A great time was had by all during the Western Reserve Spinners and Weavers Guild guided tour of the Kent State Museum on March 16.In attendance were Jan Gibson, Debbie Henry, Lisa Davis, Linda Zieter, Robbie Grodin, Diane Wantz, and me.The Kent State Museum is in the old University Library built in 1927.The museum was established in 1982 through the donation of dress collections, decorative art objects and books from designers Jerry Silverman and Shannon Rodgers. Since its establishment, the museum’s collection has expanded to nearly 40,000 objects.It is one of the foremost collections of historic and regional costumes in the world.

The exhibit currently on display include “Resist: A World of Resist Dye Techniques”, “Fashion Timeline: 200 years of Costume History”, “Glass: Selections from the Collection”, “Fandemonium” (an exhibit of hand-held fans), “Raiment for the Liturgy: Vestments in the Museum Collection” and “Undress: Shaping Fashion and Private Life.”Our guided tour included all of the museum’s current exhibits, but our main focus was on “Resist.”

Resist is incredibly beautiful and informative showing exquisite examples of resist dyed cloth, garments, etc. from around the world and throughout time.The exhibit is divided into 3 areas to highlight different resist dying techniques: mechanical, chemical, and ikat.

Mechanical means of resist dying include tying, stitching and folding (shibori, bandhani, tie-dye).Some of the pieces in this part of the exhibit include kimonos with extremely detailed shibori techniques as well as garments from the 20th century showing sophisticated use of tie-dye.

Chemical means of resist dying include the use of paste or wax to mask areas of cloth (batik, adire eleko, tsutsugaki, modrotiac).Examples in this part of the exhibit included fine Indonesian batiks as well as Japanese tsutsugaki using indigo dye, and the piece most fascinating to many of us, a Channel full-length silk cape.

The ikat (ikat, jaspe, adras, kasuri) portion of the exhibition included an Harrisville Designs 4 shaft floor loom warped up with ikat dyed warp and being woven off with what appeared to be ikat dyed weft.The word ikat derives from the Indonesian verb menigikat, which means “to bind, tie or wind around.”This method involves wrapping yarn with a resist before dyeing.This often done in small bundles of warp (or weft threads) perhaps treating the adjacent threads differently.Elaborate examples of this method involve multiple bindings and dippings in different dyes to create intricate designs.

A highlight of the exhibit for me was the selection of work employing resist dye techniques by Kent State Fiber Arts professor Janice Lessman-Moss & her students.These pieces brought the exhibit full-circle for me, showing ways in which artist of our times are employing these richly historical techniques.This was my first trip to this museum – and it will not be my last!!!This exhibit will be open through September 1, 2013 so find some time to drive down and see it and the others.You will not be disappointed!


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