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Volume 9, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2040-4689
  • E-ISSN: 2040-4697



As part of a conservation and access project, the author was asked to replicate a set of rare thread-wrapped coat buttons that proved to be of a previously undocumented form. Using knowledge of the technologies of historic textiles and upholstery and extensive experience of image-based documentation, the thread-wrapping of the buttons was reconstructed through a process characterized as ‘learning by doing’. This involved: studying the surviving buttons and button fragments; working with large-scale images of the buttons to analyse possible wrapping sequences; making large-scale models to study the effects of thread-wrapping in practice; and finally, having worked-out (literally and metaphorically) the wrapping techniques, making appropriately sized buttons for a replica of a coat dated circa 1700. This paper demonstrates how knowledge creation (replicating the button-wrapping technique and the thread-wrapped buttons) was achieved by a dialectical process of manual discovery, comparison with published sources, and evaluation and adjustment ‘in the hand’.


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