Reproduction Watch Steel Crinoline Cage 2001
Based on the Thompson crinoline cage of the late 1850s to mid 1860s (10f in Dressing Rooms Gallery). This reproduction was made by Peter Fletcher, at home on an entirely voluntary basis. He had recently retired as an environmental engineer, and wanted a little extra challenge. It was destined for educational use within the Costume & Textiles Collections at Maidstone Museum.
The red tapes were constructed from home dyed cotton twill furnishing material. This was cut into strips and oversewn to give the approximate weight of the original Victorian tapes as a similar tape was impossible to find. The original red webbing covered steels did have a contemporary equivalent (though white) and was sourced from MacCulloch and Wallis. Fixing the steel to the tape in the Victorian period was done by a patented rivet and clamp (no longer available). At first the steels were drilled with a domestic drill and pop riveting the tape, but this proved too dangerously hit and miss, so the majority were fixed using tape sleeves machined in place.
It took over 50 hours to make and used 25 metres of steel tape, with over 115 fixings to the tape.
The finishing touches to the crinoline cage (black border trim and covering the waistband and back support) were done in the Museum, just before the gallery opening day, by Karen Organ, our temporary Dressing Rooms assistant at the time.