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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, knitted 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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Seventeenth century Tibetan thangka
Credit: Anonymous (public domain)

A "Thangka," also known as "Tangka", "Thanka" or "Tanka" is a painted or embroidered Buddhist banner which was hung in a monastery or a family altar and occasionally carried by monks in ceremonial processions. In Tibetan the word 'than' means flat and the suffix 'ka' stands for painting.

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The Dessau Bauhaus
Gunta Stölzl (5 March 1897 – 22 April 1983) was a German textile artist who played a fundamental role in the development of the Bauhaus school’s weaving workshop. As the Bauhaus’s only female master she created enormous change within the weaving department as it transitioned from individual pictorial works to modern industrial designs. She joined the Bauhaus as a student in 1920, became a junior master in 1927 and a full master the next year. She was dismissed for political reasons in 1931, a year before the Bauhaus closed under pressure from the Nazis. The textile department was a neglected part of the Bauhaus when Ms. Stölzl began her career, and its active masters were weak on the technical aspects of textile production. She soon became a mentor to other students and reopened the Bauhaus dye studios in 1921. After a brief departure, Stölzl became the school's weaving director in 1925 when it relocated from Weimar to Dessau and expanded the department to increase its weaving and dyeing facilities. She applied ideas from modern art to weaving, experimented with synthetic materials, and improved the department's technical instruction to include courses in mathematics. The Bauhaus weaving workshop became one of its most successful facilities under her direction.

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Byzantine silk with quadriga (four-horse chariot)

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Skeins of wool colored with natural plant dyes.
Natural dyes are dyes or colorants derived from plants, insects, or minerals. The majority of natural dyes are vegetable dyes from plant sources – roots, berries, bark, leaves, and wood — and other natural sources such as fungi and lichens.

Archaeologists have found evidence of textile dyeing dating back to the Neolithic period. In China, dyeing with plants, barks and insects has been traced back more than 5,000 years.[1] Natural insect dyes such as Tyrian purple and kermes and plant-based dyes such as woad, indigo and madder were important elements of the economies of Asia and Europe until the discovery of man-made synthetic dyes in the mid-19th century. Synthetic dyes quickly superseded natural dyes for the large-scale commercial textile production enabled by the Industrial Revolution, but remained in use by traditional cultures around the world.

Artists of the Arts and Crafts movement preferred the pure shades and subtle variability of natural dyes, which mellow with age but preserve their true colors, unlike early synthetic dyes,[1] and helped ensure that the old European techniques for dyeing and printing with natural dyestuffs were preserved for use by home and craft dyers.



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Nadezhda Durova
My mother, who disliked me from the bottom of her heart, deliberately did everything, it seemed, that would strengthen and intensify my unbounded passion for freedom and a military life. She wouldn't let me walk in the garden. She wouldn't let me be away from her for even half an hour: I had to sit in her bedroom and make lace. She herself taught me to sew, to knit, and seeing that I had neither the desire nor the ability for this sort of work, that in my hands everything tore or broke, she became angry, lost control of herself, and beat me very painfully on the hands.
Nadezhda Durova, The Cavalry Maiden

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  1. ^ a b Goodwin (1982), p. 11.