Textile arts

The textile arts are those arts and crafts that use plant, animal, or synthetic fibers to construct practical or decorative objects.

Textiles have been a fundamental part of human life since the beginning of civilization,Gillow, John, and Bryan Sentance: "World Textiles", p. 10-11] Barber, Elizabeth Wayland: "Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years", p. 42-70] and the methods and materials used to make them have expanded enormously, while the functions of textiles have remained the same. The history of textile arts is also the history of international trade. Tyrian purple dye was an important trade good in the ancient Mediterranean. The Silk Road brought Chinese silk to India, Africa, and Europe. Tastes for imported luxury fabrics led to sumptuary laws during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The industrial revolution was a revolution of textiles technology: the cotton gin, the spinning jenny, and the power loom mechanized production and led to the Luddite rebellion.

Concepts

The word "textile" is from Latin "texere" which means "to weave", "to braid" or "to construct". The simplest textile art is felting, in which animal fibers are matted together using heat and moisture. Most textile arts begin with twisting or spinning and plying fibers to make yarn (called "thread" when it is very fine and "rope" when it is very heavy). The yarn is then knotted, looped, braided, or woven to make flexible "fabric" or "cloth", and cloth can be used to make clothing and soft furnishings. All of these items – felt, yarn, fabric, and finished objects – are collectively referred to as "textiles". [Kadolph, Sara J., ed.: "Textiles"]

The textile arts also include those techniques which are used to embellish or decorate textiles – dyeing and printing to add color and pattern; embroidery and other types of needlework; tablet weaving; and lace-making. Construction methods such as sewing, knitting, chrochet, and tailoring, as well as the tools and techniques employed (looms, sewing needles, and pleating) and the objects made (carpets, coverlets) all fall under the category of textile arts.

Functions

From early times, textiles have been used to cover the human body and protect it from the elements; to send social cues to other people; to store, secure, and protect possessions; and to soften, insulate, and decorate living spaces and surfaces."Cambridge History of Western Textiles", p. 1-6.]

The persistence of ancient textile arts and functions, and their elaboration for decorative effect, can be seen in a Jacobean era portrait of Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales by Robert Peake the Elder (above). The prince's capotain hat is made of felt using the most basic of textile techniques. His clothing is made of woven cloth, richly embroidered in silk, and his stockings are knitted. He stands on an oriental rug of wool which softens and warms the floor, and heavy curtains both decorate the room and block cold drafts from the window. Goldwork embroidery on the tablecloth and curtains proclaim the status of the home's owner, in the same way that the felted fur hat, sheer linen shirt trimmed with reticella lace, and opulent embroidery on the prince's clothes proclaim his social position. [For general discussion of textile techniques in this era and their significance, see Janet Arnold, "Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd" and "Patterns of Fashion: the cut and construction of clothes for men and women 1560-1620", as well as Karen Hearn, editor, "Dynasties: Painting in Tudor and Jacobean England 1530-1630", throughout.]

Textiles as art

Traditionally the term "art" was used to refer to any skill or mastery, a concept which altered during the Romantic period of the nineteenth century, when art came to be seen as "a special faculty of the human mind to be classified with religion and science". [Gombrich, Ernst. " [http://www.gombrich.co.uk/showdoc.php?id=68 Press statement on The Story of Art] ". The Gombrich Archive, 2005. Retrieved on January 18 2008.] This distinction between "craft" and fine art is applied to the textile arts as well, where the term "fiber art" or "textile art" is now used to describe textile-based decorative objects which are not intended for practical use.

ee also

*History of clothing and textiles
*Arts and crafts
*

Compare:
*Dramatic arts
*Plastic arts
*Visual arts

Notes

References

*Arnold, Janet: "Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd", W S Maney and Son Ltd, Leeds 1988. ISBN 0-901286-20-6
*Arnold, Janet: "Patterns of Fashion: the cut and construction of clothes for men and women 1560-1620", Macmillan 1985. Revised edition 1986. (ISBN 0-89676-083-9)
*Barber, Elizabeth Wayland: "Women's Work:The First 20,000 Years", W. W. Norton, 1994, ISBN 0393035060
*Gillow, John, and Bryan Sentance: "World Textiles", New York, Bulfinch Press/Little, Brown, 1999, ISBN 0-8212-2621-5
*Hearn, Karen, ed. "Dynasties: Painting in Tudor and Jacobean England 1530-1630". New York, Rizzoli, 1995. ISBN 0-8478-1940-X.
* Jenkins, David, ed.: "The Cambridge History of Western Textiles", Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003, ISBN 0521341078
*Kadolph, Sara J., ed.: "Textiles", 10th edition, Pearson/Prentice-Hall, 2007, ISBN 0-13-118769-4

External links

* [http://www.museocaprai.it/en/tecnica.htm Virtual Museum of Textile Arts]


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