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Organization, Safety,
and Conservation
Organization is key to productivity and safety. Here
are some things to keep in mind when setting up the
studio and organizing your materials and equipment.
Labeling: No matter how much money you spend on
supplies, if you don’t know where they are, you may
as well not have them! Different storage systems
work for different people. Make your labels large and
clear. Afx labels to all drawers, cabinets, bins, and
such. All chemicals, including dyes, inks, fixatives,
and mordants, must be clearly labeled and kept in a
dedicated area.
Storage: Cubbies, drawers, or small containers are
essential for differentiating between various tools and
materials (including needles, small weaving accesso-
ries, etc.). Be realistic about your needs and how they
may change as your hobby, art, or business grows.
Investing in larger storage furniture than you first need
will allow you to expand without repeatedly having to
graduate to larger models. You do not need to run out
and buy anything special, but your storage system
needs to work for you and the level of organization you
desire. Some people prefer more compartmentaliza-
tion than others. You can find small baskets or plastic
bins at dollar stores, or even small and large drawer
units at places like IKEA. For yarns and fabric, it is best
to use plastic to keep pests out. For small tools, draw-
er dividers or small boxes and baskets work well.
Sort by Fiber: Keep yarns separated by fiber content.
Wool reacts differently than cotton. You don’t want
to mix up these materials unless you don’t mind your
sweater turning into an art piece the first time you
wash it! Balls and skeins should be kept in sealable
plastic bins or drawers to keep out dust, moisture,
and moths. Thread cones can be stored on shelves
but are most accessible on a rotating yarn tree or on
a peg board on the wall, which also helps with pest
management because of the constant movement. If
unlabeled fibers get mixed, you can conduct a “burn
test” to help differentiate the fibers (page 40).
ABOVE Clearly labeled tools are
more likely to be used and put back
where they belong.
BELOW Taking the time to keep
your materials neat and organized
will save you time and energy. This
sewing table includes drawers, which
are very helpful.
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The TexT ile ArT isT 's sTudio hAndbook
Inventory: Whether you are creating textiles for your-
self or for others, as a hobby or as a business, you
should maintain an inventory of your materials indict-
ing where you bought them. This will help keep you
organized and be helpful when you are ordering mate-
rials. You’ll quickly discover favorite sources for mate-
rials, so an inventory system will help you remember
the places you do and don’t like to order from.
Safety: Always keep safety gear close at hand—this
way, you are more likely to use it. Goggles, gloves,
dust masks, and aprons are essential in a textile stu-
dio. If your budget allows, consider purchasing an eye
washer that can be attached to your faucet if you have
a wet area in your studio.
Protecting Your Work:
Basic Textile Conservation
Textile conservation is a broad field of study and re-
search, with focus on the preservation of textile and
fiber heritage, including conservation treatment pro-
cedures, preventive measures, and the study of the
history, materials, and techniques.
We associate textile conservation with museum
and gallery practices, but traditionally textiles have
been preserved in a domestic environment through
the simple acts of mending and washing. Most of the
textiles in our daily lives don’t fall under the heritage
category, but hopefully one day your artwork might!
Although textile conservation diagnostics and treat-
ments should be left to professional conservators and
setting up your studio with museum conditions would
not only be complicated but expensive, your artwork
and materials will definitely benefit from you knowing
the very basic textile conservation principles.
One of the most important principles of textile
conservation is preventive conservation, which con-
siders and monitors all the factors that can lead to the
degradation of textiles. Factors include environmental
conditions (light, temperature, relative humidity), con-
trol of insects and mold, and storage conditions.
Here’s a bit more on how you can use basic textile
conservation techniques in your own studio.
Environmental Conditions
Light, temperature, and relative humidity are all fac-
tors that effect the degradation of textiles.
The right light is extremely important while
working on textiles; it allows better perception of col-
or and makes a more comfortable working environ-
ment for the artist. However, most of the time, the
optimum light conditions for the artist aren’t neces-
sarily the optimum conditions for the preservation of
textile artwork. Fibers and dyes are light sensitive and
continuous exposure, especially to ultra violet radia-
tion (UV), will initiate and/or enhance their degradation
process. Dyes, natural and synthetic, are especially
sensitive, and overexposure to light might lead to fad-
Goggles, gloves, dust masks, and
aprons must be readily available.
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