Thursday, May 21, 2009

Making Art Wear and Rachel Clark's Lecture

Here's a new concept for making art wear that just came to me. I like to have several projects going on at the same time. If I start months in advance with foundations at the ready, what are the chances that I'll finish more than one project early? It's worth a try because maybe the variety will stimulate me more, so that I won't procrastinate. My plan is to cut out the foundations for several patterns at once and then play with a variety of techniques. Right now I have two sweatshirts on the table, but I want to make a collage jacket, have to make the Polish vest for Rachel, and I want a Koos jacket--and I have at least half a dozen patterns I want to try out. So why not put those $1/yd fabrics to work? One of them will be the base of those silks I dyed. I have a new idea for the Polish vest so I need a foundation after all. And the collage and Koos jackets should be just plain fun, fun, fun! That should keep me going to the studio all summer.

The six dirndl skirts are finished. They aren't art wear, but could be the start of an ensemble. I didn't take photos because they were so simple. Each was made from 1.5 yards of cotton. I made a casing for grosgrain ribbon at the top, and just turned a hem on the bottom. I figured costumes on stage wouldn't need a hand-stitched hem. I think I was right, the parents of the actors were happy to see the kids "dressed up for a change." Since we were aiming for a 50s look, I went to my stash for plaids, polka dots, and pale florals.

My reward came on Saturday. I had planned to drive to Sacramento to see Rachel Clark's trunk show for the Network for Wearable Art I know several people there, so was looking forward to seeing them too. First I'd forgotten how around here you can depend on road-work to be tying up some two-lane highway or another. I appreciate the effort since we are so dependent on these roads to get us on and off the mountains, but when you're in a hurry, you have to wonder why these people seem to be working round the clock. Fortunately the scenery is always worth admiring. I finally zipped along the 2 hour route through almond trees and rice growing in flooded fields, only to get lost once I was inside Sacramento. I missed the turnoff and travelled miles beyond it. I got to JRFlamingo with half an hour left in Rachel's lecture. So I'm not able to show you all that Rachel showed them, nor tell you about the meeting. But here's a taste--and even that short taste was wonderful and enlightening.

What surprised me were things I somehow hadn't noticed before or maybe forgot. Listening to Rachel, I realized how very much I must have learned from her over the years because I do things the same way she does, namely, on a fabric foundation. Then because she always surprises me with her whimsical designs, I hadn't paid attention to the fact that so many of her designs use traditional blocks. She tried a new curved approach in the pinkish-beige coat. She used the old nine-patch in the blue coat. I don't remember the number of shades of blue she used, but do know that she had to make well over 500 blocks to create the fabric. I came in just as Rachel was describing how she organizes her blocks on the various shapes of her coats. Some require sections akin to triangular gussets. I don't know the details, but what a great reason to take yet another of Rachel's classes. The second blue garment is a cape that has no opening except in front. It was made from not only various blues but also various fabrics including silk, wool, cotton, and more. Another fact about Rachel's work is that she prefers to do handwork, more embroidery than quilting actually. She doesn't do much machine quilting. Just listening to her made my fingers itch to get at my fabric--that's my favorite kind of inspiration. I see that Rachel is reworking her website again so keep checking back to see what's new:

The Network for Wearable Art sometimes meets at JRFlamingo, a fabric store in Sacramento, CA. It's a little jewel that carries all the good "stuff"--contemporary fabrics, batiks, silk doupioni pieces, fabric dyes and paints, Angelina and other of the latest surface design supplies, and more. On July 6-9, Susan Khalje, contributing editor to Threads magazine, will teach a Haute Couture class during which you may work on the project of your choice. The cost is $600 if paid by June 1st and $645 if paid after. This is special because normally Susan likes everyone to work on the same project. The store has a big room so you'll be able to spread out to work. Please go to the website for contact information.

Look at These Sites
Paula Burch has the best information on fabric dyeing. Her instructions for egg dyes and Kool-aid are also excellent. Now as I'm finishing my experiment, she cautions that these dyes will fade in about a year. Drat! So I guess I won't be using them in a great jacket--or I'll do more to the fabric first. Cincinnati Art Museum: Where Would You Wear that? Thoughts from a collector on Issey Miyake and his Japanese contemporaries in design. Fiber art in Florida--workshops and a retreat

Mother Nature in May
What a beautiful morning it has been! Yes, the weather is great, the heatwave has been tamed by the fog on the coast, and the skies are blue. I have spent the morning with nature. I was feeding the cat upstairs when I saw mom deer and her two fawns. I put a bird feeder filled with water out for the birds and now the deer are bringing their fawns to drink. I had to laugh as the fawns climbed into the water. As I watched, a second mom with twins came by. Eventually they all got together in our backyard--the little ones curious, the moms cautious and competitive.

I hadn't wanted to cut the tall grasses in our yard because I thought we were depriving the deer of food. As it turns out, they're feeding only on the cut side--shows you how little I know. The little ones love to jump and play and leap through the tall grasses, running at breakneck speed in a circle, then come back to the cut area (and mom). I love watching them flick their tails and kick up with their hind legs, so frisky and full of fun. Something else I found out: the fawns have a special call of their own, a kind of reedy call, something between a kitten's mew and the squeak of an oboe reed.
And while all this gamboling was going on, I heard a new bird song. A fair sized brown/beige bird with a crest. A thrush perhaps? I'll have to go find the books. Now that's what I call a great May morning and all just beyond the stoop to my studio!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Fashion Show on TV

Something you'll hear me repeat over and over is that art you wear isn't really successful art if it doesn't fit well and if the proportions are wrong. No one sees the ART very well if their subconcious senses there's something wrong with the garment. It's kind of like when a wonderful painting is put inside any old frame instead of one that complements the art. I thought that was brought out loud and clear in the new tv show, The Fashion Show--that's why it's back on my mind.

Yesterday was a very full day here. By the time I got home 8 hours later, I was exhausted--to the point that I completely forgot that Isaac Mizrahi's new fashion show was going to be on at 10 pm. I watched the news, oblivious. I finally remembered at 11:05! But my dears, we have two websites happy to show us the details if you missed it too.

I would recommend you watch the show first on the tvsquad site because all that you see is the entire one hour video with a few 15 second commercials. If you go to the second site (bravotv), you will immediately see who lost. Yes, there's a lot of info on that site and better closeups--but I was glad to watch the show all the way through first, and then to go back and see the closeups and not have the surprise spoiled. But my gosh, how wonderful to be able to watch this show over and over!

Yes, I have a million opinions. I'm annoyed with them for not moving from the original Project Runway formula. Why would it have hurt to try a different format? Yet I like some of the tweaks to the familiar routines. They are an enhancement to the Project Runway show, and it's a tougher competition (I think, for one, because of who is judging and how). I won't say more so I won't spoil it for you. I am thrilled to have both shows available to us. We can never get enough sewing and fashion shows as far as I'm concerned. The fact that they talk about fit and proportion and show us what they mean is so good for wearable art.

Part of my long day was going to Rupert, Gibbon & Spider Inc. to pick up my order (I used a narrow back road through a forest just for the adventure of it). They are selling a thin off-white pdf silk noil for $1 per yard. A bolt is 50 yards. I love working with noil, I'll be able to dye the fabric as I need it, and do anything I want to it because at that price I feel freer to experiment. They also have a flawed white burnout rayon/silk velvet for the same price. Now that one is definitely for experimenting. If it works, I'll have scarves or collar bands or appliques. I also went for one of their indigo dye kits.

I love dye kits because it doesn't take much effort to get started. They provide most of what you need and you quickly get to the experience of dyeing. This one I expect to use on a jacquard cotton upholstery-weight fabric and some white t-shirts.

I've had my easter-egg-dyed silks sitting around, finally overdyed them with Kool-aid, about the time I found out these dyes don't last more than a year. Good thing I didn't go to the trouble of doing shibori! I like the colors though. Blue jays have been coming by pecking at them (wrapped in plastic wrap) on the deck so it's time to bring them inside and finish them off with rinsing and drying.

I picked up a new printer at a very low price--hope it works! I just can't be without a printer/scanner, and waiting for help from HP Support is driving me nuts. They're apologetic but it's been two weeks trying to fix this thing with me following their instructions and just using up a lot of ink and getting nothing. While I wait for results, I at least have an inexpensive backup machine, so here's hoping things will get rolling on this blog again.

Now what can we do to have a conversation about the new tv show? You can write to me in the comments. Or we can try this: rosekcookeATaolDOTcom. I would really like to hear your opinions about this show and of course anything else having to do with wearable art!

Before I forget, the new Threads magazine is out. In the midst of other interesting articles, Claire Shaeffer has written about Yves St. Laurent. The photos she has included are of some of my favorite pieces in that museum show. More on that later, cheers, Rosalie

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

More Testing and an Apron

Margot is having problems seeing the end of my posts. At the same time a friend reminded me that I might be making my photos too large for people with older computers. I'd forgotten about that, especially last time when I resized my photos a different way and could tell they were much larger than before. Meanwhile HP is still trying to figure out what's wrong with my printer/scanner. I feel like I'm without my left arm! So for now I'm testing what I've done in Photoshop--whether resizing the photos has been successful, and whether that has helped Margot and others.

In the meantime, just to keep this wearable artish, I'm including a photo of the quick apron I made for my niece Heidi who just got her Masters in family and child psychology. I guess they always stay little in your memory. I keep returning to that image of her being a day old, still in the hospital with her mom, curled up to Aga's leg as Aga sat knitting. (My mother and sister are knitting fiends!) Just as a memento of this new occasion, I tried out the crystal letters available at Walmart. They're not Swarovski but they do sparkle and from some angles, like in this photo, they are so subtle you can hardly see them--I think I have better photos where the sun hit them. I didn't follow the instructions because their way my design was falling off. I put a piece of parchment paper over the crystals and added the hot iron that way. It worked! Now I want to put crystals on everything I make. It beats sewing on sequins.

OK, I will write again very shortly. I've been asked to make 6 skirts for a high school production next week, so I'm working on quick and dirty all round. I'll be back to you as soon as I can. Meanwhile, here are some recent photos I took. I'm testing sizes and clarity for now.

First is our house in a spring rain. As you see we're below the street--I kind of like it--the slope for me is like a privacy barrier or a moat. It's so steep, nobody wants to come down into it. Second photo is the view from Dexter's house across the street from us. Dexter is the black and white cat who now owns two households.
The third photo I took at sunset yesterday--a brief view of the lake taken between two houses. Till next time, Rosalie (and please write to me)