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Looking at Textiles: A Guide to Technical Terms

Elena Phipps

Textiles have been made and used by every culture throughout history. However diverse—whether an ancient Egyptian mummy wrapping, a Turkish carpet, an Italian velvet, or an American quilt—all textiles have basic elements in common. They are made of fibers, constructed into forms, and patterned and colored in ways that follow certain principles.

Looking at Textiles serves as a guide to the fundamentals of the materials and techniques used to create textiles. The selected technical terms explain what textiles are, how they are made, and what they are made of, and include definitions of terms relating to fibers, dyes, looms and weaving, and patterning processes. The many illustrations, including macro- and microscale photographs of a range of ancient and historic museum textiles, demonstrate the features described in the text.

Elena Phipps was a textile conservator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for over thirty years. She has published numerous scholarly works on textile materials, techniques,and culture, including The Colonial Andes: Tapestries and Silverwork, 1530–1830 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2004), which was awarded both the Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Award (College Art Association) and the Mitchell Prize for best exhibition catalogue.

“A masterclass in concise writing, covering the importance of textiles to different cultures over the years and the wider knowledge historians may gain from the careful and thoughtful examination of historic textiles.”
—Jenny Sargeant, The Journal of Dress History

“An elegant volume. . . . Enthusiasts will delight in the crisp illustrations of everything from details of passementarie (the elaborate trim on clothing, often lace) to a beautiful Iranian silk embroidered panel from the 17th century.”
—Art Libraries Journal

“A ‘must’ for any serious arts collection strong in textile history and creation.”
—Midwest Book Review

100 pages
6 1/4 x 9 1/4 inches
78 color and 2 b/w illustrations
ISBN 978-1-60606-080-3

Getty Publications
Imprint: J. Paul Getty Museum