``Interlacing'' is a modern term that encompasses weaving, braiding, plaiting, knotting, and other processes. It is a method of construction, says textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen, in which each element used passes over and under elements that intersect its path. It involves such diverse materials as cloth, bamboo, hemp, clay, dough, and wire.
Contemporary craftsmen are experimenting, as well, with Mylar, plastic-coated white cardboard, silk floss, industrial felt, and precious metals.
Mr. Larsen, whose firm has production centers in 30 countries and who is also a scholar and author, is guest curator of the new exhibition, ``Interlacing: The Elemental Fabric,'' which has just opened at the American Craft Museum in Manhattan.
The show includes l50 objects from 40 nations, including vessels, sculpture, toys, masks, jewelry, and apparel, each illustrating some aspect of these interlacing techniques that have been instinctively practiced for centuries in all cultures in all parts of the world.
Techniques of interlacing span the ages from Stone Age man, who fashioned the first baskets for gathering food, to today's artist-craftsman who uses identical means to produce jewelry, art objects, wicker furniture, floor and wall coverings, placemats and other furnishings.
``Interlacing is a primal, universal means of constructing things,'' says Larsen, ``whether they be purely functional objects or objects of artistic expression. This exhibition shows the essential connections of all the multifarious interlacings and indicates their development over the ages.''
The opening of the exhibition coincides with the publication of ``Interlacing - The Elemental Fabric,'' by Jack Lenor Larsen with Betty Freudenheim, published by Kodansha International in Japan.
The 278-page, handsomely illustrated book, which the authors spent eight years researching and writing, is available for $60 from American Craft Council Publications, 40 West 53, New York,N.Y, 100l9.
A slide kit documenting the exhibition, which continues through July 17, 1987, is also available from the same address.