San Francisco Textiles & Fiber Art Tour
Last updated: June 2010
Alright all you fiber art fans and textile aficionados, weavers, sewers, knitters, unite! We've put together a list of must-see locations for all things fiber and textile-related, creating a tapestry of famous spaces and little known spots that spans across the city. Designed to illustrate the intersection of culture, technique and tradition, this tour is an opportunity to see historical examples as well as to introduce the work of up and coming contemporary fiber artists.
In case you find yourself bubbling with inspiration, we've included a few stops along the way where you can get your creative fix. This tour should take approximately 8 hours, including breaks. We've recommend a public transit route and places to eat; if the weather's agreeable you may opt to walk between some locations as many places are within a reasonable distance.
If you have more than one day to devote to fiber, here are some other stops in the Bay Area that we recommend: San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles (sjquiltmuseum.org), The Lace Museum in Sunnyvale (thelacemuseum.org) and Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles in Berkeley (lacismuseum.org).
Here are some videos that you might want to watch to give you a better background on textile and fiber arts in the Bay Area:
We've created a preview slideshow that you can watch at flickr.com.
Take advantage of the de Young Museum's early hours (they open at 9:30am), and use it as your point of departure. You'll want to head straight for their Textile Collection on the Upper Gallery level where you'll find a rich assortment of works celebrating global traditions and techniques from past and present.
With a holding of 12,000 works spread throughout several gallery spaces, their exhibits can range in form and function. Highlights include high fashion of the ages (18th century to present), a treasure trove of Turkish carpets, a contemporary tapestry by Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz and one of the most important collections of Anatolian kilims (flat tapestry carpets) outside Turkey.
The de Young textile collection is rounded out with a group of dyed and painted Indian textiles, North Indian and Central Asian silk works, and Egungun (Yoruba people) ceremonial costumes. In addition to their permanent collection, they also host special exhibitions, so be sure to call or check their Web site for information.
Don't stop there! Meander through their dramatically lit displays of Oceanic, African and New Guinea art and feast your eyes on beaded, dyed and woven textiles, ceremonial costumes, masks, bags, blankets and more.
Hungry? Before leaving get fueled up at the de Young Café. Sample their menu which features goods by local farmers and artisan producers while you enjoy of the Barbro Osher Scultpture Garden.
Next, get ready to flex your creative muscles at the Craft Gym! An open and inviting space with expert facilities where you can take classes and workshops in quilting, pattern sewing, crocheting or go solo during their open studio time. Located in an easy-to-get to spot, it's a perfect place to gather with friends or meet new fellow crafties.
Buy a Craft Gym day pass ($18) and use this wonderful opportunity to socialize and craft out while you share tips and ideas, get instant feedback on your project or get inspired to start one from scratch. If you have the chance, peep in on a class or ask about their looms. Check their online calendar for information on their daily goings on.
Then head to thee place in town for fabrics: Britex Fabrics. Housed in one of the city's landmark buildings, the 50 year old Britex raises the fabric shop ante with four floors of glorious materials -- silk brocade, woolens, bridal laces and velvets -- and a dizzying amount of buttons, appliqués, trims, tassels and ribbons, its enough to make your head spin!
Take your time to stroll through each floor and admire the stunning rainbow array of bolted, rolled, bulked, folded and displayed items throughout the store. They have an entire floor devoted to notions! Curious about a fabric or need a sewing tip? You won't find a more knowledgeable and helpful crew.
Take a quick trip to the Embaracadero BART/MUNI station to see "Legs" by Barbara Shawcroft. The immense rope piece is comprised of several large ropes of various lengths and colors that are twisted, knotted, and intertwined, the work demonstrates a mastery of skill and technique that would impress any sea-faring sailor. Suspended from the ceiling at the Drumm/Market Street entrance (near the exit pointing towards the Ferry Building) it drapes between the two platforms, where commuters can admire it as they await their train.
The tour continues on to the Museum of Craft and Folk Art (MOCFA), Northern California's only museum dedicated to preserving and celebrating the enduring traditions of folk art. While not specifically devoted solely to fiber or textile, MOCFA offers diverse programming that includes rotating exhibitions of historic and contemporary folk art works designed to present a global view of creativity, medium, technique and tradition.
MOCFA's space is not huge, but it comfortably houses both a bookstore and a modest-sized exhibition area in the back. If you are not interested in their current show, be sure to at least check out their bookstore. Carrying a wonderful inventory of handmade wares such as scarves, hats, bags, art jewelry and wearable felt-works, it also boasts a large selection of titles spanning a range of textile and fiber-related topics including Selvedge magazine.
Before you start for the next stop, you might want to dip into Beard Papa for their irresistible custard-filled cream puffs, which is located just to the left of MOCFA. If you require something more substantial, then head one block up Mission to Westfield Center, where you can chose from over twenty eatery options.
Note: The next stop does not specialize in fiber or textile art and has changing exhibitions, so it's a good idea to call ahead and see what they currently have on display. If you feel pushed for time you may want to skip ahead to the next spot. But make sure you go back to visit them to check out their exhibitions.
Now, make your way to South of Market to Braunstein/Quay Gallery. The innovative Ruth Braunstein opened in her space in 1961, becoming one of the country's first "cross over" galleries to include more craft oriented works such as fiber art and art furniture in exhibitions along side traditional fine art forms (painting, drawing, sculpture).
Consisting of a small side gallery to the left of the entrance and a larger, open space, Braunstein/Quay is perfectly designed for exhibiting group and solo shows. They represent several recognized fiber artists including Gyongy Laky, and twice a year curator Myra Block Kaiser organizes a group shows of fiber artists.
If its before 5pm, then get going (by cab perhaps) to the apex of San Francisco's design community: The San Francisco Design Center. SFDC is comprised of three buildings: the Showplace, Galleria and Garden Court. Together, they house over 100 showrooms to form a convivial environment appealing a gamut of tastes that is arrayed with furnishings, accessories, flooring, wall coverings, fabric, fine art and antiques.
Note: The SFDC is free and open to the public for browsing only. Purchases are made through design professionals and wholesalers only.
For a whirlwind look at high quality examples of mass-produced textiles, the SFDC is the place to be. Who knew looking drapery, carpets and upholstery samples could be so visually satisfying? And lets hear it for the tapestries, too. They are everywhere. Be sure to stop at the Pasargad Rug Company for a look at handmade rugs hailing from around the world. The owner, Mohsen Khalaji, is also a noted rug maker and conservator. Other worthwhile highlights include De Sousa Hughes and Sloan Miyasato, both tend toward a Japanese aesthetic and minimalist design.
C'mon you can do it -- only one more stop! It's off to Imagiknit, another yarn lover's paradise. Feast your eyes on a prismatic display of colors and various textures from their vast selection and fun window displays. In addition to their retail store, they also teach a variety of knitting classes appealing to every level. Peruse their online schedule in advance so you can make it in time for one of their evening instructions.
Ready for dinner? Take a quick jaunt to the Castro District where eateries of all persuasions are in abundance. You shouldn't have a problem finding a spot right on Castro Street, however, if you're in the mood for a quick, affordable dish then try Thai House Express on the corner of 19th and Castro. Modestly priced and always bustling, their menu has all the old stand-bys (pad thai, curry cocohut, etc) with a few house treats.
Congratulations -- you made it through the San Francisco Textile & Fiber Tour!
Below you'll find contact information for each venue as well as our suggestions for parking and public transit for some of the destinations.
de Young Museum
Where: Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr.
When: Tuesday-Sunday from 9:30am-5:15pm, Friday from 9:30am-8:45pm
Phone: (415) 750-3600
Cost: $10 adults, $7 seniors, $6 youth and students, free for children 12 and under. There is a $5 special exhibition surcharge. Free on the first Tuesday of the month.
Parking: Street or Concourse Garage Public transit: The "#44 O'Shaughnessy" bus stops near the front of the museum on Tea Garden Drive (southbound) and on Concourse Drive near the Academy of Sciences (northbound).
MUNI buses "#5 Fulton" and "#21 Hayes" stop at 8th Avenue and Fulton Street, just outside of the park. From 8th, walk into the park and turn right on John F. Kennedy Drive to reach the museum's tower entrance.
The N-Judah MUNI streetcar, which is accessible, stops at 9th Avenue and Irving Street. To reach the de Young, walk north on 9th to Golden Gate Park. 9th turns into Martin Luther King Jr. Boulvard. Keep walking on MLK until you reach Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, then turn right and continue to the museum entrance.
Where: 1452 Bush St. (between Van Ness & Polk)
When: Check for hours
Phone: (415) 441-6223
Cost: Free to visit, contact location for class and workshop prices
Public transit: From the de Young Museum, take the "#44 O'Shaughnessy" (Richmond bound), exit at intersection of 6th Avenue and California and transfer to the "#1 California" (Downtown bound), take this to the corner of California and Fillmore. Exit Fillmore and walk three blocks south to Bush Street. From south side of Bush Street, take any of the following downtown bound lines: 1 AX, 31, 38 AX BX -- and exit at Van Ness.
Where: 146 Geary St. (between Stockton & Grant)
When: Monday-Saturday from 10am-6pm
Phone: (415) 392-2910
Parking: Sutter/Stockton Garage (entrance on Stockton off Sutter), Ellis/O'Farrell Garage (entrance on Ellis between Stockton & Powell), White House Garage (entrance on Sutter between Kearny & Grant), Union Square Garage (entrance on Geary between Stockton & Powell)
Public transit: From Polk Street take the "#19 Polk" (towards Hunter's Point) to Geary, transfer to the "#38 Geary" (downtown bound) which will let you off on Geary, or take the 38 and exit on O'Farrell, Britex will be walk block north on O'Farrell from Stockton.
Embaracadero BART/MUNI station
Where: Market St. (Between Davis & Drumm)
Public transit: Walk north down Stockton to Market Street to the Powell Street Station and take BART (East Bay bound) or any inbound MUNI underground street car to Embarcadero Bart Station.
Museum of Craft and Folk Art
Where: 51 Yerba Buena Ln. (at Mission between Third and Fourth Sts.),
When: Monday - Friday (closed on Wednesday) from 11am-6pm, Saturday-Sunday from 11am-6pm, open until 7:30pm on the first Thursday of every month.
Phone: (415) 227-4888 Cost: $5 general, $4 seniors, free for Museum of Contemporary Folk Art members and for youths age 17 and under. Free admission on the first Tuesday of each month. No admission charge if you only want to browse the museum's store.
Parking: Garages located next to SFMOMA on 3rd and across the street from Metreon at 4th and Mission Streets.
Public transit: Continue on the "#38 Geary" (downtown bound) and exit at 4th and Market Streets. Walk south down 4th to Mission.
Where: 99 Yerba Buena Ln.
When: Monday-Saturday from 10am-8pm, Sunday from 10am-6pm
Where: 865 Market St.
When: Monday-Saturday from 10am-8:30pm, Sunday from 10am-7pm
Where: 430 Clementina St.(between 5th & 6th Sts. and parallel to Howard & Folsom Sts.)
When: Tuesday-Saturday from 11am-5:30pm
Phone: (415) 278-9850
Parking: Street or garage
San Francisco Design Center
Where: 2 Henry Adams St. (near 8th St. & Townsend), Suite 450
When: Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm
Phone: (415) 490-5800
Parking: Available across from the Galleria Building at 101 Henry Adams Street, on the streets, and in several lots throughout the design district.
Public transit: From Braunstein/Quay Gallery walk west up Folsom to 8th Street and take the 19 Polk (Hunter's Point bound) to Townsend.
Where: 3897 18th St. (at Sanchez)
When: Monday-Saturday from 11am-6:30pm, Sunday from 11am-4pm, check their Web site for class hours
Phone: (415) 621-6642
Public transit: From SFDC walk three blocks south to to the NW corner of 16th & Vermont Sts., take the "#22 Fillmore" to Church & 16th Sts., walk two blocks 18th and one block west on 18th to Sanchez.
Thai House Express
Where: 599 Castro St. (at 19th St.)
When: Monday-Sunday from 11:30am-10:30pm
Phone: (415) 864-5000
Public transit: Walk west up 18th Street to Castro, and go left to 19th. The restaurant is on the NE corner of Castro and 19th.
California Historical Society
Where: 678 Mission St., between New Montgomery and Third Sts.
When: Wednesday-Friday from 12pm-5pm
Phone: (415) 357-1848 ext.20
Cost: $3 adults; $1 students and seniors. Free for California Historical Society Members.
Parking: Fifth and Mission Garage, Mission St. between Fourth and Fifth Sts.; Museum Park Garage, Third and Folsom Sts.; St. Francis Place Garage, Third and Folsom Sts.; 55 Hawthorne Garage, 55 Hawthorne; Moscone Center Garage, 255 Third St. between Howard and Folsom Sts.; Hearst Garage, 45 Third St. between Mission and Market Sts.
Where: 657 Mission St., 2nd Floor, between New Montgomery and Third Sts.
When: Tuesday-Saturday from 12-5pm; Open late First Thursday of each month.
Phone: (415) 512-2020
Cost: Suggested donation of $5 for general public, $2 for students and seniors; Free for SF Camerawork members; Free admission first Tuesday of each month.
Parking: See CHS parking options
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Where: 151 Third St., between Mission and Howard Sts.
When: Monday-Tuesday from 11am-5:45pm, closed Wednesday, Thursday from 11am-8:45pm, Friday-Sunday from 11am-5:45pm
Phone: (415) 357-4000
Cost: $12.50 adults, $8 seniors, $7 students, free for SFMOMA members & children under 12; Half-price admission Thursdays from 6-9pm; Free first Tuesday of each month
Parking: See CHS parking options
Adolph Gasser Photography
Where: 181 Second St., between Howard and Mission Sts.
When: Monday-Friday from 9am-6pm, Saturday from 10am-5pm
Phone: (415) 495-3852
Parking: Free parking available across the street
Samovar Tea Lounge
Where: Upper Terrace in the Yerba Buena Gardens, 730 Howard St., between 3rd and 4th Sts.
When: Sunday-Wednesday from 10am-6pm, Thursday-Saturday from 10am-9pm
Phone: (415) 227-9400
Parking: See CHS parking options
San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles
Where: 520 S. First St., San Jose
When: Tuesday-Sunday from 10am-5pm; also open from 8pm-11pm on the first Friday of every month.
Phone: (408) 971-0323
Cost: $8 general, $6.50 students and seniors, free for children 12 and under, and SJ Museum of Quilts & Textiles members; Also free on the first Friday of the month.
The Lace Museum
Where: 552 S. Murphy, Sunnyvale
When: Tuesday-Saturday from 11am-4pm
Phone: (408) 730-4695
Cost: Free admission
Also on KQED.org this week ...
Drought Watch 2015: Record-Low Sierra Snowpack
The Sierra Nevada snowpack, which typically supplies nearly a third of California's water, is showing the lowest water content on record: 6 percent of the long-term average for April 1. That shatters last year's low-water mark of 25 percent (tied with 1977).
"Boomtown" History of the San Francisco Bay Area
KQED's "Boomtown" series will seek to identify what is happening in real time in the current boom, and also draw out the causes and possible solutions to the conflicts and pressures between the old and the new.