Students talk benefits of textiles major

Cassie Smith

Kelsey Leib, a senior textiles major, said she knew she was interested in fashion and fabrics but wasn’t entirely sure what she wanted to study — until she discovered textiles.

“I never thought before that making fabric could be seen as a fine art rather than a design- [or] fashion-type thing,” she said.

Janice Lessman-Moss, a textiles professor, believes students are attracted to the major because in the high-tech digital world we live in, making cloth is still a very tactile experience.

“As you work on a project, you see the results of your labors,” she said. “They just reveal themselves right before your very eyes, so it’s a very exciting feeling. Not only do you conceptualize the creation of the fabric, but you see it made as you’re making it, and you’re directly involved in it. So I think it satisfies that tactile depravation which they say some young people are particularly suffering from.”

Lessman-Moss said that textiles students can use all sorts of materials and can also create digitally, which is appealing to many students.

“You can design digitally, and then you can actually be involved in textiles totally hands-off,” she said. “You can also design it digitally, and then make it yourself, or you can make it in the most basic way, but there’s so many different materials that you can work with. … No matter what, you can transform it into something interesting.”

Stephanie Cole, a senior textiles major, said she enjoys the simplicity.

“It’s over-under,” she said. “It’s dark and light. It’s very black and white — almost binary in the way it connects things … the idea that everything you do is structurally sound.”

Lessman-Moss said there are quite a few things students can do with their degrees after they graduate.

Students can get involved in design for industry, and her students have the skills needed to do that. She also said that she is really supportive of an entrepreneurial attitude.

“What can you do?” Lessman-Moss said. “Ohio has more alpaca farmers than any other state in the United States, so it’s exciting to think that, ‘Oh, we’ve got farmers around here who are growing this beautiful material, or this beautiful fiber that can be transformed into cloth, and how can we make something happen with it?’”

She said some graduates also open their own business and some work for commissions.

Contact Cassie Smith at [email protected].