Deconstructed Men's Shirts / by Leslie


When most people clean out their closets, the clothes are donated or given to a friend. For some reason I was compelled to pull out some of the dress shirts that my husband was getting rid of and I have been cutting them into pieces.

You might remember last summer I was doing some work with fabric, weaving it into wire frames. I stalled a bit after I had done a few pieces, unsure of where to take it and lacking in raw materials. Since then I have been saving all the clothes that I would otherwise get rid of and trying to think of what I would like to do with them.


I figured I should sit down and start playing with it all and cutting up the clothes seemed like a great place to start. Chris's shirts are ideal, with the large panel in the back providing a good chunk of fabric and then all the little details that are in a man's dress shirt. I have been cutting out the collars, cuffs and the pockets and taking off buttons and labels.

My head is still mulling over what to do with all the pieces when I am done, but there are lots of possibilities. I love these deconstructed objects and appliances. I could arrange all the pockets together into a grid and for some reason I see the collars and strips of buttons hanging on a fence blowing in the wind. The artist Jean Shin (someone I learned about in my class last summer) did an installation with cut up shirts. Her work is definitely inspiring me.

There is something very lovely about cutting things up... For all the time we spend MAKING things, sometimes it's nice to unmake things. I guess it's part of the creative process. We must take some things apart so that we may put it back together in another way. Often we learn a lot from taking things apart, we can see the insides, see how it was made, appreciate the details and understand how it was constructed in a way that you just can't see by looking at something from the outside.

Have you taken anything apart lately?