Lexicon 97: more about the Washtenaw County t-shirts



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Now for a little something about fiber  

and substance: fiber as a form of substance:  everything (that is a thing) has a form of it; the thingness of thing —and it's good for you (as dietary fiber or roughage).

To the left, from Wikipedia (courtesy BigRiz), is a carbon fiber bundle, the tips illuminated as if there's been a lesson or two from ET crossed with (in an enactment of interdisciplinary study) one of Edward Scissorhands scissor hands.

He would have been an ideal collaborator for the cutting out of the lexicon.

I am also reminded of the long-reach of the luminous, the association, deserved or not, of brightness with hope, success, mental prowess; not just the speed of light, but also light's coveted glow, successfully coveted by fungus gnats whose luminous bundles of filaments of poop hang in caves in New Zealand, becoming the constellations of subterranean skies for which there is no natural light other than excrement.  


 lex97: a key unlocking so much via connection, (eventually everything as connection fans outward further and further, and focuses inwardly narrower and narrower); each point of connection is also a point of collaboration to the point where I shouldn't claim lex97 as mine alone: how illuminating.  lex97: one interconnected bundle in which everything is entangled


ET would look smashing in one of the T-shirt skeletons; as it happened, his image was on one of the rescued t-shirts, and once again he was displaced when home was extracted right from under him, cotton fibers and all.



More about bundles is coming on other pages, other backs, in bundles and bales, sometimes bathed in dew, sometimes in luminous sweat associated with toil, the marketing of the touch, the feel of cotton, the fabric of our lives, and some of the substance of our ecological footprint.  If you don't know it, please consider exploring Travels of T-shirt in a Global Economy by Pietra Rivoli; this book will be discussed on coming pages.  More about some of the past and some of the ongoing travels of the 97 is also coming on other pages.


lex97 as bundle: I bought the t-shirts in bulk. I left each thrift store with a few bewildered looks, and with t-shirts stuffed into plastic bags.  Had it been greed at work, I would have been buying something else —maybe lex97 as fetish?  Harmless compulsion? The touch, the feel, the look of cotton, the fabric of my life, and the life of so many ancestors?  Some illumination of the past so as to brighten the future?



Fabric itself can be produced in ways to make it glow, repel bacteria and viruses, rebound bullets and projectiles, as discussed in Science Finally Gets Fashionable (also the source of the image on the right; image of glow-in-the -dark clothing on the far right is from Retro Clothing).  Read more about electroluminescent yarn here.  And explore the world of the trademarked Luminex fabric that emits its own light

Some glowing is supported by exposure to Hollywood-conceived radioactive sources, and by illuminating content of slogans and inspiring screen-printed text: to glow with meaning.  Or the bright comfort many find in sacred texts in general: lamps in the darkness of struggle.

Or, to burn; to be radiant in flames.


Need still more inspiration for making cloth glow beyond glow-in-the-dark fabric paints and powders?  Here's some 2006 advice from Alfred E. Neuman:

if you are a clothing designer looking to make cloth glow for self-contained, self-illuminating clothing articles that would be very different from an interior designer looking to make fabrics glow that are used in curtains, valances, and other draperies, which could use external power sources or external lighting. Or perhaps you do display design for a department store, also different requirements.

All of the above were good ideas. One golden oldie which still works today, maybe kind of retro style, is the use of "black light," which is another name for ultraviolet (UV). UV makes certain bright colors and whites "glow" in a similar way to how fluorescent lighting works. UV is a higher energy level than visual light. When UV photons strike certain materials/chemicals they give up energy and reduce in frequency into the visible light range before being re-radiated from the object. This is a form of photoluminescense called fluorescence.

When a scene is illuminated only or primarily with UV you get stark contrasts, as certain objects "glow" and others do not. Human skin and hair, for example does not normally fluoresce, unless it has certain chemical treatments, including fluorescent skin paints. White cotton and sythethic fibers will glow an eerie purplish-blue. Other so-called "day-glo" or fluorescent materials and dyes will glow brightly with a similar color to what they appear in normal light, contrasting with other non-fluorescing colors.

"Phosphorescent" items, sometimes referred to as "glow-in-the-dark" are another form of photoluminescence but there is a much longer time delay between the absorption of photons and the re-radiation of lower energy photons. Most of these materials also work with visible white light, including sunlight, which contains the entire spectrum of colors, and absorb photons while they are "charging up" over a period of time, say minutes or hours. Then, with visible light reduced or eliminated, these "charged" material will radiate their lower energy photons for a similarly long period of time and thus "glow-in-the dark".

Some radioactive materials like radium, tritium, etc. are self-luminescent, and have been used to manufacture glowing watch and compass faces for viewing in the dark, these materials are health hazards to work with or to use over long periods of time in close proximity to human tissue due to the low level atomic radiation they emit along with the visible light.

There are also photoluminescent chemicals which glow for a short time (up to several hours) when mixed, as their chemical reaction gives of light instead of heat energy. These are the basis of so-called "light sticks" and the glowing plastic necklaces you often see at public events. I would think it might be possible to decorate and illuminate some cloth materials with replaceable capsules of such materials.


Now for a little something about the fiber composition of 97 t-shirts, discarded in Washtenaw County, from which (most of) the lexicon was mined leaving behind  t-shirt skeletons 

(you can watch the T-Shirt Skeletons Rags to Rags video here or here):



69 of the 97 rescued t-shirts   are 100% cotton       (71% of the t-shirts)

 1 of the 97 rescued t-shirts is 99% cotton and 1% polyester (1% of the t-shirts)

3 of the 97 rescued t-shirts are 90% cotton and 10% polyester (3.1% of the t-shirts)

1 of the 97 rescued t-shirts is 85% cotton and 15% polyester (1% of the t-shirts)

1 of the 97 rescued t-shirts is 60% cotton and 40% polyester (1% of the t-shirts)

16 of the 97 rescued t-shirts are 50% cotton and 50% polyester (16.5% of the t-shirts)

1 of the 97 rescued t-shirts  is 100%  polyester                         (1% of the t-shirts)

5 of the 97 rescued t-shirts are of undisclosed fiber content (5.2% of the t-shirts)


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