Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Soft Furnishings Project - Old Government House

Fabric Samples Thistle design for Drawingroom sofas

The Quilt Study Group of NSW visited Old Government House Parramatta on 10th October 2009. Fourteen members of the Quilters' Guild of NSW Inc. visited Old Government House for the last event of the year organised by the Quilt Study Group of NSW. The building, which is home to one of the finest collections of early colonial furniture in Australia, has curtains, braids, bed hangings, mats and othersoft furnishings that were made by hand for the rooms on the ground floor of the house. Because of the expense of sourcing the soft furnishings from commercial sources, the National Trust of NSW decided to call for volunteers to make them instead. Thus was the five year long Soft Furnishings Project created. There are 20 or so volunteers who form the main team of the Project. They worked under the guidance of Dr James Broadbent, who sourced the fabrics, and Elizabeth Wright who worked on the designs. Some had existing skills but many developed new skills for the tasks at hand. These included painting on velvet, spinning cords for bell pulls, and the painstaking work of binding silk thread over vellum strips to form tassels. Rug making and upholstery skills were also required. The tassels and fringes, which would have cost thousands of dollars if purchased from European workshops, were all made by hand by the volunteers. After a very informative guided tour of the house four of the Soft Furnishings Project volunteers kindly took us back to the rooms where their work was exhibited and explained exactly how they had created the items. Back in the Soft Furnishings Project work room we were allowed to touch the items, and the ladies demonstrated how they had created these amazing braids, curtains, mats etc. Thelma, Sue, Nerida and Fran were all veryhelpful and informative in sharing their knowledge and experience with us. If you want to see the house and visit the Soft Furnishings Project room to look at their exhibits and source references, the volunteers for the Soft Furnishing Project are at Old Government House on Wednesdays between 10 - 2 pm.
Phone 02 96358149 to confirm the project volunteers will be there before visiting.

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