Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Wearable Art Runway Show

For the past five weeks I have spent over 200 hours working on a project for the Armory Art Center's Fashion Artillery Show. (a wearable art runway show) The theme of the show was Daydreams and Nightscapes. As I mulled over the two I decided to go with Daydreams. Daydreaming essentially consists of a person dreaming about the things that they might wish for. You might daydream about being famous, or beautiful, or rich, etc. Once I had taken it to this point, I began to ponder the ways that we might make a wish. (blowing out candles, wishing on a shooting star, etc) In the end, I chose the act of throwing a penny in a fountain and making a wish. As I often daydream about living in a bygone era, I chose a retro look for this dress. This is how my dress, 'Throw A Penny, Make A Wish' was born.

The Armory Art Center requires that you provide them with your idea and concept sketches in order for them to accept you into the show.

My initial sketches were quite rough. I originally intended to create the piece out of photographs. ( Photographs of things that people would wish for, mixed with photos of water)
A clear plastic with pennies would create an overlay.
As I contemplated the logistics of the dress, I came up with the idea of drilling holes in pennies so that I could lace up the back. Knowing that the weight of this dress would be considerable, I also devised a possible strap option if this should be needed.
My finalized concept sketch for 'Throw A Penny, Make a Wish'
Once my design was accepted into the show, the hard part began. I had to actually MAKE this piece. I also learned something that I hadn't known before. We would be required to attend a dress rehearsal as well as actually walking this piece down a runway. Once I knew that this piece had to last through essentially TWO shows, I decided to toss my original idea of working with paper. I have both worked with and worn paper clothing in the past and I didn't feel that this medium would last through two nights. While figuring out the actual logistics of this piece, I also didn't think that there was a way to make the paper sturdy enough to hold up the weight of the pennies. So I had to do some revisions to my design and decided upon muslin as my base medium instead. I chose this because it's essentially a blank canvas. My 'wish images' would be created using image transfers and I would create the watery look that  I wanted using paints.
The finished underdress pattern in muslin.
I thought that I would be able to drape my piece on a dressform,but couldn't find a dressform to borrow or rent in time. Therefore I had to create my dress by creating a flat pattern. It was essential that the piece be VERY fitted as I wanted it to be strapless and it would be carrying quite a bit of weight with all of those pennies.  I decided to model my own dress out of necessity. I didn't have a dressform, so to ensure that it would fit correctly, I had to be my dressform. It's sort of difficult to pin a dress when it's on yourself but somehow I managed it.

                                Once I had the dress fitting snuggly enough, I dismantled it so that I could begin creating the surface painting and transfers. I had never worked with image transfers in the past so I took great care to do alot of practice runs beforehand. I used gel medium for these transfers and found it to be a rather inaccurate science. Some transfers would come out quite well and others not so much... I created a fun ombre look using acrylic paints. It was exhausting painting so much material but I enjoyed having so much control. By handpainting the piece I could be very specific about where I applied the darker blues and where I applied my green and gold tones. To help give myself a more hourglass shape, I applied darker blues at my waist and hem so that those areas would recede to the eye.
The hardest part of this project was the pennies. I had originally thought that I could sew the pennies into the plastic with my sewing machine. I sandwiched the plastic with tissue paper thinking that this would help to keep it from sticking on my machine's feeders and foot. Sadly this wasn't the case. After much trial and error I came to the rather horrifying conclusion that I would have to sew all of the plastic components by hand.  So I creating a sewing pattern with the tissue paper, mapping out all of the sewing lines like a grid and began sewing the pennies in by hand.
After I finished the bodice pieces and added the muslin drape, I worked on the 'peplum'. (again by hand)
                                                       The finished dress and peplum.
                                    My original idea of lacing up the back was kept. I had my dad drill some holes in the center of pennies so that I could lace up the back. I like the use of the pennies because it doesn't interrupt the flow of the top as traditional grommets would have.

To see some backstage photos from this show as well as some video from the runway show, stay tuned!! I'll be posting a continuation of this post tomorrow! Hope that you've enjoyed this post and have a great day!

1 comment:

  1. This is beautiful, creative and so thinking out of the box, as I do n now only confirms my suspicions that I need u for my spring/summer lingerie line. Not only do you sketch but you also execute your ideas into designs, and wearable interesting amazing designs at that!!!!