Monday, September 19, 2016

Red Tape

As we all know, Little Jackie Paper gave Puff strings and sealing wax. We covered sealing wax in a previous blog. Now let's look at strings.  

As we process the Bemis papers, we have found a variety of strings used to bind papers together so they would fit in pigeonholes in historic desks. 

If we look carefully at the “red tape” used to bind some of the papers, we can see how they were made. The sheen of the material suggests it is linen made from the fibers of the flax plant. The threads have been dyed various shades of color before being woven. 

To understand how the tape was woven we can turn to the portrait of Mr and Mrs Thomas Mifflin (Sarah Morris) by John Singleton Copley. 1773 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

A detail of the painting shows a “tape loom” of the period. You can see the “shed” created with the shuttle that allows a “weft” or thread passed back and forth to form the tape.

The magic of digital scanning allows us to click on the photo and enlarge the image to the point where you can actually see way the fabric was woven and the "selvedge" and "Z" twist of the thread.

Here you can see the string on the other hand is an "S" twist.

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