When I coordinate found fabrics to recycle together into a new look garment, I enjoy imagining a new decorative design with them; to contrast with the many plain cottons and linens I use. Hand painting designs on silk is the obvious solution, taking inspiration from the existing colours and any print coordinated with the plains. I was busting to get back to silk painting which I’d developed as a technique in my first Devon workshop back in 1995!
When designing, one has to start from somewhere; taking a few elements and putting them together. I began again, exactly where I had left off, with the inspirations I’d had for the last paint on paper furnishing design I’d done. I’ve always been intrigued by Native American design and recently found images of abstract bird designs of the Hopi Indians applied to pottery. They reached a height of decorative abstraction, distorting their bird designs to fit over any curved pottery surface; a brilliant applied design.
I have kept these ‘curved’ surface designs almost exactly as the originals, but applied them to a two dimensional surface of Habotai silk. It was an obvious decision to put feathers around the Hopi birds but I needed another element. I decided on a selection of Native American quotations intended to stand out in cream. However, I wrote them with a water based guta resist, and they were mostly blurred or lost during the steam fixing process; so I embroidered over them. By happy accident this gives another texture, although time consuming. A spirit based guta may work better next time.
For the first Hopi Bird design I kept to the natural colours from the pottery inspirations; beige, orange, terracotta and brown, adding a stronger pink. I teamed the final piece with brown cottons and viscose from recycled skirts to make an unusual but charming pinafore dress showing off the silk design in the bib top and apron.
The second Hopi Bird design uses only stylized birds; in red, beige and black on base white scheme to coordinate with a red linen skirt and black viscose trousers I wanted to use for a long dress.
The third Hopi Bird design in white, green and orange, has a grey background, to coordinate with several grey cotton and linen skirts I wanted to use to make a pinafore dress with front silk panel. I wanted to incorporate experimental texture printing, and used dried corn cob leaves glued and varnished to cereal packet cardboard to make a printing pad. Their fibre formation, of quite pronounced ridges, left natural looking printed lines, and although I used an epaississant thickener with gutta, the end result after steaming was mostly a blur, but its still a background texture, which was needed. Again the words were lost after steaming, so I embroidered them.
I’m looking forward to developing designs with world wide ethnic art including birds, abstraction, and symbols of other indigenous native cultures.
Shamanic Nights is pleased to have exhibited with a group of artists in a pop-up shop
The Art House, High Street, Crediton, Devon, UK
Pinafore dress patterns were taken from a wool dress I got on a French market in Pezanas, in Autumn 2012.
I love how the wide base cut allows fabric layers to drop in split fold at sides.
Combination of blue linens and black embroidery anglais:
Modelled by new owner Penny, at Easter Unique Boutique Crafts Market
JERKIN DRESSES & COAT DRESSES Spring 2013
The Mulberry-Walnut jerkin-dress was inspired by a large Per Una russet tartan skirt, and coordinated with beige wool-viscose type marl fabric from trousers, turned upside down. The subtle tartan colour tones of gold, red, ocre, brown and black in linen-viscose type fabric is shown off well against the beige marl body fabric. Widest part of beige trousers at leg top forms shoulders and capped sleeves. Large collar in the tartan uses vogue pattern with darts creating nice ‘sit’. Pocket features embroidery off the tartan skirt. The side tartan panels are used unchanged from their original shape in the Per Una skirt, hanging naturally lower at sides. Tartan also used as a front edging and false hem. Decorative back tab is cut from a leather belt. Buttons are African recycled black glass. Lining is brown linen and a very heavy brown satin which gives a good ‘hang’ to gores. This garment has a great colour combination, being very wearable for day or evening multi use and was bought at its first showing December 2012.
I’ve enjoyed making these very wearable jerkin-dresses – as I call them. Using warmer fabrics, e.g. wool and corduroy these fully lined jerkin-dresses are suitable for daytime outdoors and evening wear ,with a little more panache than a jacket or coat. Size is stated based on bust measurement, but the lower flared gores give ease of fit over hips, and disguise tummies. Designed to be worn over black jumpers and leggings or mini skirt. It is unlikely the combinations of fabric would be found again, and I never repeat a combination, so each one is totally unique and due to the quality of the fabrics, they will last for many years.
Fabrics are utilized according to how much there was in the garment to be recycled. Large skirts and trousers are the best options. The fun is in finding colour coordinating fabrics, once I have a starting piece! Creations usually comprise 2-5 charity shop recycled garments, costing approximately £15 – £40 for each Shamanic Nights creation; not much less than buying new, but the beautiful unworn fabric is given a new life in preference to landfill and the money is donated to good cause charity shops.
The brown ‘D’Artagnon’ named jerkin-dress was a delight, inspiring a ‘medieval’ spirit. As the printed corduroy skirt I used was quite big it formed the bulk of the garment; turned upside down, the skirt gores formed the capped sleeves and another gore sits at centre back neck. It didn’t need much undoing, other than some seaming to inset my own lower gores. A black cotton skirt with geometric brown print formed the gores front and back, and collar, and the beaded hem trim is taken from the waistband of the same printed skirt. Coordinating black velveteen spotted cotton forms front edge facings and lower back pleat panel. Cap sleeves are bound in brown taffeta scraps, which also lines collar, and lengthens corduroy at lower front panels. Lining is heavy brown satin.
The purple coat-dress started with wool herringbone fabric from a small skirt, which I didn’t undo, merely deciding on the placement upside down, cutting where necessary; then I found a purple wool tartan skirt needed to form the shoulder top, sleeves and collar. Large collar uses a Vogue pattern with darts which gives a good ‘sit’. As the herringbone skirt was very small, I knew I had to find fabric for insets and gores to flare from the hip. When I saw the Per Una mesh skirt, in aubergine with flared gores and mauve and lilac ribbons decoration, I knew that was the answer! All three skirts had purple lining which was enough to line the entire garment. A pair of aubergine trousers in herringbone cotton-viscose weave provided the collar backing, front facings, insets, back belt tab and extended hem. Buttons are black wood, with brown patterned engravings from Hong Kong.
The brown wool tweed jerkin-dress combines 2 skirts and a synthetic ‘wool effect’ printed scarf in russet brown and green, with 2 large wooden engraved buttons from Hong Kong. Front lining is the russet printed scarf, which continues up to form upper showing on collar, back lining is normal polyester brown lining. Scarf print also used for bound button holes.
TOTNES EXHIBITION May 2011
Shamanic Nights Exhibition In Totnes
The Costume Museum, Bogan House, Totnes, South Devon.
Exhibition Theme - INNOVATION AND FASHION
23rd May - 14th June 2011