Fiber art

Fiber art

Fiber art is a style of fine art which uses textiles such as fabric, yarn, and natural and synthetic fibers. It focuses on the materials and on the manual labour involved as part of its significance.

Twylene Moyer, in her article, "Handle with Care: Loose Threads in Fiber", is here paraphrased to define fiber art as, "When the conscious choice of fiber as medium sets the agenda and the visceral and tactile import of fiber materiality forms an end in itself."

Note: Moyer was actually defining what fiber art is not, and here the negatives were removed.


Traditionally fiber is taken from plants or animals, for example cotton from cotton seed pods, linen from flax stems, wool from sheep hair, or silk from the spun cocoons of silkworms. In addition to these traditional materials, synthetic materials such as plastic acrylic are now used.

In order for the fiber to be made into cloth or clothing, it must be spun (or twisted) into a strand known as yarn. When the yarn is ready and dyed for use it can be made into cloth in a number of ways. Knitting and crochet are common methods of twisting and shaping the yarn into garmets or fabric. The most common use of yarn to make cloth is weaving. In weaving, the yarn is wrapped on a frame called a loom and pulled taut vertically. This is known as the warp. Then another strand of yarn is worked back and forth wrapping over and under the warp. This wrapped yarn is called the weft. Most art and commercial textiles are made by this process.

For centuries weaving has been the way to produce clothes. In some cultures, weaving forms demonstrate social status. The more intricate the weaving, the higher the status. Certain symbols and colors also allowed identification of class and position. For example, in the ancient Incan civilization, black and white designs indicated a military status. [Mark Gertlein 288.]

In Europe between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries woven pieces called "tapestries" took the place of paintings on walls. The Unicorn in Captivity is part of a series consisting of seven tapestry panels known as "The Hunt of the Unicorn" by Franco Flemish from this time period. Much of the art at the time in history was used to tell common folktales that also had a religious theme.

Mark Gertlein wrote, "Tapestry is a special type of weaving in which the weft yarns are manipulated freely to form a pattern or design on the front of the fabric." [Mark Gertlein 288.] He added, "Often the weft yarns are of several colors and the weaver can use the different-colored yarns almost as flexible as a painter uses pigment on canvas." [Mark Gertlein 288.]

At the same time period in the Middle East, fiber artists did not make tapestry or wall hanging weavings, but instead created beautifully crafted rugs. The woven rugs did not depict scenes in a story, but instead used symbols and complex designs. An example of this type of art are the giant rugs known as the Ardabil carpets. [Mark Gertlein 289.] Gertlein wrote, "Like most Islamic carpets, they were created by knotting individual tufts of wool onto a woven ground." [Mark Gertlein 289.]

Another fiber art technique is quilting in which layers of fabric are sewn together. Although this technique has not been around for as long as weaving, it is a popular form of art in American history. Recently, quilted fiber art wall hangings have become popular with art collectors. This non-traditional form often features bold designs.

Other fiber art techniques are knitting, felting, braiding or plaiting, macrame, lace making, flocking (texture) and more. There are a wide variety of dye techniques. Sometimes cyanotype and heliographic (sun printing) are used.

Fiber artists

*Anni Albers
*Andrea Graham
*Sheila Hicks
*Diane Itter
*Ferne Jacobs
*Hans Krondahl
*Lenore Tawney
*Nancy Terrell
*Ana Voog
*Claire Zeisler
*Givi Kandareli


ee also

* Mathematics and fiber arts
* Wearable art

External links

* [ European Textile Design Resource]
* [ A Study of the Textile Art in its relation to the development of form and ornament] , by William H. Holmes, from Project Gutenberg
* [ website of the Textile Museum] (located in Washington, DC)
* [ website of the Surface Design Association]

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