he Threads of Life textile archive is an integral part of our work to maintain the cultural and environmental integrity of the textile traditions we support, and the quality of dyeing and weaving of the weavers we work with. We hold representative pieces from every area where we work to document the structures and symbolism of motif fields and the motifs within those fields, and to record changes in a community’s textile culture over time. Antique pieces are also occasionally purchased to deepen this archive.
Comparing the colors of pieces made in a community over time and looking for changes in colorfastness of pieces held over time, we benchmark quality standards. When there are problems, we can take archived textiles back to their makers’ communities to show how quality has changed and facilitate discussion about how to improve it. This process often flags problems with dye plant resources and leads to work addressing local environmental issues affecting the weaving arts.
There are over 650 pieces in the archive, held in a museum-standard conservation facility. The pieces in this section of our website are a representative sample organized by island of origin. Though none of them are for sale, work of a similar standard can be found in the e-commerce section of this website.