Have I made it sound as though there was no real making at Second Skin, and it was all about the thinking? Well, I was surprised by how pleasurable hand stitching and the odd spot of thinking were, but of course, there was making.
It began with string. This was part of an extremely cunning method of having all your measurements to hand without any numbers attached to them. Hand twined string is further evidence of human genius, from my point of view. I first learned how to make it from a basket weaver and was delighted and intrigued from that point forward. Usually I make it from daylily leaves. But this application of it struck me as further genius. I know I always hate the part of pattern using where I have to compare my measurements to those contemplated by the pattern drafter. Let me tell you, “The Vogue Body” and the one I am getting around in have little in common! So many women’s feelings about clothing are really just feelings about our own bodies in the context of an environment where very few of us have the idealised shape and there is a lot of unwanted critique of female bodies. What genius to sidestep a large part of that drama and along with it, simplify the process of design. My string is made from tired old cotton that didn’t improve in some dye bath or other, but there were glorious examples of silk string, beautifully crafted by my fellow workshop participants.
Then there was the infinity scarf. I made two, because when I modelled a plain cream version for my daughter she liked it so much I stitched all evening to hem hers and bundled it next day along with the frocks… and promptly forgot to take a picture. Mine, of course, still needs one hem! But it has been touched by indigo as well as leafy goodness of other kinds:
I like it very much! I’d better finish the hem…
We had the good luck to be at Beautiful Silks in the aftermath of workshops on Indigo. The bag below has also been dipped… India said that this style of bag revels in the name tsunobukuro (I hope I have that right), which evidently translates as ‘horn bag’, because, of course, it has horns, which you tie together to create a handle. Japanese design is so often beautifully economical–I did not fully grasp the geometry of this bag, but made it anyway and finished it a few nights ago.
I am not sure I can explain the feeling I have about ‘hornbag’ as an Australian… and perhaps people who haven’t encountered Kath and Kim won’t be able to understand even if I try to explain this Australian phenomenon. Those want to try could start with Wikiquote’s take on it. I won’t trouble you with a critique of Kath and Kim right now, after all, we’re talking about things learned and things made! Anyone in Melbourne could still take advantage of the fermentation indigo vats at afternoon sessions using them at Beautiful Silks. The vats were set up when master indigo dyer Aboubakar Fofana was there recently. Our getting to use them was an unexpected bonus.
And finally, there was a dress. It features E Crenulata leaves, happily found in a park near where I was staying. India said: ‘everything will be beautiful in the end. And if it isn’t beautiful, it isn’t the end.’ I think this is a beautiful piece of fabric, and I learned a lot from turning it into a dress. Partly because of my feelings on the subject of myself in a dress, and partly because of the inevitable features of a first attempt (in my case), I think this isn’t finished. Or perhaps it is finished, but I haven’t found its true owner yet. But I am still glad to have made it and learned from it. That’s enough for me.
My eyes popped out when I saw the number of hits on this blog for today, (it’s usually a friendly but low traffic part of the glorious online universe) and then I realised there was a link in from India’s blog. Thanks for stopping by if that is what brought you here. If it wasn’t, and this workshop sounds like it’s for you, India Flint is running this workshop in Victoria later in the year, and there may still be places if that sounds like the holiday for you!