Dijanne Cevaal’s work

Two weeks ago I managed to sneak away from work early and go see Dijanne’s exhibition at Munich. Her work was breathtaking to look at. Her quilts look great on the website, but even better for real.

But there was one thing that caught my eye. She uses lots of surface treatments which are probably not washable, such as layers of silk tops or gold foiling, and that often on pieces which are too big to be easiely framed behind glass. In the exhibition, everything was hung without frames of course. I don’t really dare to question the work of someone like Dijanne, but I would try to avoid that. In fact I’m working on a sampler that will be like this,because I did not think that much before starting it, but I have good intentions for the future.

Sometimes I wonder how careless we fiber artists are about conservational issues. More often than not, we use happiely whatever strikes our fancy without giving a thought to thinks like lightfastness or manmade materials crumbling with age. I’m as guilty of this as any of you, but sometimes it makes me think twice. Because as a painter, I was taught to only use acid free paper and the best quality paints I can get. Even there I sometimes deviated from the rules for the joy of using fancy papers and other unusual things.

What makes this problem more difficult is that information about the lightfastness and lifetime of fabrics and other supplies is sparse and hard to find, especially when it is about things like polyester organza and fabrics meant for clothes or home decor (and that’s some of my favourite materials).

For me, it’s often the coice between maximum fun and common sense about conservational issues. Or is it hubris that makes me want to work for eternity, which isn’t going to happen anyway?

Do you think about such issues? What are your solutions? I would love to read oppinions on this.
(sorry for the ranty post, and the absence of eye candy)

7 responses to “Dijanne Cevaal’s work

  • Bev

    It does occur to me, but it depends on what you think of as making work for a long time. Is 5 years enough? 10 20 , 300?
    Did the great Artists expect their work to survive centuries, did they actually make it with that intention?
    Glass doesn’t protect things, damp can still get in, you see ‘foxing’ on watercolours.

    If you are making what I know as heirloom pieces, ie deliberately from the start they are intended to last a very very long time. Then that requires research into materials. Not just that, the natural chemicals on your hands, what soap you washed them in, did you use handcream before picking up the fabrics, surfaces you lay the item on whilst working, what about using the sewing machine, even atmosphere, and the list goes on. Everything can affect it, it becomes hugely complex with how far do you go, with being aware. Then you have to trust that 30, 50, 100 years down the line, someone is keeping the piece in the best possible manner.

    I suspect that I, like a lot of textile artists, are aware of such things, indeed part of my training included asking such questions – but I’m making art, to be enjoyed in the moment, which is now. Anyone who buys it, wants the pleasure of it now. It will likely last, because my techniques and knowledge make it so it won’t fall apart, but I don’t offer guarantees of longevity – and neither do I see them on water colours or oil paintings.

    Sometimes you have to make choices because the complexities can get so involved and so complicated, that you end up feeling is not worth making anything!!!


  • tenar72

    Hi Bev,
    Thank you for taking the time to comment, very much appreciated.

    Interesting thought, how long is long? I’m not that old, I should have another 30 years if nothing unusual happens. I hate to see my own work fall apart, especially something like embroidery, which takes so long to do. Also, If I bought art I wouldn’t be happy when a piece I paid for is all faded after less than a year, guarantees or no. I know my stuff will probably be gone in 100 years anyway, so it’s somewhere in between.

    I know about the things you describe, and usually use neutral soap and no handcream when stitching and such. But that is probably pointless when I use fabric that is not lightfast then.

    In a way, you’re probably right about art being for the moment. The way is the goal and such. The stars of the art scene seem to care little about such issues either.

    Btw, the reason I like glass frames so much are the pointless concerns of the housewife in me: fabric wall hangings could get dusty or smelly way before they fade or rot LOL.


  • Helene H

    This post really speaks to me. Every time I try to create something, I think about conservation issues. Will it be safe, washable, wearable, usable.. these are important questions to me.

    I like to buy sensible things so I want to do sensible things too – but it is often frustrating. Maybe I am more attracted to crafts than arts… I don’t know…


  • tenar72

    Hi Helene,

    Same for me. I would be so annoyed if I bought something nice and expensive and it fades or falls apart really soon, wouldn’t want that to do to anyone (not that I’m selling anything right now, but I guess I can’t hoard my stuff forever). But I do think being beautiful and enriching life by that falls under “usable”.

    But on the other hand, there’s my love for playing and experiments…

    I think being a bit of a craftsperson is a good thing. It teaches you to strife for technical excellence and think of such issues. I think it also keeps me grounded and prevents me from getting lost in art scene snobbism and such like, but that’s another topic…


  • What I’m currently working on « Tenar’s cave

    […] because of this). Working on this made me think even more about the conservation issues discussed a few postings earlier. But doing this is so much fun that I think I will do it again […]


  • Kay Susan

    I do think about it, because I want the things I make to last, they take so long to produce! I refused to make an article from supermarket plastic bags when I was going to college a couple of years ago, because they are now biodegradeable. Artists using paint and paper, as well as us using textiles, need to think about this if they are planning to sell their work. Some watercolourists go to great lengths to find light fast paints and acid free paper, then throw salt on their work for ‘paint effects’ and many textile artists using fabric/paper combinations for articles such as book covers and boxes use bleach as part of the colouring process. Both of these treatments cause the paper and fabric to rot!


  • tenar72

    Hi Kay Susan,

    I didn’t even know that salt and bleach are that detrimental to paper and fabric, thank you for the heads up! I have always wondered about bleach, but I really didn’t think about salt. I don’t use them anyway, but I might have one day. Plastic bags are a bad thing even if they are not biodegradable because the cheap dyes used on them will fade quickly, and plastic always gets brittle with age, sooner or later. I guess that’s also an issue with synthetic fabrics and stuff like lutradur, but right now they are so much fun for me to work with, and I do hope they are produced with more care than throwaway bags.

    BTW, I love the latest coloured pencil drawings on your blog, haven’t been to it way too long. I would recommend that everyone reading this goes over and has a look!


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