I am desperate to build on my sewing and textile skills, I love working with fabric so a new project has given me this opportunity. Ellen Welsh has recently worked in Soft Sculpture and textiles, so I was reading her blog (which you should all check out! Just click the link above) and she recommended a book. I received my copy in the post this morning and for anyone who is looking at working with soft sculpture it’s a really useful book!
A few things I picked out from the book to work with includes the chapter on construction and Ideas for inspiration, the parts about primitive influences in particular (p.25). In addition ‘The Cover’ by Mary Lou Higgins (p.36), which is a 44” high quilted satin wall hanging and ‘Ma Bell’ by Kay M. Aronson (p.61) a three dimensional textile wall piece. The book is also extremely useful in teaching you hand embroidery stitches.
Researching into the history of slavery in Gees Bend I came across the horrific contraptions slaves were made to wear during this period. Such as the heavy iron collars with spikes and bells attached. I felt I needed to look further into this and into the function of the spike and antler like pieces that appeared from out of the collar. I discovered an artist who works on the border between photojournalism and fashion photography. He has a taste for the portrait, the looks and sensitivity it can covey, but mostly for his homeland, Africa.
He manages to convey so much emotion in a single image, it’s truly inspirational.
Check out his website and other works:
This summer I’ve been planning my dream trip to do the states. I have no idea when I will able to do it but when I have the funds and time I’m off! So I’ve been going through each individual state deciding on a few things I’d like to do in each one. When I got to researching Alabama one of the things that I came across and that stood out to me was the Gees Bend Quilts.
Gees Bend is an isolated area of land enclosed on three sides by the Alabama river. The area took its name from Joseph Gee who moved there, bringing slaves, to establish a cotton plantation in the early 1800’s. After slavery was abolished many became share croppers in the area. To this day a majority of people who live there are descendants from the cotton plantation workers. A Freedom Quilting Bee was formed in the 1960’s during the civil rights movement, and many of the Gees Bend women were members. Their unique bold and jazzy artistic style combined with the use of a variety of materials has transformed how many people think about art.
They almost look like abstract paintings and I love how they look nothing like those uniform, square alongside square, quilts. Using these as my starting point for a project I wanted to look more into the history of slavery in Gees Bend and combine the two.
Here’s my Miss Havisham, Great Expectations inspired wearable sculpture from A level. Made from my Grandmas old wedding dress, I embroidered half and melted bin bags with a heat gun for the other side. Barbed wire spirals the decaying side with burnt rose petals and pages from the book. Watches hang stopped at 8 hours 40 minutes. The flower shoulder piece of the wedding dress is made from love poems and hand painted perfume bottles hang from the back.
A wire bodysuit from my first semesters electrical project. Made by weaving craft wire and copper wire.