Portal:Textile arts

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The Textile arts Portal

Portrait illustrates the practical, decorative, and social aspects of the textile arts
The textile arts are those arts and crafts that use plant, animal, or synthetic fibers to construct practical or decorative objects. Textiles cover the human body to protect it from the elements and to send social cues to other people. Textiles are used to store, secure, and protect possessions, and to soften, insulate, and decorate living spaces and surfaces.

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). Yarn can then be 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 referred to as textiles.

Textiles have been a fundamental part of human life since the beginning of civilization. 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: cotton gin, the spinning jenny, and the power loom mechanized production and led to the Luddite rebellion.

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Detail of a crocheted tablecloth.
Credit: Joaquim Alves Gaspar

Crochet is a process of creating fabric from yarn or thread using a crochet hook. The word is derived from the Middle French word croc or croche, meaning hook. Crocheting, similar to knitting, consists of pulling loops of yarn through other loops. Crochet differs from knitting in that only one loop is active at one time (the sole exception being Tunisian crochet), and that a crochet hook is used instead of knitting needles.

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Betsy Ross depicted with American flag
Betsy Ross (January 1, 1752 – January 30, 1836) was an American woman said to have sewn the first American flag which incorporated stars representing the first thirteen colonies. She has attained legendary status in American culture although even in the most recent scholarship "many details [about her life] are conjecture based on research." A Pennsylvania native born to a Quaker family, she was a middle child from a large family who was apprenticed to an upholsterer after basic formal schooling. During her apprenticeship she met and married another apprentice named John Ross, eloping with him when she was 21 to avoid objections over the difference in their religious backgrounds. They married in New Jersey and opened an upholstery business together. The business suffered with the outbreak of war and her husband joined a militia, soon becoming one of the early casualties. Her meeting with George Washington is not well documented. Oral tradition maintains that she was responsible for at least one key design decision of the Americn flag by demonstrating that a five-pointed star was not too difficult to produce. She is known to have remarried a sea captain in 1777, to have had two daughters by her second husband, and to have lived to the age of 84. There is some dispute about whether the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia really was her actual residence, and in 1975 when she was to be reinterred no bones were found beneath her headstone.

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Morris Tapestry, by John Henry Dearle

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Knitta is a tag crew of anonymous rogue knitters who leave graffiti on monuments, utility poles, and other public items. Unlike traditional taggers, Knitta uses non-damaging materials, such as yarn and cloth. Started in 2005 by two women tagging the Houston metropolitan area, Knitta has grown to 11 members. Up to a dozen groups have followed their lead worldwide. The crew has been invited to show their art in Los Angeles, California; Paris, France; and elsewhere.

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Aladdin with his lamp
He entered large halls where the carpets were of silk, the lounges and sofas covered with tapestry from Mecca, and the hangings of the most beautiful Indian stuffs of gold and silver. Then he found himself in a splendid room, with a fountain supported by golden lions. The water out of the lions' mouths turned into diamonds and pearls, and the leaping water almost touched a most beautifully-painted dome. The palace was surrounded on three sides by magnificent gardens, little lakes, and woods. Birds sang in the trees, which were netted over to keep them always there.

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