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52 Weeks of Printmaking on Textile: Week 21

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Let There be Light!

I haven't been posting because I've been hard at work trying to find a way to light up my fabric pages.
I've always envisioned my books with lights.  When I received the wedding dresses, I became obsessed with finding a way to insert and sew the connections that would blend with my designs.

It has taken me more time and lots of re-sewing, re-printing and re-imagining -- but I finally got it! My lighting designs are specific to my books, and I look forward to showing you more in 2019 when I begin working with the wedding dresses.

Vintage Wedding Gowns

1870 - 1940 This summer we visited several museums in the NYC and Baltimore area to view wedding gowns.  We were fascinated by the intricate tailoring and construction of vintage wedding gowns, especially those created before 1940.  (Yes, the wedding gown below is decorated with lace and feathers!) One of best textile collections we visited was at Towson University Historic Clothing Collection.
They allowed us to examine the textiles and wedding gowns not only with our eyes, but with our hands.  It was truly an amazing experience to touch and feel handmade silk and lace dresses from 1870 - 1940.

Wedding Gown Book Project

For the past few months, I've been working with wedding gowns from my local thrift store.  Most of these gowns were made with modern synthetic materials and created within the last 15 years.  When I began deconstructing them to make fabric books it was great to get a first hand look at the complex and layered construction of wedding gowns: layers of tulle, cotton, rayon, polyester, acetate, and lace.  These thrifted wedding gowns were great for practicing new techniques and mastering the art of constructing and deconstructing formal wedding gowns.

Last week I was given a unique opportunity to create fabric books using the most beautiful vintage wedding gowns I've ever seen.   I feel blessed and very honored to turn these dresses into new narratives, while maintaining their cultural charm and historical significance.  
And, I am thankful for all the practice I've had over the months to get an in-depth understanding of the numerous textiles, styles, patterns, tailoring, and…

Triangle Quilts

Storied Histories I want to show you this lovely vintage quilt before I carefully take it apart and transform it into a book.  It is made from scraps of 70s dresses and women's house coats, using mainly polyester materials of the time.  There are a few pieces of handwoven antique silks from Korea and linen from Europe.

Aesthetics and Technology

Last week I was invited to the  Scratch Conference at MIT Media Lab to talk about my experience as an artist-in-residence at Eleanor Roosevelt High school in New York City.
The MIT Media Lab has a long tradition of connecting the latest technological advances to wider audiences.  Among many other things, the researchers there are developing tools that allow teaching to code in a variety of settings; for example, in an art classroom. 

One of the examples of such important tools is TurtleStitch.  Due to its unique combination of coding and textile crafts, TurtleStitch allows educators to bridge the logical and haptic. 
It allows students to design and code their own patterns and then stitch them using a sewing machine. The experience during my residency showed that, in order to truly engage the artistically inclined students and to create compelling final products, the process needs to combine both the principles of programming and the principles of art design.


I also presented two of …

Lace, Tulle, Silk

Beloved Nothing says "beloved" better than a wedding dress.  Even in a thrift store, when I approach a rack of white gowns, and start looking through the bridal dresses, everyone says, "Oh, you're getting married." It is not a question, but more of a statement.  "Congratulations," quickly follows before I have time to say, "I'm not . . ."
Nothing says, "You are important" more than a wedding dress.  Worn on one of the happiest days of a woman's life, it is the most expensive dress most women will ever buy.   When I began this project of transforming wedding gowns into artist's books, I never thought about the impact this project would have on my personal life.  How symbolic lace, tulle, silk and white are.


How much cultural, historical, and economical information these dresses contain.  How much emotional and psychological power they hold.

Today, when I put two of the wedding dresses in my backyard to photograph, I w…

Transformation

When I enter my studio, I usually listen to music and warm-up with sewing exercises.

These sewing warm-ups are inspired by my dreams or poems I am struggling with for the series.

With this series of transforming wedding dresses into books, I am exploring the idea of love, romance, and passion.  During my warm-ups, I use vibrant colors and extreme manipulations.  For the actual series, I have limited my palette to three colors: white, black, and red.