Textiles have been fundamental to our existence throughout all of history. People have utilized and created materials to suit their needs either for practicality or necessity. Every part of our lives include textiles in one form or another from our birth to our death. Even our language is full of textile reference:
- ‘Tenter Hooks’ – Hooks used to block cloth after it was woven.
- ‘Heirloom’ – looms were considered highly valuable and were past through generations.
- ‘Shoddy’ – shoddy was a poor cloth made from unravelled and rewoven fibres.
Textiles have also been used to show wealth and importance, our position in the world. To an extent it continues to do so but not so overtly. Silks were expensive to produce, some dyes were hard to produce or were rare, and embroidered fabrics were produced painstaking by hand, these were rich ornamental items that showed status. The poorer in society were often only able to afford course rough cloth.
Textiles have so many useful characteristics, warmth, protection, strength and absorption that make them so invaluable to people. It is easy to think that textiles are just about clothing but textiles extend to so many other areas too. Ropes, fishing nets, sacks, medical sutures and valves, building membranes, carpeting, vessels and bags for carrying…. it goes on and on. No person can escape textiles as fundamentally part of the essence of our being.