Looking Back to Look Forward: Reanimating Textiles for Novel Design and Manufacturing

2020-03-09T15:55:36Z (GMT) by Brooks Hagan
Industrially produced textile samples woven in France during the 19th and early 20thcenturies were shipped all around the world and had a significant impact on the types of fabrics produced at US textile mills and elsewhere. These fabrics were capsules of fashion and timeliness, suggesting ideas about color, scale, graphics and surface to the broader industry, and providing new material for interior and apparel application.

The structural complexity of many of the samples implies an intimate connection to equipment and specialized techniques used in manufacturing. In the context of today’s shrinking manufacturing base, we explore these fabrics as repositories of the industrial weaving process and as a roadmap to new textile samples that, in turn, inform future connections between equipment and production.

In this paper we examine woven textile samples from the RISD Museum Costume & Textile Collection with a focus upon Jacquard figured leno weaving and varied-height looped and cut pile techniques. The leno process relies upon an added harness element called a doup-heddle which functions as a parallel, programmable loom language in tandem with the Jacquard mechanism. The pile process calls for a unique set of hand tools and procedures to achieve variation in height and directionality of the pile.

Utilizing a computerized tomography (CT) scanning process, we are able to demonstrate the behavior of the yarns and the sequencing of the action within each sample. We then set up looms to create new samples informed by the old constructions, resulting in novel tools that draw upon rapid prototyping and complex computational modeling to reanimate these industrial techniques as viable strategies for contemporary fabrics.

This work is supported by the Virtual Textiles Research Group at Rhode Island School of Design and ties to the current RISD Museum show, Repair and Design Futures.

Futurescan 4: Valuing Practice Exhibit
University of Bolton
23-24 January 2019

Photographs by Tony Radcliffe and Di Downs.