Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Presented at “Textiles and Settlement: From the Plains Space to Cyber Space,” Textile Society of America 12th Biennial Symposium, Lincoln, Nebraska, October 6-9, 2010. Copyright 2010 Textile Society of America


Laser cutting technology is now widely associated with textiles, but prior to the research of designers such as Janet Stoyel, in the early 1990s, it was regarded as a non textile specific technology. Over the past ten years many contemporary designers have used laser technology in conjunction with textiles; leading to the widely seen ‘cut through’ design aesthetic, as exemplified by the work of product designer, Tord Boontje. The technology, however, has not been vigorously exploited and tested in conjunction with traditional textile processes such as flocking, foiling, and print. This paper discusses and discloses my recent research which investigates the use of laser cutting technology in conjunction with traditional textile design processes. The research focuses on how the design process is informed and indeed defined by the parameters of the technology, and has led to the design and development of a range of innovative textile fabrics and products. The research examines the capabilities of the technology to cut down into a surface, removing and revealing layers, structure, color and patterns within fabrics. Traditional textile design processes, such as screen and digital printing, flocking, foiling, and bonding have been used to apply color, texture or pattern to the surface and the interior of the textiles. The work has been inspired by the concept of ‘natures reclaim’ and asks the question ‘what will remain after the noise of our time on earth?’ Inspiration is taken from archaeology, traces of human habitation and history to be found on the surface and deep within the layers of the soil.