Monday, June 10, 2019

Tactile Textiles

The first of our senses, when appreciating textiles, is usually thought to be sight.  We perceive color in all variations, we note pattern and size.  However another sense is equally important: touch.
This past weekend I experienced two examples of the importance of  tactile experiences.

While watching the final rounds of the French Open tennis championship I sorted a huge collection of possible reference materials which had been collecting next to my reading chair in our great room.  Among newspaper  clippings and correspondence I came upon an old copy of a quilt magazine.  What jumped out as I page through it was an article by Julia Caprara (making a textile surface).  "Texture is irresistible to all who work with textiles.  Just spend a few minutes watching yourself when confronted by a new stash of fabrics or threads and notice how your fingers are immediately drawn to the surface qualities.  We touch, tease and handle fiber and cloth, 'seeing' it in a tactile way".  This quote by the author was accompanied by a beautiful photo example .  I cannot imagine anyone not tempted to cautiously (perhaps surreptitiously) touch this textile.

Julia Caprara, Quilting Arts Magazine, Winter 2005



My second experience this weekend with the subject of tactile textiles came with a visit to the International Folk Art Museum 's annual Flea Market.  Every year thousands of items donated by members are sold to the general public as a fund raiser for the museum.  My husband's box of treasures included a carved wooden pig, a pottery wine cask and a Mexican oil pitcher.  I restrained myself and only purchased several Guatemalan embroidered bags, just the right size for glasses or cell phones or credit cards.  Just because I didn't purchase great quantities of cloths, embroideries, rugs and linens doesn't mean that I didn't take time to examine what was offered.  I came upon a woven throw of some age.  The color was a dull brownish -grey with an embroidered design of the same hue.  Now this was the type of article that would normally not draw a great deal of attention, but it had a great "hand".  It was soft, and apparently well-loved, although in very good condition. 
What I found interesting was that nearly everyone gathered around this table of many brightly, some exotic textiles, actually touched this piece, some examining it closely.  When I returned for a final perusal, just in case I missed the bargain of the day, the throw was gone.  I hope it went to a loving home in a box with other treasures found at the market.