I am writing this from High Point, North Carolina. KCAI was invited to bring five students to tour textile mills as part of the International Textile Market Association's Educational Fund. The tour is an excellent opportunity for our students because we don't really teach about the textile industry at KCAI. Some of the other schools that are here, such as SCAD, Philadelphia University, and North Carolina State seem to really focus on industry and preparing their students for practical applications of textiles. We are more interested in the fine art side of Fiber. They are two different animals.
I'm a little bit behind putting pictures up, so I'll start with yesterday. There has been so much to see and absorb! Yesterday we went to Valdese Weavers which is a mill that makes jacquard woven cloth for the home. They have a few of their own lines of cloth and also do custom work for "jobbers". I'm still learning all the lingo.
One of the things I found most interesting at Valdese Weavers is that they dye their own yarn. The white yarn above has been wound from large cones to smaller cones with hollow cores. It is ready to be put in the dye vats. The racks of yarn above have been dyed and are drying. It's amazing that they can get such perfect, even color every time. I struggle to do that on a skein of sock yarn (like 1/100th of one of those cones).
Above is one row of their yarn storage. There were probably about 5 rows and they are stacked floor to ceiling with yarn. Amazing. The other picture above is the yarn being wound to get ready to weave.
Above are two pictures of Jacquard looms in action. The first is a view from the back. The red yarn below is the warp. The second picture is of a "blanket" being woven. A "blanket" is not a fuzzy thing to keep you warm. It is basically a sampler - one pattern woven with multiple warp and fill colors to get many variations. I love these. If I worked in Industry I would only make blankets and I would cover things in them.
This last picture is a design wall. They briefly talked to us about designing and what goes into it. I was amazed by how complex every step is and how intertwined everything is. This was my second year on the tour and even though I'm totally amazed by the things I saw, I don't think the textile industry is for me. Let's hope this academia thing works out!
We also went to a gorgeous design house in Charlotte owned and run by Wesley Mancini. I am uber tired so will post pictures of that tomorrow.