Archives for posts with tag: textiles

A few weeks ago, we were approached by a nice Irish man working for Japanese TV. He was working on a segment that highlighted the “craft wave” in and around NYC and Brooklyn. In particular he was interested in highlighting our weaving and shoe making classes, and he discussed with us the various ways in which we felt this “craft wave” was growing, affecting individuals, as well as the economy.

I feel like we’ve been having this conversation a lot, through several interviews happening around the same time (EcoSalon, Brooklyn Based), and it’s really actually helped in how we run things here. For the most part, we are doing what we believe in and what we think will make people happy. But when you are asked specific questions, it forces you to wrap your mind around what you’re actually doing — what is going on in a larger picture. And rather than just feeling it, you can talk about it in a more concrete way. I like that.

Alisa, one of our wonderful previous interns, shows up on the video as a weaver. She is Japanese, and her father still lives there. So when he randomly saw her on TV one night, he sent her the clip through Youtube:

Now I only wish I could understand Japanese and know what it says under my face while I’m speaking..

(photo courtesy EcoSalon)

Be sure to check out Elana Herzog’s show, Into the Fray, at LMAKprojects February 19.
It will be up February 19 – March  27 with an artist talk March 6.

Herzog alters and manipulates found textiles, including bedspreads and rugs, by stapling, tearing and draping.  These fabrics are transformed into new surfaces, often resembling organic decay or growth on the gallery walls they inhabit.

(Photos courtesy of

Yesterday, Isa and I had a very nice ending to a day of bad news. We headed up to the American Folk Art Museum for the Fashion Lab in Process panel discussion “Re-Made in America” moderated by Daria Dorosh and featuring a wonderful group of speakers:

Sarah Scaturro, the textile conservator at the Cooper Hewitt; Eileen Fisher; Melissa Kirgin and Xing-Zhen Chung Hilyard of Eko-Lab; Meiling Chen of Fearless Dreamer; Jose Martinez; Gayil Nalls; Despina Papadopoulos; Sabine Seymour; and presenters from Shima Seiki (creator of WHOLEGARMENT knitting machine)

The discussion was meant to examine the future of fashion, and exploring what the next evolution for fashion will be, and whether or not sustainable practices are compatible with technology and further advancements.

The conversation was very interesting, and I attribute this to the wide variety of speakers and backgrounds, as well as great questions coming from Daria Dorosh, founder of FLiP (Fashion Lab in Process) While the conversation went through all the most pertinent topics related to sustainability in fashion, and how possible it is, I was happy that the main idea that came out of the discussion was that it would not be one thing that could save us all, it will be a combination over time — but the key will be to take the developments and educate the consumer.

So many interesting things were touched upon like the WHOLEGARMENT knitting machines, and an interactive app being developed by Jose Marinez that would provide tags in clothing that will pull up vital background information on the garment.

I was also so happy to finally meet Daria, who will be participating in the upcoming Earth Day event with Abigail Doan, and learn more about FLiP:

(EkoLab deconstructions for FLiP)

“Fashion Lab in Process, (FliP™) is a new company created and directed by Fashion Institute of Technology, NY, educator and artist, Daria Dorosh, PhD.

FliP™ uses a public performance process to communicate a sustainable design philosophy with a
social responsibility agenda that addresses the current state of the fashion world and beyond.

The concept behind FliP™ is to bring designers and customers together through a creative retail experience. FliP™ presents fashion surrounded by video, art and performance to celebrate its reconstructed, repurposed, don’t-waste-anything aesthetic. The public is invited to join in the fun, watch a garment makeover, and walk away with a unique fashion purchase.

FliP™ will demonstrate how mass produced fashion can be made sustainable by being transformed into one- of-a-kind fashions through a process that re-values garments and involves the public in a unique fashion experience.

Fashion Lab in Process is ready to share its novel concept and program that increases
opportunities for young designers. To find out how this can be done for retailers who would like a FliP™ fashion makeover in their store, please contact Daria Dorosh, Director.” – (

Which brings me to the plug : )

Help us get you educated — join us Sunday, February 13, 1-4PM for a Fashion Week Mending Brunch!

(Courtesy Dr.X’s Free Associations, Lewis W. Hine)
  • Bring (1) item from your closet that needs some TLC
  • TAC staff will help you transform it through dyeing, screen printing, and sewing
  • Go home happy with something brand “new”!

What a busy week! We’ll leave you with a nice, relaxing film put together by Etsy about a 91-year old Alaskan moccasin-maker named Mabel. We want our own Mabel moccasins to kick around this weekend…

Students will be finishing up the last class of Shoe-Making 101: North American Footwear, where they got to choose from 17 different designs for their leather shoes.

If you missed this round of Shoe Making, you can join in April! Check it out.


(courtesy Craft Zine)

Textile arts are rarely associated with the stillness, quietude, and self-conscious theatricality of minimalism and post-modernism. Often the phrase “textile arts” erroneously encourages on to conjure visions of patchwork , crazy quilts, and large swaths of bright weavings. One of the great successes of the Textile Art Center is its persistent expansion of our understanding of textile art’s limitations and vulnerabilities through its diverse exhibitions program.

MoMA PS1, too, is currently contributing to the reframing of textile arts in a contemporary context with its current exhibition of the paintings of Berlin-based artist Sergej Jensen. The term “paintings” here is used loosely and echoes the words of artist Ghada Amer (in a presentation recently featured on the TAC blog). Created from a diverse selection of found textiles, Jensen’s works on view include both pieces produced over the past eight years, as well as a number of new works created on site in a studio in PS1. His large canvasses echo the staunch minimalism of Callum Innes and Barnett Newman, and Jensen is remarkable in his ability to replicate the themes of classic abstraction in traditionally maximalist materials like silks, cashmere, diamond dust, and wool.

Jensen’s “paintings” invite the viewer to evaluate the traces of the artist’s mark on the fabric. Silks are pulled and stretched, wools are painted in oils, silk is powdered with diamond dust. Bleach, dye, and stitching are as important as color, shape, and balance. The intentional is lost in the accidental, a natural by-product of working with soft materials which are pulled, stressed, prodded, and manipulated. Jensen is able to physically shape images with the unique attributes found only in textiles and textile arts, balancing the forms of fabric with the classic shapes of modern art.

This exhibition is deceptively pictorial, the works challenging both as paintings and as pieces of textile art. Can painting and textile be so seamlessly combined? Is it possible to display both artistic expressions without one medium being lost or overtaken by the other? Jensen is masterful in the way he elegantly blurs these boundaries with a weighed consideration for his materials and their relationships.

A perfect example of Jensen’s talent for the balance between textile and painting is Blessed, a succinct and surprisingly poetic meditation on fabric and art history. The “painting” is simple in its composition: two pieces of sheer grey cashmere wool (one in a lighter shade, one in a darker shade) are sewn together, cutting the canvas in half horizontally. The resulting artwork looks like a horizon line—the endless expanse conjures references to traditional seascapes, Mark Rothko, and the Western landscape canon.

Sergej Jensen, Blessed, 2008, Sewn cashmere and thread
Collection of Charlotte and Bill Ford

United Nations is another work which sums up the possibilities for merging the two-dimensionality of painting with the multi-dimensionality of textiles and crafts. The piece features a rainbow-striped, machine-knit afghan stretched and sewn on a linen ground. By framing a piece of machine-made textile as a work of art, Jensen encourages the viewer to consider the divide between high and low art and the gulf between textiles and “fine arts.”

Sergej JensenUnited Nations, 2005Hand knitted wool on linen220 x 230 cm
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Purchased with funds provided by
the Acquisition and Collection Committee

Jensen is consistent in his experimentation and thoughtful pursuit of found textile as a meaningful medium. His works are challenging, intelligent, and humorous statements about the imposed and negligible chasms between art media. Highly recommended.

Sergej Jensen is organized by the Aspen Art Museum. The exhibition is curated by Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson and organized at MoMA PS1 by Peter Eleey, Curator of MoMA PS1.

Lauren Palmor’s experience in the art world has included positions at museums, art magazines, non-profits, and artist foundations. Read more at her blog

An exciting weekend.

Friday was the Opening for Missing/Missed, curated by Scott Henstrand. The turnout was great, and the feedback thus far has been positive. Congratulations to Scott, and all the artists, on a wonderful show!

Visit our Facebook album for more photos

or see more about the show here.

And on Sunday, we had a first meeting with our 6 new Resident Artists!

And, so, I’d like you to meet them as well:

Denise Maroney

Denise recently returned from Lebanon, where she produced a traveling theater group called “Books in Motion”. The group traveled throughout the area, to perform small acts in abandoned train stations. She also helped design and create all the costumes.

Now she is back in NYC and will join us for the next leg of her journey, exploring her life long interest in dress and why we choose to wear what we do, as well as her strong admiration for Islamic fashion.

Check out this interview with Denise on her work in Lebanon.



Astrid Lewis Reedy

Astrid is a graphic designer by profession, but undergoing the process of exploring new routes of expression and employment through textiles and product design. She is a machine knitter, felter, and quilter who uses collage methods to combine many things to create a whole.

While at TAC, Astrid plans to create a first collection of home wares focusing on the the things we “keep” through tangible and intangible heirlooms. She also wants to continue her attempts to “hack” into her electronic knitting machine, directly connecting it to a computer and trying out new patterning techniques.



Julia Ramsey

Julia is an incredibly talented machine knitter, who has created commercial work, as well as completed her own collections of knit wedding dresses, and other knit sculpture exploring the consciousness of the human body.

While at TAC, Julia plans to research and develop her interest in the idea of a “dowry” and how textiles have traditionally come into play. Focusing on the history of the dowry in Georgia and Armenia, Julia plans to create parts of a dowry, that follow fictional characters.

Tali Weinberg

Tali is a current graduate student at NYU. Her thesis will explore the growth of community and contemporary textile crafts, in relation to ecology and social justice.

Aside from her activist and community organizational work, Tali is also a weaver, natural dyer, and sewer. While at TAC she will use the others around her, whether artists or students, as part of her research, while working on her own artwork.


Jill Magi

Jill is a poet, writer, and artist. In her current work, she uses embroidery techniques to draw on paper, also exploring repetition, the artist series, installation, projection and performance. Very attuned to language through writing, her approach is most often conceptual, playing with the subtext of language as well as the presence of the hand and body.

She currently has an installation in the Missing/Missed exhibition at TAC, and plans to spend her time here on a new project related to labor and work.

Whitney Crutchfield

We first met Whitney two summers ago, when she was a volunteer in our first year of Summer Camp. How happy we are to have her join us again!

Having just completed her MFA in Textiles from Colorado State, Whitney primarily studies repeat patterns and printing methods, and finds her relaxation through weaving.

After completing her thesis, she wants to explore the refuse from the process of creating — what can be done with the things were not purposefully created?


As General Manager at TAC, I often answer the question of whether or not I create anymore. And my answer is usually no, that I’ve really devoted myself to Textile Arts Center, and found far more fulfillment in that — watching others create — than creating for myself. While this is true, and it’s been several years since doing my own artwork, I left last nights meeting incredibly inspired to make that time for myself again.

I can’t wait to see what these 6 talented women do in the next couple of months, and finding my own creativity again through discussion and learning — even if I’m just sitting in on critiques.

I am incredibly lucky to have this life at Textile Arts Center.

In his latest book, “At Home”, Bill Bryson has dedicated a whole, enormously entertaining and informative chapter to the dressing room. Through the recounting of the history of this room, Bryson discusses some of the most decidedly exotic fashion trends of the Victorian era and earlier.

In his lively and engaging way, Bryson suggests that, “it can seem as if the whole impulse of fashion has been to look maximally ridiculous. If one could be maximally uncomfortable as well, the triumph was all the greater.”

Because it is impossible to paraphrase Bryson in a way that is more witty or lovely, I will simply include an excerpt of this chapter starting with the discussion on the surprisingly irrational trend of male wig-wearing starting in the 1660’s that lasted for 150 years.

“Wigs might be made of almost anything- human hair, horsehair, cotton thread, goat hair, silk. One maker advertised a model made of fine wire. They came in many styles- bag, bob, campaign, grizzle, Ramillies, cauliflower, brown tie, riding bob, and more, all denoting some crucial difference in length of braid or bounciness of curl. Wigs were so valuable – a full one could cost 50 pounds – that they were left in wills. The more substantial the wig, the higher up the social echalon one stood- one became literally a bigwig. Wigs were also one of the first things snatched by robbers.

All wigs tended to be scratchy, uncomfortable, and hot, particularly in summer. To make them more bearable, many men shaved their heads, so we should be surprised to see many famous seventeenth- and eighteenth- century figures as their wives saw them first thing in the morning. It was an odd situation. For a century and a half, men got rid of their own hair which was perfectly comfortable, and instead covered their heads with something foreign and uncomfortable. Very often it was actually their own hair made into a wig. People who couldn’t afford wigs tried to make their own hair look like a wig”

This all sounds particularly funny because the victims of the fashion trend are men like Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, men who built the social and legal structure of this country. Men of gravity and importance who it seems, made time to fret about the beauty and trendiness of their hair. The susceptibility to follow an irrational trend makes them seem almost too human. It’s rattling to think that the founding fathers’ judgment is not beyond reproach, at least where hairstyle is concerned.

Although this sensitivity to the fashion of the times seems like a weakness, upon deeper consideration it shows a kind of personal commitment to social and cultural cohesion that is necessary to form a united whole, or social unit, like a country. After all, fashion trends often carry in them a political statement, and are by nature faithfully democratic.

Everyone that asks me about Portugal will get trapped in a long, detailed, complicated and uber-adjectivated monologue about food, weather, music, politics and people.
However, I normally fail on talking about of one of the things I love more about Portugal (and being Portuguese) which are the Portuguese textiles.

Recently, while browsing through some portuguese fiber-lover blogs, I came across with the fashion brand SENNES. SENNES means search of essence and it was the result of the collaboration between fashion designer Nele de Block and Pedro Franco, who introduced her to the traditional wool weaving of the Serra da Estrela region in Portugal.

Serra da Estrela is the highest point of Portugal, and the coldest one too. SENNES collection was inspired by a traditional super dense and water-proof blanket (or manta) produced in the region. Textile industry has been an intense activity on Serra da Estrela area since the 12th century, and its recognized by the extreme quality of the wool and woven work.

Portuguese shepherd blankets or mantas

(photos courtesy of ECOLA, one of the few remaining local textile industries)

SENNES collection is totally made in Portugal and only the wool from sheep that live in the mountains is used and it’s spun, carded and woven locally. The wool is not submitted to any after-treatment, to maintain its natural quality, and felting occurs by washing it in the cold, soft and non polluted water of the natural springs of the region. Colors are based on the natural range of color of the wool and no chemical dyes are used.

(photos courtesy of SENNES; more photos, catalog and info on their website)

If you are feeling inspired and would like to try portuguese Serra da Estrela wool on your fiber endeavors, you can get it from here. And look how soft and nice it looks!

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!

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]