One of my ongoing experiments is The Wedding Dress Project. It’s a fine example of serendipity and of art projects having their own idiosyncratic timeline.
About four years ago I bought a silk wedding dress from a Melbourne charity shop so I could harvest the silk. I cut off the skirt and the sleeves, and most of the bodice, leaving the lining and the tulle underskirt.Having reduced the dress to a skeleton, I looked at it and was struck by its shape and textures and had the magic thought ‘what if?’ which always leads to interesting things. So I played around with adding stitching and some beads and then it ran out of steam. It was a still a ‘live’ project but clearly needed some time for reflection before we moved onto the next stage. And the next stage turned out to be some years and half a world away.
A few weeks ago here in my Roman studio I had the sudden thought I could bring two dormant projects together. One was the Wedding Dress, the other was a less defined project I had started around the same time. I often use vintage tablelcoths or sheets as dropsheets in the studio and I had a lovely piece of linen that had picked up some beautiful colours in a workshop with Cas Holmes. To get over the blank canvas or ‘don’t ruin it’ paralysis I tore the dropsheet into strips and took them to Tasmania on holiday, stitching on them in the evenings. Back in Melbourne I added beads, shells, feathers and sequins and more stitching. And then I didn’t know what to do with them. I wanted to preserve the floating quality and feeling of movement but they also need to be grounded somehow, or they risked looking like a decorated fly curtain.
Both the decorated strips and the Wedding Dress have been hanging in my studio waiting for inspiration to strike and last month it did. I remembered seeing eighteenth century sack back dresses and thought this could be a perfect role for the linen strips. So I pinned them to the back of the dress and it looked great! A huge leap forward but I am left with some more construction issues.
– How to attach the strips so they don’t just hang but have some integrity as a part of the work?
– I had been planning to stitch over the back zip but should I keep the work as a wearable item? If so, that presents even more issues with attaching the strips.
– How to hang the dress so you can see it in all dimensions?
Time to play around with some options – and keep stitching.