Many times, I get inspired from a single piece of fabric. In this case, that piece took me down a long path but the destination was worth it! (And the journey was not too bad either!)
July. I was up in Milwaukee for the Handweaver's Guild of America Convergence event. I had one day to enjoy seeing the vendors and to see my fashion show garments on display. My husband came with, and we made a nice few days vacation at Kohler Andrea State Park. It was the perfect time to renew the creativity that was in summer slump.
I walked past a vendor with tupperwares of fabric. Why are we drawn to tupperwares of fabric? It beckons to us... whispering "dig thru for treasure" and we are lured in. What tempted me was the fact they were Italian lambskin remnants that had been shibori dyed. And they were big enough to make a back panel for a vest. And they were reasonable. Very reasonable. In fact, reasonable enough to make me wish I hadn't gotten just one. Dang!
October. Fashion show is nearing. I must get working. In a nuno felted yardage class I was teaching for the Haute Couture Club of Chicago, I thought I could "wing it". I created a beautiful piece of gray and chartreuse nuno felt.
It's beautiful isn't it? It's a shame I didn't bring the leather piece with me. It is chartreuse. And that leather is definitely more in the mint range. Not chartreuse in the slightest way. Call me anal or perfectionist, but I am very particular when it comes to color matching. I don't like matchy-matchy... which is a good thing because you can rarely hit it perfectly, but I am a stickler for having value and saturation work together.
Since I did want to bring the shibori component into the nuno felt, I knew I was going to do some dyeing. I figured a little of this and a little of that and my color would come out perfectly. Well, in the end I did get a color but the journey there was not direct. We all have those times of problem solving, don't we? Road blocks in our creativity that can either spur us to brilliance or send yet another project to the closet of UFO's (un-finished-objects)
Late October. Time to get busy. Looking at the fabric, it starts to take on a life of its' own. I start early one morning (I love creating in the quiet morning hours) with a Chobani Tropical Escapes yogurt and a cup of Earl Gray tea by my side. Breakfast of... champions? Starving artists? The crazy?
With a vintage mannequin and a mouthful of pins, I start to pin the fabric together. A tuck, a pleat, a few pins here begins the process. I don't work with patterns so my style is a unique blend of working with the fabric I have created and finding the best way to wear it. After an hour, I have a sample to carefully try on. (Carefully as the pins are very pointy!!!) Following the first trial, I begin the cutting and re-pinning. Then comes a second trial. Succeeding this is finally the sewing machine for my side and shoulder seams.
One of the beauties of nuno felt is the fact it doesn't fray. And even though my two fabrics were very different, they contained similar properties. This makes assembly easier in part. Once it was together can the final touches of adding closure snaps. The vest can be worn several ways, either with a shawl collar with a pop of color or a more demure closed style featuring the shibori patterning. I love giving versatility to a garment.
What a journey! Every piece I create has a story and a journey. As an artist, each piece of art has a little piece of us. When these garments find their new home, they also have a unique history of how they were born. I feel it makes something just even that much more special!
Shibori Dyed Nuno Felt and Lambskin Vest
A meeting of two entirely different fabrics comes together harmoniously in this vest for a piece perfect for every outing. Soft and supple shibori dyed lambskin makes a stunning back of the garment. The theme is carried into the front with shibori dyed, nuno felted fabric. A truly unique piece inspired by a singular piece of fabric.