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‘Art of Dyeing Silk’ Workshop in Amsterdam on 5–6 April

19 May 2018

On 5–6 April, Paula Hohti took part in ‘The art of dyeing silk’ workshop in Amsterdam, organsied by Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands. This two-day workshop concentrated on historical methods of natural dyeing, aiming to give participants a thorough understanding of examining and testing processes of historical recipes. The participants worked with eight different natural red dyes;  brazilwood, madder, safflower, annatto, lac dye, American cochineal and kermes. They were introduced to the history of natural dyes, and presented with methods of analysing and reproducing them. After this, participants got the opportunity to mordant and dye their silks, as well as to build their own reference collections.

Read more about the workshop


Full-time Postdoctoral Research Position Available

9 May 2018

ERC funded Postdoctoral Research Fellow

The position is fixed-term and will be filled for 32 months. The starting date is 1 October 2018, or negotiable.

Job responsibilities

The Postdoctoral Research Fellow will work within the ERC funded research dress history project Refashioning the Renaissance: Popular Groups, Fashion and the Material and Cultural Significance of Clothing in Europe, 1550–1650, led by Professor Paula Hohti (PI). This project studies the meanings and dissemination of western fashion in early modern Europe, especially at the lower social levels, and develops new material-based experimental and scientific research methods in dress history.

The team consists of two postdoctoral researchers, a doctoral researcher, a research assistant and a project administrator, who will collectively work towards the Refashioning the Renaissance project’s research goals. The Postdoctoral Research Fellow’s task is to design and co-ordinate the project’s research on experimental work and textile artefacts, focusing on technical analysis of textiles and reconstruction and visualization of historical source material. The Postdoctoral Research Fellow is also expected to participate in the project’s teaching and training activities, organize workshops, seminars and other events, and publish articles both independently and in collaboration with other team members. The main duties of the Postdoctoral Research Fellow include:

  • To identify and record relevant visual and material evidence in European archives, archaeological collections and museums
  • To plan, co-ordinate and carry out scientific, technical and digital analysis on historical textiles
  • To design methods for historical and digital reconstruction of dress and textiles
  • To create a dataset for the project’s database and publish at least four articles
  • Other assisting work related to the project’s research and training activities


Qualified candidates for the Research Fellow’s position hold a PhD degree in early modern material culture history or in a related field. In addition, the successful candidates should have 

  • Fluent skills in English language
  • Previous experience of, or interest in, historical and digital reconstruction and scientific experimentation
  • Excellent research skills
  • Good communication skills and the ability to work in a team

The Postdoctoral Research Fellow’s position involves several research and training trips in Europe, and approximately 15% of the working time should be spent at the host institute.


Aalto University follows the salary system of Finnish universities. In addition to the monthly salary, the position includes an allowance towards research travel, conferences, training and publication costs.

How to apply

To apply for the position, please submit your application containing

  • Motivation letter (1 page)
  • CV

The applications for the postdoctoral researcher position are to be submitted through the eRecruitment system no later than on 25 May, 2018.

Aalto University reserves the right for justified reasons to leave the position open, to extend the application period and to consider candidates who have not submitted applications during the application period.

For more information

For additional information, please contact Professor Paula Hohti, paula.hohti(at) or in recruitment process related questions HR-coordinator Päivi Niemi paivi.j.niemi(at)



Album Amicorum: Fashion, Friendship and Foreign Travel in Renaissance Europe

Michele Robinson

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, university students – especially those from Germany – often travelled to different institutions throughout Western Europe and documented their experiences in album amicorum, or friendship books. At first, these books were simply filled with mottoes and signatures from students’ friends and important people they met during their studies; overtime, though, the books featured inscriptions paired with images such as coats of arms, emblems and local people from the various cities visited. These images could be drawn by the person writing the inscription, painted by a local artist or taken from a printed book or single leaf, meaning that each album was as unique as its owner.[1]

Coat of arms and emblematic image with inscriptions from the autograph album of Johann Joachim Prack von Asch, 1587-1612. Getty Research Institute Collection, Los Angeles.

Along with revealing fascinating information about the experiences of German students, these books are also, perhaps surprisingly, useful for historians of dress. The representations of people included in the albums typically show men and women from different social classes wearing local dress. And, unlike most contemporary costume books, these representations are in colour, often still vibrant after more than 400 years, and the clothes are perhaps more up-to-date than in costume books, a sort of distant relative to the albums.[2] These books are useful for the Refashioning the Renaissance project not only because they represent dress, but often the dress – and scenes of daily life – of the lower-class inhabitants of Venice and the surrounding area. One of the most common ‘types’ of person from humble social origins depicted in the books is the female peasant from Padua, carrying two baskets of fruit, flowers or fowl over her shoulder.

Peasant woman (fol. 024r) from the Album Amicorum of Jan vander Deck, after 1592. Bodleian Library, Oxford, MS. Rawl. B. 21.

Peasant woman from Padua (fol. 032r), Album Amicorum of Paul van Dale, c.1569-1578. Bodleian Library, Oxford, MS. Douce d. 11.

Although these images come from different albums and neither is an exact replica of how such a woman would have looked or dressed, when we consider them closely and carefully, we can begin to reconstruct what a lower-class woman from Padua or other towns in the Veneto might wear. For instance, both images show the women with their skirts slightly puffed out around the waist, wearing quite long aprons and a garment draped around their shoulders and tucked into the front of their bodices.

Matrona Veneta [Venetian Matron], from Jan Baptist Zangrius, Album amicorum of habitibus mulierum omnium nationum Europae, tum tabulis ac cuneis vacuis in aes incisis adornantur, 1605. Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Estampes et photographie, Paris.

These kinds of representations also help to remind us that working people needed to have clothes that were practical and functional, though this does not preclude them from looking good. Unlike women from wealthy and elite families with floor-length (or longer!) gowns and towering platform shoes, working-class women had to be able to move themselves and perhaps their wares from place to place quickly and efficiently. The bunched-up skirts of Paduan peasant women may have created a distinctive look, but this was also a means of lifting the hem line away from the dust and dirt of the road on the way to market, and probably also prevented tripping on or ripping the garment. Thus, the images in album amicorum give us a sense of what people were wearing and encourages us to think about why they made these choices – both for fashion and function.


[1] For a general overview of the different types of albums and their chronology, see Max Rosenheim, “The Album Amicorum,” Archaeologia 62, no. 1 (1910): 251–308

[2] Margaret F. Rosenthal, “Fashion, Custom, and Culture in Two-Early Modern Illustrated Albums,” in Mores Italiae: Costumi e scene di vita del Rinascimento = Costume and Life in the Renaissance: Yale University, Beinecke Library, MS 457, ed. Maurizio Rippa Bonati and Valeria Finucci (Cittadella (Pd [i.e. Padova]): Biblos, 2007), 79–107.