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Portal:Textile arts

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Introduction

Textile arts in ancient Egypt

Textile arts are 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. 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 shaped largely by innovation in textiles technology: the cotton gin, the spinning jenny, and the power loom mechanized production and led to the Luddite rebellion.

Selected image

Kalmar Union flag
Credit: Julius Magnus Petersen

A medieval ship flag captured by forces from Lübeck in the 1420s showed the arms of Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Pomerania. At the time, Denmark, Norway and Sweden were united in the Kalmar Union. The saint accompanying the Virgin Mary and infant Christ is Saint James the Greater, identified by his scallop shell emblem. The flag was made of coarse linen. All figures and heraldic insignia were created using oil-based paint.

Selected biography

Bess of Hardwick, Countess of Shrewsbury by Rowland Lockley
Elizabeth Hardwick, or Hardwicke, Countess of Shrewsbury, known as Bess of Hardwick, (15271608) was the third surviving daughter of John Hardwick of Hardwicke in Derbyshire. She was married four times, firstly to Richard Barlow who died in his teens; secondly to the courtier Sir William Cavendish; thirdly to Sir William St. Loe; and to lastly to George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, sometime keeper to the captive Mary, Queen of Scots. An accomplished needlewoman, Bess hosted Mary at Chatsworth House for extended periods in 1569, 1570, and 1571, during which time they worked together on the Oxburgh Hangings. In 1601, Bess ordered an inventory of the household furnishings including textiles at her three properties at Chatsworth and Hardwick, which survives, and in her will she bequeathed these items to her heirs to be preserved in perpetuity. The 400-year-old collection, now known as the Hardwick Hall textiles, is the largest collection of tapestry, embroidery, canvaswork, and other textiles to have been preserved by a single private family.

Did you know...

Mechlin lace

  • ... that one of the major differences between Mechlin (pictured) and Valenciennes lace is the cordonnet, a loosely spun silk cord used to outline and define the pattern?
  • ... that astronauts have a patch of velcro inside their helmets that acts as a nose scratcher and that the manufacturing process used to create silent velcro for the U.S. Army is a military secret?
  • ... that Brussels lace is made in pieces, with the design made separate from the ground, unlike Mechlin lace or Valenciennes lace, and is known for its delicacy and beauty?

Selected article

Deterioration and discoloration on crocheted linen collar
Textile preservation refers to the processes by which textiles are cared for and maintained to be preserved from future damage. The field can fall under the category of art conservation and restoration as well as library preservation, depending on the type of collection. In this case, the concept of textile preservation applies to a wide range of artifacts, including tapestries, carpets, quilts, clothing, flags and curtains, as well as objects which ‘’contain’’ textiles, such as upholstered furniture, dolls, and accessories such as fans, parasols, gloves and hats or bonnets. Many of these artifacts require specialized care, often by a professional conservator. The goal of this article is to provide a general overview of the textile preservation process, and to serve as a jumping-off point for further research into more specialized care. Always contact a professional conservator if you are unsure of how to proceed in the preservation process.

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Don Quixote
Exceedingly moody and dejected was the sorely wounded Don Quixote, with his face bandaged and marked, not by the hand of God, but by the claws of a cat, mishaps incidental to knight-errantry.
Six days he remained without appearing in public, and one night as he lay awake thinking of his misfortunes and of Altisidora's pursuit of him, he perceived that some one was opening the door of his room with a key, and he at once made up his mind that the enamoured damsel was coming to make an assault upon his chastity and put him in danger of failing in the fidelity he owed to his lady Dulcinea del Toboso. "No," said he, firmly persuaded of the truth of his idea (and he said it loud enough to be heard), "the greatest beauty upon earth shall not avail to make me renounce my adoration of her whom I bear stamped and graved in the core of my heart and the secret depths of my bowels; be thou, lady mine, transformed into a clumsy country wench, or into a nymph of golden Tagus weaving a web of silk and gold, let Merlin or Montesinos hold thee captive where they will; whereer thou art, thou art mine, and where'er I am, must be thine."

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