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Flossy silk at Hardwick Hall

July 11, 2015

Recently our students have been working with silk floss. I was intrigued to see this blog post about flossy silk used on 17th C embroideries from Hardwick Hall – one of my very favorite National Trust properties. Nowadays the term silk floss often has different connotations – depending on who is making or selling it. The term floss in N. America has also come to mean cotton threads that are divisible. Read the comments on this blog too as Will Chandler gives us a good explanation of the words flossy silk. Flossy silk or silk floss? The word floss has surely changed from country to country and thru the centuries. Here’s another word to ponder on – dental floss.

Treasure Hunt

Detail of the flossy silk hangings in the Cut-Velvet Dressing Room at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel Detail of the flossy silk hangings in the Cut-Velvet Dressing Room at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

One of the meanings of the word ‘floss’ is fine silk in spun strands not twisted together. I was looking this up because apparently the hangings in the Cut-Velvet Dressing Room at Hardwick Hall are made of ‘flossy silk’ – and they look rather good.

The Cut-Velvet Dressing Room. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel The Cut-Velvet Dressing Room. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Another meaning of ‘flossy’ is ‘showy or overdressed’. I suppose these hangings are quite showy, but in the context of Hardwick, which was all about show when it was built in the late sixteenth century, they don’t look out of place.

In fact much in this room, including the silk hangings, dates from the late seventeenth century, when the 1st Duke of Devonshire created two new apartments on the first floor at Hardwick, one for his wife…

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 11, 2015 3:06 pm

    Thanks Gail and also for encouraging the reading of Will’s comment – very good explanation.

  2. Ann Darling permalink
    July 12, 2015 11:23 pm

    Anyone interested in textiles should add Hardwick Hall to their list of must see. I spent an entire day there in April … and it wasn’t nearly enough time! If you should go this year know that the focus is Arbella and “many of the usual (textile) things are away” was how one of the docents put it. It was still a fabulous day.

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