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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Mrs. Bill Stagg of Pie Town, New Mexico with quilt
Credit: Lee Russell

Quilting is a sewing method done either by hand, by sewing machine, or by Longarm quilting system. The process uses a needle and thread to join two or more layers of material together to make a quilt. Typical quilting is done with three layers, the top fabric or quilt top, batting or insulating material and backing material.

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Sir William Henry Perkin
Sir William Henry Perkin FRS (March 12, 1838 – July 14, 1907) was an English chemist best known for his discovery, at the age of 18, of the first aniline dye, mauveine. Perkin was born and brought up in the East End of London. At the age of 15, he entered London's Royal College of Chemistry, studying under August Wilhelm von Hofmann. He lived on Cable Street in East London, where he would often perform experiments. It was here that he discovered that aniline could be partly transformed into a crude mixture that when extracted with alcohol gave an intense purple colour. This Perkin and von Hofmann commercialized as mauveine. Perkin's discovery and sales resulted in a trade war, as competitors released variations of his initial dye. In 1879, Perkin received the Royal Society's Royal Medal, followed by the Society's Davy Medal in 1889. He was knighted in 1906, the same year he received the first Perkin Medal, established to commemorate the fifty years since his discovery. He died the following year of pneumonia and appendicitis.

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Textiles of Mexico

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6,6'-dibromoindigo, major component of Tyrian purple
Tyrian purple (Greek: πορφύρα, porphyra, Latin: purpura), also known as royal purple or imperial purple, is a purple-red dye which was first produced by the ancient Phoenicians in the city of Tyre. Tyrian purple was expensive: the fourth-century BC historian Theopompus reported, "Purple for dyes fetched its weight in silver at Colophon" in Asia Minor. The dye substance occurs naturally, but must be harvested by humans. It consists of a fresh mucus secretion from the hypobranchial gland of a medium-sized predatory sea snail, the marine gastropod Murex brandaris, currently known as Bolinus brandaris. This species is commonly called the spiny dye-murex, and it is a species in the family Muricidae, the murex or rock shells. The current range for this species is the "central and western Mediterranean". In Biblical Hebrew, which like Phoenician is a dialect of Canaanite, the Tyrian purple-red dye extracted from the Murex brandaris is known as shani שָׁנִי [ʃɔni], but usually translated as 'scarlet'. Another dye extracted from a related sea snail, Hexaplex trunculus, could produce a purple-blue color called argaman אַרְגָּמָן [argɔmɔn] (translated 'purple') when processed in shade, or a sky-blue indigo color, called tekhelet תְּכֵלֶת [təxelɛθ] (translated 'indigo') when processed in sunlight.

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Joan of Arc
Asked if in her youth she had learned any craft, she said yes, to sew and spin: and in sewing and spinning, she feared no woman in Rouen.
Joan of Arc, Court record, 1429

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