Clothing from the heart: Garments, on display at Kent State Museum, reflect personal feelings

by April Helms Special Products Editor Published:

When most people see a used dryer sheet, they see something for the trash bin.

But Linda Öhrn-McDaniel, associate professor of fashion design, took numerous dryer sheets and made them into a garment. In another recycling touch, Öhrn-McDaniel decorated the bodice with sequins made of Pepsi bottles.

This dress and several other garments created by Öhrn-McDaniel, a Tallmadge resident, can be seen at the Kent State University Museum through Feb. 10.

"She is just very inventive," said Jean Druesedow, museum director. "She challenges herself to use new technologies. She experiments and this assists her in encouraging her students."

Several pieces have a personal story, such as Öhrn-McDaniel's wedding dress. Visitors to the museum may recall one part of the dress, which has been on exhibit in the past, but, for the first time, the museum has displayed the overlay that went over the dress. Öhrn-McDaniel said she spent "several hundred hours" on her wedding dress. The dress includes a sleeveless dress embroidered with the memories she shared with her husband, and her thoughts of him, in both Swedish and English (Öhrn-McDaniel is originally from Sweden). Then she created a garment to go over top of this dress, which had holes to allow only glimpses of the thoughts and feelings captured in thread in the dress underneath. Öhrn-McDaniel said that the top garment is what her husband saw first during the wedding; the top part came off during the reception.

Öhrn-McDaniel said she has recently been experimenting with zero waste garment construction, where the patterns are cut in such a way that there is little to no waste of fabric.

"I admit I didn't think of it at first as stainability but as a way to save money," she said. "But I realized that this was a sustainable way to do things. It's a good pattern challenge to work with."

Several garments on display show Öhrn-McDaniel's sense of fun, Druesedow said. For example, there are two garments with black stitching, one in the shape of a face in profile, the other with short black stitching at the waist. Upon closer inspection, the black stitches are small black ants.

Another interesting garment is a dress made of pennies attached to black fabric. In an additional touch of whimsy, the heads of the pennies are shown on the front of the garment, and the tails in the back, Druesedow said.

Yet another was made using steel, leather and aluminum.

"I've seen her wear it," Druesedow said of the last dress. "It is very wearable."

Admission to the Kent State University Museum is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and $3 for children under 18. The museum is free with a Kent State University ID and free to the public on Sundays. The museum also offers free parking. For more information call 330-672-3450 or visit www.kent.edu/museum.

Email: ahelms@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9438

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