Students packed the Textile Art Studio Friday for a morning full of demonstrations

Rachel Campbell

Students from a variety of majors packed the Textile Art Studio Friday for a morning full of demonstrations.

The textiles open house educated students in the processes of activities such as screen-printing, feltmaking, different types of dying and loom weaving.

Janice Lessman-Moss, professor and head of the textile arts program, welcomed the students with an informational speech before splitting them up among the stations.

One of the screen printing stations was lead by Lisa Arenstein, a textiles graduate student and fashion design and merchandising instructor.

Arenstein discussed the process from its beginning by stretching out a drop cloth and placing tape on it — a resist where the dye will not touch. She then used a simple texture screen to apply the ink to the fabric with a squeegee.

“I think there’s a lot of different techniques depending on what major you’re in that you can use and a variety of tools whether it’s dyeing or it’s screen printing and weaving in certain areas,” Arenstein said. “If you’re in fashion then it’s a great tool to use when you’re making clothes or to have the knowledge of how things are made if you’re in merchandising.”

Like screen printing, dyeing can also use the technique of resist. Two types of dyeing were demonstrated.

Shibori, a Japanese technique, was one of the types shown. It was demonstrated by Sara Sandberg, a textiles graduate student and instructor in fashion design and merchandising.

“Basically any type of fabric manipulation where you’re folding the fabric or you’re wrapping it and then you’re tying it with something like string or a rubber band, anything and then you’re immersing it in a dye, that would be considered shibori,” Sandberg said.

Sandberg showed this by wrapping a piece of fabric around a pole and securing it with a rubber band that would also act as a resist to create a pattern. She then explained that the dye begins as a powder that is mixed with boiling water on a stove before the fabric is dipped in to it. This process can be repeated on one piece of fabric with different dye colors and resist patterns to create a diverse product in a process known as overdyeing.

Meaghan Milner, a textiles graduate student, showed another process called clamp dyeing. This is much like shibori in terms of having a resist and the general process, but uses a clamp instead of string or rubber bands.

Another station showed feltmaking. Sarah Ellison, a textiles graduate student, has demonstrated this process at the open houses about three times during her two years in the program.

“I’m glad we have the open house so students from different departments can come in and see what we do,” Ellison said. “A lot of the students that join our department are usually from other departments and they’re like ‘Oh this is great!’ and start hanging out with us.”

In feltmaking, fibers of wool roving are placed on a screen in a crossway fashion. The scales on the fiber start shrinking and attaching to each other with the addition of heat, moisture, agitation and soap. As they shrink and attach, the fibers become thicker and stronger and begin to look like felt.

Ellison described that some of the benefits of felt include the ability to cut into it and have it not unravel as well as the fact that it’s waterproof and warm and therefore good for clothing.

Two of the final stations included the handlooms and the more technologically advanced computer looms.

“There’s really nothing I can’t do on this loom, that she can do on that loom,” Moss said about the contrast between the handloom she was using and the computer loom in the neighboring room. “The difference is that when I do something on this loom, it’s going to take me a lot more time and it’s going to take me a lot more patience if I want to do something that’s really, really complex.”

Moss demonstrated on the handloom while describing how it works as well as what each part of it does to create a piece from weaving.

“There’s a real great kind of satisfaction to working on textiles and making fabric yourself.” Moss said. “Despite the fact that it is time consuming, you know historically it has been perceived by Gandhi…as being a meditative activity and it is. It kind of connects you to here and now and it’s a really kind of nice process.”

Contact Rachel Campbell at [email protected].