Lili Blumenau attended the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts. She later studied at the Academy Scandinave in Paris during which time she decided to pursue a career in weaving and textile artisty. Graduating as the first woman student at the New York School of Textile Technology she went on to gain mill experience and in 1948 she began the weaving workshop at Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, New York. In 1952 she founded the weaving department at the Fashion Institute of Technology and Design, New York, New York. From 1944 until 1950 she was curator of textiles at Cooper Union Museum. In 1955 she authored The Art and Craft of Hand Weaving, Including Fabric Design, which was published by Crown Publishers, New York City.
I received Lili Blumenau’s book the other day, The Art And Craft Of Hand Weaving, reviewed by Dorothy Day in 1956. I am far from disappointed. Structurally, this book is divided into four parts: (1) Evolution, Looms, Weaving Procedure, (2) Fibers, (3) Weaves, and (4) Design. However, it is not a strictly technical text. It is much richer. She writes, [t]he ideal of handwaving today is not simply material. It is a means of self-realization and fulfillment. And its purpose today is unique. Practically, we do not need to weave cloth by hand but the value of weaving is in the work. The present-day desire to weave is one expression of the search in our time for human qualities. Rather than focusing on writing simply another book on patterns and techniques (those elements are there), Blumenau encourages creative artisanship based on the raw material, its visual and tactile characteristics. And she reminds her readers that doing so is not the sole possession of only specialty artists. Weaving for her entails ‘good work’, engaging, fully human, and life-giving in every respect.