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Furnishing fabric - Haemoglobin 8.26

Haemoglobin 8.26

  • Object:

    Furnishing fabric

  • Place of origin:

    Nottingham (manufactured)

  • Date:

    1951-1959 (manufactured)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Webster, H. (designer)
    A.C. Gill (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Machine-embroidered cotton lace

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Council of Industrial Design

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The Festival of Britain held in 1951 provided new opportunities for textile design and manufacture. Two very distinct types of pattern emerged at this event: one was inspired by scientific, crystal-structure diagrams drawn to record arrangements of atoms in matter; the other based on abstract forms and organic shape, the so-called 'Contemporary' style. This design derived from the crystallography model Haemoglobin 8.26, provided by the crystallographer Max Perutz, and was manufactured from 1951 onwards, being available still in 1959. It was probably intended for use as lace curtaining.

The Festival Pattern Group was the brainchild of Mark Harland Thomas of the Council of Industrial Design. He built on the idea first put forward in 1946 by crystallographer Dr Helen Megaw that the patterns made available by X-ray crystallography were particularly appropriate for textile design because of their repetitive symmetry and natural beauty. In 1949 he brought together the group of manufacturers who produced textiles, china, carpets, linoleum and wallpaper decorated with these patterns for the Festival. The project combined science and design and was perfect for the theme of the festival, which was to be a platform for British achievement in science, technology and the arts.

Physical description

Furnishing fabric of machine-embroidered cotton lace. With a design based on a crystal structure diagram of haemoglobin.

Place of Origin

Nottingham (manufactured)


1951-1959 (manufactured)


Webster, H. (designer)
A.C. Gill (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Machine-embroidered cotton lace


Height: 25.5 cm, Width: 28 cm

Object history note

Machine-embroidered cotton lace; 1951-9; British; manufactured by A.C.Gill of Nottingham (of Festival Pattern Group) to design by H. Webster; crystallographer Max Perutz; Haemoglobin 8.26; Festival of Britain (trademark Witchcraft Laces).

Historical context note

X-ray crystallography involved projecting a narrow beam of X-rays on to crystalline material. Photographs were then taken of the diffracted X-rays, and the resulting lines or spots were used to plot 'maps' indicating the relationships between atoms. For the first time ever it enabled scientist to work out the structure of atoms within molecules. Britain was a world leader in the field of crystallography and during the post war period this was one of the most significant and stimulating branches of science.

Descriptive line

Furnishing fabric 'Haemoglobin 8.26' of machine-embroidered cotton lace, designed by H. Webster, made by A.C. Gill, Nottingham, 1951-1959

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Lesley Jackson. From atoms to patterns. Crystal structure designs from the 1951 Festival of Britain (London, 2007), p. 63.






Textiles; Interiors; Lace; Embroidery

Production Type

Mass produced


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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