Friday, September 12, 2014

Flashback Friday: Portieres

In October 1907, The Ladies Home Journal featured the article "Artistic Designs for Portieres: Which May be Made by the Clever Woman with Needle, Thread and Brush."
A more conventional and usual idea is shown on the left, but it is one capable of very beautiful development if artistically treated. Almost any upholstery fabric could be used for the background, but, of course, it should be plain, and not figured. The dragon-motif may be cut and mounted in applique style, and would be most effective if cut from gold satin. The color of the background fabric must in that case be a dull or quiet one, to give the most artistic effect. (Volume XXIC, Number 11, p49) 

The only copyright free
picture of a portiere I could find.
Wrong period. We'll live.
Of course the first question I had is what the hell is a portiere? A portiere is a fabric hanging used in a doorway in place of a door, or indeed in addition to a door depending on whether the goal was to stop drafts or to act as a door. They were first used in Asia and made their way to Europe where they were in use by the fourth century. They were quite common in the Victorian period, so the colonies were a little behind here.

And the next is brush? I've read the whole damn article twice, and they don't once mention using a brush. My wild guess is that it would be something used to raise the nap on the project, but I cannot find any reference to nap raising. I guess you have to be a much more clever woman than I.

Other titles in this magazine include "The Chronicles of a Queer Girl," "A Stranger in the Church: The Experience of a Young Woman in One Hundred and Fifty Churches," and "How Children are Made Drunkards." You might think the later is one of those damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't articles that are so popular today whose primary purpose seems to be making all mothers feel bad about themselves in one way or another. No, this is a straight-up warning against using "harmless" "over-the-counter" medicines for children that contained opium and other things that require a prescription these days*. The arbitor of taste turns her attention to hall racks this month. Her advice seems to be the same: plainer is better.

*Except in Oregon or Colorado.


Beth said...

Don't forget Washington state!

Jo who can't think of a clever nickname said...

Now I do feel old! I may not have heard the word portiere before but I have always had a door curtain and a rising curtain rail too! Have you heard of one of those?
An ingenious device whereby the curtain rail lifts up as you open the door so the curtain doesn't drag on the floor or get caught in the door!
My old house was Victorian and the door opened straight into the living room so a door curtain was essential.
Now we have one because the door isn't a double glazed one and the wind whistles down the lane we live at the bottom of. I'm sure there is some Feng Shui reason why it's not a good spot! The curtain is red though so maybe that helps.
When I was a baby gripe water was allegedly alcoholic and we all had that. Hic.
Off to check my hall rack, it's invisible under the coats!

C in DC said...

Add DC to your list, too.

Margaret said...

Very interesting! I'm glad I'm not the only one who didn't know what a portiere is. lol!

Brenda A said...

My parents actually have portieres in their house! The house I grew up in was built in 1880 and my parents restored it to look just like it did when it was built. It's in an empire Victorian style, with one of those fun mansard roofs. Anyways, they have 3 sets of portieres! I know way too much about old houses and such from them! :)

Alice said...

I always get a kick out of old magazines and cookbooks are pretty amusing too.
When we lived in Doha, we bought a Hatchloo carpet. Apparently the Bedouin would hang them in front of their tent entrances to keep out sand and wind.