SILK PAINTING DESIGNS ‘Hopi Bird Dance’. Three dresses with similar silk painted design in 3 colourways.

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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.

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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 gutta 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 gutta may work better next time.

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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.

Quotations:

After dark all cats are leopards” ~ Zumi

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