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I can’t believe how fast time passes! After a super fun and creative Fashion Week Brunch, The Mending Circle is meeting again tonight, from 6.30 – 9PM at the Textile Arts Center. I’m looking forward to new exciting mending projects and meet all of you with sewing/altering/mending and/or creative skills.

I thought I would leave a teaser of inspiration mending projects… Hope to see you all tonight!

Cardigan mended with bird-shaped patches

(via thimblythings)

Mending buttonholes and holes on sweatters

(via Martha Stewart Livings)


Crocheted patches

(via Craft magazine blog)

Mended Sweater by Esther K. Smith, part of Mend Exhibition at Proteus Gowanus, 2008-2009

I meant to write this post a long time ago, after attending to a lecture last October at FIT by Sass Brown, on “Eco-Fashion”. In the lecture, were presented several examples of designers around the world doing sustainable fashion. Some of the examples shown were working with African countries, and their work was simultaneous supporting the local textile industry – by training people, producing locally, developing the organic production of materials, promote local economic opportunities etc; but also being inspired by the African fashion and textiles.

SUNO, Spring/Summer 2011 Collection

When I moved to New York, the first project that I helped with on my fellowship at the Met was the installation of “The Essential Art of African Textiles: Design Without End”. I wasn’t very familiar with African textiles at the time, but after this first immersion, my love for them kept growing stronger. Africa has an enormous textile and fashion tradition and I thought I would share some of it today!

Amongst the best known African textiles are the Kente cloths (or stripwoven cloths), made by Ewe and Ashanti people in Ghana. These super elaborated were prestige garments, a symbol of status and wealth and, therefor, only worn on special occasions. These very long cloths (some would have more than 9 feet of length and width) were worn draped like togas around the body, creating voluminous garments. Kente cloths were constructed by several woven narrow strips woven continuously and cut at fixed lengths , sewn together, selvage to selvage. Both weaving and sewing are normally carried by men. Initially the only material used was indigo dyed cotton, but after the 17th century, with the arrival of Europeans, silk unraveled from trade cloths was introduced. Nowadays, synthetic fibers like rayon are sometimes used too.

Detail of Kente Prestige Cloth, Ghana, Ewe peoples, cotton and silk, 19th century

The British Museum, London, Provenance: Collected in West Africa between 1880 and 1900  by Charles Beving Sr.

And we couldn’t leave Ghana without mentioning the amazing hand-printed Adinkra cloths worn in special ceremonies. Adinkra cloths made for funerals and mourning are normally overdyed red or black, while the ones used for festive occasions retain their white background or are dyed with bright colors. The stamps for adinkra are carved from the outsides of calabash gourd and include geometric forms and also stars and half moon shapes.

Boys wearing adinkra robes, 1973, Accra

(via http://angelasancartier.net)

Stamp carver Joseph Nsiah of Ntonso, Ghana, holding an adinkra stamp, 1988.
Photo and caption information by Dan Mato,
Professor Emeritus of Art History, The University of Calgary

From Cameroons comes this beautiful prestige gown, made of indigo dyed cotton, embroidered with with chain stitches in white cotton. The blue and white geometric design was probably adapted from the famous resist-stitched indigo dyeing technique of the Bamileke people from grasslands Cameroon called ndop.

 

Prestige Gown, Cameroon, Grassfield region, cotton and wool,  19-20th century

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Dr. and Mrs. Sidney Clyman Gift and Rogers Fund, 1987

Ndop Tunic, Bamileke people, Cameroon; cotton, trade cloth, goat hair; first half of 20th century

(via Andres Moraga Textile Arts)

Also, from Central Africa comes other of my favorite African textiles – the uber-long skirts made by the Kuba people, Republic of Congo. These skirts are made of woven raphia panels, sewn together. They’re often decorated with applique with geometric forms  and/or embroidered. One of the most amazing features is that the applique has both a decorative and utilitarian purpose. Raphia cloth can be very stiff and hard to wear, so to make it more comfortable it is normally washed and pounded several times. Raphia cloth isn’t also very durable so several holes and tears will appear during this process, and the applique is used to cover them. Other particularity is the fact that the hems aren’t turned under, but face the surface of the fabric, giving it extra volume. Kuba skirts are worn by men and women, and normally several are worn at the same time.

Applique Kuba Skirt, raphia fibers dyed with natural dyes

(via http://www.textilesofafrica.com)

Women wearing skirts, Kuba, Congo

(via http://www.heritageofafrica.com)

There are so many amazing textiles and techniques from Africa missing in this post though! So, if you’d like to continue exploring the world of African textiles I strongly recommend reading the catalog of “The Essential Art of African Textiles: Design Without End”, with essays by curator Alissa LaGamma and textile conservator Christine Giuntini; and the amazing “African Textiles, Color and creativity across a continent” by John Gillow.

 



Last Monday TAC took a rest and celebrated President’s Day – which for me pretty much ended up being the day that I finally did all my laundry, cleaned my room, and faced the world as a grown-up woman. The bright and shiny moment of the day was the quick stop that my roommate and I did at a pop-up gallery space in 147 Franklin Street, in Greenpoint.

The gallery is hosting the 600/3×9 project, which consists of 3 different exhibitions, by 3 different curators, featuring an x amount of artists, and all this happening in a 600 sq feet space, during only 9 days (each show is up for only 2 days!). The three emerging curators, Jiyoun Lee-Lodge, Ati Egas, Renee Bovenzi were selected amongst a group of 12, by the curators of the IN RiVERS gallery.

Hannah and I catch the end of the first show, Hybrid Lifeforms,  curated by Jiyoun Lee-Lodge, and I fell in love with the work of Aidan Sofia Earle.

Sorting, dyed fabric and thread on paper, 2010

Aidan Sofia Earle studied painting but has “always been drawn to fiber arts” and her work brings together painting, embroidery, fabric applique and found objects. The result are beautiful and detailed compositions, that ask you to take a closer look and spend time discovering. One of my favorites is “At Nostrand”, which had kind of  a finding-a-treasure-box effect in me.

Small Pile, watercolor, thread and fabric on paper, 2009

At Nostrand, found objects, mixed media, 2010

About her work, Aidan Sofia Earle says:

“Man made objects accumulate in many ways. Things are collated and stacked, piled and flushed, bundled and lined-up. We have numerous approaches to organizing our belongings and our waste. Even the forces of nature come into play in the way objects are accumulated. The gyres of trash in the oceans, the accretion of items on shorelines, these discarded items, small and large, have transformed landscapes.

From the streets of my environment I gather and accumulate discarded items. As a magpie chooses its treasure I collect the left behind objects of daily life. Physically stitching the objects together I think of the accumulation as story quilts, each item carrying its perceived history while becoming part of a new whole.”

The Collection, wood, metal, dyed fabric, thread, 2008

Aidan worked as a fashion textile dyer and painter, puppet and prop designer builder, carpenter and artists assistant, experiences that allowed her to have contact with a wide range of materials and techniques, which is reflected in her work. She still hand-dyes the fabric and the thread used in her artwork.

Untitled, collage watercolor, thread, pencil on paper, 2008

Aidan Sofia Earle is currently an MFA candidate at the Brooklyn College.  She has exhibited with Sharon Arts Center, NH, Chase Gallery and Bates College Gallery, ME, Target Gallery, VA and had several residency fellowships, including Vermont Studio Center 2009, CAC Woodside 2010. She lives and works in Brooklyn.

Last week I attended really interesting lecture at the Bard Graduate Center by Tristan Weddigen. The talk was entitled “The Warp and Weft of History: Raphael and Le Brun Reflecting on the Textile Medium” and explored the ways tapestries from early modern Europe expressed and reflected the early modern artists intentions, in the same way that painting and sculpture did.

The starting point of the talk was the fact that tapestries were amongst the most expensive and valued works of art on Europe during Renaissance, but that importance isn’t reflected in art theory, either from that time or today. Several examples of tapestries with cartoons from Raphael and Charles LeBrun were discussed, highlighting how tapestries were start mimicking reality, in such a detailed way as paintings. The first examples of a tapestry depicting water reflections, and perspective, and facial expressions come from the 16th century and it is really mesmerizing to think how that result was achieved by weaving with colorful threads.

The Miraculous Draught of Fishes, part of the 10 tapestries series commissioned by     Leo X for the Sistine Chapel, cartoons by Raphael, 1519

However, what really got my attention was learning that it was around this time too that tapestries started depicting textiles, and clothing, and other tapestries in extreme detail. Take a look, for instance, in this tapestry commissioned by Louis XIV and made at Gobelins, following a cartoon of Charles LeBrun. This tapestry depicts Louis XIV visiting the Gobelins workshop in Paris, and you can see represented another tapestry in the background, draped brocade textiles and voluptuous clothing.

Louis XIV visiting the Gobelins Factory, cartoon by Charles LeBrun, 1673

Imagine the work involved on the creation of these tapestries and it’s not hard to understand why their were so valuable. Also, the fact that a tapestry workshop and the work-in-progress was represented in a tapestry (and the fact the Louis XIV commissioned this work and is represented in it) only reinforces how important tapestries were in the society.  Another good example are the early mentioned Sistine Chapel tapestries, commissioned by Leo X (with cartoons by Raphael), which costed at least 16,000 ducats, and that amount was around five times what Michelangelo was paid for the work in the ceiling. (More on the process of creating a tapestry from the cartoon in this video about the Raphael’s Sistine Tapestries)

What happened since then though? At what moment did we stop acknowledging the creativity, the mastership and all the work involved on the creation of fiber art? What made fiber art lose its status as art, and be sent to the complicated-to-define craft concept?

This lecture made me feel overwhelmed with knowledge (I didn’t even attempt to make a summary of it, knowing that I probably missed great part of the art theory discussion about tapestries and their role in the society and art at that time), but also made me feel that I need to study more, much more.

 

Both Ikat Weaving and Natural Dyeing classes have kicked off.But don’t be sad if you missed these opportunities to get started on the art of dyeing. There is more! We still have spaces open on our Fiber Reactive Dyes Class in March.

Don’t get turned off by the name.. we’re not tricking you into a Chemistry 101 Class. Fiber reactive dyes (aka Procion dyes) are actually one of the simplest dyes available. They were developed in 50s, specially for cellulosic fibers (such as cotton, linen, hemp and rayon) but can be used also with wool, silk and nylon, just with a different twist on the procedure.

Whats makes these dyes so special? First they don’t need a fixative, mordant or to be set. The dye, as the name says, reacts directly with the fiber, forming a permanent bond, that is both wash and lightfast. The dyeing process can occur with lower temperatures (yes, no hot baths!) and it uses a minimal quantity of water, making them one of the most eco-friendly dyes available. They’re great for tie-dye, printing, batik, painting of fabric and the colors are bright, bright, bright.

Still not convinced?! Check the next amazing examples..

Hand dyed fabric with Procion dyes, by Vicky Welsh

Tie dyed top with Procion Dyes, by Shabd

Hand dyed with Procion dyes and snow dye technique, by DyeSmithy

Hand dyed cotton perle, by Sassa Lyne

At the Fiber Reactive Dye Class we’ll cover the principles of dyeing with Procion dyes and several techniques, such as tie-dye (but much more than your high school tie-dye), low immersion, painting, snow dye, resists, etc.. Or, in less words, you’ll acquire all the skills to become a real-deal dyer.

 

The Ikat class starts today and I couldn’t be more happy to be teaching it. I thought I would share with all of you a little bit of Ikat history.

Although Ikat is a Malay word, Ikat weaving is present in many cultures around the world, such as African, South American and Asian countries, being one of the oldest textile decoration techniques. The process consists of resist dyeing (normally by tie-dye) the warps and/or wefts before weaving.

Weft being prepared for ikat weaving, India

(photos courtesy of http://textiledesigninindia-indiansaris.blogspot.com)

The patterns include geometric and floral forms, stripes, animals, etc and, depending on how the warp and weft threads are aligned together, can either be super rigorous and sharp or have a blurred look.

When only the warps have been resist dyed the technique is called warp ikat. One great example of warp ikat comes from West African textiles, where the warp is resist dyed with indigo, creating a white and blue striped effect.

Stripwoven ‘country cloth’, Ghana (top right); Yoruba stripwoven cloth, with warp ikat details (bottom right);  Stripwoven Woman’s cloth, Nigeria (top left); Yoruba stripwoven ‘country cloth’ (bottom left)

(photos from John Gillow’s “African Textiles”)

Sometimes, only the weft threads are resist-dyed to create the pattern. This is the technique that we’re going to explore on TAC’s Ikat Class, and as you can see from this silk and gold thread weft ikat from Bali, amazing results can also be achieved.

(photo courtesy of http://indokain.com)

When both warps and wefts are resist-dyed to create a pattern together the technique is called double ikat, and one of the better examples are the famous Patola wovens from India.

Weaving a double-ikat Patola, Patan, India

(photo courtesy of http://textiledesigninindia-indiansaris.blogspot.com)

(Double-Ikat) Patola from textiles

(photo courtesy of http://www.abouttextile.com)

Or the also famous examples from Toraja culture, Indonesia..

Indonesian funeral shroud or hanging, (porilonjong), Central Sulawesi (Celebes), Rongkong, Toraja, cotton with ikat paterns,

(photo courtesy of Honolulu Academy of Arts)

I hope you’re feeling inspired by these international ikat textiles – I can’t wait to see what our students are going to be creating tonight in Brooklyn!

 

It’s been nasty out lately – snow, snow showers, slushy snow, freezing rain.. Well, you know!!  And even if this is my 3rd Winter in NYC, my wardrobe is still not prepared for this weather (talk about Winter denial..).

And it was with wet weather on my mind that I came across the exhibition ” Beauty Born of Use: Natural Rainwear from China and Japan”, now on view at the Textile Museum of Canada. The exhibition features examples of rainwear made in mid 20th century in China and Japan. The garments were made using plant materials that were available locally and renewable, like bamboo, tree barks, reeds, etc, without compromising in a bit the fantastic design.

Rain cape, rice straw, bast fiber, cotton, China, mid 20th century

According to the Textile Museum’s most recent educational tool, Social Fabric (please make a minute to check it, it’s so worth it!), this cape was made using rice straw that was folded and stitched together, assuming the appearance and functionality of a thatched roof. People in remote areas of China still wear these capes to this day.

Rain cape; palm bark fiber, bast fiber, cotton; China, mid 20th century

Rain hat, plant material, grass, Japan, mid 20th century

Since early times, the people in these countries have been using the materials locally available to construct waterproof garments. For instance, in China, this kind of garments go back earlier than Ming dynasty, and where woven using straw, grass and pipal tree leaves. In Japan, people also always used what was readily available to make garments, like rice and wheat straw, reed, bark, vines, and seaweed. However, all these skills and traditions for making weather resistant garments are being forgotten, and like everywhere being replaced by the ubiquitous plastic.

I think rain and snow wouldn’t be so bad if I was protected by one of this! If you’re going to Toronto before May 1, make sure you make a stop to go see and admire these garments. And please tell me more about it!


… because IT’S FRIDAY!

And although that doesn’t necessarily mean that the brake is near for us at TAC, since weekend equals classes happening, I always feel more relaxed (and lazier) when Friday comes.

For that reason, today’s post is nothing but eye candy and eye candy only. This week,  I walked by Nespresso store in Soho and was psyched with their window display.

Sequins + more sequins + bright and wonderland-ish colors + quilting? Got me!

The window displays are part of a collaboration that brought together Indian avant-gard designer Manish Arora and Nespresso. The store’s windows in Soho are covered with sequined and appliqué quilts, and animated little figures (that used coffee capsules in their construction), representing several of New York most emblematic buildings.

It’s been interesting to see so many brands (even not fashion related) having textile-y windows and marketing campaigns lately. Is it fiber art finally getting a well-deserved “sunny place” in the more mainstream world? Let’s hope that it will be more than a seasonal fashion.

Arora also created, inspired by Nespresso 16 different kinds of coffee, a fantastical fashion line, based on a fairy tale (that includes 16 princesses, daughters of Queen Nespresso). The clothes were made of uber-jeweled and sequined fabrics, but also included coffee capsules.

Manish Arora’s Nespresso Princesses

(photos courtesy of luxpresso.com)

Arora’s creations can be seen also in Nespresso stores in Paris, Sydney, Munich, Barcelona, Sao Paolo, Beijing, as well as Morocco, Greece, the Middle East, Japan and  South Africa till January 2011.

 

 

Some days ago, after attending the opening party for the Missing/Missed show, curated by Scott Henstrand my friend and art blogger Lauren Palmor told me about Ghada Amer work. Sara Jone’s work, on view in the exhibition, was the reason that made Lauren think about Amer. And you’ll understand why.

Sara Jones, You Are Now a Strange Here, acrylic and thread on canvas, 2010

(photo courtesty of Sara Jones)

Lauren told me that I really needed to check her work and the video of the talk she gave at ArtTalks, organized by the American Federation of Arts. “You have to see it”, and when Lauren says this she means. And now I want all you to see it too.

Ghada Amer is an american contemporary artist,  born in Egypt,  educated in France and now lives and works in New York City. Her most recognized and characteristic work are her abstract painted and embroidered canvases, often with erotic motifs. However, Ghada Amer is a very versatile multimedia artist and has worked also with sculpture, photography, video, installation and performance.

Ghada Amer (American, born Egypt, 1963). Red Diagonales, 2000. Acrylic, embroidery, and gel medium on canvas. © Ghada Amer, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Private collection

Ghada Amer, The Woman who failed to be Shehrazade, 2008. Acrylic, embroidery and gel medium on canvas.

(photo courtesy of Cheim & Read Gallery)

She has been specially interested in exploring and addressing themes like the “submission of women to the tyranny of domestic life, the celebration of female sexuality and pleasure, the incomprehensibility of love, the foolishness of war and violence, and an overall quest for formal beauty”. (in Brooklyn Museum website) Other themes included the ” Western (mis)perceptions of Middle Eastern culture”, world politics and, recently, she has been working on antiwar pieces. (ArtTalks PR and Brooklyn Museum)

Ghada Amer,  Barbie Loves Ken, Ken Loves Barbie, 1995/2002. Embroidery on cotton. Collection of the artist, courtesy of Gagosian Gallery

In 1991, Amer decided to replace the pencil/brush by the embroidery needle, so she could talk about women and women contemporary issues and problems, through a medium that have always been associated with women’s craft.

“I was always attracted to deal with the subject but I never dared, really, to do it (..) Then I had to, in a way, because I was looking for a way to paint with embroidery. I was depicting women doing domestic activities and the embroidery itself was a domestic activity. I needed to find imagery that would really challenge the embroidery as a medium and contradict it.”

(in TheDailyBeast)

On her talk at ArtTalks, Ghada Amer talks more about her choice for embroidery and her work (start at minute 13, to jump to the embroidery section).

Ghada Amer’s  work has been shown in the USA and internationally in several museums and galleries, including the Whitney Biennal, PS 1 Contemporary Art Center, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Tel-Aviv Art Museum. She is currently represented by the Cheim & Read Gallery in New York.

For almost a year I’ve been living and working in Brooklyn. And even if I adore Brooklyn I often find myself missing the Manhattan-Brooklyn commute. And wandering in Manhattan after work. That’s why each time I have to go to the city to buy supplies for our classes, it really feels like a treat! And I feel that in each of my little “field trips” I end up coming across something new.

Last weeks find was the project that brought together Pratt students, Ralph Pucci and paper.. lots of paper. On the windows of Macy’s, gorgeous and delicate sculptural paper cut dresses were side by side with also gorgeous and luxurious fashion creations (by Pucci?). This might be old news for some of you, but I really feel that amazing work like this can’t have too much coverage.

Pratt + Paper & Ralph Pucci project displayed at Macy’s

 

The project consisted of an interdisciplinary, semester-long study in texture and form to dress Pucci’s Spring 2011 “GIRL 2″ mannequins entirely in paper, from only a white palette. As a result of this study, 20 paper sculpture designs were created by fashion design, fine arts, industrial design, and interior design students from Pratt’s School of Art and Design. The paper for the “Pratt + Paper + Ralph Pucci” project was generously donated by Borden & Riley Company, Inc., and Mohawk Fine Papers, Inc.

The sculpture designs were exhibited at Ralph Pucci International/Gallery Nine Showroom and the top three works were selected by a panel of distinguished judges (including Linda Fargo, Vice President of Fashion, Bergdorf Goodman; Nicole Fischelis, Vice President of Fashion, Macy’s; Greg Mills, Founder of Greg Mills Showroom; Jens Risom, furniture designer; Ken Smart, Creative Director at Ralph Pucci International; Anna Sui, fashion designer; Deborah Turbeville, photographer; and Vicente Wolf, interior designer).

All the winning looks  were designed by undergraduate students:  Dana Otto was awarded first place; Meredith Lyon and Beatrice Weiland, juniors in the Department of Fashion Design won second place; and graduate interior design student Tom Forsyth won third place. Su Ting Chen and Samantha Johnson (Interior Design ’11 from Maspbeth, N.Y. and Pullman, Wash., respectively) received top prize for their show-stopping sculpture design that hung from the ceiling of the Gallery Nine Showroom.

View of the showroom with Pucci’s Spring 2011 GIRL 2 mannequins and hanging paper sculptures by Su Ting Chen (Interior Design ’11) and Samantha Johnson (Interior Design ’11), first place winners for sculpture

(photo courtesy of http://dailyfix.interiordesign.net)


Detail of paper dress by third place winner Thom Forsyth

(photos courtesy of ralphpucci.net)


Paper dress by second place Meredith Lyon and Beatrice Weiland and hanging paper sculptures by Su Ting Chen and Samantha Johnson


Paper dress by first place winner Dana Otto (Industrial Design ’11)


Congratulations to the winners for the amazing work! However,  looking to the rest of the designs, one has to agree with what Pucci recounted overhearing form the Juri: ‘It’s not fair, they’re all so good’.(via http://gateway.pratt.edu)

I’ll leave you with some more works…

(photos courtesy of coolpicturegallery.net )

(photo courtesy of Mieke ten Have)

 

 

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