"This is the most comprehensive manual written on natural dyes since the early 1800s. Jim Liles has rescued ancient skills from near-extinction and shared them in a book that will inspire, challenge, and guide the modern dyer."—Rita Buchanan, author of A Weaver's Garden, and editor of the new Brooklyn Botanic Gardens Handbook on Natural Dyes
" . . . a must for every dyer. The recipes are explicit and detailed as to success and failure."—Mary Frances Davidson
For several thousand years, all dyes were of animal, vegetable, or mineral origin, and many ancient civilizations possessed excellent dye technologies. The first synthetic dye was produced in 1856, and the use of traditional dyes declined rapidly thereafter. By 1915 few non-synthetics were used by industry or craftspeople. The craft revivals of the 1920s explored traditional methods of natural dyeing to some extent, particularly with wool, although the great eighteenth- and nineteenth-century dye manuals, which recorded the older processes, remained largely forgotten.
In The Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing, J. N. Liles consolidates the lore of the older dyers with his own first-hand experience to produce both a history of natural dyes and a practical manual for using pre–synthetic era processes on all the natural fibers--cotton, linen, silk, and wool. A general section on dyeing and mordanting and a glossary introduce the beginner to dye technology. In subsequent chapters, Liles summarizes the traditional dye methods available for each major color group. Scores of recipes provide detailed instructions on how to collect ingredients--flowers, weeds, insects, wood, minerals--prepare the dyevat, troubleshoot, and achieve specific shades.
The book will appeal not only to beginning and veteran dyers but to students of restorations and reconstruction as well as to craftspeople--spinners, quilters, weavers, knitters, and other textile artists--interested in natural dyes for their beauty and historical authenticity.
The Author: J. N. Liles is professor of zoology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He has taught at Arrowmont School and other regional craft schools and has exhibited his work at the Arrowmont School, the Southern Highland Handicraft Guild Folk Art Center, and the Carol Reece Museum.
A heavily illustrated classic on the evolution of the handloom.
The handloom—often no more than a bundle of sticks and a few lengths of cordage—has been known to almost all cultures for thousands of years. Eric Broudy places the wide variety of handlooms in their historical context. What influenced their development? How did they travel from one geographic area to another? Were they invented independently by different cultures? How have modern cultures improved on ancient weaving skills and methods? Broudy shows how virtually every culture has woven on handlooms. He highlights the incredible technical achievement of early cultures that created magnificent textiles with the crudest of tools and demonstrates that modern technology has done nothing to surpass their skill or inventiveness.
In 1974, women in a feminist consciousness-raising group in Eugene, Oregon, formed a mock organization called the Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society. Emblazoning its logo onto t-shirts, the group wryly envisioned female collective textile making as a practice that could upend conventions, threaten state structures, and wreak political havoc. Elaborating on this example as a prehistory to the more recent phenomenon of “craftivism”—the politics and social practices associated with handmaking—Fray explores textiles and their role at the forefront of debates about process, materiality, gender, and race in times of economic upheaval.
Closely examining how amateurs and fine artists in the United States and Chile turned to sewing, braiding, knotting, and quilting amid the rise of global manufacturing, Julia Bryan-Wilson argues that textiles unravel the high/low divide and urges us to think flexibly about what the politics of textiles might be. Her case studies from the 1970s through the 1990s—including the improvised costumes of the theater troupe the Cockettes, the braided rag rugs of US artist Harmony Hammond, the thread-based sculptures of Chilean artist Cecilia Vicuña, the small hand-sewn tapestries depicting Pinochet’s torture, and the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt—are often taken as evidence of the inherently progressive nature of handcrafted textiles. Fray, however, shows that such methods are recruited to often ambivalent ends, leaving textiles very much “in the fray” of debates about feminized labor, protest cultures, and queer identities; the malleability of cloth and fiber means that textiles can be activated, or stretched, in many ideological directions.
The first contemporary art history book to discuss both fine art and amateur registers of handmaking at such an expansive scale, Fray unveils crucial insights into how textiles inhabit the broad space between artistic and political poles—high and low, untrained and highly skilled, conformist and disobedient, craft and art.
Hannah Ryggen (1894–1970) was a Swedish-Norwegian modern artist who began her career as a painter before switching to creating political art in the form of monumental tapestries. Combining the decorative and the political, Ryggen was ahead of her time with her turn to “political weaving.” She was also a feminist with strong communist sympathies involved in the international workers’ movement. Her dramatic, beautiful tapestries were shown at both the Paris and Brussels World’s Fairs, but she was largely forgotten by the international art world in the decades after her death. In recent years, however, as interest in both fiber arts and pioneering women artists has grown, Ryggen’s work has returned to the public eye, with major international exhibitions and fresh attention from curators, collectors, and critics.
A widely recognized authority on Ryggen, Marit Paasche brings this important Scandinavian artist to the foreground in this biography, the first published on Ryggen in English. Paasche looks at Ryggen within the social, political, and cultural contexts of her time and explores how these issues informed her work, from her anti-fascist tapestry that depicted a spear piercing Mussolini’s head to one protesting the war in Vietnam. Published to correspond with a major retrospective in Frankfurt, of which Paasche is one of the curators, Hannah Ryggen is a foundational book that will provide a crucial introduction of this artist to a broader audience.
Recent years have seen an enormous surge of interest in fiber arts, with works made of thread on display in art museums around the world. But this art form only began to transcend its origins as a humble craft in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and it wasn’t until the 1950s and 1960s that artists used the fiber arts to build critical practices that challenged the definitions of painting, drawing, and sculpture. One of those artists was Lenore Tawney (1907–2007).
Raised and trained in Chicago before she moved to New York, Tawney had a storied career. She was known for employing an ancient Peruvian gauze weave technique to create a painterly effect that appeared to float in space rather than cling to the wall, as well as for being one of the first artists to blend sculptural techniques with weaving practices and, in the process, pioneered a new direction in fiber art. Despite her prominence on the New York art scene, however, she has only recently begun to receive her due from the greater art world. Accompanying a retrospective at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, this catalog features a comprehensive biography of Tawney, additional essays on her work, and two hundred full-color illustrations, making it of interest to contemporary artists, art historians, and the growing audience for fiber art.
Copublished with the John Michael Kohler Arts Center.