Author: Susan Brown

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Baby on Board
Many southwest Chinese ethnic groups, especially the Miao, are known for their spectacular embroidery. Traditionally women’s work, embroidery was a Miao girl’s first attempt at needlework starting as early as four or five years old. Watching their mothers and other women in the community weave and embroider, they would later pass on this knowledge to...
Contentious Election
This printed cotton calico featuring the slogan “The Constitution Must Be Preserved” was produced for the presidential campaign of Tennessee senator John Bell, the Constitutional Union Party’s candidate in the contentious election of 1860. The party was formed in 1859 by former Whigs and members of the Know-Nothing party to attempt to bridge regional tensions...
Prestige and Protection
Prestige robes with flowing, wide sleeves and elaborate embroidery were worn by aristocratic Fulani, Hausa, and Nupe men. Their use is primarily associated with the 19th-century Sokoto Caliphate, centered in northern Nigeria, and their distribution is to key Islamic trade routes throughout the region. Their lavish use of costly hand-woven silk proclaimed the wearer’s wealth...
Chan Chan
The diversity of styles that characterizes Larsen’s range is the result of his insatiable intellectual curiosity about the world’s textile traditions. He wrote extensively about resist-dye techniques in The Dyer’s Art: Ikat, Batik, Plangi, including fold-dying, in which pleating or folding are combined with resists like clamping or binding to create complex geometric patterns with...
Sketching Air
In tandem with her artistic practice, Sheila Hicks has been engaged with the fields of architecture, design, and textile industry for over 50 years. Sketching Air is Hick’s latest commercial collaboration. Working with Momentum Textiles, she has created a collection of five patterned weaves (Sketching Air, Mapping Ideas, Painting Strokes, Drawing Lines, and Crossing Colors)...
Afternoon at the Museum
Little is known about this dress-weight cotton fabric, which arrived at the museum in a padded envelope with no return address. It was probably an inexpensive “novelty print” intended for the home-sewing market. This piece had been previously made up as a dirndl skirt, which requires very little shaping, so there is an uncut rectangular...
April Showers
Alexander Girard was one of the most influential textile designers of the mid-century period. Along with colleagues Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, and Eero Saarinen, he was a strong proponent of bringing an affordable modernism to the middle class. From 1952 to 1973, Girard served as head of the Textile Division of Herman Miller...
Slip on a Delphos
Now on view in The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s, Mariano Fortuny's iconic Delphos dress utilizes a patented pleating process that has never been fully understood.
Modern Velvet
In composition, Kaleidoscope closely resembles Larsen’s famous design of concentric squares, Magnum. But whereas that design was machine-embroidered around mirror-like squares of Mylar, Kaleidoscope is a durable, hard-wearing upholstery in a technique called epinglé velvet – so named for the wires which are inserted into the shed during the weaving and over which the pile...