Friday, June 8, 2012

Real Fábrica de Tapices

Guess what I finally did to day?
I have been trying to go to the Museo de Real Fábrica de Tapices for over a year now. It is one of the things that made me excited to come to Madrid. This museum has very limited hours (10-2 M-F) and they are not open the month of August so it is sometimes hard to find the time to go. They only allow guided tours on the half hour, so you also run the risk of showing up and having all of the tours sold out. Luck was with us this morning as we arrived just 15 minutes before the tour started, and there was only one other person on the tour besides DH and I.
You walk in on a hand-knotted merino wool rug.

First let me say the tour was in fast Spanish, and I understood about 85-90% of it. (Does a little happy dance.) Which means that I got the more than the gist of it. I understand that their are tours in English as well.

I so wish that I could have taken photos, it was small but amazing! This is a working Museum, which means they actually are making hand knotted rugs and complicated tapestries as you go through the tour. They are making these using traditional techniques and traditional tools. The loom structures are at least 100 years old! That are so massive that the top tensioning bar is a de-barked and painted tree trunk!

These colors are truer, and you can see the initials of the creator of the design.
They founded this museum in the late 15th century in order to ensure that the art of making the rugs and tapestries were not lost.

OK The type of rugs they make are hand-knotted rugs. I found this video that kind of explains/shows how to make the hand knotted rugs in English. The wool that they use is Merino (of course,Spanish Merino) and spun and dyed in Toledo (that was not part of the tour, I just had to know the breed of the sheep and where it was processed). The sheer amount of yarn that they had would put any yarn store to shame. You have to go to the website I linked to about (first link) to click through to the photos. you can navigate the site in English. They have the biggest bobbin winder ever!

So the Tapestries (and the need for the bobbins) are made after "cartoons" like this Goya cartoon. Here is a link to more information on that.

The sheer time, six months for a square meter is just astounding. The tapestry we saw them working on was destined for Chicago.

This museum s a must see for Madrid, even of you are now as into fiber-arts as I am.


  1. Oh, very cool! What a fun day. --elizaduckie

  2. That sounds like such an interesting tour. I will definitely put that on my list of sights to see when I am in Madrid.