Innovative textile artist,Scott Bodenner

IT IS SOMEWHAT UNUSUAL TO HAVE A loom in the dining room, even among professional weavers. But that is what you’ll find when visiting Scott Bodenner in his apartment, located just across from the Brooklyn Museum. Constantly in use, either by Bodenner himself or his assistant, Rachel Bordeleau, the loom is a dobby-type with twenty-four harnesses. It is not ideal for producing large quantities, but that’s not what it’s for. It is a prototyping machine. On this loom, Bodenner tries out new ideas, experiments constantly, and, finally, creates samples that are sent to prospective clients and ultimately to textile mills. From his dining room unspool hundreds of yards of cloth to locations far-flung, and sometimes unknown.

Bodenner’s craft-based approach makes him an unusual figure in contemporary textile design, which is now al most entirely conducted at computer screens. It’s not that the digital revolution has left him behind—he is plenty adept with the relevant software—but rather that he prefers to work with materials directly. This sensibility places him in a lineage of American studio weavers going back to the mid-century era, names like Dorothy Liebes and Jack Lenor Larsen. Like those influential figures, he is constantly on the lookout for the advantages of hand-craftsmanship. Among these is the fact that he can use materials that are far outside the ordinary. Liebes pioneered the use of metallic synthetics like Lurex; Bodenner, too, incorporates unconventional yarns in his work, to still more unconventional effect.

A great example is a fabric called Moon Light. Bodenner has loved things that glow in the dark since childhood, and this cloth does just that. By day, it is beautiful and delicate. By night it makes you feel as if you are in a particularly luxurious cabin on the USS Enterprise. Because the warp of a fabric must be held in tension on the loom, Bodenner often uses a standard yarn in that direction, adding his eccentric touches in the weft. Moon Light is composed of a fine Italian linen warp, with a weft yarn made of intertwined linen and thinly slit, luminescent polyester film. The polyester is treated with strontium aluminate, so that it absorbs light and then emits it in the dark.

An even more unusual fabric in the new collection is Mix Tape, which is what it sounds like it might be: a cloth made partly from recycled audiotape. Like everyone who grew up in the 1980s, Bodenner has owned plenty of personalized cassettes—each one a precious record of a moment in time, perhaps the vestige of a friendship or romance. Now that technology has rendered these little time capsules obsolescent, he would put them to a different use, and many of his acquaintances have duly presented him with boxes of old mixtapes for him to weave. He also offers clients the opportunity to have a fabric custom-made “to memorialize a special recording,” a good example of the opportunities afforded by Bodenner’s hand-craftsmanship.



From Modern Magazine, edited for space