Thursday, January 14, 2010
"The Original Fabric of our Lives"
The term, "Fiber Arts", can certainly conjure up an eclectic array of images and some down-right outrageous responses from those of the population group who do not part take in this creative art form. Just the word fiber..well .. It certainly does lend itself to some sort of Andy Warhol or new wave artistry.
Wikipedia defines "fiber art" as fiber 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 garments or fabric. The most common use of yarn to make cloth is weaving (1).
Adding to this definition, “Fiber Arts" is not strictly limited to making cloth or clothing as basketry, jewelery, paper, and felting all fall under the fiber arts umbrella. This humble definition does not even scratch the surface of identifying all of the various processes that one can use to create "Fiber Art". (i.e., dyeing, surface design embellishment....ohhh)
Digging little deeper, ....just when did people figure out that using materials from plants and animals, and twisting and manipulating them in some fashion (no pun intended) would produce a utilitarian product evolving into "Fiber Art"?
It certainly does begin with digging, as archaeologists have been uncovering some of the earliest of fiber art-I-facts. And right under my very nose archaeologists from the Meadowcroft Rockshelter have uncovered plaited basketry fragments which is among the oldest plaited or any other kind of basketry recovered anywhere in the Americas. For those of you who may not be familiar with The Meadowcroft Rockshelter, it is known to be the earliest evidence of people in North America dating 16,000 years. www.meadowcroftmuseum.org/
Being curator of this incredible historical site has been the most rewarding experience for me. Knowing that the first evidence of “fiber arts” exists in the place that I spend most of my days brings me even closer to my profession, as I can connect my passion for the fiber arts to my professional passion of history and preservation. It is a perfect unity for me.
Blessings to all,