October 03, 2007
october 3, 07
This is the second dress whose bodice and pockets came from the recycled fabric from skirt #7.
These are really all so wonderful to look at and see transformed again and again. I am interested in any....conflict that you might be having with the printed pieces. You had mentioned the ink build-up - is it stiffening the fabric or weathering into it well? Along the same lines, are you concerned with the wear of the old and new fabrics in one piece, i.e. the bodice will wear out (or be stiffer, perhaps) than the remainder of the garment?
Also, have you thought about returning to your normal clothing, and how THAT will feel, once this is over? What do you wear now that you do NOT have to wear my uniform? Do you think it will be liberating, or do you think you will miss these pieces and the routine that they establish, and the being IN your art?
Posted by: NJStacie at October 4, 2007 07:50 AM
So far the biggest issue with the ink buildup has actually been the smell. I just traveled home for a visit and brought all of the dresses, freshly printed, and when I opened up my suitcase in the bedroom Peter said, "you're going to hang them up in the other room, right?". So in the morning I washed them all to get the smell out, which also softened them up before I have to wear them. I'm still trying to decide whether that matters: the ink does stiffen the dresses but it softens into the fabric with washing, and so far I've been wearing them both ways depending on my schedule with laundry. When I get back to studio next week I'll set myself a weekly schedule, wash this day and print that day. But then should I be wearing the dresses before washing, or after? I want them to get stiff and I want to be able to notice the increasing buildup, but there is a limit to how much of that ink and cobalt dryer smell the people around me will put up with. Maybe I shouldn't care about that.
I don't think there will be any problems with the bodices and pockets having more ink on them, for the same reason: they'd been washed and had softened up. I'm not sure how many layers of ink there will have to be before the ink will no longer soften.
As for how I'll transition back to normal clothes, I've mostly been thinking about which pieces of my wardrobe I will be able to let go of and give away once I've been away from them for a year. I gave up wearing jeans at the beginning of May (for different reasons) and I didn't miss them all summer before this project started, but now I find myself noticing other people in jeans and wishing I could wear some. The other thing that's bothered me a bit is that I love thrift shopping and haven't been able to indulge that, because why bother? So when I go to a thrift store now I mostly just look at shoes, and I've bought a lot of shoes in the last two months. But last night at Value Village I broke down and got a sweater that I really love, knowing that I won't be able to wear it this year. I hope I still love it next winter.
Posted by: jodi at October 4, 2007 08:31 AM
I worked commercial silkscreen for a few years, and I can remember that ink smell following me home, sticking to me, infusing my clothing. Just when the people around me had become used to the smell, I would take a layer of clothing off, and it would all be refreshed.
Here's hoping that the softening of the fabrics has not softened them TOO much, esp. in comparison to those freshly printed. While I enjoy the erosion of fabric through wear, it would be a shame to have the uneven erosion of some of those - bodice v. skirt, etc. I remember seeing the images of those fabrics after you had dyed them and LOVING how they came out - the colors were all very warm and saturated-like. Do you think this project would be more difficult were you to be home in Sweet, Awesome, Canadia - with it being colder longer, colder in general, etc? How would that effect the clothing designs that you would be sewing (if at all)?
Speaking of sweaters - you had been working on a piece involving the chart of Mariah (I think?). If I recall, it was pretty big. Has that been back-burnered/abandoned/etc? I was intrigued by it and wanted to see where it would go. I started thinking about printing that chart ONTO a sweater, and then when you had (at some point) spun up some paper I was hoping that it was THAT, and that you would then be knitting the sweater with the charted paper patterns or something. Or running the sweater through the press, printing the knit fabric on top of the chart.
Posted by: NJStacie at October 4, 2007 12:16 PM
I'm not sure yet what I'll end up doing with that chart. The piece where I was writing out the chart in words was abandoned; it was a good exercise to help me clear my head and think about where the work needed to go, but in the end I couldn't justify the amount of work for the outcome. I was going to put the chart on a silkscreen so that I can print it on fabric and also on paper, then offset the newly printed dresses onto that. It makes sense for me to keep using that chart in this work, as this whole project initially spun out of my frustration at having this huge creative outlet with the knitwear design, and reaching a far greater audience with that work than with my "real" work, and having that work not count for anything in the context of my mfa studies and art career.
I am also going to be making some sweaters to print onto and from as part of the dress project, but haven't focused on getting those ready yet as it's too warm to wear them. If I were doing this project at home I would definitely have to think about ways to keep warm, and I will be drafting a new bodice for my dress that gives more coverage so that I don't freeze while I'm home in December. I'm also allowing myself to wear sweaters with the dresses as long as they're sweaters I've made; later on some of those sweaters will be inky and some won't; the sweaters made specifically for this project (and that will get inked and printed) will all be the same basic design, just like the dresses are. I don't think those inky sweaters are going to be very warm, so the dresses I'll be making in the winter will have sleeves.
As for the softening of the fabrics, so far the fabrics haven't softened all that much, it's just the ink that's softened; every time I wash the dresses the heavy crust of ink disappears and works its way down into the fabric. I wanted to see the dresses start to fall apart but I'm not sure that's going to happen when I'm only wearing each one once a week. I'm going to try to keep a few of the first round of dresses going until the end so that I can see what the maximum amount of buildup/breakdown can be, but I don't anticipate they're going to fall apart as I'd hoped. Perhaps when this is over I'll have to try wearing the same thing every day for a couple of months and see what happens then.
The spinning piece was actually made of some life-sized self portraits I had done a while ago. That got back-burnered when I plied it together with the wool and wasn't happy with the result. I think when I pick it up again I'll just spin the paper and keep the wool out of it, and spin it a lot finer, so that I can knit with it; the swatch I made from what I had spun was horrible. Not that it had to be pretty but as a fabric it didn't drape very nicely and felt. . . crunchy. I don't have a spinning wheel right now, which is the other reason that project is on hold, but I did buy more paper for it over the summer so I have to get it back on track. I've also been making these huge prints on kozo using the same woodblocks I print the dresses with, and while those are meant for the wall, some of them are going to end up being cut up and sewn into dresses as well (same pattern).
Posted by: jodi at October 4, 2007 12:17 PM
I totally understand the dichotomy of your "real" work and the knit work. I've been trying to incorporate craft into my everyday, and the under appreciation of the trades is infuriating. (I've been trying to work out a series of quilts and books that I would like to some day accomplish which take a look at established societal "family values" and what goes unspoken.) To be able to combine the 2 makes sense, and I am sure, in some ways, keeps you going with both of them. Also, printed knit always looks very appealing. I wonder if there would be some way of, say, redesigning the charting process, crafting a new charted "language' utilizing the other items that you have printed? i.e. once printed=knit, twice printed=purl, thrice=k2tog, etc. Or color coded. I was really intrigued by the re-inventing knitting work.
Paper knitting is tough/weird. Do you happen to remember "R2" "yarn" from Rowan? It was basically interfacing cut into strips, and it was not spun. It was soft though, and wore even softer (I had to knit a sample). It's got to be tough to get a good drape to anything. I really enjoyed that sewn paper dress of yours from awhile back, but I believe there was an issue both with drape and also with time? Would it be cheating if you backed the paper with a fabric?
For the sweaters you will be knitting, in keeping with the dress fabric, will you be overdying them as well as printing on them?
There is just so much potential here to take this all TOO FAR - I love it. :)
Posted by: NJStacie at October 4, 2007 12:18 PM
I love the idea of a new charted language. It reminds me of this fascinating image from one of my flickr contacts: http://www.flickr.com/photos/junquegrrl/260610031/in/photostream/.
I'm going to have to think about that some more. With the written-out chart piece, I was trying to take that "secret language" that I had already written it in (ie the language of knitters) and make it understandable to everyone, and it was important to me at the time that it be readable, not cryptic or exclusionary. But somehow in the translation the whole project lost interest for me, and I think I need to go back to using the chart as image, and let the equation of image=object stand without trying to fit words into it.
I saw that R2 yarn but never tried knitting with it; it seemed unappealing to me for some reason when I felt it. While I was at the Japanese Paper Place warehouse buying paper this summer, I saw a sample of spun and woven Japanese paper (I think a pure kozo, although I'm not positive) that someone had made and it was fine and supple, almost lace weight. If I can get the spinning that fine, or even somewhat close, then I can try making lace or something open and I think the drape will be okay. I'd love to make a paper shawl and wear it with one of the dresses. Perhaps that's what I should plan for my outfit for opening night of my thesis exhibition. The paper I'm currently printing on should be strong enough to spin up fine like that.
I did make a dress of small rectangles of paper backed with fabric: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jodigreen/1270089169/in/set-72157600006818001/
but there were a lot of construction issues that I couldn't get past. The kitakata paper that I used for the other dress (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jodigreen/302410900/in/set-1357145/) was too brittle, and I really wanted something that would feel and sew up like cloth but still read as paper. I think the kozo will work, I just have to do a test piece to be sure.
The sweaters will likely be dyed, yes, and then printed. With them I'd like to experiment with dyeing after printing as well, to see how the ink resists the dye. As the sweaters will be hand wash only, the inks won't soften up the way they do in the dresses, so it'll be a whole new experience wearing them. As for going too far, I've pretty much always been the sort of artist who goes too far with everything, so this project is a chance for me to play with going too far on purpose.
Posted by: jodi at October 4, 2007 12:50 PM
I've enjoyed reading about your project and look forward to seeing the process. It reminds me a bit of this woman's project: http://www.littlebrowndress.com/brown%20dress%20archive%20home.htm
You've probably seen it somewhere before, but I find it fascinating how what we wear can mean so many different things.
Posted by: injesster at October 4, 2007 03:14 PM