April 30, 2018

Clothing Moth Damage Prevention Begins Now!

I love my cuddly, colorful, cashmere sweaters 
and classic, navy, wool blazers, 

and so do these guys- Yuck!

(fyi, they have a three phase, half hour mating ritual that sounds like a pulp fiction novel)

Black carpet beetle larva
Now is the time of year to do something about it so that next fall your gorgeous woolens aren't full of holes and thin spots.
Most likely, you won't see the moths, but you may see the carpet beetle larva, and by that time it is too late . 
All these pests munch on protein. Hair,  whether it's yours or your dog, cat, hamster or camel hair coat, they love it! They also dig dander, dog food, piano felts, wool carpets and feather pillows. They are attracted to perspiration and food left on garments. The carpet beetle larvae has a more varied diet of  almost any type of animal product such as leather, wool, silk, feathers, hair, dried meat, dead insects, and even dried plant material. 
Silverfish consume  book bindings, carpet, clothing, coffee, dandruff, glue, hair, paper, photos, plaster, and sugar. They will damage wallpaper in order to consume the paste. Other substances they may eat include cotton, linen and silk.

What to do? 
Reduce the risk-
You know those gorgeous, warm spring days and warm breezy nights when you open all the windows? Make sure your window screens are in. And those nights that you pop out on the deck to use the grill? That's when the moths can come in. They can also come in with your new Goodwill find, or new store purchase. Make sure these are cleaned before you put them in your closet. 

Another option is to put the item in a ziplock bag, roll out the air, seal and put it in your freezer for a few days. This may kill some odor causing bacteria as well. Which is a technique used by hipster kids wearing selvedge edge jeans without washing them for a year. Ask me how I know. 
Vacuum!!!! Especially under the heavy furniture where it is dark too.
They can live in cracks in the floor and baseboards munching on pet hair. 

Don't set up a moth banquet! 
A dark corner with wool in a closet which is close to a humid bathroom is setting up a banquet for the moths!
Clothes moths thrive at 75 percent relative humidity, and it's hard for them to survive in less than 20 to 30 percent relative humidity.  Air conditioning is helpful. 
Anything that you regularly use that is cleaned and gets air and sunshine, most likely won't be a problem. 

Cleaning and Storage for the summer
It seems these pests are active all year in the house but the hatching of eggs and development of the hungry larva depend on temperature and humidity levels. In NJ, I begin to clean and store the heaviest clothing which I no longer need in May.  The lightest weight cashmere sweaters I use almost all summer but I keep them protected in zip lock bags. 

 I use those big plastic tubs just for winter storage no longer.  Don't smash the clothes in, give them some breathing room and include a moth sachet or a cotton ball with lavender and or mint oil on it. Put the cotton ball in a small plastic food container on the top of the clothes with holes poked in it. You don't want the oil to stain the clothing. Don't use a plastic bag because some oils will eat through the thin plastic.

Clean your woolens and silks before storage and give them one vacation in light and air over the winter. Just open the bin, dump the sweaters on the bed, refold and replace. This prevents any problems from stale odors or moisture that was trapped in the bin and it prevents creasing and wrinkles.

Hand washing sweaters
You will want to dry clean blazers and trousers but many wool sweaters can be safely hand washed.
Just don't use hot water, lots of soap and vigorous agitation or you will felt the sweater into a miniature version of its former self. 
Fill  a basin in the sink  with  cold or slightly warm water.  Dissolve about a half or one tablespoon of shampoo or detergent per sweater.   I use ivory liquid soap because it has no dye and it dissolves easily in water.  If you use too much soap you will have to rinse many times to remove it. 
 Submerge, and swish the sweater around in the basin. Do not lift and dunk, as the weight of the water stretches it. Let it sit 5 to 10 minutes.  To rinse, hold the sweater to the side of the basin and spill out the water. refill with clear water, swish and drain. Repeat until the water runs clear without soap bubbles. Lift the sweater in a ball with both hands supporting its weight and gently squeeze out the excess water. Do not twist or wring. Still holding in a ball, transfer it to a towel laying flat. I use the top of my washer. Gently lay the sweater in a long line from neck to hem and roll into a long roll in the towel then squeeze the roll to remove even more water. Now unroll and lay the sweater out on a new dry towel and shape it to lay flat without wrinkles. Adjust each sleeve and part until it is fairly wrinkle free. Do not stretch out the hem or the sleeve ribbing. I use a wire grid laying over my laundry sink to dry sweaters.  When the sweater is dry you can fluff it on the air setting in the dryer along with a towel. You may also use low heat if there are wrinkles or use a steam iron to lightly steam it. Don't touch the iron to the surface. 

In the winter I have my woolens hanging uncovered in the closet, but come spring with the higher temperatures, open doors and increased humidity, I place all the woolen clothing I am still using in light weight, nylon, side zippered, garment bags. I drop a sachet of lavender oil in the bottom. This way I have my spring sweaters and blazers convenient to use but it is more difficult for the moths and carpet beetles to get to them. 

Here are some sources to get you started.

Hangers, Bags, Sachets
During the winter I hang my cardigan sweaters on the really flat hangers with the velvety surface made for sweaters! These save room, prevent the sweaters from falling off the hanger, and prevent those stretched out shoulder bumps too. The pullovers go on the shelf.
hangers with flocked surface. For storage, fold all your sweaters in a plastic bin.

These garment bags with a side zipper and are not easy to find!  This allows access to anything inside, without needing to take the bag off or unload the garments in the front. Don't buy a garment bag that has a center front zipper!
Buy the long ones and you will always have room for a dress or coat sweater or wool pants. 

moth sachets  You can keep them for a very long time by refreshing them with lavender and mint oil found at Whole Foods. You can also slip a sachet under your wool carpets.
Why not use moth balls? Because they kill moths and you too! They are really toxic. Besides who wants to smell like your great grandmother's attic?

more info on carpet beetles

November 3, 2017

Remembering Loved Ones: Portraits Made From Clothing

Precious saved clothing. Seven garments were used in this portrait.

The reference photo.

The same tie dyed dress worn  in the photo and a white nightgown to be used to reference the white scalloped macrame hammock used at home.

pajamas used for the pillow

 The basic form of the figure is made, now it is cut out and applied to the background.

The extra pillow and background were eliminated,  the left hand position redone,  shadows and folds added.

I like the ethereal look but it needs some suggestion of grounding.

A leaf is used to lead the eye

A tiny strip is used for the hammock support which also adds direction.

A dark blue dress fabric scrap adds weight, stability, dimension and interest. This work was intended to be cropped 5 x 7" as seen below but I prefer the larger 8 x 10" version, seen here, for its mystery. I left the choice up to the client. 

September 22, 2017

New Book Includes Work by Kevan Lunney

Nearly 500 photos of artwork with personal insights from 76 of today's most noteworthy artists show the tremendously broad range of possibilities that working in three dimensions can offer. In conjunction with the other two books in this acclaimed series, it invites readers to reexamine fiber art through a multifaceted contemporary lens. 

Both established artists and emerging artists whose work is attracting notice are gathered here. Carol Milne's knitted glass and Peter Gentenaar's technique of vacuum forming and air-drying paper fibers are but a few examples of artists using new materials with traditional methods.

The book will be available at Barnes & Noble stores and on the publisher's website http://www.schifferbooks.com/artistry-in-fiber-vol-2-sculpture-6232.html as well as through Amazon, and is scheduled for a release date late summer of 2017. 

I am proud to have work included in this important new series, which will include two future books,  Artistry in Fiber: Wall Art (also due late 2017) and Artistry in Fiber: Wearable Art (due in 2018).

Fiber in the news- Venice Biennale 2017

A recent thread on the Facebook page for Studio Art Quilters Associates was about what is new and next in fiber art. There are many quilt world artists who think that fiber is not respected in the world of art. They are under the impression that it is under represented. Fiber has been well represented at the last few Armory shows in NYC and here is plenty in Italy.
Enjoy wonderful works of art here:

May 24, 2016

Textile Museum exhibit- Stories of Migration, includes work by Kevan Lunney

Located in Washington DC, The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum is hosting a juried exhibition in collaboration with SAQA, Stories of Migration: Contemporary Artists Interpret Diaspora

Running from April 16, 2016 through September 4, 2016

Thirty-nine pieces of artwork were selected by Jurors Lee Talbot and Rebecca Stevens. This timely exhibition showcases the wide range of talent of our SAQA members - selected pieces include art quilts, 3-D works, large installations and video.

In addition, the exhibition features social, cultural and historical commentary by faculty members of George Washington University’s acclaimed program in Diaspora Studies. Artists invited by the Textile Museum are also participating in this ground-breaking exhibition
All works reflect upon the theme of “Diaspora.” Diaspora is the dispersion of a people from an established ancestral homeland. These communities remain simultaneously active in social, economic, cultural, or political processes in their country of origin and with compatriots worldwide.

A migration of peoples from their ancestral homeland impacts every aspect of their life.  The sudden displacement of large populations and the ensuing establishment of resettlement centers to provide basic human needs — food, clothing, shelter, health services, and safety (particularly that of women and children) -- often requires a worldwide response.

Lee Talbot, Curator of Eastern Hemisphere Collections at The Textile Museum
Rebecca A. T. Stevens, Consulting Curator, Contemporary Textiles at The Textile Museum

See videos of the artists speaking about their work here!

March 8, 2016

Textile Art on the International Art Scene. The Armory Show 2016, NYC

     One of my favorite things to do is attend the Armory Show in the spring. It is a huge show to walk in one day, so I try to focus on work which incorporates fiber.

I conversed with several gallerists and asked them these questions;
There is exponentially more fiber being represented in this show, it seems to be growing each year, can you comment on that?
People in the fiber art world are often asking, Why is fiber art struggling to be in fine art venues? Why is it often considered craft?

Some crochet, knit, and quilt artists wonder why their work isn't in fine art galleries when they are capable of making similar work they see there.

     The gallerists were more than happy to engage in conversation as these events can be mind, and rear end numbing, but they did not answer any of these questions directly. In fact they were unaware that there was more fiber being used. Instead  each one of the gallerists told me about the  trajectory of the artist's' work, placing it in context of their practice, their philosophy, their queries, their problem solving, their history, their life story or their struggles in family or country, political or economic.
What mattered to these galleries was the thought and motivation. To get a clear idea of what I mean click on the link below under the work by Chun Kwang Young and listen to his videos.
The artists we spoke about  had much to say behind the work. The color choices, shapes, overlays, placement, medium were all significant symbols in their visual language to transmit a story. Some of these stories were easier to read than others. Some were obtuse. Some works stood on their own and some needed an explanation.
Some works were so disinteresting to me that I didn't care to ask about them. (weaving on a refrigerator shelf)  The show is huge, and there is more than enough work to see.

Here are 44 works. Enjoy.

78 inches of woven beads!!! Stunning

I love how her dress looks like the art!

Notice the braided, coiled  wire.

The lights made this impossible for me to capture. It was so gorgeous, full of color, life, depth, and intrigue. Incredibly richly layered with intricate images. Actually a print of the original paper

More on Kaphar's sensitive work here.

Little bells stitched to canvas, seemingly flowing down the corner into a large puddle at my feet.

Crocheted lily pads in clear or black acrylic boxes represent the plants which were collected by Victorian visitors from two rivers in the Amazon, and recall the destruction of nature and invasion of native cultures by colonizers.

Mali Artist Abdoulaye Konate

More about Konate here.

One of the best examples of wearable fiber at the Armory, atop Bodlar Deathbringer's head, who despite his off putting name is a very sweet guy.

These are machine woven representations of sound recordings made in factories producing textiles in the dying textile trade. Brilliant. These sold for 30,000. See more about sales here, https://news.artnet.com/market/armory-show-2016-final-sales-442349

Josh Blackwell, embroidery on plastic bags and cloth
Thinking about the idea of consumer responsibility led me to begin collecting plastic bags from kitchen cupboards and city streets six years ago. What began as an exercise in environmental conservation evolved into a studio practice combining aspects of painting, sculpture, and installation. 
Plastic bags are the second most common form of litter in the world after cigarette butts. Their degraded status and ubiquitous presence are fascinating to me, attempting to balance between convenience and excess. Quickly used and then discarded, their textured surfaces wear the remains of physical activity like dirty laundry left on the floor. The bags attempt to redress their impoverished status with the addition of colorful embroidery in geometric patterns.

I wish I had asked about  the story behind these two pieces, just to see if there was one. Sorry, not in love.

Sometimes I wonder why an artist chooses to use tapestry as a medium.  The digital image goes from computer to weaving machine sometimes without artist intervention. I think the artist thinks it's unique or cool but doesn't consider if  the fabric enhances the idea or image. In this case the ethereal, floating shadow seemed to contrast so well with the soft texture of the tapestry taking the eye back into space; at the same time, the embroidery flattened the image. The embroidery gave a purpose for the fiber substrate and the union was intriguing.

This Egyptian artist references the tentmakers art from home in her applique work about connections.

Really? Heat transfers in 1971? Yes I am sure they were available to the fashion industry, but the use of them in '71 shocked me.


This next work really astounded me. Made in a technique inspired by Ikat weaving, The yarns were digitally printed before hand weaving.  The artist, is Margo Wolowiec at Anat Ebgi gallery in Los Angeles. Sensitive and thoughtful work.

Weaving on a frig shelf.

Fur, sweatpants and socks are fiber right?

Ok, it references fiber.

....and yarn, they left out the yarn.

Large tapestry work that looks like newspaper  but up close it's just gray areas and unreadable. The black brush strokes seem to be the embroidered part.

Pae White represented her former works in this collaged image that was woven as a tapestry in Brussels. She was intrigued by the way every small color change of the yarn is carried along the back to be picked up in the weaving. The gallerist was kind enough to show the back. The yarns were varied, textured and the piece was thick. Very beautiful. Not your typical tapestry! Old world quality.


Image of a man with crossed arms, printed on velvet and burned away, called devore or simply burnout. The fabric was stretched on a frame so the sheer parts revealed the wall behind. Velvety, rich, deep color and texture.



A complex work which seems to  document daily walks in Manhattan. On the right is the map of Central Park. On the left is the journal entries with date and place. This work sold! yea!

Carved books. Stunning



Big sponge! with an inkjet print. What a great texture!
Whether turning text messages into haiku-like riddles, using wads of chewing gum on canvas to reference German cities bombed during World War II, or creating precisely machined graphite sculptures of banal objects such as a water cooler or an air conditioner, McEwen’s work specializes in manipulating the over-familiar in order to create a moment of linguistic destabilization.


A stunning work by Chung Kwang Young, that keeps surprising the viewer from every angle and every distance. http://chunkwangyoung.com/html/06_Video.php Click on the link to hear him speak about the connection his work has to his country and culture.




Shiota does it again. She had about 6 pieces in the show in various galleries. Here is an absolutely mind boggling fast motion video of one of her installations in progress. https://vimeo.com/31722583

And that covers the fiber selections. I think I only missed one or two. One was several ribbons hanging on a nail. I think you will forgive me. I hope you enjoyed the tour.

And not fiber related but here are some of my favorites-
This metal bar actually leaned in an indentation in the mirror, as though it were liquid. Stunning.

My favorite colors, a reference to tapestry or old European paintings, do you see the people? and graffiti, all my favorite things together!

Foer more information this is a worthwhile article about Armory show, the art world and the world economy, https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-what-sold-at-the-armory-show-03-06-16