Textile Reproductions, our family operated, home-based business founded in 1982, is currently located in Montague, Massachusetts. Over the past 30+ years, we have supplied materials and finished (woven, stitched, embroidered) goods to a demanding and ever changing group of people who trust in our knowledge of textile goods and their historical context.
If you have an upcoming project that requires our expertise with period techniques and a keen eye for creating historically accurate copies of antique textiles, please don't hesitate to contact us. Even if we can't help you, we may know who can. We have accumulated a vast store of interesting materials for our own work. If you don't see something you need -- contact us. In addition to made-to-order reproductions, we offer a variety of historically accurate materials to museums, dealers, and other trades' people who reproduce or restore period furnishings. By looking around our web site you can begin to see what kinds of work we have done in the past and what our current projects are. The Custom Work Archives are full of photos that will give you an idea of our capabilities and the Gallery displays additional work -- some of which we have on hand and available for purchase.
Textile Reproductions History
For many years, we operated as a company providing historically accurate materials for reproducing textiles from specific historical periods. While we have always offered a variety of manufactured materials carefully selected for their suitability for our customers' needs, transforming materials with plant-based dyes has been the area in which we have particularly specialized. Our customers have been an interesting assortment of museum professionals, antique dealers, historical re-enactors, movie makers, professional & hobbyist needle workers, the list goes on and on...
Because of our attachment to working at home, we decided to control the growth of our business and in 1997 regretfully discontinued nearly every aspect of our retail mail order catalog operations. Since then we have continued to make finished reproduction textiles, some on a custom basis and others according to our own interest. Rather than a store, we maintain more of a storeroom, containing what we need (or might someday need) for our work. Much of that is available for purchase, but it is not always possible to list every last item in the online catalog. Call or write to discuss your project.
Statement of Approach
In situations where we are responsible for replacing "worn out" textiles with new ones, we assume that the fewest changes necessary are what are desired. It matters little what is being copied. A seventeenth century scissors' case and mid-20th century window treatments both serve as representatives of their owners' social standing, as well as relating to the overall character of their setting.
Textiles that reflect the taste of the times and that of their owners are significant in terms of their overall style. The quality of materials and details of ornamentation used to make them are important facts that must not be overlooked. It is rarely possible to gather materials that are identical to those from another time period. Textiles are particularly susceptible to changes in fashion and advances in technology. Our approach to replacement projects is to systematically search for:
- exact replacement materials, if they are available.
- similar materials, within a context of priority (i.e., color, fiber, appearance, or other criteria) determined by our client.
- materials which represent period options, and therefore, maintain a style relationship within a room or house, but result in a product decidedly less than a "copy" of what must be replaced.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the role of creativity in making textile reproductions?
It may seem odd to suggest that we, who reproduce old textiles, would consider our work an exercise in creativity. Aren't we just supposed to COPY what is there and leave our own modern viewpoint as completely out of our work as we can? Isn't our biggest challenge to resist "improving" period textile documents? The answers to these questions depend on what you want to achieve.
Are your reproduction textiles exact copies of antiques?
When we are called upon to "copy" a specific artifact, it is frequently in poor condition. Our clients usually want what we make for them to look better and be more durable than the fragile item it represents. At the same time, they still want it to look old. Many times they want it to be functional, i.e., be suitable for them to sit or walk upon, sleep in, or otherwise put into daily use. Satisfying these requirements requires imagination and resourcefulness, as well as experience concerning the strengths and limitations of different fibers, dye methods & stitching techniques.
How do you decide what materials are suitable for reproduction work?
One of our primary loyalties is to using materials as much like those found in the original as possible; a close second is the use of vegetable color. Using materials similar to those used during the past serves both the cause of durability and of looking old.
Finding modern materials to use in historical reproductions requires a keen eye and often a "sixth sense" concerning fiber texture. The length, fineness (or lack thereof) and degree of processing to which fibers have been subjected all affect the appearance of finished work. Detailed examination of period textiles provide a reference for the kinds of threads & ground fabrics that were used for specific projects.
Do you always use hand-spun thread in your reproductions of early textiles?
The surprising answer is that we almost never do. During the 18th century, a period in which we specialize, most spinning was done by hand. Even so, those who spun all the thread needed at that time, had so much practice that it tended to be MORE uniform than the modern machine spun equivalents we find when we go looking for materials.
Who built your excellent website?
Common Media a web development and consulting agency co-founded by our son Noah.