February 19, 2014


Carole and her sheep, still from Winter Nomads*

Ever since I seen the wonderful documentary "Winter Nomads" I'm stressed out. The clear choices made by the sheepherders in the movie made me realize I have still so much choices to make.
In a slow pace the two totally different characters lead their herd through a landscape covered with snow. I was first sooo relaxed after seeing it, but that changed rapidly.
I have many balls in the air at the moment and it's always scary if you catch them or if they just fall to the floor with a disappointing 'plof'. I was waiting for many conformations and in the process you lose time. Time I should spend on blogging or reading that big pile of books waiting to be read. Instead I gather more things to blog about! The great and strange thing about that is that they somehow start to overlap.

It started in December. Me and Koen went to the exhibition 'Suspended Histories' at Museum van Loon in Amsterdam. The museum is named after the Van Loon family, the last residents of the house and founders of the museum. The family originates from the town of Loon op Zand, near the city of ’s Hertogenbosch in the south of the Netherlands. In the 17th century, they moved to Amsterdam, and from then on were involved in commerce and city governance, like other leading families in the Golden Age. In 1602 Willem van Loon was a founding member of the V.O.C., the Dutch East India Company, and his grandson was the first Van Loon to become mayor of Amsterdam. The Van Loons were raised to the peerage in the 19th century. The canal house, in which the Museum is located, came into possession of the family in 1884, when the Honourable Hendrik van Loon purchased it for his son Willem as a wedding present.**
The exhibition tried to tell the tale of role the Van Loon's had in the VOC. Apparently there is almost no virtual historical material, so they asked eleven artists to reflect on the VOC past of the Van Loon family. The exhibition tried to make a point, but with all the wealth filling the halls in the canal house, it was difficult to see it.
On internet I saw that a few rooms were covered wall to wall with bold patterns. One room was called the sheep room ("Schaapjeskamer"). Oehh sheep are my favorite animals! But where were they, I only saw a tree pattern on the wall.
To my surprise the sheep were laying cozy under the tree, one sheep was even feeding her lamb. Why on earth would you put this on your wall? I would, but for these people it's like MTV Cribs. It's not what you like, it's what shows your wealth the best. Maybe the sheep are associated with sleep, although in another room a huntress is killing exotic animals in a stylish blue and there was a bed as well...
Maybe it's not the sheep it's their wool. It was one of the things the VOC traded in.

Photo of the Sheep room from Museum van Loon website**

In the eighteenth century, the Dutch textile industry flourished. Many wool factories increased their production and made thousands of woolen blankets. 
One of this factories was the AaBe woollen mill in Tilburg. The company was founded in 1929 by Adolf van den Bergh. AaBe was highly successful, even through the financial crisis of the 1930s. After the Second World War, the company grew to become the largest blanket manufacturer in the country, with almost 1500 employees. In addition to blankets, AaBe also produced clothing and uniforms. However, by the end of the 1960s, things were looking less rosy. Reorganizations, (unsuccessful) restructuring and job losses followed. In 1978, a much-diminished Aabe set up a successful branch specialized in producing fire-retardant fabric for the airline industry. The blankets too remain a fixture. In 1996 after filing for bankruptcy, the company starts afresh at a new location, and under a new name: AaBe Textiles. Then, only eight years later, the company is forced to close its doors. The 38 employees are made redundant.
The name lives on in the trade organisation AaBe Textiles Trading, which still flourishes in developing quality woollen blankets.***
In the TextielMuseum in Tilburg they made a very nice exhibition about AaBe (till 16 march). They give a nice insight of why AaBe was so successful. The marketing plans, nice designs and happy workers makes you wonder were it went wrong. The exhibition really fits well with our longing for the back in the day-homemade-handmade kinda feel we are looking for today.  

AaBe blanket with Art Nouveau design

AaBe label on retro blanket

"Styles your identity...indentifies your style", brilliant!

A Golden sheep pendant for free with the Golden Curtain Collection

Original photo made in Finland on which the AaBe label was based on

Stained glass window from the factory

"Working together gives you joy and achieves a product to be proud of"

Same as the clock, but with reindeer

What also fits perfectly with our "It use to be so much hipper"-feel, are the coats by Wintervacht. It's therefore very nice that these lovely coats were represented at the exhibition. 
In October last year a Facebook friend of mine shared a campaign by Wintervacht. If you liked and shared, you could win one of their lovely coats. The coats are handmade out of AaBe blankets. Every coat is therefore unique. Next to coats they also made very cute mittens. It wasn't really a cold winter, otherwise I'm sure I would have tried to save for my own sheep to wear.****

Coat by Wintervacht at the TextielMuseum

Campaign by Wintervacht at the old AaBe factory in Tilburg****

Campaign by Wintervacht at the old AaBe factory in Tilburg****

The mittens! ****

To end this post More Wool! Not from a sheep, but from a rabbit. We all saw the horrible images on how Angora wool was gathered on Facebook and in the media. That this can be done differently, shows the great clip made by Kimberly Buchy starring Furby the Angora rabbit. The video is featured in the Future room of the new, very nicely furnished exhibition "Living Spaces" at the TextielMuseum (till 11 May). The exhibition gives an overview of a hundred years of textiles in Dutch interiors. If you go, make sure to watch the great video in the 1950-1960 Goed Wonen room! For now enjoy the happy Angora rabbit!

* Winter Nomads, a film by Manuel von Sturler, www.hivernomade.ch
** Information from website Museum van Loon, www.museumvanloon.nl
*** Information from website TextielMuseum, www.textielmuseum.nl
**** More about Wintervacht on www.wintervachtjas.nl