Jacquard weaving in the House of Silk Culture in Krefeld – intercontact local (part 3)

Jacquard fabrics in the House of Silk Culture, Krefeld


The House of silk culture is an old parament-weaving mill in Krefeld. It's long become an industrial monument where you can still find jacquard machines from the past.

What exactly are paraments? They’re liturgical altar images and liturgical vestments such as vesper copes and dalmatica. Marian Verstraaten, team lead and German–Dutch translator at intercontact translations dove into the history of Krefeld paraments by paying a visit to the House of Silk Culture.

12 facts about Krefeld and parament weaving. Did you know that ...

• ... Hubert Gotzes was a major manufacturer of paraments, parament fabrics and flags in Krefeld? In 1908, he purchased the weaving mill on Luisenstraße 15 in Krefeld from silk manufacturer Gottfried Diepers, who had it built already in 1868. It’s a good example of a typical weaving mill with its four windows per floor and an approximately 25-metre long annex. Most buildings in Krefeld at that time were not nearly as wide. The wider the façade on a street front was, the more taxes you had to pay. The building has two entrances: one entrance on the right for higher-end customers and one on the left for suppliers, so that they could have easy access to the weaving room. Each priest garb manufactured by Gotzes was unique and was woven and sewn by hand. No doubt a meticulous, time- and labour-intensive undertaking!

• ... Hubert Gotzes Junior made his way to the US in 1914 to establish a sister company in Chicago? An endeavour that proved to be fruitful. The fabrics were imported from Krefeld and the paraments were manufactured in the US. The Gotzes family business would soon become known for its high-quality fabrics.

• ... the Krefeld parament weaving mill was made famous in 1926 during the Eucharistic world congress in Chicago? It was raining like cats and dogs and the colours of the parament fabrics bled... But not on the fabrics from Krefeld! This was, of course, good advertising for parament weaving in Krefeld.

• ... there were approximately 25 parament weaving mills in Krefeld by 1914? Towards the second half of the 19th century, there were all-in-all about 300 weaving mills in the velvet and silk town.

• ... there are still 8 functioning wooden looms in the House of Silk Culture? Albeit, only one of the looms has 2 shafts. This loom is used for flat weaving or taffeta weaving. Back then, these were the types of looms that weavers would have in their homes. The other 7 looms found in the museum are jacquard looms. One of these looms was used for making smaller fabrics. Gold-coloured yarn was often used for small fabrics. This textile is actually refined with paper. This involves damping the paper in gold (gold dye). This type of yarn is, of course, not suitable for machine washing. Another option is spinning fine threads out of real gold. These are then combined with textile threads.

• ... a silk worm eats mulberry leaves for a duration of 30 days before it starts spinning a cocoon? This cocoon is incidentally made of silk yarn. For those translating in the field of textiles and fashion, mulberry silk is certainly nothing new. But it’s interesting to see where the name came from!

• ... Joseph-Marie Jacquard invented the jacquard loom in 1805? The jacquard machine is a loom that works with punch cards and that can be used for weaving large patterns. The punch card contains half of the pattern. The motif was reflected. And that’s how a full pattern emerged. The paradise motif is a familiar jacquard pattern. The introduction of the jacquard machine unfortunately meant the loss of many jobs.Silk tie, Krefeld

• ... various people were involved in the process of making a punch card? First, the pattern maker drew the motif on paper. To do so, he often used water colours. Then came the patroneur. He converted the design into a technical drawing so that you could see where on the top the shot was located. The card puncher then punched holes into the card. Later, the sketches were mainly created digitally. If you wanted a different jacquard motif, you had to also change the punch card.

• ... after Hubert Gotzes’ death, the parament weaving mill on Luisenstraße went to his son Matthias Gotzes? Matthias was the proprietor of the mill from 1931 to 1934. When he died, his widowed wife, Henriette Gotzes, took over control of the parament weaving mill.

• ... Erwin Maus was the last owner of the parament weaving mill? Erwin was the nephew of Henriette Gotzes. He was adopted by Henriette Gotzes after the death of her husband, Matthias Gotzes. She taught him everything there was to know about parament weaving from a small age. Erwin Maus inherited the parament weaving mill after the death of Henriette Gotzes in 1969. From that point on, Erwin’s wife Helga Maus was responsible for running the mill. In 1992, Erwin Maus shut down the mill for good. One year later, the Stiftung Haus der Seidenkultur Paramentenweberei Hubert Gotzes e.V. (The Honorary House of Silk Culture Hubert Gotzes Parament Weaving Mill Foundation) was founded.

• ... beginning in the early 60s, priests were no longer allowed to stand with their backs facing the people? This was decided in 1965 by the Second Vatican Council. This signified the immediate decline of parament weaving in Krefeld. The priest garbs became more minimalistic and less opulent, which meant that there was less need for elaborate stitching and the smaller looms featured a wider construction. Erwin Maus manufactured somewhat more modest priest garbs and travelled to different personages in Germany with his so-called Maus-mobile and his collection of paraments. The Maus-mobile was actually a mobile store. It housed the collection, which you were able to view from the centre of the vehicle.

• ... Krefeld and Lyon were important cities for the silk industry? Krefeld under no circumstances stood in Lyon’s shadow. On the contrary! This velvet and silk town was also quite well-known for the manufacturing of ties. Unfortunately however, there are still only a few tie makers in Krefeld with their own production facilities.

Marian Verstraaten: “As a translator in the field of fashion and textiles, I found it very fascinating to have discovered such a special place as this in Krefeld. Intercontact translations is headquarted in the velvet and silk city of Krefeld, something the intercontact team is very proud of. The Krefeld House of Silk Culture has given its visitors a glimpse into the rich history of Krefeld. As already mentioned in the second part of this series of blogs, the VerSeidAG was founded in Krefeld in 1920. I learned that today, high-tech textiles are manufactured in the House of Silk Culture. With our translations for the fashion and textile industry, we’re ensuring that the very thread of textile history in Krefeld does not go lost.”