Trimmings

Trimmings are known by names which vary by country, shape, function, scale and materials type. However, they are best described simply as: flat tapes and braids; cords, including piping and welts; fringes; tassels (parts known as mold and skirt); tufts, including buttons and rosettes; metal trims (includes decorative nails, mouldings, bosses).

Materials and techniques found in trimmings are diverse and may be used singly or in combination (Figure 3-7). Lustrous threads may be worked over metal wire, wood moulds or skin bases. Metal threads, glass beads and gelatine sequins may be included. Top covering materials may be worked around lead mouldings with integral nails bent to shape and tapped into position (Todd, 1993). Top covering materials may also be used over cord to form piping or welting. Button moulds may be covered in the same way.

Techniques employed include weaving, braiding, needle lace, bobbin lace, crochet, knotting, knitting and embroidery, including appliqué and cut work. Since ancient times textile trimmings and metal fasteners have been used for decorative effect on furniture. Trimmings were at the height of opulent development in the seventeenth century, particularly in France where they are called passementerie. These very elaborate and costly trimmings often completely concealed the furniture framework. The perfected hand-executed techniques of the seventeenth century have been copied in the following centuries but the huge costs of intensive labour required in hand fin ishing these items has led to subsequent designs being simplified. In the eighteenth century, tastes were simpler and flat braids and dome headed nails predominated to compliment elaborately carved furniture or the clean lines of neo-classical furnishing. In the nineteenth century, industrial developments made elaborate textile trimmings widely available as some processes were mechanized. The resulting loss of status of elaborate trims led to a decline in their popularity.

Trimmings have evolved partly for practical reasons, for example a fringe formed of knotted off warps which prevents a textile from unravelling. Trimmings have been used to conceal details of construction such as seams, raw edges, and tack lines; to hold back curtains or hangings; to secure loose fillings in buttoned or tufted seats, cushions or mattresses; and as fastenings joining one piece to another such as corners of valances or table covers. Trimmings may be attached to furniture by adhesives, stitching, or with metal fasteners.

Trimmings are also used to accentuate the lines of furniture or room hangings. Cord or decorative nails may be used to draw the eye or simply to embellish and enrich appearance. In the seventeenth century, nails were often of several sizes and might be clustered to decorative effect. In the eighteenth century close nailing was used in multiple or shaped lines within the depth of a rail.

For further information on trimmings see Clabburn (1990), Cooke (1987), Fowler and Cornforth (1986), Huette (1972), Musée des Arts Décoratifs (1973).

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Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

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