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Plant Fiber and Textile Arts

blog3-1 Modern fiber art evolved from the textile arts practiced globally since ancient times to create practical cloth for clothing, tapestries, quilts, and rugs. New artistic applications combine fibers to produce new products, with an exclusive feel, smell, aura, and appreciation.

It was around the 1960s when textile art began to transform from the category of craft to that of art. Prior to the 70s, it was believed that fiber art wasn’t as good as painting or sculpture because it was considered the toil of women, the working class, and ethnic minorities. For a time, feminist artists became focused on the textile arts in defiance of this narrow-mindedness.

Technology has transformed the use of textiles by various cultures around the world, expanding its uses with new processing affects for greater aesthetic and functional qualities. In this case, taking the textile arts from a necessary tool to a decorative representation of nature everyone can simply enjoy.

Combining many fibers and fabrics produces a wide range of materials with which to work. Traditionally, fiber is taken from parts of plants like the seed pods of cotton and the stems of jute, hemp, and flax. More recently, synthetic materials were also added to displays.

These natural fibers must be twisted into a workable yarn strand and are often dyed before being made into cloth. Knitting and crocheting are common methods of shaping the yarn as well as weaving it on a frame called a loom. Each fiber creates different sized threads of various styles and textures. They can be used to quilt, embroider, and craft into unique designs, both handmade and commercially.

blog3-2If the individual fibers were not initially dyed, the fabrics can be dyed or painted in multiple colors. Diverse techniques can achieve solid or mottled designs. The cloth can also be manipulated by pleating, folding, layering, or gathering. Combinations of fibers can be pressed together to create a nonwoven felt using moisture and compression to create yet another type of finish. Additional plant fiber threads and yarns are used for embellishing finished products and art displays.

Today we pursue a balance between nature and technology in the contemporary art environment that parallels an ancient craft with our futuristic world of smart devices. Crafts require talents and skills that are quickly being lost, containing human flaws that remind us of our history. We love the ease of technology but marvel over earlier times and efforts needed to accomplish daily comforts and tasks. Something as small as a thread can soften the contact of feet on the floor or become a giant sculpture, not to be walked on, but simply to be to be viewed and appreciated for its natural beginnings and ability to inspire the human mind.

From natural textile consumables to modern fiber art; jute, hemp, flax, cotton, and many other fibers, continue to enhance our lives in so many ways. Whether we purchase them as practical items or visit a local museum, plant fibers will continue to influence our world.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 27th, 2016 at 10:53 am and is filed under Arts and Crafts, DIY, Plant Fiber.

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