Anne Blinks Textile Study Collection

Sprang and Bronze Age Replicas

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Sprang is best known as an ancient Scandinavian technique, a type of plaiting with both ends tensioned, creating mirrored structures between upper and lower halves of the cloth. There is necessarily a horizontal finishing ridge in the center. Often this is the clue to identifying sprang as the technique in historical and archaeological cloths.

Anne may have seen Sprang pieces in the museums in Stockholm in 1949 the year she first learned to weave. And she would have encountered it again in Cambridge in 1958-59 when she was looking at the Anglo-Saxon textiles. There are some "replicas" of ancient type sprang in our Collection. In addition we have included a replica of the Danish Bronze Age string skirt [which is not Sprang] because it belongs with these pieces in history. Anne's library included Margarethe Hald's Olddansk Textiler which describes the sprang hair nets and the string skirt. There is also a small monograph by Audrey Henshall about sprang Anglo-Saxon stockings. Anne gave guild programs demonstrating the use of tablet woven bands as the starting edge for the warp of the Bronze age sprang bonnets, as well as for the blankets and clothes to be woven on the warp weighted looms.

When Anne began to study the Bronze Age period textiles, she did not find woolen yarn that was suitable for the replicas, which required dark brown wool. She began to look for such wool, visiting the Faro Islands on a return trip from England. She learned a great deal about raising black sheep on that visit and when she arrived home, set out to begin breeding black sheep on her ranch in Carmel, CA. Black had been bred out in order to better dye the wool. Anne needed to reintroduce the black genes. She succeeded in this and the replicas in this part of the collection are made from wool from her flocks.

In addition to the copies of ancient Scandinavian Sprang pieces, Anne played with the structure extensively and we have in the collection several large Mobius shaped spranged textiles -- One is shown here. There are also other tubular-warped pieces; a 3-dimensional hanging, with layers interchanged; sprang belts; a scarf; a double-layered, intertwined piece; samples that pursue S and Z (\ and /) plaitings to create pattern, one with holes for a lace pattern; and samples of color play.

Sprang, plaited S and Z patterns; warp shown horizontally

While Sprang is often considered to be of Scandinavian origin, the technique appears in many other parts of the world -- In Anne's papers, there is documentation of it in India, Egypt, and the Americas. In North America the Hopi Wedding Sash is an example (Anne made a beautiful replica in handspun cotton, and a sample in progress is in this Collection); in South America, hammocks and bags are found today, and in ancient textiles, particularly from Nasca, Peru, there are many examples. An influence on Anne's Sprang studies may have been Mary Elizabeth King at the Textile Museum, who did some studies on Andean Sprang for her dissertation (1965). Anne had pretty much completed her pursuits of Sprang before she met Mary Frame, who has replicated many extremely complicated Nasca "sprang" textiles. They became fast friends; hence Anne was kept abreast of Mary's continued discoveries and theories about this technique in the Andes.

Sprang, plaited on a Mobius shaped warp!

Sprang in progress; note reserved
shed sticks

Sprang replica of a Danish Iron Age hair net; wool raised, spun and plaited
by Bill Dyer

Since posting this webpage on sprang, Galina Gorjainova, who lives in St. Petersberg has responded, telling us of widespread use of sprang technique in the Ukrain and Byelorusia. "Ukrainians wore wide red sprang belts as a part of national cloth, and Byelorussian women wore sprang hairnets decorated with rich sprang ornament. I have replicated such nets. In Russian this technique is called 'weaving on the wall'. The Paraskeva School in St. Petersberg teaches the old techniques and encourages its students to use them in their modern textiles.

If you have any information/stories of Anne's studies of sprang, please send them to us.

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