Monday 9 October 2017

Back on the hamster wheel...

Beyond Chrysalis 2008
Beyond Chrysalis worn by Larissa Lal-Ponini in 2008
Two weeks home from WOW 2017. Last night was the final show for the year. It's always hard to imagine that after the big Opening, Awards Night, and the incredible party we have there each year, after we return home, it continues on for several weeks! The post-WOW slump did not last too long this year, as I had already been working on quite a few designs, and as of now, have completed fabrication of one Bizarre Bra (ready for painting and blinging), and have 3 others on the go, with pattern making largely done. And all with the blessing of Beloved, who is once again dealing with a house covered in sketches, mannequins, soaking leather, and drifts of stuffing.....
One of the pieces is quite important to me in that it marks my 10 year anniversary of WOW, in what will be its 30th year. My first piece was called Beyond Chrysalis, in 2008. This one is currently called Emergence, and continues the theme, but, I believe, demonstrates my progression as a maker over the subsequent years.

Although I was inspired by the workshops on Worbla that we were treated to at WOW Designer Day, and subsequent research into it, cosplay costumes, eva foam, and resin,  I decided that I already have such an extensive range of techniques and materials to work with that I don't really want to stretch my studio space and budget to include more! I spent a really enjoyable afternoon yesterday riffling through all my samples and reminding myself of all the techniques I can do -  even coming up with some original pieces from Beyond Chrysalis which gave me direction on working with the new version. Colour schemes are now the hardest part to settle on - although my huge stash provides a great deal to start with, I need to find a few key materials and settle it all.
Designing in progress - another year of secrecy and hints only!
Goodnight, Freyja and Cordycephila - I hope you enjoyed your time in the spotlight! Don't hurry home - there's no room at the inn!

Tuesday 3 October 2017

WOW 2017 - The Making of

This is the fungus that started it all. Cordyceps. Spores from the cordyceps fungus infiltrate the body and mind of an insect, instructing it to climb to a suitable height and grip on. They die, providing a home for the fruiting body, which forces its way out of them in long spikes, which will release spores and start the process again. I can only blame my Dad, a passionate biologist, and David Attenborough for this kind of interest! My creation, nicknamed Spike early on in the process, was imagined as sprouting out of a beautiful green/blue metallic insect body. For many months though, he was all white, as he is made from bridal satin off cuts! Originally, there was only a minimum of spikes, then it was agreed that more, more, more was required! Here you can see the different sections in progress - main torso, legs, and headpiece. There are also arm pieces. You can see that the mannequin base is weighed down to balance the weight of the sculpture - eventually the glass base broke, and my sooper-dooper on-call engineer-in-residence made a brilliant and suitably weighty replacement from a car brake drum - Studebaker, of course!

 Although the white is very effective, and I can imagine a relative of this making an appearance in the UV section, it was always meant to be coloured, and an experimental piece was done to confirm. The base was spray painted to create initial coverage, then hand painted with beautiful metallic acrylic paints. Texture was created with heat distorted satin - you can see here how much a shape shrinks down once subjected to the heat gun. Continuous sequin trim was also applied, as well as fragments of mesh and sequin materials. I found the perfect sequinned lycra for the bodysuit, but it wasn't very stretchy, so I ended up making another two to send over with him - I'm still not sure which one was worn on the WOW stage!!

There were definitely a few WTF moments as I dressed Ciera - things you thought were all resolved suddenly become an issue when dressing an actual human!! Thanks to Kiri for running out to buy emergency socks to cover Ciera's feet, and I was very glad to have my pins!
Freyja was at the same shoot. The brilliant fit of the dress (if I do say so myself!) was nutted out with teachers at TAFE Brisbane - in particular, Janice Mengerson and Anne McManus - in my 2014 project for 'Studio'. I used its sculptural, foam supported base to apply feather strips to. These were bought as loose feathers, and I sewed them into strips, before painting each with a base of gold paint.
Photographer Angelina Raisa, model Heidi Sun and myself.
When the dress was assembled, colours were applied to each individual feather. Most of the painting took place in what is now known as the deck studio! To create a really stable but light-weight headpiece, I riveted strips of aluminium together, before covering with foam and fabric, then adding the leather pieces. The reticule was made by making a simple stuffed satin shape, before covering in fabric and moulded leather pieces.
Freyja's story only came together after her creation - sometimes this happens. With her goddess-like appearance, and the abundance of feathers, she became Freyja. Drawing inspiration from global myths involving feathered entities communicating with the Underworld, Freyja is named after the Norse goddess, who possessed a cloak of feathers allowing her to fly between different worlds to those. From ravens as messengers of deities and as omens of death, misfortune and war, to the Egyptian Goddess of Truth, Justice and morality, Ma'at, weighing up hearts and souls against feathers to decide fate in the afterlife - feathers are strongly symbolic.
And here are the beasties are on stage, almost 6 months after I packed them in crates and sent them off!