Author: Susan Brown

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beetle wings
Wearing Wings
Valued for their iridescent blue-green-purple color, the wing casings, or elytra, of the Buprestidae Jewel Beetle have been used for centuries to adorn clothing and jewelry in India, among both indigenous groups like the Naga, as well as in Mughal court costume. In the 19th century an export trade developed around Calcutta, where gossamer-fine cotton...
pocket
Pick a pocket
Before the mid-19th century, pockets were not sewn into women’s clothing, but were an accessory. Pockets, usually worn in pairs, were tied around the waist between a woman’s under-petticoat and her petticoat or skirt. Openings in the side seams of these voluminous skirts provided a discreet way for her to access their contents. Pockets were...
Tharrakarre
The Dreamtime
The Utopia Women’s Batik group was formed in 1977 to empower the women of the Utopia Aboriginal Freehold Property to generate income from creative work. Batik, or wax-resist dyeing, is not indigenous to Australia, but among the many crafts the women were exposed to, batik was the most popular technique. Through the 1980s the group,...
rush-hour-2-lowres
Traces of Light
Rush Hour 2 is part of a series “Traces of Light,” a collaboration with her filmmaker/director husband, Bo Hovgaard that captures big cities at night. Hovgaard’s video camera is unfocused as he captures the light in Shanghai from driving cars and advertising signs. Sorensen selects individual images from the video and translates photographic pixels into...
Vitae
Drawing in Air
Lenore Tawney was a transformative figure in the fiber arts movement, but she studied sculpture before turning to weaving, and moved seamlessly between the two. The improvisational nature of her weaving rejected the grid imposed by the loom, emphasizing the individual trajectory of each thread. Vitae showcases one of her major technical innovations: the “open...
Nuno me Gara
Weaving Illusions
Junichi Arai was born in Kiryu, the center of traditional Japanese silk weaving, and was trained in his family’s mill. He went on to become one of the most innovative textile artists of our time. Over the past fifty years he has won dozens of patents for his work in fiber chemistry, metallic fibers and...
shawl border
Passion for Exotic Fashion
When Napoleon presented Josephine with a shawl that had been given to him on his Egyptian campaign (1798–1801), he started a fashion craze that lasted half a century and had major economic impacts on several nations. Fashionable ladies wearing the extremely lightweight Neoclassical gowns of the period went wild for the soft, beautiful and very...
liturgical gloves
Gloves for a feast
Liturgical gloves are permitted to be worn by the Pope, Archbishops, or Cardinals on special feast days or for processions. Almost all of the surviving examples in museum collections are of knitted silk, and many are ornamented on the back of the hand with a knitted or embroidered IHS monogram in gold. The sunburst monogram...
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Two Squares
By the mid-nineteenth century, both Glasgow, Scotland and Manchester, England were producing huge numbers of bandannas, printed cotton handkerchiefs imitating earlier tie-died silk handkerchiefs from India. The success of that industry was the result of perfecting two chemical processes: the so-called Turkey Red process for dying cotton a brilliant, washable red, and discharge printing, a...