Monday, October 3, 2016

A Singluar Achievement

    From the most rudely hand woven to the most elaborately complex of weaves, from the most sturdy and workaday to the most fragile and precious, textiles are a part of nearly every thing we do, even minute of the day, no matter who we are, or what our lives are like.  As such they are one of the most pervasive inventions of the human mind, and are one of the most singular, and vital developments ever to come into being.
    No one knows of a certainty when, where, or how we developed the notion of weaving flexible materials together to create cloth. Surely though it is a skill we envisaged very early in our tenancy here.  Imagine some one of our ancestors, uncountable ages ago, playing with reeds or narrow strips of bark, and finding that if you put them at right angles to each other and then alternated which one was on top, it stayed together as a structure.  It was and is just that simple.  This notion is so basic, the concept of the plain weave, that it must have emerged in multiple places at different times, before there was extensive travel and trade. 
    Almost immediately we found it had application to many things. We could make baskets to store and carry our belongings in, head coverings to keep the sun and weather at bay.  When there were not enough animal skins to hand, we made cloth to protect our bodies, and adorn ourselves.  We soon learned that we could even make entire structures out of cloth that we could take with us wherever we went, making life for the nomads among us far better.
    Since those early times fabric became one of the most important parts of our disparate economies. It was and is essential to trade internationally.  For hundreds of years gifts of fine wovens were presented to kings and potentates.  We made making cloth into an art form through the invention of tapestry. It developed into a method of relating important myths and stories from history that still  inform and affect our lives. In fact, since we first thought it up the applications that textiles are put to has only ever expanded.  Even now we continue to find new ways to employ this most essential of notions.
    So intrinsic has fabric become in our world that there is not a room in your home, or any part of your workday that does not involve material in some way.  The floor, furniture, and windows all have textiles in play.  Your hard bound books wouldn't exist without fabric. We use fabrics in cooking, cleaning, and numerous other household tasks.  The various sciences all need textiles of one sort or another to do what they do. Medicine uses them constantly.  They are part of our modes of transport, our buildings, and the infrastructure of our nations.  It is not an exaggeration to state that no one, anywhere, lives a life entirely apart from the use of woven goods.  We require them now as much as we require the food we eat.
    And so far, I've barely mentioned their use to cover and decorate our bodies.  Yes, the development of the notion of weaving, and it's subsequent transition into the making of cloth is one of the most important things we ever thought up, and continues to affect every corner of our varied societies.
    There are now many tens of thousands of fabrics that are used in garment production, and many more that have significant industrial applications.  There are so many textiles now that, like words in languages, some have fallen out of use, and out of production.  Some we only know from historical accounts. Others we know of from extant clothing that uses them.  And while fabrics are falling to the wayside, others are being developed constantly out of both naturally occurring fibers, and out of chemical research.
    With the rise of 3D printing and other cutting edge technologies, who knows where textiles will go from here?  Wherever the actual production of them wanders to, they will continue to be a constant part of every minute of our days and nights. Until and unless we no longer, somehow, need the extraordinary range of things textiles can supply, we will cling to them, and by our boundless creativity expand what they provide to all of us, regardless of our place in this world, each and every day.



  1. That blue dining room has worked my last gay nerve.

    1. Hee hee. I had no idea this would draw your fire so.

  2. YES, to the above comment! Some queen needs a serious lesson in scale, proportion - restraint - etc. ; )

    1. It's true, but as an example of textile in use, it's fab. Ghastly, but fab.