“Earthly Coat” Revealed!

“Earthly Coat”

I’m at the end of my long journey for the “Earthly Coat” creation… and the coat has just begun its duties at the MN Landscape Arboretum, as a symbol of our earthly coat: the soil—and to serve as a reminder that all of our clothing comes from the soil (yes, even synthetic—through eons of time). Of course, many people see the coat simply as a fun and lovely thing to visit and that’s OK too. I wonder how many photos have been taken of family and friends in the coat—and how many more will be taken up until the end of the exhibition in October?

My reflections this week have centered around how I have to accept that the coat will change during the coming weeks and months. Nature will have its way with the fiber. The sun will probably fade the colors. The rain has been very kind but all the touching by visitors will abrade the surface more. (That’s OK. I encourage touching.) In the meantime, I’m trying not to babysit the coat by primping and preening it. This is hard not to do since I spent so many hours and so much effort creating it. But I’m trying to accept that the coat belongs to the world now and I need to be as “hands off” as possible to let it be what it is.

Nevertheless, the Pest Management division at the Arboretum is keeping an eye on the earwigs that have taken up residence under the sleeves. They don’t appear to be doing any damage. We think they’re just hanging out. (Hey, if I were an earwig, I’d hang out on the coat too!) The more troublesome visitors have been moths, although the ones I’ve seen aren’t clothes moths. I heard that oil of cloves is a good bug repellent so I used an eco spray on the coat (EcoSmart®). It has oil of cloves as an ingredient, along with a few other organic insecticidal ingredients (smells wonderful—really!). The bugs took off when I sprayed under the sleeves but I understand that they have returned. So it appears the coat may become a study for the pest management people. It will be interesting to see if they can find another solution. (I got some EcoSmart on my skin when spraying the coat and didn’t get attacked by mosquitoes, as others did, while taking a stroll through the wildflower garden. Could it also be a mosquito repellent? It’s a non-toxic product… not that I’m recommending it be used to repel mosquitoes. Just wondering…)

But I never expected the coat to remain fully intact through the course of the exhibit. That’s one of my points in creating the coat for “Dirt-O-Rama.” In fact, the natural disintegration factor is why clothing is hard to find in ancient burial grounds. It’s basically very compostable (aside from synthetic fibers—another reason to avoid synthetics). I just don’t want the coat to disintegrate too early in the course of the exhibit. And since the Arboretum staff needs to consider the whole of the Arboretum operations, pests and all, I’m leaving the pest situation to them. So if necessary, I’m OK with pest management—for now. I know the Arboretum tries to follow the least toxic methods of pest management anyway. But let’s hope the bugs are just visiting and not turning the coat into an open smorgasbord!

In any case, visit it soon to see it intact!

Visitors enjoy the accessibility of the design.

Then come back again in a month or two, and again before it closes in October, to see how it’s changed. I’ll also keep you posted here on its status.

FYI… from this point on, I may be putting up fewer posts until my book (Yarn Works) comes out next spring. But I won’t abandon the blog so please don’t abandon me! It’s been great to meet so many new friends through this medium and share this experience with everyone. I’d love to get your reactions to the coat so, after you see it, please send comments—photos too. With a “once-in-a-lifetime” adventure like this, sharing the experience makes it all the better. Thanks for helping to make this journey more complete for me. I hope it’s also been enlightening for you. Onward!


About wendyj-sagahill

I am a textile artist, designer, and author.
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4 Responses to “Earthly Coat” Revealed!

  1. Will to Work says:

    Thanks for the photos and color commentary, Wendy. The Coat is gorgeous! I’m really looking forward to experiencing it. Your coat journey is most definitely not over, not until the coat comes down in October–and maybe not even then. It has to be hard to let it be. What are the lyrics to that Sting song? Something like, “If you love somebody, set them free.” Your creativity and spirit are inspiring.


  2. Barbara Ruuska says:

    I love it! What an amazing design! I wish the Arboretum was closer to my work. We need a good group event and the Arb would be a perfect place to go if it wasn’t so far away. I’m still planning to go later this month to take a live peek at it.


  3. This work is absolutely wonderful and a real inspiration. Thank you for sharing it with us.


  4. Love this…really wonderful…thanks for sharing!


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