Common Threads, Wearable Art Show 2016

I’ve only just started creating again…..& blogging is brand new for me too, motivated by this Competition to use blogging as an Art Journal.

In mid November my friend Vanessa, (who had never seen my creations before)  a textile teacher & facilitator of Context Art in the Blue Mountains. Came along to a local Art show to see my latest wearable Art piece….. she sent me the details about this competition…….so here I am……on a mission…..to express my love of Nature, Spirals, & healing energies of natural fibres, crystals, furs & skins…….with an important date to complete a piece for an amazing looking stage production. Let the fun begin.


 

INSPIRATION:

Overall Theme: Illumination….I resonate with the Spiritual illumination of connection to self & place……..Nature Spirits, colour vibrations in the silk & using tinny LED lights to illuminate the silk from behind to make it glow & shimmer like a waterfall. The lights will also create shadows of the felted forms.

Selected Category: Colour Palette……natures palette is so attractive, it naturally blends & compliments, it also has many subtle colours if you take the time to study it…..close up, I even use a pocket microscope to see what is hidden, other worlds. Starting with a blank canvas of flat natural silk, Wool roving, & feral animal skins…… my imagination can run with texture & colour mixing & stitching it into a 3D form…..Colour has the power to change your mind & mood through waves into your eyes, many emotions can be brought on or enhanced.

Imagination of piece:  I hope to bring many moods of excitement, movement, contemplation & Spirit into the garment. The colours for the dress section will be an enhanced chakra tree trunk, with bright orange & yellow fungi to contrast.

Colours of the waterfall wings aqua, soothing & cool, with radical coloured fantasy grasses & micro moss plants bought to a larger scale.

The Crown is coral colours from the native Grevillea flower.

Leg chaps…feral Cane Toad, & rabbit skins: using what would be waist from butcher meat supply & eradication programs. I wish to bring awareness of the damage feral animals are causing to our native species & landscapes.

Inspiration: Spiritual Connection to elements of place……..Colour vibrations/healing…. bushland….nature…flowers….growth spirals….Fibonacci Spirals are everywhere ……..using & infusing the essence of my chosen  flora…..Native nature/animal conservation Spirits…..Fungi…..Elementals….supporting the eradication of feral animals in Australia……using those resources for skins & furs, honouring that animals life while saving the lives of Australian Native species, many of those on the endangered list.

 

1: PLANNING WATERFALL WINGS:

Silk satin hand drawn with Soy wax gutta & painted with fibre reactive dyes.

Starting with the Waterfall wings….water drop shapes & salt resist to create the illusion of running water.

IMG_9804spiral diagram


 

The Fibonacci Spiral at the base to represent water feeding life, these Spirals are found all through nature, we are even spiralling through the universe around our Sun. In the Southern hemisphere we Spiral to the left, ‘Sun Wise’….In the Northern Hemisphere, to the right, the vines grow this way, the bark on trees…..even our hair on our head grows in this spiral direction depending where you were born. Spirals are an ancient powerful symbol of life.

When the spirals are stitched together, the flow of the silk satin with arms raised & forward movements will flow & lift.

Wash & dry silk first as it is filled with finishes that inhibit dye from reaching the fibre.

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Pin silk to frame stretching as you go. Using an organic tool of metal & wood, a Djanting, & natural soy wax…. beautiful being able to work outside on the deck as the frames are long. 2.5mtrs & my new one is 3mtrs.  I bring in the Nature Elementals to assist me on my journey.

IMG_0070elements

 

 

 

 

 

1. Silk dye elixer & painting

Using fibre reactive dyes are vibrant, cold water & non toxic…..mixing & measuring to ensure colours match from batch to batch & to mix a volume that is correct to the fabric weight. Once the dye is mixed with the salts & soda’s it has 1hr of activity, so planning ahead & clear set up is essential. It’s best not to move the fabric too much as the soy wax is delicate & can crack…which is what true Batik is all about. I would like to create a clear defined line.  Challenging……..

Recipe guideIMG_0084IMG_0057


 

I mix pure colours in the jars & do most of the colour mixing on the fabric, I love watching the ways they blend together & how you can push them around with water, salts & colour adding. Pure magic

resist salts IMG_0041IMG_0040


 

A delay with one fabric length...realising that i had only washed this once, by hand…..it definitely effected the way it handled the dyes……this slowed me down as I had to paint both sides of the fabric. In the image below you can see the faded side…..when the fabric is washed thoroughly the dye absorbs all the way through. The design requires both sides to be vibrant….as it hangs from the full length gloves. Problem solved in the end……. Hooray!!

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Painting the cotton lycra for the gloves…..I love the way the colours blend as it soaks in. These will hold the Waterfalls & the River grass…….next in the making.

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Got the first three dried on the line……started the next three, finished the water sections……. Then the sky clouded over (image is colour…looks B&W!) & it rained…& rained & poured with rained….for days…moving in doors to cut & sew. Perfect timing really. My daughter selected a Louise L Hay card for me, she can’t read yet…It’s perfect, kids feel vibrations so strongly, she strengthens me……“My thoughts are creative” It’s my Mantra for the next few weeks.

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2. Cutting/Sewing Waterfall Wings.

The silk satin has been washed & ironed, the soy wax is so beautiful…it washes out in the hot water & also irons out onto paper during this process. Cutting the pattern out to reveal the spiral forms.

cut spiral cut spiral 2 spiral cut


 

As the Waterfall wings will be viewed from the front & back, french seams are a must….my favourite seam. Colour matching threads as I sew for invisibility.

french seam sew 1 stitch colours


 

Hand cut & pressed bias binding, for single sew, encasing all the raw edges of the spiral hem. Starting with the brown hand painted silk to match, blending into the dark green.

hand cut bind iron bind sew bind


 

The finished bias bind contours beautifully around tight curves adding to the flow…… … Selecting the “River” card today from Laura Bowen’s Dream Time deck was spot on…I find meditating & doing card readings can bring fantastic insight into my creative process. I really had to go with the flow of many aspects of this silk piece, &choose the path of least resistance.

Refer to post 10: “Becoming one”  to show you how this fun piece is attached to the full length gloves. I’m also adding LED lights into the twisted vines, with the moss on the upper arms of the gloves………to shine through the silk, like glow worms over water………….the LED lights will be supported by wire so they can be angled: 3 x shine behind the silk. 1 x down under the long sheath from the fingers, & 1 x both gloves shining down the dress & 1 x standing tall to shine onto the Crown. Not only will it illuminate……but it will make some crazy shadows like in the bush at night………..

finish bind river card


 

3. Pattern Work: Dress Trunk.

Drafting a basic block to fit a size 8-10 model Bust-88cm Waist-69cm Hip-95cm…..plus as my design is long & flowing from the arms, a 170-175cm tall model would be fab! A close fit required as this is a halter design. I just love how this shape shows of the shoulders & flatters the bust….& being a practical Capricorn….felt….well it can be warm to wear. Darts for extra close fit into armhole & neck lines. Plus this makes the side front bodice ‘wing’ out to make room for my felting design of the tree trunk wrap branches.

block draft notes block draft pattern draft


 

Checking the shape & fit on the mannequin.

patt fit bk pat fit


 

SHRINK RATES!!!! This is felting!! Depending on your fibres, they shrink different amounts. I’m using a pre-felt base so I know I have an average shrink rate of 35%. This added length & width is added from a mid point on the pattern & radiate outs. The green lines are base size (finished), & red lines are enlarged size by 35%. This is my work piece for laying out the felt & keeping it to the pattern so it fits the body. Maths…ahhhhhhhh does my head in, but it has to be done…..I like practical maths, at least I can see what is happening! (calculator is well used)

shrink rates 2 shrink 1 shrink


 

 

 

4. Felting ‘ Tree Trunk’ dress

My inspirations of course come from the LOVE of trees, especially the texture & colour of the barks. So much variety!! When you look close there is a whole rainbow & trees do spiral to the left….unless strongly wind effected. SO my dress will be lap seamed to the left.

tree trunk 2 tree trunk 3 tree trunk texture


 

After meditating & morning gardening I get prepped for a full 2 days of felting. It’s full on physically, & as I work on the deck at the moment it’s awesome being out with the elements. As long as it’s not windy…as wool fibres are so ‘fly away’ …… Thankfully I have perfect conditions, thanks elementals.

“Campfire Card” .…It’s all about sharing stories & allowing others to learn from you. I hope I can eventually do this with this blog, as I have gained so much knowledge & tips off the web from felting tutorials…..the sharing of wisdom……..my opportunity to give back……you learn something new every time you felt because it’s so tactile & reactive.

I weigh the wool out to make sure the dress is even on all 1/4’s.  Selecting & balancing the colours as I go.

camp fire card notes scales


 

Cut the pre-felt, this is the Centre back, there will be long ties, like a corset. Start laying out the fibres, it can be like fairy hair, so to prevent any air blowing it away, I spray water to keep it in place.

I love getting leaf gifts drop down on my work…..colour perfection.

pre felt 1 pre felt 2leave gift


 

After the fibres are placed, cover with a nylon woven curtain fabric & rub with soap & warm water until the fibres mat together. Here I have to the two back panels together to check they are matching with the back ties……made just like dreads, hand rolled.

bk rub 1 bk rub 2 bk rub 3


 

Star craters are openings on the trunk to show the sap that flows through a tree. A plastic resist is used to stop the top star sticking to the red wool. Silk fibres over the top of the wool star.

crater 1jpg crater 2 crater 3


 

After rubbing (bonding fibres) & fulling (shrinking) the dress, cut & remove the resist to show the under colour, rubbing & holding into shape.

cut crater 1 cut crater 2 cut crater 3


 

Incorporating chakras (trees are life & being a tree is lovely to be)……into the front of the dress using bright popping colours & curly sheep wool that does not felt…you can felt it in using marino fibres, but it stays curly & free…..great texture to add to the spirals like a spinning light/fire wheel. The heart chakra (Green) is felted onto silk chiffon & attached to the neckline later, the throat chakra (Blue) felted on to chiffon, is worn as a neck piece, the Brow will be a crystal piece off the Head Piece & Crown chakra on the head piece opening.

chakra 1 chakras fulling 2


 

Once the fibres are bonded from rubbing…It’s rolling time, this can take up to 500 rolls!! Essential for a well bonded, no ‘fuzz’ finished product. So the neck ties don’t fuse together place plastic in-between the layers. The felt can do be handled roughly…..to start the major shrinkage, it can be picked up, dunked in HOT water, & thrown down hard onto the work surface to get the fibres cranky & shrinking & grabbing on to each other tightly. This is when the checking back to the original pattern size is monitored & garment is shaped, cut outs are made…then final rinse with some vinegar to get all the soap removed.

rolling rolling check fulling 1


 

 

 

 

5: Sewing dress & felting Fungi.

Felting is physical… two days of vigorous rubbing, rolling, throwing, stretching, pulling & rinsing…….Hooray all the woolly fluffiness is now a solid tough shape!! Let the form shaping begin.

With the wool still wet & shrinkage matching my pattern shape I tack around the pattern to show all the stitching lines & balance points. These seams will be lapped so not too bulky.

pattern tacking 3 pattern tacking pattern taking 2


 

The darts on the back were cut around any surface detail & lapped, to keep them hidden. The top edge folded down to expose the green under felt as a boarder & highlight.

dart 1 dart 2 dart back


 

With the tacking stitch as a guide, all the seams (except the Centre Back) are stitched by machine. All the seams are lapped to the left as the spiral of life in the SouthernHemisphere turns. The Heart Chakra added to the neckline, the halter straps twisted to expose the green under felt.

 

lap seam lap seam 2 lap seam dress


 

When ever I see Fungi in the bush….I visualise skirts, sleeves & frills. Bush walks reveal these treasures to me, plus friends who admire & study them too, like Laura Bowen , her pic from Instagram inspired my yellow fungi.  The colours & shapes are magical.

As you’ve noticed I use Oracle & Reading cards to guide & seek knowledge during the making of my textile creations. I’m using the Dream Time Cards for this particular creation as it’s a journey of connecting to place & native Spirits. Make sure you meet Laura through her website, FB & Insta …..she’s very beautiful, an insightful writer & nature loving, drawing on the ancient wisdom & Spirit of her ancestors the Worimi/Biripai people,indigenous to the Manning River area of New South Wales, Australia.

fungi Laura fungi bushorange fungi


 

Orange Fungi : Cutting the pre-felt out to allow for shrinkage……just done by eye, no patterns. Some fungi shapes have a flap that sits over the wood so I’m making those with plastic resists to form an opening to attached to the trunk dress. I”ve used lots of surface mediums here to achieve the texture & colours……chunky hemp thread, cotton crochet thread, torn strips of georgette, Wool Nepps (lumpy bits), & silk hankies (white & dyed yellow)

fungi resistfungi detailfungi outline


 

Wet down, rub fibres into place & mould shapes…..roll, roll, roll, roll ……then hot water fulling, throwing & wash board fulling to shrink & create gathers for texture. Once dried the wool remembers it’s position, love natures design with this versatile fibre. It’s SO tough as well when it’s felted, it could last outside in all the elements for a very long time. Mmmmm there will be some garden magic happening soon. :)
fungi rub fungi roll fungi fulling


 

The yellow fungi ………this colour looks fabulous contrast against the dark tree trunk dress. I dyed the georgette to match the wool, bit of gold yellow, bit of yellow….it’s a match. Once you start using dyes you get a feel for how much of each will mix to get your desired colours. I use cold water fibre reactive dyes. A fixative of Soda Ash & Bi Carb is added to the dye bath.

dye powderdye dye salts


 

Stir for 10mins, soak for an hour. Cut strips, this will be the frill bit of the top of the fungi for some textural interest.

dye bath colour match 2colour cut


 

Nuno felted the fabric at the top, as it shrinks it creates a frill……then pressed into the felt with a massage tool (will need one of those rubbed on my back after this…)  while it was still wet to create shape & form. Then dried in the afternoon sunshine, using wooden pegs to hold the shape.

yellow fungi 2 yellow fungi 1 yellow fungi dry


 

 Time to stitch them on & into position. I want them both to stand out from the dress, the orange fungi is under stitched, & the yellow ones are inserted through a small cut in the felt as they have a little butterfly stand at the base. This makes the yellow ones look like they are growing out of the tree bark…..imitating real fungi………

fungi dry stitch fungi under machine


dress front stitch yellow 2 stitch yellow


 

Blood red Swarovski Crystals are hand stitched onto bodice craters.

Round shape into the craters & droplet shaped as dripping sap from the tree. These will glisten in the stage light, & also twinkle with the LED nano spot lights.

I use LED Crystals for shimmer & colour therapy only, as they are man made, only 88% Silicon Dioxide, so do not have the same crystalline structure as natural crystal & do not hold the same healing vibration……..

 

crystal dripsap crystals sap crystal 1


 

 

 

 

 

6: Gloves with Battery pack pockets…..

As the ‘Common Threads’  competitions main theme is Illumination.….we have to add lights!!! What a challenge. I searched the wonderful web……LED…….tiny……..WOW, so much lighting out there!!! But I needed something small, but powerful. As much as I love fairy lights, the ‘water wings’ need to be back lit, silk painting looks amazing with light shining through it.

Finally a company in America called ‘Fright Props’, what a cool shop, lots of freaky horror stuff, but the lighting section….totally awesome, as prop people like lights to be hidden. Ordered 10 Nano LED spot lights 12V , bare wires at the ends…..(Had to learn what volts were too!!!)

Setup: After felting outside for most of the hot day yesterday….I was looking forward to sewing inside, in the cool. Bush Flower Essence Space Clearing Mist cleared the room……Called & Welcomed the Elementals, loved ones lost & powerful ones…… to guard & empower my creative space.  “Walkabout” card…..showing me to get outside more, gosh wasn’t 12 hrs enough yesterday!!! But also relates to full connections to our Mother Earth & stopping & listening to her, I need that as I’m creating the top of the Waterfall today.

1rejuvinate oil 2walkabout card 3card spread


 

The ideas, & where to put 12v of AA batteries (8)….. has been going around in my head for months. Gloves are made of cotton lycra so will be super tight, the battery packs will not move if held down tight. Plus thats were I want the lights to come from.

The gloves are seperate from the dress, so can’t have batteries on the dress with ugly wires traveling to the gloves…..the longer the wire, the dimmer the LED. (I’m learning every day)

All my side fabric when painting my outlined pattern pieces on silk, are painted with the left over dye so I don’t waste it….so great to have matching fabric around when it’s hand painted!!! I know every sewer has boxes & boxes of little pieces & strips, the “just what I needed” box. Essential when creating.

Sketch plan below with the tiny LED on the page,  sketched Left & Right glove together, one arm will have the Crown LED & the other the dress LED. Both will have 3 x LED’s shining down the back of the waterfall & 1 x LED pointing down the arm to finger tips. This will all be stitched onto a felt piece that looks like mystical roots, plants, & vines that will hide the battery box in the pocket, but still be accessible to change the batteries.

Cut & stitch, using a ball point needle, a 3D shaped pocket for the battery packs. Perfect sizing to finish just before the elbow bend……need to ben & move your arms to get full effect from the waterfall…..

All the wires are covered with bias cut hand painted silk. I had to label all the wire pieces as it got confusing…..electronics…….I can do it!!!. The males in this family were & are wiz kids at it…….hope I can tap into the left side of my brain today.

I’ve stepped outside many times today to get grounded after fiddling with electronics …….the “Walkabout” card……so that’s why……..bare feet-ground, bring it on!!!!

 

glove notes glove1 glove3


 

Bias strips with green silk are first stitched then turned through with wire, encasing it. I spiralled it around a chop stick as it’s quite strong, then slipped the LED lead through the spiral. This can now be bent to direct the LED beam of light, & looks like a vine climbing a stick.

wire1 wire2 wire3


 

While in the bias stitching mode.…it can be repetitive……I continued with the water silk ones……as below…..good to be prepared with all the elements when putting your piece together, then you can FOCUS……& CREATE.

Water with fabric: Over 20 bias strips are all stitched while stretching, so your thread doesn’t snap when turning through. Woven fabric cut on the bias has a stretch as it’s diagonal through the cross grain. I love bias rouleau…….it hangs like soft tubular ribbon. Where can I put it???? I know!!! ……all stitched to the front of the water fall wings at the french seam joins, to take the ‘eye’ away from the seams…..a distraction.

Winding bobbins as you sew, saves time!!!!

bias glove2

 

 

 

7: Throat Chakra Neck Piece

This dress is low neck halter, the throat Chakra is a free standing neck piece, off the garment. I had felted this piece when making the dress to keep in the flow of the chakras to make them all look fairly equal. The Nuno felting fabric used is silk organza.

Stitching 6 of the many bias ties I’ve previously…. made to resemble water….. to the back of the neck Chakra felt……then to hide all that stitching & to make it soft to wear (the wool fibres coming through the silk are scratchy on the neck) I will cover it with soft silk satin from the left over hand painted pieces.

The Throat Chakra & Sacral chakras are both centres of creativity, but the throat is higher creativity & resonates with the sounds made by our vocal cords. The liquid water colour blue…….

The ties will be really long so they can hang down the dress….water trickling down the tree trunk. On the design/fashion side of things, it also adds length to the body, as it leads the eye down, down to the fungi garden skirt. Plus great contrast with the dark dress felt.

back stitch design template


 

Template placed on to the silk, cut, then gathered to pull it in around the stiff cardboard. Iron it flat & machine stitch on making sure all the ties are evenly placed.

cut template gather temp sew patch


 

Adjustable slider is made by stitching a loop very tightly & closely around all the ties, I use a one sided zipper foot to get really close to the loop, leaving these long as well for more dripping water effect. I will hide the stitching with some embellishment later on.

1sew 2 sewback slide


 

Water streaming down the dress over the fungi, from the throat chakra neck piece. Clear quartz & Aquamarine semi-precious stones are stitched on to the chakra spiral to support & enhance the throat, adding shimmer & hiding the machine stitching. Swarovski Crystal beads are stitched, onto the hanging ribbons that are threaded through the halter strap area of the dress.

trickle watersew stones thread thru

The neck piece is complete. 

crystal tips finished into dress


 

 

8: Upper arm, Macro Moss, + LED lighting

 

The gloves continue with moss…… What better than moss at the top of a water fall….. Delving into the macro world is on my favourite to do list. I carry a pocket microscope with me on all bush walks……If you place your iPhone over the top you can take microscopic images, awesome!!!! The red stem moss completely captured me, again it’s the colour & unusual stems with a tuft of green at the top….as I’m entering in the colour category of this competition, that visual excites the senses, & will pop out amongst a very aqua/green area of the piece.

moss 2jpg Moss1 moss red stem


 

The Ocean Card today……I just love how it flows with all my bias rouleau strands, beautiful to me. It’s a hot  40degC & unbelievably humid, I love the heat….but the humidity really makes me feel nauseous, like sea sickness.  “Surrender” is the word for this card….turbulence, waves, changes, feeling pulled, quickly moving situations….yes i totally feel the speed as the days count down to the finish line.

I could really do with reviving dip in the ocean, but I live one & a half hours away from it. I’ve been totally attracted to this essential oil mix to get me feeling like “I’ve had a dip in the ocean”……. Epsom salt bath tonight indeed…..

ocean cardrejuvinate


 

Template & patterns are made for the upper arm felted section. The wood block (thanks to my darling husband having left over decking pieces, see….it pays to keep your scraps!!!)

This is to mimic the size of the battery packs for the lighting, the felt will be folded over it. As the pieces are small & thinner (less wool) I’m doing a 30% shrinkage rate. A left & right side are made so I can keep them looking even while creating them.

1 wood block 2 wood block 3 wood block


 

Pre-felt, wool & Nepps, are played over the pattern shapes. The pre felt has turned out to be a great way to start a piece…..as you cut it to shape. Layering all the colours I can see in the macro moss image with some aqua at the back for watery look, & two get a defined front & back. The long strands will turn into fine roots hanging from the upper arms. The nepps are those little lumpy pale aqua wool bits, to add some variance & texture like the little pale leaves in the moss images above.

 

pattern pre felt pattern lay 2 lay wool texture


 

Adding colours & textures to the moss, & creating the stems is exciting!! Carrying the vision of the watery moss, looking inward, listening…… & laying it down with the fibres.

The tips of the stems have a green floppy section in the macro image at the top of this post. the Leicester curly wool gets felted in to resemble that aspect. It so cool that Leicester wool, it doesn’t shrink & stays all curly, just like an 80’s perm……

3 lay colours red stem top red stems


 

Attaching the stems to the moss has to be done while the moss felt is still in a ‘pre-felt’ state. I believe wool has moods, I like to get to know my materials like this….it helps me to form a relationship with it so I can understand how to work with it.

Leaving a fluffy section at the thick end of the stem, cut a hole in the moss felt & poke it through. The fluffy end is what attaches to the under side to keep it standing… you can see on the middle image, it felted well.

I took the moss felt too far on the image on the right…..you can see that it did not attach to the under side & went all lumpy, exposing the wire…….ahhhhhhhh annoying!!!!! That means that I now have to stitch around it to hold it in place. You won’t notice from the top…..but while sewing it, the needle hit the wire, broke in 1/2 & threw my machine out of sync…….it still sews ok, just sounds clunky. technician will be called. Left nostril yoga breathing to calm myself…….


 

red stem attach  workedworked not


 

Standing the stems & fulling in the left pic, making sure that the stems are in place firmly attached & standing tall with Leicester wool all fluffy at the top. stretching the dreads, moss roots, to get them strong & felted well.

Setting the shape, in the right pic of the moss on the wooden template blocks. The wool remembers what to do when it’s dry. Looking quite alien all spread out like that, but it will all hang down as fringing roots.

stems in the pair

I went with the flow, as suggested by the “Ocean” card……..I recovered the piece…..The end result was achieved, with out effecting the design, looking balanced for both arms……phew…… breathe in….breathe out…….let it go move on.


 

STITCHING IN  THE LED LIGHTING                                                

The “Death Adder” Card selected today,  FAR OUT!!!!!…..but when I realised that it was STRATEGY ….i took notice & pulled my  thoughts from panic to planned…….

These felt arm pieces that hide the battery boxes, plugs & wiring , hold all the LED lights, & get stitched to full length gloves….with out falling off, or slipping around the arm …….they were really starting to intimidating me. Lots of planning has been done, but correct timing & order of constructing in this part of the piece was crucial to it’s success.

The Death Adder card reading: “You must take the time to work out what strategies are needed to fulfil your ambitions & make sure you follow the plan you have worked out in order to get the results you are hoping for”  ………………  The anxiety slowly lifted & morphed into confidence, I tied my ‘communicate with the universe & otherworld ‘,  amulets on my receiving hand,  then meditated on the end result required to confirm my plan……………. with all the lighting wires through the wire coils….I begin to pin the pieces in to place……

death card left hand recieve pin wire


 

Using the wooden block template  ‘battery pack shape’ I curved the wire (inside the green bias strips) around the felted moss & over the shape to make a stand for the spring to hold the LED lighting wires up.There isn’t much room to manoeuvre, I single side zipper foot will get the stitching close to the wire. BANG ….. needle snapped as it hit the wire……..I was going so slowly, I had to stitch as much down as possible as it has to very firm as the lighting base.

bend wires broken close wire


 

It was a challenge to say the least.….two broken needles……but no garment damage!!! It looks alive & I had to wind my way in to the moss to get into the positions to comfortable sew short sections at a time.

Completed with both left & right looking balanced, one with a light standing up to shine on the Crown, the other a light with soft wire to run across the armhole to shine down the centre of the dress.

stitch wire 2sort wires


 

This awesome professional close up image is by Camille Walsh 

 

 close up small

 

 

 

9: The Grevillea Crown

The Beautiful Coral Grevillea…..has always fascinated me with it’s shape & colour variations within one stem, & it attracts all the most colourful honey eaters to it’s nectar. The Flower Essence of the Red Grevillea promotes independence & boldness, plus strength to move on if your feeling stuck……. Even though this is the Coral Grevillea I still feel as I sit under this tree, the boldness & independence energy. The way it blooms with such power at different stages along its’ stem. I wish for the wearer of this crown to also feel this vibration especially on the Brow & Crown Chakras.  I’m still riding the waves of the “Ocean card from the Dream Time Reading Cards…….it’s placed with the water element in my studio.

 

Grevilla 1


 

 Design versions of the Crown…I came up with a few……one spiralling up (the left image)…..another more head covering & spiking up….but came back to the classic Crown shape so the Grevillea curl spirals could Circle the Crown Chakra. The little drawing in the bottom right hand corner of my sketch, is my daughters, she’s 6yrs old….she wanted a LOVE heart somewhere on the crown….. Children “see”,  I really  tap into that freeness/freshness of vision & imagination……. it can be tiring being a grown up. :) so Centre front two spirals back to back as seen in the close up image on the right……. make a HEART shape.

Crown pattern 2 design sketchGrevilla 1


 

Colours….Orange is my favourite colour…..wearing it today, as Ive had to start the Crown inside,  t’s really windy, Im missing the sun & feeling cramped. Orange is my power colour when feeling run down, blue, or beige…… it brings me rising Sun energy when I look at it. A beautiful balance of red & yellow.

I was fortunate to find some dip dye, hand dyed marino tops that just looked like the coral variations found in the Grevillea. 35% Shrinkage was added to the pattern & ear positions also marked in as ringlet spiral dreadlocks will hang around the base.

1 colours 2 colour lay 3 colour


 

The Spirals around the top of the Crown need support to stand vertical & hold the curl. Adding wire into felt is tricky as the wool shrinks….I have figure out to turn it in at one end, this grips to the wool,  it shrinks down the straight end.  Much care is taken when rubbing, rolling & fulling to keep the wires in place & covered.

1 wires 2 wires 3 wires


 

Watch those wires while rubbing down, this can really slow down the process, but worth it in the end. In the far right image I am hand rolling the fine dreads & rounding the shape at the ear area so it shapes over the ear.

3 rub down 2 rub down 1 rub down


 

Half roll in one direction.….Being carful & keeping a close watch on the wires, plus the dread lock stems need to be 3D tubular not flat. To achieve a matted shrunk together look on the end I stitched them in before fulling to make them look solid, referring to the flower & seeking guidance from within as I go.

1 spiral 2 spiral 3 spiral


 

I’m outside, happy dance!!! All the elements are perfect for felting again….I feel so more creative out here for this process of fulling & shaping , being with the garden, birds & native bees.

The Crown has shrunk down the correct size to wrap around the head, I need it to be adjustable for any size  as it has to sit firm for the Competition, as the models are choreographed for dancing movements.  Using a massage ball I rub into a soft surface to make the lower part bowl & spread out, it’s pegged (I’ve had to collect every wooden peg in the house) I check the fit around the ears & shape to suit.

1 fulled 2 fulled shaping 3 fulled & pinched


 

Drying & shape setting outside in the sunshine…..getting infused with Sun energy, the felted wool fibres remember to hold the set positions as they dry. I stitched the centre front spiral stems (heart shape) together to hold them tightly as they set. The long skinny dreadlocks are curled into spirals, so they will form loose ringlets around the head.

1 setting 2 setting


 

Next day Stamen making, It’s a perfect sunny day again to be outside felting….thanks Elements…I call them in to guide me & create Circle, meditate on the Grevillea flower again seeing the stamens standing out & up from the crown base. Referring to  the image of the flower, I select the wool colours, yellow, white as a highlight, soft orange & a strong pink/red that I used in the crown base. to create a strong contrast, all of my stamens will be yellow & white with soft orange blending down on some of them.

1 elementsGrevilla 1


 

Cut wire to desired length, it must be really straight to be felted & stay inside the wool as you roll. I need them to be slim, so that’s an important stage of preparation.

Rolling with nylon curtaining helps to keep it all together on the wire & felt it quickly, soap & hot water is poured on, the end is folded over to make the tip & colours added & blended down the stamen.

2 production line3 wire straight rolling


 

10 stamens are felted & pinned into place to experiment with wire bending & shapes. as the wire does twist inside the felted stamen I had to bend it in a curve then out at 90degrees. it happily stayed in that position creating design feature around the crown.

tips bend to crown


 

8 more slimmer (lighter in weight) stamens are required to sit straight up from the crown. I felted these with a green leaf shape at the end as they will attach to the back of the spirals around the crown.

A raw clear quartz is wrapped with hemp string & hung over the Brow Chakra window. It is now complete….with a spiral broach to hold it together at the Centre Back, Completely adjustable. I’ll have to test how stable it is on the head with movement….a cotton lycra skin coloured chin strap might be required.

 

sewing on inside stamen outer stamen


The Completed Crown, essence of Grevillea  on the beautiful & bold ‘Grace’……

Gorgeous photo studio image below by the talented & Blue Mountains local……. Camille Walsh. 

 

Crown 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10: Becoming one; Gloves, felt Moss, LED lighting & silk Waterfall.

 

 

 

 

Riding along on the forces of the “Death Adder” keeping patient….. focused on my methodical plan, stitching it all while flat first so it can fit under the machine. Layout on the table for the left & right to keep it clear, what is going where…… A plug to connect the lights to the power source, so battery packs can be removed.

So grateful.….I had a wonderfull friend…a Wizard…. solder the wires for me…..owe him a big favour!! He said he’ll teach this skill to me later……. as right now I need to get these completed, without burning a hole in anything. the Moons energy is perfect for this complicated item…… Pumping up to full Moon.

Stitching the moss to the gloves over the pockets….I have put the wooden template inside while I sew as to not put any pressure on wires or plastic battery cases.

Mighty Adder planning wiring


 

Plugs & Needles…… Using the correct needle is essential for success. Knitted fabrics need a ball point needle, I change needles so often I get confused so out comes my trusty pocket microscope for a closer inspection to get it right.

This plug is for car electronics (learnt that) & UGLY. This will need to be outside of the moss as it’s bulky & you need clear access to unplug. With all scraps kept from the hand painted lycra, I made some tiny sleeves to cover them so they blend into the glove to be camouflaged.

ball pointhide plug plug sock


 

Stitching the felt moss with single sided zip foot again, over the lycra glove pockets with wood template inside, bending the wire coils as I go, careful not to stitch over wire or cables…….. I stretch the lycra to get a snug fit against the sides. This has to be firm on the upper arm of the glove.

moss to glove 1 moss to glove 2 moss to glove 3


 

Planning the full length Glove……I’ve had this design concept in my head for a while…….so t’s good to get it down on paper to free up some brain space. These will only have a thumb…like a mitten & be stitched from the right side as I can not turn the glove through, the big seam allowance will be cut as fringing.

The extension Stitched to the finger section…..is a long bias cut, hand painted silk, bendy soft spike, continuing from the hand to add visual length & balance. I have seen onstage the use of sticks to extend the arms…..but i wanted something soft & bendy to keep with the flow of the waterfalls for a finishing touch.  Plus….. not to be dangerous, no one want to be poked in the eye with a stick!!!!!

glove plan talan plan


 

Making the shape on the hand, pinning & sewing left & right into the glove. Stitching around fingers & cutting away excess fabric at fingers to allow for the silk extension.

 

1 thumb 2 thunmb thumb on


 

Boning…..I work with natural fibres only & aim at all trims to be organic……I did research Willow branches, Bamboo stalks, Cane…….but I needed to be confident that it would not snap during transit/freighting, or in a parade as it’s being worn, or hung in an exhibition. I will research more into an organic version, even spring metal for future projects.

I cut the boning curved at the ends & taped with electrical tape to soften them, cut a long strip down the selvedge for a casing, folded it & stitched it onto a long triangle of cotton wadding. It will be skinny at the tip & full at the finger/hand end.

tape boning boning casing stitch boning


 

This silk fabric was hand painted with streaks of yellow & green on the diagonal, specifically for this section way back when all the silk was framed up to paint the waterfall.  So the dye matches exactly to the Cotton lycra  gloves. Stretched as I’ve sewn & double stitched for strength. The wadding wrapped around the boning evenly & softly….filling the tube of bias silk to a soft (safe) point at the end & wide & full at the other to go over the knuckles of the hand.

 

dble stitch  stuffstuffed


 

Checking the fit over the hand stretching it to it’s maximum & pinning in place with the boning under the hand to support the length like a lever. I searched the house for a shape to go inside while I stitched it….a bottle!!!! YES!!!! PERFECT!!!! Cut away any excess wadding to fit the top of the hand inside & hand stitched it to the glove.

2 silk talan1 stitch talan stitch talan 3


 

Gathering stitches, changing needle back to a sharp…… this is best done in two parallel lines, then pulling the bobbin threads evenly from both ends. This helps to control an even gather when attaching to a band or a bind. it has to look beautiful from both sides, so all the raw edges are encased in the bind.

Cutting the rouleau ribbons so all the lengths are varied as they hang down from the seam points of the waterfalls to distract from the french seams.

gatherbind gathercut reulau


 

 

Stitching the glove together, changing back to a ball point needle…..stretching as I’m sewing so when the glove is pulled on the stitches will not break. Change back to a point needle & stitch on the waterfalls at the seam points with the 2 x bias rouleau ribbon. Cutting all the excess cotton lycra seam allowance into a fringe…..love knits….they don’t fray!!!

 

attach to glove stitch glove cut waterfall glove


 

 

 

The glove is completed, stitching some green glittery crystal beads to the ends of the green rouleau ribbons for some glistening when the LED lighting reflects off them, like water dripping off the end of a vine…………….Also hand stitched a swivel holder onto the palm of the glove for an LED light to shine under the long leaf off the hand, this can then be manoeuvred into different positions. Looking like fire flies at night……..

 

light swivelLED fire flies LED silk


 

COMPLETED WATERFALL: The left image (front View). The right image (back view).

These are cropped professional images to show the waterfall wings in full length, Images by the talented & beautiful  camillewalshphotography.com.au 

front veiw back veiw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. Leg Chaps

Leg Chaps: The concept of the original chaps was invented by the Spanish….to protect the horse riders legs from the prickles of the Cactus plants. They called them ‘Chaparehos’ translated meaning….. “legs of iron’ , Texans & then American Cowboys created different versions for different environments. Below are 19th Century Spanish chaps: leather & silk……stunning work!!!

leg chap 5

As I am connecting with Mother Earth for the wearer of this piece, I’m thinking  bare foot summer weight chaps. I love bare foot sandals……..you can dress up your feet& still enjoy the walk.

The use of introduced & destructive feral animal pelts has been on my mind for close to 20yrs. Back then it was difficult to connect with hunters or eradication programs & poisons were used were the animal left to die in the environment. How awful & what a waste! plus YUK, poisons are destructive on many long lasting levels….. So, things have moved on, poisons are less used & rabbits are eaten more now & sold at butchers.

Cane toads are lethal & they are spreading across Australia FAST, they need to be eradicated off this continent. these are the two skins used here in these chaps.

This is my first time tanning Rabbit pelts……done heaps of research…….nothing like an experiment while under pressure for a competition. If it fails…all the fur will fall off the skin: called slipping.

Honouring these animals is important to me, I know they have had a great wild life roaming our bush, the kill was quick, the meat is sold to eat & I am putting their skins to good use & being grateful for their beauty, softness & warmth. Preserving the Australian flora & fauna at the same time.

I cleanse the space with home grown White Sage, it cleanses spiritually & disinfected the air. The Spirits of these feral animals will live on……..Circle of life.  Inviting the Elements for East, North, West & South……….to guide me as I go.

white sage

Washing the green skins of any dirt & blood before the tanning solution. The fur is lovely, these pelts are Summer time, thinner skin & finer fur.

 

wash skin 3  wash green skins wash skin 2


 

Tanning solution recipe..…I found this off a “Homesteader” website, it’s natural….lots of them are not. One thing I don’t want is toxic substances like petrol or kerosene.  This recipe uses salts….pickling the skins to preserve them.

48 hrs later the dermis will be peeled off…….

measure alum stir pickle stir rabbit

 


 

48hrs past & the dermis (under skin) has to be removed..….wow….tough hard work once I’d done a few I could see the leather part of the skin. This is what has to be exposed to the pickling solution to then preserve the skins.

Once all 10 x  1/2 pelts where stripped they went back into the solution for a whole week. Always making sure that they stayed submerged & tired 3 times a day.

pull skin rab pull skin rabbit 2 scrape rabbit


 

Testing the skins……. after testing 3 times…. I added some more salts. That did the trick. ready to rinse, fluff up the fur, & peg up to dry.

 

testingrinse skin  hang up

 


 

Breaking the skins….for as long as man has been wearing animal skins & furs it has needed to be softened, worked & oiled to be comfortable & flexible to wear.

As the skin is drying it shrinks & hardens,  so when the skin is still slightly damp….I stretch it out, pulling in all directions….. it turns white & soft. A mineral oil is then rubbed into the skin, the fur is brushed & fluffed, ready to cut & sew.

break skin oilingfluffing


 

A simple pattern of Centre front & side panels is made to get the contour over the top of the foot & calf sizing…….Using the shape of the Cane Toad pelts to patch work together, using the patterns to create the leg shape. Every piece of Cane Toad pelt is used, I make frills & patches. The legs are fab, I stuff them with scraps of 2nd hand T-shirts so they stand out & up.

 

letaher frills stitch 2 stitch 3


Patches are sewn over the ends of the Toad legs, elastic inserted into silk ribbon for the straps, under arch & toe loop. The toad on the foot will represent the hopping madness of this invasive toxic creature in our fragile environment.

If you would like to see a 2014, ‘7.30 Report’ Australian documentary,  go here……Cane toads destruction 

stitch 1 leg strap toe fit


 

 

12: Photo Session.

To day is the day 20/01/16…….. when I see the vision I hold in my minds eye...a really HOT day too, even up in Wentworthfalls it was 36 degC………… the five pieces as a whole…… together in the flesh……. on a model. Haven’t slept much as there are always last minute details to do…….For  Common Threads Wearable Art competition, the first process is ‘on-line pre-selection’  with 4 images. Front, Back, Side & a close up.  That is our mission today!! These pics below are all off my iPhone, to show behind the scenes…..

Camille Walsh ……. is photographing my piece in a local creative friends, gorgeous self built space at the back of his house. As camille said, “keep it local”, It reminded me to stay connected to place & appreciate what we have in our community, a hub of creative peeps, supporting each other.

A simple back drop of white paper & a white sheet on the floor……..Camille will work her magic in the finished images to make it look seamless……

shoot space set up back 2


Natural day light is the best as I have entered into the “colour” category of the competition. With very high & wide windows on the right Camille balanced it out with some powerful spot lights on the left.  I met Grace, our model, today for the first time. What a gorgeous, intelligent girl …. & no complaining that it was HOT wearing this in 36deg heat…..cool as a cucumber, beautiful as a Nature Goddess. ❤️

 

back close up

With the session complete, a bottle of wine gifted to our host…. a trip to a stream for a cool off was desperately needed, to breathe some green, cool & let go……..

I love the bush, connecting, knowing we are one, taking note of what catches my eye……what messages are coming through. The colours, the textures…….& finding fern love hearts.

ferns heart texture

Cooling our feet in the waters, washing away the pressures of the day, feeling the pebbles underfoot, like a reflexology massage….bliss.

cooling water flowing hot feet

 

13: Congratulations! Now Boxing it……

Hooray.…..I was notified with an e-mail on 10/02/16 from Common Threads Arts Festival Officer, Barb Thoms……..excerpt below……

“Congratulations and well done!!

As you know, our pre-selection judging was on Monday and after much consideration, conversation and contemplation – the judges have made their decisions as to which garments go through to the judging day on March 12.  And yours is one of them, and yes, you should be feeling very proud of yourself.”

What a relief……..

Now…..freight it to the other side of Australia.………  pack it into a box, with instructions for the closed judging & photo session before March 8th.  Using paper for the stuffing…….Everything is packed to place making sure nothing (hopefully) does not move……..The silk will require ironing before dressing the model, the rest is crush free……

1. watermark front       1 watermark bk-imp

1 pack 2 pack 3 pack

4 pack 5 pack 6 pack

7 pack 8 pack 9 pack

Taped up & ready to go..….with “Air,Road Express” I selected this company as they only handle National freight, was a good price & experienced at fragile packages with easy on-line tracking.

The pic on the right……Landed safely in Perth for the Common Threads Wearable Art judging.

Breathe……………..in the left nostril & out the right……then swap it over.

10 packed delivered