Symposium 2016

The New England Flax and Linen Study Group, in collaboration with Historic Deerfield is pleased to announce:

Flax & Linen: Following the Thread from Past to Present
Saturday & Sunday, August 20th-21st, 2016

gina-gerhard-flaxmaking_2008nov08_0012_webFlax is a textile fiber with a 30,000-year history of human use. Its versatility and utility earned the moniker Linum usitatissimum, the “most useful” fiber. The ancient history of this amazing fiber will be brought into the present and followed into the future during this two-day symposium hosted at Historic Deerfield.

Unlike most symposiums with speakers presenting papers, this will follow a different format – shorter sessions and demonstrations covering all aspects of flax from beginning to end – with additional lectures on specific topics. Highlights will be our keynote speakers on Saturday evening and a curated tour of Historic Deerfield’s textile collections to end the program.

The symposium will be of interest to:

  • Growers of flax crops, beginners and experienced
  • Weavers and spinners who work with linen
  • Museum curators and educators with flax interpretive programs
  • Costumers, reenactors, and fabric enthusiasts
  • Antique dealers, collectors of flax tools and linen textiles
  • Bioregionalist producers, local cloth or Fibershed initiatives
  • Textile and design students interested in this versatile bast fiber
  • Historic Deerfield members and others to learn more about linens in the Helen Geier Flynt textile collection
  • Anyone curious about the entire process – from flax seed to linen cloth

The scope of the weekend will be broad, but will be limited to North America. Our intention is to illuminate all the steps in the process of flax and linen production, from seed to cloth. More time would be needed to delve into the specifics of the different tradition of European immigrants, so our approach is necessarily more general.

On Saturday August 20th the focus will be growing and processing flax, including demonstrations of flax processing tools and presentations from some local cloth projects. On Saturday evening, Johannes and Christian Zinzendorf (authors of the Big Book of Flax) will share their original research on the communal nature of flax processing in colonial Bethlehem, PA.

On Sunday August 21st, topics will include aspects of spinning and weaving that are unique to linen, and a discussion of some historical textiles including selections from the Flynt Center’s collection at Historic Deerfield.

Click here for the full schedule