Dichotomies in Textile Making: Employing Digital Technology and Retaining Authenticity

Sonja Andrew, Kandy Diamond

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This chapter reflects on our understanding of authenticityin relation to the textile object. Unlike other fields such as sculpture,textiles are culturally bound to their processes of manufacture, they aredescribed by them and understood through them, and these processes arechanging. Can craft skill in textile production therefore only be identifiedand verified through the handmade, when there are routes to incorporate digitaltechnologies as part of the methodology of contemporary textile practice?

The chapter explores how digital technology is integratedwith more traditional textile skills and processes by two textile makers, oneworking to commission to create printed textile installations for publicspaces, the other creating knitted products within a micro-enterprise as partof the UK contemporary craft economy. Their working processes embrace newmodels of making that view digital technology as an integral component of theirtextile practice, one which offers not uniformity, but the flexibility toexplore, play and create beyond the scope of more traditional textile methods.The development of tacit knowledge gradually built by using the technologyparallels the tacit knowledge built through mastering a skill by hand.Technology and hand creation are no longer in opposition but interwoven toenable more personalised approaches to textile production.

 But whilst makers may accept the ‘new authenticity’ ofartefacts incorporating digital technology, how are these artefacts received byaudiences and consumers? Are they perceived as less valid or unique due to theintegration of technology in the making processes? Is this even considered bythe viewer/consumer? The chapter incorporates responses to the printed textilesfrom audiences at different installation sites, and feedback from consumers ofthe knitted products, to begin to consider if a new form of authenticity intextile craft is emerging and being accepted.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCraft Economies
EditorsSusan Luckman, Nicola Thomas
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781474259569, 9781474259552, 9781474259576
ISBN (Print)9781474259538
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2018


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