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Textiles: The Whole Story

Uses · Meanings · Significance

Beverly Gordon

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This vibrantly illustrated book, is an original look at the myriad roles played by textiles in all aspects of human life, from ancient weavings to light-sensitive and other futuristic fabrics of our own era


This worldwide survey is essential reading for anyone with a passion for textiles, whether creative, professional or educational.

A dazzling array of illustrations includes paintings and photographs of both historic and contemporary textiles and a broad collection of textiles being created, worn and lived with.

The author reminds us powerfully of the significance of fabrics throughout human history. Her expertise is enriched by her own hands-on experience: spinning silk from silkworm cocoons, weaving cloth and creating natural dyes. As a curator she has studied thousands of textiles.

Bridging past and present – from the Stone Age to 21st-century ‘smart fabrics’ which can regulate body temperature or measure the wearer’s pulse – the book integrates craft, art, science, history and anthropology, drawing on examples from around the globe.

Here are topics such as the universality of textiles in human language and experience; their social role in bonding families and communities; the importance of textiles in world trade; their spiritual and sacred aspects; and the work of artists using textiles as their medium.

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'A hugely involved and comprehensive work … factual and informative, yet with a personal touch that draws the reader in to browse the pages'
Craft & Design

'A highly readable account that reminds us powerfully of the significance of fabrics throughout human history. Endlessly fascinating'
Embroidery Magazine

'… one immediately sees that Gordon has drawn deeply from a vast stash of knowledge, and she has written with conviction that cloth is essential for human existence … a rich, generous book'
Surface Design Journal

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Size: 26.0 x 20.0 cm

Extent: 304 pp

Illustrations: 380

Publication date: 29 July 2013

ISBN: 9780500291139

Contents List

1. The Very Fabric of Existence • 2. Living on the Earth • 3. The Ties That Bind • 4. Cloth and Temporal Power • 5. Cloth as Communication 6. Textiles and the Spirit

About the Author

Beverly Gordon is Professor of Textiles and Apparel Design in the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin. She is the author of many successful books on textiles, including Domestic American Textiles, Feltmaking and The Saturated World.

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