Crucial to accounts of complexity is the history of the concept of emergence. Pride of place is generally given to G. E. Lewes, who in 1879 offered a theory of “emergents,” of the unpredictable and incommensurate effects which follow from the crossing of causes. This essay recovers an earlier tradition; it focuses on experiments in seventeenth-century materials science, which explain emergent properties through an appeal to microstructural “texture.” A full appreciation of the modern turn to complexity, of our own ecological embeddeness and the interrelationship of things, requires therefore a return to the warp and weft of seventeenth-century artisanal practice.