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!

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