Textile artist and designer, Lily Zane is the principal of Lily Zane Home and has spent years focusing on color, concept and trend product development for brands such as Polo Ralph Lauren Home, Bill Blass, Vera Wang Home, Tommy Hilfiger Home, Kate Spade Home and DKNY to name a few. During New York Textile Month, Zane has created a unique interactive exhibit which functions as an exploration into “the ritual, functionality, adornment and intimate relationship between what we own and what little we know about this stuff called fabric”. Entitled “Encore Encapsulation”, Zane’s series of 8 unique and intricate textile collages function as both works of art and tools, which offer insight into the “importance of the maker” and “keeping our rich and diversified textile traditions alive and vital”.
IRK Magazine received an exclusive interview with Zane as she generously walked us through the material history and inspiration for several of her featured works.
Lily Zane: My exhibit “Encore Encapsulation” really pulls together a look at the hands that have made all of these beautiful textiles which are part of our life. I’ve been in the textile industry for years and I’ve seen it erode. I think that globalization has really driven pricing down and it’s created a lot of competition. Really skilled domestic workers have lost a lot of opportunities to overseas, and I think my heart breaks for all of that talent and all of that knowledge being eroded.
IRK: The exhibition includes both personal and donated textiles from all over the world that you have collaged or layered to tell a story. How do you feel that textile has the ability to either conjure memory or document a tradition or history that is being lost through mass production?
Lily Zane: I think textiles have this profound ability to comfort us, from swaddling, to cleaning up, to sopping up, to really embracing us from slumber to waking. I think their ability to comfort is really amazing, so I really celebrate that. I make those products, and a lot of the fragments that I’ve used to create these pieces focus on the really creative hands that have brought us silks, linens, beautiful handwork, crochet; a lot of things that will be lost.
IRK: Tell us about some of the pieces that you have made for the exhibition.
Lily Zane: The first is called “Circle Within A Circle”, and here it’s the little tiny circles that make one piece, and then you need hundreds of those pieces to make a quilt. Then in this are we have little circles within circles that make the boarder that encircles this hanky. I am amazed at the repetition, and the work is almost thankless, but it gives you something beautiful in the end.
Lily Zane: This one here is called “Women’s Work Is Never Done”. It features the repetition of the lace and piecing things together and it really evokes bridal, baptismal and heirloom things that you pass down.
IRK: You’ve also included physical objects such as the scissors and old tags that further create context of a time past.
Lily Zane: Yes, the tags are bolt tags that identified fabrics (the amount of yards on the bolt and the maker) and being from the product piece of this side of the business the tag is intrinsic to me. I’m like, “Oh, that’s kind of cool!”
IRK: I love the scissors too, because today scissors are made with plastic handles and they feel temporary. But the tiny scissors in your textile collage have intricate, handcrafted detail in the handle. They too feel like an heirloom.
Lily Zane: And they are silver, so they are actually like a piece of jewelry.
Lily Zane: This piece is called “Sacred Mountain” and it’s about the traditions of another part of the world: Tibetan prayer flags and Palestinian textiles. These were actually sent to me.
IRK: So your works are a combination of both your own collection of personal textiles along with textiles that have been gifted to you.
Lily Zane: Yes, so these textiles were send to me and someone said, “You will appreciate this, you will do something beautiful with this.” And I was like, (humbly) “I hope I can!”
Lily Zane: The last work is called “Measure Twice Cut Once”. This is of another age. So now we are at polyester fabric, machine embroidery, you can buy a pattern for 4 cents and crate your own garment.
IRK: This reminds me of when I was a child. My mother would buy McCalls patterns and sew dresses for both her and for me. I can clearly see her laying out the cutting board and pinning the pattern to the fabric before pulling out her fabric sheers, which I was not to use under any circumstances. They were only for fabric, which made them all the more enticing. Your piece is truly evocative.
Lily Zane: Thank you and yes, I remember the McCalls patters too. And in the end, I think the artisanal bend that people are shifting towards is very powerful and I know that is a goal of Li Edelkoort and New York Textile Month, to embrace and celebrate handcrafted textiles!
We can’t agree more! You can learn more about Lily Zane Home and New York Textile Month, organized by Li Edelkoort, Dean of Hybrid Design Studies at The New School. For our exclusive interview with Li Edelkoort, order a copy of our latest issue “Futurism” today!