliwyd parti chwedlonol yn Wynnstay i nodi penblwydd Syr Watkin yn 21 oed. Tybed ai’r gôt felfed oedd amdano’r noson honno? Daeth 15,000 i’r dathliad a thri llond coets o gogyddion o Lundain. Ar y fwydlen roedd 30 bustach, 50 mochyn, 50 llo, 18 oen, 37 twrci a llu o ddanteithion eraill. Does ryfedd i Syr Watkin fagu cryn dipyn o bwysau erbyn diwedd ei oes!

Wrth wneud gwaith gyda’r Fforwm Ieuenctid, darganfyddais fod yna glytwaith i orchuddio cist o ddroriau (‘patchwork chest of drawers cover’) yng nghasgliad Sain Ffagan a gafodd ei greu gan fy hen hen ewythr, Richard Evans o Lanbrynmair, yn ystod ei amser yn gwasanaethu fel milwr yn India. Mae wedi ei greu o ddefnydd gwlanog trwchus coch a du ac felly tybiwyd ei fod wedi ei bwytho o ddillad milwr, ac yn ôl yr hyn sydd wedi ei arysgrifio ar ei gefn, roedd yn ‘Rhodd i fy Mam Sarah Evans 1883.’ Fe wnaeth y rhoddwr (Miss Ceridwen E Lloyd), sef nith i Richard Evans, ysgrifennu llythyr gyda’r gwrthrych a ymunodd â’r casgliad yn 1962, yn nodi “roedd ganddo fwy o amynedd na llawer ohonom heddiw.” 

Roedd yr amynedd angenrheidiol i wneud gwniadwaith yn un o’r rhesymau pam ddaeth y grefft yn rhan o fywyd i rai mewn gwersylloedd milwrol. Yn ogystal â bod yn sgil ymarferol er mwyn gallu trwsio eu lifrau, roedd milwyr yn cael eu hannog i ddechrau gwnïo fel ffordd o ymlacio. Cefnogwyd y syniad gan fudiadau dirwest yn y bedwaredd ganrif ar bymtheg wrth iddynt weld gwnïo fel ffordd o gadw’r milwyr rhag demtasiynau yfed a gamblo, yn enwedig yng ngwres India. Roedd y grefft hefyd yn cael ei hybu fel rhan o therapi milwr mewn ysbyty er mwyn lleddfu diflastod. Mae yna enghraifft o waith tebyg yn y casgliad yn Sain Ffagan – gemwaith a gafodd ei greu gan y Corporal Walter Stinson pan roedd yn glaf yn Ysbyty VAD Sain Ffagan yn 1917-18.

Roedd gogwydd fwy emosiynol ar y math yma o waith hefyd. Weithiau, crewyd cwiltiau allan o lifrau cyd-filwyr a fu farw ar faes y gad i ddangos ffyddlondeb a gwladgarwch. Roedd gan y grefft bwrpas tu hwnt i’r cyfnod o ryfela hefyd, gan fod dysgu i wnïo yn gallu cael ei gysylltu ag ennill arian ar ôl gadael y fyddin. Yn y casgliad, mae yna ddarlun gwlân a oedd wedi ei brynu gan hen dad-cu y rhoddwr gan gyn-filwr oedd wedi colli ei goes wrth ymladd.

Mae llu o resymau felly i esbonio pam ddaeth gwniadwaith yn grefft fwy poblogaidd i filwyr. Daeth buddion y grefft i ddisgyblaeth a gwellhad milwyr â’r grefft oedd wedi ei hystyried yn un fenywaidd ar hyd y blynyddoedd yn rhan o hunaniaeth milwyr yn ystod y cyfnod hwn – ac ysbrydoli fy hen hen ewythr, yn bictiwr o wrywdod milwr gyda’i getyn a’i fwstash (trydydd o’r chwith yn y rhes gefn) i greu clytwaith fel anrheg i’w fam.

In the summer of 1951 a large-scale quilting exhibition was staged at St Fagans as part of Wales’ contribution to the Festival of Britain. Billed as ‘the largest, most comprehensive and the most interesting of its kind ever staged in the Principality’, the exhibition organized jointly with the Monmouthshire Rural Community Council showcased the work of 60 contemporary quilters, alongside historic examples from the Museum’s collection and private owners. The Banqueting Hall – a vast pavilion-like structure in the grounds of St Fagans Castle – provided a dramatic setting for the display, the likes of which had not been seen at the newly-established Museum before.

Call for entries

Although the exhibition ran for little over three weeks (16 July-18 August), it was the culmination of months of planning, led by Mr D. L. Jones of the Welsh Rural Industries Committee. In keeping with the Museum’s founding principle of inspiring a new generation of makers, the show included daily demonstrations and prizes for the best contemporary work on display. In February of that year, a final call for entries was published in the Western Mail:

Although we have received a record entry for the National Quilting Exhibition… it is not too late to receive further entries… Substantial prizes and certificates of merit will be awarded to successful candidates, and it will undoubtedly provide an excellent opportunity for Welsh quilters to show our oversees visitors that they still possess the skill of their forebears in this one remaining traditional needlecraft.

Competition

The work submitted for the exhibition included large and small quilts, cot covers, bonnets, dressing gowns and dressing jackets. In total, 65 original, hand-quilted pieces were chosen for display by the selectors. The judging panel included Mavis FitzRandolph who, under the auspices of the Rural Industries Bureau, had been instrumental in setting-up quilting classes in the industrial heartlands of south-east Wales during the 1920-30s Depression. The aim of the scheme was to revive and improve the standard of Welsh quilting, therefore enabling young women in economically deprived communities to earn a living making by hand. Many of those who won prizes at the 1951 exhibition were taught to quilt under this scheme, including Irene Morgan of Porthcawl - one of the best quilters of her generation. Originally from Aberdare, Irene began to quilt in the late 1920s and subsequently became a nightclass teacher in the Bridgend area, until the onset of glaucoma stopped her from stitching in the 1960s. Her prize winning certificates from the 1951 exhibition were donated to the Museum following her death in 2000.

The future - Gweithdy

Emulating the spirit of the 1951 exhibition, exciting plans are afoot here at St Fagans. A new gallery called Gweithdy is currently being built in the Museum's grounds which will be a celebration of making by hand in Wales through the centuries. As well as having objects on display including several quilts and other textile crafts the new gallery will be designed very much like a workshop, with spaces for people to have-a-go at making, and to enroll on craft courses. Needless to say, we are all hugely excited about this development – a new chapter in our history as a museum which, we hope, will inspire the makers of the future.

 

 

 

 

Don't worry no violence was involved. It was the turn of Llainfadyn this week, our quarrymen’s cottage from Gwynedd, to receive a clean and make over from our Historic Interior and Conservation Volunteer team. It was a big task so thanks to everyone involved. This included stripping the beds and giving everything including the feather mattresses a good airing and beating to remove a winter's worth of dust and dirt. As long as the textiles are strong enough this is still a very effective method of removing grime without the aid of modern appliances.

We also held a competition between a modern broom and a traditional one made from hazel twigs (that all important witches’ accessory at Halloween). To help protect the collections on display it's important we try and reduce the amount of dust and dirt being brought into the houses by our thousands of visitors each year. Our first line of defence to achieve this is the cobbles outside, these help dislodge the grit and dirt from peoples' shoes before they even enter the building, but for these to work the cobbles need to be clean and not clogged up with dirt. So one of our first important tasks was to clean the stones outside.

So which broom won? The traditional of course, with its long twiggy brush it was the best at dislodging the dirt from between the cobbles. This job would certainly have been an everyday task for most households in the past.

Our second line of defence to keep the dust down is the rag rug, often found in cottages of this period. These were made from scraps of material or worn out clothes and blankets, so as well as providing much needed comfort and colour they were great at trapping dirt. They could then be picked up, taken outside and beaten with a carpet beater to remove the grime. We are currently making one for Llainfadyn, unfortunately the odd hail storm meant that Jane and Emma had to find seats by the open fire to carry on their work.

Sorry about the awful pun in the title. But, yes, it's that time of year, the sun is out, spring's officially here and it's getting warmer. Fantastic you may say, but for our Conservators and Volunteers a new battle is about to begin! As well as our lovely lambs and piglets, less desirable creatures are stirring. These are the insect pests, such as moths, carpet beetles and woodworm, that if left unchecked would quite happily eat our museum and its collections!

This week the volunteer conservation team were introduced to the enemy. In the natural world these insects perform an essential task, but in the confines of our historic houses, or anyone's home in fact, they can cause untold damage especially to items made from wool, fur, feathers, leather, paper and wood.

We have decided to go for a two-pronged attack. The first is to re-introduce traditional deterrent methods. Last year we worked with the gardening team collecting and drying a range of aromatic plants such as Tansy, Wormwood, Rue, Rosemary and Lavender traditionally used to deter insects. From the selection grown in our gardens we have created the extremely potent St Fagans blend.

Now we are devising ways to deploy our deterrent in sufficient quantities that might have an effect. For this we found tights ideal for the task! Yes, that's correct, tights. These are especially useful for items of clothes hung up on display, they enable us to place the aromatic plants in the more inaccessible areas of a garment, such as down sleeves!

The second method of attack is of course good old fashioned housekeeping. Spring is the time to open up the house after a long winter and give everything a good clean, or in our case a good beating.