Archives for the month of: December, 2010

It’s been a fast and furious year. We’ve been looking back, so here we go:

January, February and March are a blur of real estate agents, contractors, plumbers, electricians, lawyers. Working from home, Root Hill, back and forth from Carroll St to home and back again. Leaving behind another world before moving in to a new space that would allow an expansion and new ideas to form.

April was more building, felt walls, scrubbing floors, re-starting weaving courses and After School.

(electricians in on the action)

May – June no air conditioning. Lots of Ikea trips, building, painting. One more trip to the Dept of Buildings and we might die.

July and August are a hot mess of children Monday – Friday, 9-5pm and it is awesome. We can not be more proud of the children we have the pleasure to teach in our Summer Camp. The level of work that comes from them is incredible and we enter September looking forward to what the new After School program will be.

(kids of TAC go to MAD)

Free After Work Shops and Bags for the People start off a great series of free programming.

September, we throw a very different kind of Fashion’s Night Out event, where we are joined by so many wonderfully smart, beautiful, and talented designers and sustainable fashion experts to kick off a series of events we will have around each NY Fashion Week.

And who could forget the opening party and first gallery exhibition, Cutting Edge, curated by Joetta Maue? Packed wall to wall, with Raya and Fire Island Beer… a great way to start our full course load of adult classes and the series of gallery exhibitions.

October, classes are in full swing, free knitting workshops, and suddenly we are announcing January courses and planning gallery exhibitions for 2012. We realize we live in the future.

November, we celebrate the hand-made object and the process of learning with Kimberly Hall and The Virgin Knitters. Rubalad/Gemini&Scorpio uses TAC as its kick-off point for their giant Halloween Masquerade Ball. We call for artists far and wide as Scott Henstrand would curate our January show Missing/Missed and we would begin our Studio Rental Program with 6 talented textilers.

December, TAC members take to the hills of Peru. We celebrate the Holidays with a massive ice-sculpture-neon-party with neighbors BK Guild and Lite Brite Neon. BK Craft Central holds one-half of it’s fantastic Craft Market at TAC and we spend too much money. But get to present our first foray into product at 3rd Ward.

And now! It’s December 31, we’re about to close the studio and celebrate the year. Thank you to everyone who has supported TAC this year — whether you took a class, attended a workshop, participated in an event, shared your artwork, or just hung out with us. We can’t show our appreciation enough. Looking forward to a fantastic 2011..

Happy New Year, everyone!

New Year, New Life.

The Textile Arts Center has teamed up with Sewing Rebellion NYC to host a new monthly free workshop, The Mending Circle.

The Mending Circle wants especially to be a place for people to meet, share skills and make time for fixing and mending clothes and textiles.

Our society produces way too many textiles, with unfortunately  a huge impact on the environment. The “wear-tear-and-buy-new” cannot be an acceptable attitude. So starting in 2011, we all need to be responsible for the change.

Mending is one of the oldest rituals related to textiles, as old as textile production itself, and has mostly been lost. We all remember that our grandmothers used to know how to darn socks, but no one seems to remember the how-to part anymore.

We also like to believe that the things we own are full of meaning. And clothes aren’t different. Like the dress we wore on the first date with John, but also on our first day at work and even to that funny random afternoon at the park. Our clothes are full of our lives and are part of us. And thus, should stay with us and be nurtured and taken care of.

TAC and Sewing Rebellion share the belief that we can start making the difference with little things, such as mending our own clothes and using them forever. We also want help preserve memory and the simple mending skills for future generations.

Come join us on the first Thursday of every month, starting next January 6th, from 6:30 to 9pm. Bring clothes to mend, new and old projects, friends and skills and knowledge to share. We’ll have sewing machines, needles, thread, notions and friendly people to help you.

We’re starting our Spring Classes series next Tuesday and I couldn’t be more excited. Amongst the wide range of classes that we’re offering, I want to tell you today about the Shibori class.

Shibori, now a universal term, is the Japanese word for manipulating fabric before dyeing (the word is derived from the Japanese root verb shiboru, which means to “wring, squeeze, press”) (…) in Shibori for Textile Artists, by Janice Gunner

(photo courtesy of HonestlyWTF)

The Shibori technique dates back to between 6th and 8th century in Japan (the earliest known example of shibori dyed cloth dates back to the 8th century). Indigo was the main dye used, to pattern hemp, cotton and silk.

(photo courtesy of HonestlyWTF)

There are several folding, binding, twisting, stitching techniques that have been used and all have specific names. Like Kanobo shibori, for the typical  tie-dye, Arashi (Japanese for “storm”) shibori, a pole-wrapping technique, Kumo shibori, pleat and bond resist technique, and Itajime shibori, a shape-resist technique where the cloth is folded like an accordion and sandwiched between two pieces of wood.

Shibori Master Motohiko Katano (1889-1975) (top) and Shibori dyed cloth (bottom)

(photos courtesy of

There are still a few spots available for the Shibori class starting on January 8th, so don’t miss this opportunity to come to TAC to learn the secrets of this ancient dye technique. And as inspiration for the products and fabrics that you can create, I leave you with some gorgeous fashion creations..

Suno Shibori Tie Dye Scarf Jacket, Spring/Summer 2010

(via CoolSpotters)

Shibori dyed top, by Brooklyn based Upstate, Spring/Summer 2011

Shibori dyed scarf, by Brooklyn based Upstate, Spring/Summer 2011

(via HonestlyWTF)

As most of you, I stayed snowed in yesterday, after an epic failed attempt to get to work. Biggest snowstorm since 1996, that’s what they say. It was a little bit of a frustrating day since I couldn’t get any work done – no internet, no right knitting needles, … However, each time that I’d look through my window, I couldn’t help to smile. Snow crystals, snow flakes, snow, snow mountains, snowed streets and cars.. Snow is so pretty!

And it made me remind of one of the first Abigail Doan‘s works I came across and that I truly loved, the Snowed Crocheted series.

Abigail Doan, Crocheted Snow 01, 2005

Abigail Doan, Crocheted Snow 03, 2005

Abigail Doan, Crocheted Snow 08, 2005

(photos courtesy of Abigail Doan)

I really love how the fine crochet work complements the delicate balance of the snow flakes on the branches. And just how simple and really beautiful it is.

And then, with my mind set on snow-y textiles, I started remembering the lovely white felted yurt, by Janice Arnold, at the Fashioning Felt exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt on Spring/Summer 2009. I went to see the exhibition on the opening night and it was crowded, but I remember coming back several times to this room and just stare at the walls and ceiling. The felt work is really complex and intricate, but expelling such a peaceful aura. Just like snow.

Janice Arnold, Palace Yurt, Site specific installation at the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design, 2009

(photo courtesy of Apartment Therapy)

Janice Arnold, Palace Yurt, site specific installation at the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design, 2009

(photo courtesy of Janice Arnold)

And finally, ended my snowy textiles dream with the installation piece World Wide Web, by Shane Waltener, commissioned for the exhibition Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting, at the Museum of Art and Design, New York, in 2007. I moved to New York 2 years too late, but I’d love love love to have seen this one live.

Shane Waltener, A World Wide Web, 2007

(photos courtesy of Shane Waltener)


Hope you had a nice and cozy snowed in day!

Last winter I bought one of the ever-popular eternity scarves. I searched and searched on Etsy for the right thing (Of course it had to be unique. No H&M crap for me…) Finally, I came across Yokoo — who continues to be a fave Etsy seller for her product and styling.

And almost the same day that my new Nantucket Scarf arrived in the mail, I came across the NY Times article featuring the seller, talking about making the transition to turning her craft into a profit. Upon searching, I realized via Vice Magazine, that I’d been missing out on Yokoo all of 2009!

I took particular interest in this, as we had just gotten started with Textile Arts Center, and had a main goal of helping folks to make these kinds of transitions, whether they were sick of the office life or had lost their job, or maybe just needed a new creative outlet.

So, why the tangent back to Yokoo’s rise to popularity in 2009? Because we are having a Warm Weather Gear class, and her items are entirely classic, beautiful, relevant inspiration for Winter 2011!

(all photos courtesy Yokoo)

Join us for Crochet 101: Warm Weather Gear on Tuesdays, 6:30-9PM January 4 – 25.

When you make it yourself, it will last beyond seasonal trends.

Too busy? Then we support you supporting Yokoo. : )

It’s time, it’s time!

Textile Arts Center needs new interns for the Spring term.

We’re looking for FOUR new people to join our team in the following areas from January – April:


Product Development

General Studio


If you or someone you  know is interested in becoming involved at the Textile Arts Center, is a student or individual able to commit 15-20 hours per week in exchange for classes and studio time, this could be the right internship for you!

TAC interns are an integral part of the team, taking on larger projects in addition to the day-to-day. There are no coffee runs (except for yourself) and we love you forever.

Send in resume and cover letters to, subject: [position title]

Tali Weinberg is an awesome fiber artist, weaver, dyer, blogger and TAC’s friend living in Brooklyn. Tali’s work entitled “The males have wings while it is the females whose bodies are crushed to extract their red dye. But red is also the color of the sun” is about cochineal.

Cochineal is a tiny tiny bug that lives on cactus throughout most of all Central South America and that yields a beautiful red dye when crushed. Cochineal has been used as a dye for almost 2000 years by Precolumbian peoples. As a dye it has the extraordinary ability of shifting is color from orange to purple, just by changing the pH of the dye bath, from acidic to more alkaline, respectively.






Women collecting cochineal in Peru , from the cactus (left) and cochineal bugs dried (right) – images courtesy of Turkey Red Journal

Different shades obtained with cochineal with different mordants and pHs

(image courtesy of Jean Dean’s Wild Color)

However, Tali’s work isn’t only about cochineal. As Talis describes it “This particular piece refers to the maquiladoras (sweatshops), the violence against women they have fueled, and existing alternatives – and it relies on your participation to be complete.”

(images courtesy of Tali Weinberg)

This woven blanket was part of  a show to raise awareness about violence in Juarez, Mexico, in September. It was showed again this month in Queens, at Thalia Theater.

For several months Tali dyed ten thousands of yards of organic cotton, silk and wool with cochineal and used it to weave blankets and pillows. Here’s the video that documents all the process:

“This process of making contains a dual metaphor. It is a visualization of the violence that often lies behind the products we consume (even objects made for our own comfort and security). It is simultaneously a visualization of an alternative: a hand production process that brings together producer and consumer and that has thoughtfully considered the network of people and materials that make up the production of this particular object of comfort and intimacy.”

Cochineal was used extensively in Peru during the Precolumbian and Colonial times and his still used today in traditional fiber arts, as Owyn and I had the chance to see while there. And the process of dyeing today with cochineal in Peru, or the one that Tali used, is still the same that produced this red and vibrant color 1000 years ago:

Detail of coca bag, Peru, Moche culture, 5th-6th century, Metropolitan Museum of Art collection. The image is also the cover of Elena Phips’ overview on cochineal distribution and use throughout the world “Cochineal Red – The Art History of a Color”, published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2010.

(image courtesy of Metropolitan Museum of Art)

It was definitely a mad house in here this weekend.

After our blow out holiday party — which was nicely rounded out by neon decor, ice-sculptures, the Brooklyn Girls Choir, and a live nativity scene — we hosted one half of the BK Craft Central Holiday Market.

While I was thoroughly exhausted, by the end of the weekend, I was happy to spend 11 hours perusing the many works of the talented folks that filled the studio all weekend.

In case you didn’t make it, and are still looking for some great gifts for anyone, these people will surely sell to you in your last minute shopping frenzy. I’ve gathered some of my faves:

For a co-worker:

Wonderful bath salts, soaps, and scrubs from Volta Organics


For a good friend:

Pendant necklaces from SKT Ceramics


For the craft-crazy:

Hand spun, hand dyed yarn from HelloMello Hand Spun


For the sweet-tooth:

Oreo-Chip Cookies from Bean & Apple (highly addictive)


For the self-analytical writer:

Board Game spiral bound notebook from Another Work In Progress


AND Textile Arts Center has a few necklaces, pairs of suspenders, keychains, and woven cowls left! Stop by the studio if you want to check them out.

Thanks to all the vendors for sharing their talents, and all the customers for supporting local artists! Happy Holidays!

A ways back we had a strange/serendipitous meeting with The Loom — “a six-piece indie rock band from Brooklyn featuring male and female vocals, horns, guitars, banjo, ukulele, keys and percussion that CMJ describes as “Appalachian garment, angst-y stitching.” (

They were about to shoot their feature video for Break Thru Radio at the Carroll St. bridge, when they passed by the studio…and of course saw looms. So, obviously, they shot the video here instead.

I happen to remember it being a particularly rough day, and this was an awesome way to end the day.

Happy Friday!

And finished up your shopping at the BK Craft Central Holiday Market this weekend at Textile Arts Center and Littlefield! Sat + Sun, 11 – 6

After 10 amazing days, Owyn and I are back from Peru.

Beautiful landscapes? Check. Cultural shock? Check. Tasty and  (sometimes) scary food? Check. Overdose on back-strap woven and knitted textiles? Check check check.

We mainly raced through Lima, Cusco, Ollantaytambo, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, trying to take the most of the experience in the few days we had. I personally had a cosmic moment when looking to the Machu Picchu from the Huayna Picchu mountain. For the first time since I remember, I had no thoughts in my mind but being mesmerized about what I was seeing. We didn’t have the time to go through the photos yet, neither everything can be told in a single post. But please keep your eye on future posts…

Today I want to tell you about one particular textile/cloth. In every place we went, we kept seeing women wearing square woven mantles as a means to carry everything, from handwoven textiles to sell, food and snacks, and their babies. They would simply bundle and fold the mantle and knot it across the chest. Simple, easy and efficient.

(images courtesy of google images search)

A while ago, I came across a tutorial video from Evergreen Warp that explore the same idea – how to make a bag from a square meter of fabric, just by knotting (Owyn posted their wrapping gifts techniques last week).

How versatile can actually a square fabric be! Really, from scarf to bag to baby carrier to little blanket.. And how meaningful can it be, if you weave it yourself like the Peruvian women.