I really enjoy the challenge to recreating old textiles, whether it is decoding the pattern of an old piece of weaving or, as in this case, working out how these antique double tassel tie backs were made. The originals were in a very poor state with most of the wooden moulds at best cracked and at worst badly damaged by wood worm. Most of the red silk thread which had been covering the moulds was long gone but it was possible to see the decorative striping.
The first job was to work out the component parts so that new moulds could be created
Then I covered each mould with red thread before the decoration was added
I confess the looped decoration was a new technique to me – but that is the joy of having to recreate something, you have to learn new ways of doing things.
Next came the new ruff and skirt
Then it was time to start reassembling everything. I made a new rope and formed it into the traditional tie back shape but without making a knot in the actual rope since one of the moulds would acting as the “knot”. The rope was simply tied around with linen to stop it slipping once inside the mould and then threaded through the central hole of the mould.
I attached the wires to the rope ready for attaching the moulds. Then it was simply a case of threading each mould onto the wires in the correct order!
Lastly the ruff and skirt. A wooden button fixes the wires in place
This final photo shows the old, extremely shabby, tie back and the new one side by side