"I somehow or somewhere got the idea," wrote Lucy Larcom in the 18th century, "when I was a small child, that the chief end of woman was to make clothing for mankind."
The Nishiyama Silk company explains their silk production process from reeling silk out of the boiled cocoons through handweaving the final cloth. Their factory video is a three minutes of hypnotic machine motion (along with some adorable socks on the weavers).
Gunta Stölzl was an extraordinary textile designer. She led the Weaving Workshop at the Bauhaus from 1926-1931, transforming it into an innovative and successful workshop that elevated the department they pushed women into (weaving being considered a woman's craft) into a innovative, successful department that treated weaving as art. She then moved to Switzerland where she continued her career as a designer and innovator. This website has a fantastic array of images of her work and life. Some of my favorites: 1922 design as a student | pictures of the Bauhaus - Weimar | Working out fabric patterns | an honorary diploma | Bauhaus Masters, 1926 | rug design | Closeup of a 1960s Fabric [more inside]
Paper Matrix is a blog that gives instructions for cool papercraft objects, "reinterpreting the Danish tradition of woven paper hearts and ornaments." Cut paper in the prescribed ways and weave it together carefully to make a mobile of colorful hot air balloons, gorgeous and complex boxes; simple but satisfying pennants and much more... including a full theater for performances by paper dolls.
The Vikings, pillagers and plunderers that they were, were the possessors of quite a bit of metal that needed to be used in some way. So they made jewelry. By the 8th century they had created a technique that is called trichinopoly or more commonly "Viking knitting", although it is really a type of weaving. If the Viking style of adornment appeals to you, you can learn this technique and make your own Viking-style jewelry. It's less complicated than it looks, and you don't even have to know how to knit in order to learn. You can learn to make a necklace or bracelet like this with this tutorial, or by watching a YouTube video. Once you master the basic technique, you'll be able to start improvising by adding beads and findings and semi-precious stones. It's possible that such jewelry was used as currency on those occasions when the Vikings actually paid for their acquisitions, like some sort of wearable bank account. Ostentatious types, those Vikings, but I suppose when you're known for your ferocity and lawlessness, you don't have to fear being mugged or looking nouveau riche.
The IOWEYOU project. You can't go to a shop and buy these clothes. Because each textile is unique they have an app that allows you to trace your garment right back through the production process to the actual weaver that hand-wove the fabric. You can see some of the delightful people involved in the project at their YouTube channel.
So you're me and you're in math class and you're learning about graph theory, a subject too interesting to be included in most grade school's curricula so maybe you're in some special program or maybe you're in college and were somehow not scarred for life by your grade school math teachers. [more inside]
Nathalie Miebach translates scientific data related to meteorology and ecology into woven sculptures and musical scores. She discusses her work in an interview with the Peabody Essex Museum. (via Mira y Calla)
Producing the spider silk—the only example of its kind displayed anywhere in the world—involved the efforts of 70 people who collected spiders daily from webs on telephone wires, using long poles. A unique piece of golden yellow silk brocade cloth, woven from spiderwebs, is on display at the Museum of Natural History in New York. To harvest enough silk to make the cloth, more than a million female golden orb spiders were collected in Madagascar, "milked" for silk, and released back into the wild. The golden spider silk was woven by Malagasy artisans into lamba Akotifahana, a type of brocade that is traditionally reserved for the aristocracy; the entire process took 4 years. [more inside]
Weavings of War: Fabrics of Memory, an online exhibit of comtemporary textiles created (mostly) by women living in war zones.
Rugs of War :: "The traditional knotted rugs made by the semi-nomadic Baluch people of northern Afghanistan are famous for their distinctive designs, their rich yet subdued palette and the quality of their construction and materials, which feature traditional patterns and motifs. The “war rug” is an evolution of these Baluch rugs through the inclusion of militaria and other references to the experience of war and conflict in the region. These significant changes became apparent almost immediately after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, when rug-makers began incorporating complex imagery of war planes, helicopters, machine guns, maps and texts into their designs."
Czech and Armenian lacework [big PDFs]. From an amazing Digital Archive of books about lace, weaving, and textiles.
Tensegrity. It didn't originate with Bucky, as often credited - See FAQ. Tetrahedral spaceframe weaving, page 18. And Three strut tensegrity with five magnet spherical gear set, page 21. For your mind-melting Monday pleasure.
The language of native American baskets - simply gorgeous display of native basketry with commentary from five weavers who keep classic traditions alive. It includes contemporary and antique basketry ranging from burden baskets, jars, and ollas to fancy baskets and hats. This is exhibit is currently on view at the National Museum of the American Indian.
Gifts & Blessings. The textile arts of Madagascar.