The Curtain Rises
Claudy Jongstra just completed a tapestry for New York's Lincoln Center
Craig Kellogg -- Interior Design, 11/1/2009 12:00:00 AM
Van Klaveren added silk to correct continuity errors between panels, due to shrinkage.
Wool-felt specialist Claudy Jongstra hails from a rural corner of the Netherlands. Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, on the other hand, are dyed-in-the-wool New York. Which doesn't mean that appreciation can't be mutual. "Claudy brings rays of light to whatever she touches," Williams says. So Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects invited Studio Claudy Jongstra—perhaps the largest employer in the village of Spannum, population 200—to participate in the refurb of Lincoln Center's recently renamed David Rubenstein Atrium. Formerly a dank cavern known only for its climbing wall, the space now boasts Jongstra's tapestry, a pair of huge vertical gardens, sandwich concessions, and discount-ticket windows for music, dance, and theater as well as LEED Silver certification.
With the drawing spread on the floor of a private gymnasium rented nearby, Claudy Jongstra laid out possible infill patterns in wool yarn that approximated the silk to be used in the final tapestry.
Williams and Tsien's overall directive to Jongstra was that her tapestry should echo their own oval skylights for the two-story atrium. She proceeded to "sketch" by laying out fat yellow wool yarn on the floor of a rented gymnasium near her studio, which was too small for the job. When Williams and Tsien visited, they pushed Jongstra to be even more expressive. "With Tod and Billie, you can go wild," she says.
Jongstra positioned the silk on the wool ground in preparation for felting.
Planning complete, Jongstra formed background panels by felting gray wool sheared from her herd of 200 endangered sheep. Plants similar to ones from her garden yielded the vibrant yellow pigments needed for the silk fibers that would create the tapestry's pattern. As each of the 117 wool-silk pieces began to firm and shrink, Jongstra corrected any mismatches between adjacent pieces by hand-punching additional silk onto the seams. She also had the pieces sprayed with a fire retardant to buttress wool's natural flame resistance. Then two employees flew to New York to needle-punch the fabric onto padded fiberboard panels, mounted on concealed Z brackets. The installation took 10 days, and—with such intense yellows, she says—the glow won't fade soon. Johannes Vermeer and Vincent van Gogh used the very same pigments for paint.
THROUGHOUT THROUGH WOLLFABRIK GERT. HUPPERTZ: SILK FIBERS.