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Antique Loom Yields Innovative Fabric Sculpture
by Brittany Wittman


This small piece of experimental fiber art is one in a series of works exploring the effects of multi-layer woven structures in collaboration with chemical after-treatments. A flat cloth is transformed into a dimensional surface of interest. The juxtaposition of materials and qualities play an integral part in the complexity of this work. The natural linen cloth contrasts the synthetic nylon monofilament cloth. One has a transparent, the other an opaque quality. The dichotomy of materials natural/synthetic; transparent/opaque evokes intrigue. The linen layer remains consist as the synthetic monofilament undulates from front to back.

An 1884 handloom, retrofitted with a computer input system, was used to create this work. It is an original piece of equipment to the Philadelphia Textile Institute (now Philadelphia University) that continues to be a viable tool for narrow-width weave design experimentation with the CAD upgrade.

Structurally, this cloth is not complex. It was woven flat as two layers of plain fabric interchanged every six inches. Plain weave is defined as the most common of the fundamental weaves. Each filling yarn passes successively over and under each warp yarn, alternating each row. This piece incorporates two layers of plain woven fabric. Once transformed from its flat 'loom state', this cloth becomes a surface plane of dimension.

As my work continues to evolve, my primary objective is the unification of art and science. Woven structures and the behavior of materials are integral in this pursuit, but I seek to transcend mere structural configuration and create art. Utilizing the qualities of this work, I envision large scale installations, textiles as architectural elements defining and creating space, planar panels of dimensional cloth, textiles as monumental sculpture.





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Philadelphia University
School of Engineering and Textiles
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Philadelphia, PA 19144-5497

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