Sunday 3 February 2019

Dame Detritus - working title.

This piece for WearableArt Mandurah began in response to their section themed 'Movement'. I envisioned ostrich feathers bouncing lightly in the breeze. A headpiece echoing the movement on an even larger scale with a delicate ‘boing’ of motion enhancing the movement of feathers with every body move. 
Nope. Was not going to happen. It was a topic I had approached enthusiastically and openly – perhaps too openly. I tried many sketches, decided ostrich feathers were indeed the perfect medium to convey movement, spent $120 on a massive bag of feather seconds, and countless hours stitching them into ordered rows onto tubular crinoline, before glueing, dyeing, and covering them. I pinned them to the base in a variety of ways – they just weren’t going to convey movement as I had hoped – it was looking more mis-shapen feather duster! So I changed my theme to Avant Garde instead, maintaining the feathers – still, it didn’t work. Finally, I had the courage to make a complete break from my original ideas, strip it back to its base, and start again - with no feathers, no movement, no goal in sight. Let the materials do the talking. 
I had a well constructed garment and headpiece base – let’s see where this can go.  Well my goodness, these ideas can lead you on a merry chase! And so, the Trash Goddess finally came together. A dress form evolving from a pattern made at TAFE (2014), modified to create Freyja (2017), modified again to create Beyond Chrysalis – Emergence(2018) , and now to create Dame Detritus. Cut from awning - blind material sourced from Reverse Garbage, (for stiffness), lined with a layer of wadding, then metallic foil fabric – to create a surface to stitch into. Covered with scraps of lace from a local bridal designer stitched together over the surface. The headpiece beginning from a discarded bicycle helmet found in curbside rubbish, lined, adorned with riveted aluminium strips to create structure. Plastic drink bottles had tops and bottoms removed, were ironed flat, then cut into shapes and distorted with a heat-gun before extra texture was added on some pieces with a glue gun, before being spray painted, then hand-painted with acrylic paint. Strips of black vinyl, again from Reverse Garbage, were cut and glued into guipure-lace-like swirls which created a focal point across the bodice, and around the garment. At this stage, the garment, now in control, asked “where to go from here?”
This is when the shibori pieces came into play. After an initial experimentation with the previously discarded organza shibori pieces from a potential WOW entry, I decided to try different colours, and experimented using organza leftovers from many previous works, such as my first WOW piece, (2 colours!) and my 2012 piece. Finally, I returned to the original black and silver pieces, integrating them into the work with acrylic paint. In a final tribute to the initial calico TAFE creation, the shibori pieces were stitched over the bodice in an organic trail as per the original, taking into account the vinyl ‘lace’, which had been glued together, stitched, amalgamated with gel medium, painted, and stitched to the bodice. With this done, it became apparent that more of the actual guipure lace was needed on top of the plastic pieces to help integrate it, and so a skirt hem was re-called from a very understanding friend!
To bring it all together, the guipure lace was brushed with acrylic paint in the same shades of mint, purple and gold, with pieces glued to the plastic ‘armour”. 

No StudioSvenja piece is complete without bling, so paillettes and flower sequins were sewn around the vinyl 'guipure' areas. Although I don't believe it is a requirement of WAM to keep our work hidden, out of respect to the show, I'm only showing snapshots for now. 
I found a pair of heels in my stash - second hand, but barely worn, which I stitched more shibori organza onto, and painted.
So here she is. The magnificent lady born of scraps. Since letting go of the driving factor of the ‘Movement’ theme, this has been a pretty wild journey – the first experience in a very long time of letting a piece drive itself via materials and aesthetics with no conceptual basis. It has been a challenge for me, as I have always held concept and research as essential tenets of good, true, and real design, and for once I found myself floundering at the hands of aesthetics alone. There was no research, no meaning, to find answers in when questions and directions were raised.
I count myself as blessed in having a stash of stuff to play with to find the answers – I have long been aware of the bonus of having sample pieces to experiment with – my studio is not just full of fabric, it is full of answers. I also credit my years of experience in making such works – I am never one to go against a gut feeling. After this amount of time in making things, I feel pretty secure in trusting my judgement as to what is right. Sometimes you have to stop pushing and let it go.