seeking & creating : researching & discovering : applying & practicing

sustainability in design = changing mindsets + deeds

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Making and Re-making: a somewhat Photo-fanatical post

Pin-cushion with built-in pockets for bobbins, bobbin-cases, and feet, made from a shrunken beanie

Yes. Lots and lots of pictures. And an embarrassing confession: I keep my trusty little Panasonic camera on hand at all times, but am probably not as trigger-happy as an "aspiring blogger" should be.

And processing/editing/uploading/actual blogging takes a while too (held up by procrastination, of course).

Anyway, a little history of what went down not too long ago...

We did attempt to hold crafting/making sessions at the Richmond Library meeting/function room several times in February 2011, but sadly, the turn-out was rather low. Let's imagine a little tear rolling slowly down my cheek...was it bad timing, short notice, or Facebook being not quite the best way to organise events?

Ms. Bell the beading maestro in action

Even so, many thanks to Allison and Jackie (and Charani, for those few short moments) for coming by to keep me company while some of these projects were underway...perhaps one day Restructors will be able to hold crafting/upcycling/making jam sessions in real style...we can only hope!!!

Complete: little girl's multi-functional reversible pinafore/skirt with strap/sash options, made from remnents & scraps

Incomplete: reversible and dual-direction convertible hooded shrug-jacket with adjustable cuffs, turns into a scarf, also made from remnents and scraps

On a side note, documentation can be such a tiring process, isn't it? The creative working process needs to be evidenced in order to be exhibited, and the creation of evidence is another layer of labour unto itself. Thank goodness for this tree-saving online channel which renders the need for hard-copy printing unnecessary.

What is crucial about this documentation of processes is being able to show in a tangible form all the labour, diligence and thought that contribute to end-product creation.

Second-hand bright purple polyester tank top, approx. size 16, before destruction

Especially in the case of upcycling old/second-hand/discarded garments, where personally I feel a strong need to justify the act of destruction (cutting it up) and reconstruction, through the evidence. And this evidence must not only show experimentation and exploration, but also project a thoughtful and considered process which effectively involves eco-design and sustainability concerns.

Reconstruction stage: ombre-dyed second-hand Thai Silk scarf attached to tank, followed by attachment of finger-knitted acrylic yarn cording as trim, sewn on by hand...

I have to stress that by no means is this a perfect or flawless process, and honestly there is a huge amount of stress to produce an end-result with certain levels of wearability and aesthetic quality. Already, considering cradle-to-cradle fabrication standards, attaching silk to polyester/acrylic could be a big mistake. However, the deterioration of the silk fabric with wear and tear, contrasting in texture and sheen against the polyester over time, would be an intriguing process in itself...

Jackie models the reconstructed but incomplete tunic

The result is an asymmetrical garment that appears to have a different weight on the left and right side, resulting in one sleeve seeming longer than the other. Not having a discernible front or back (which was the intention) could make for an interesting, albeit disorienting, experience for the wearer...and the drape effect was a pleasant surprise.

Does it work? Is it too bulky? Is it ugly? Should more be done?

Another question: was this truly zero-waste? Not exactly. More like "minimal waste"; as in the process of unpicking the side seams and sewing on the silk scarf, some bits had to get trimmed off.

The doubts (one of many) lingering with this garment at present is when to stop; whether or not to insert drawstrings into both the sleeves so as to be able to adjust their length and the overall proportions of the garment itself.

What do you think?

Another line of exploration I have been trying out is arguably a process of "re-fabrication", which is essentially geometrically organised collaging of cut-up fabric scraps from sample books and remnents to form a whole new piece of material to work from, largely inspired by quilting, which was one of my late paternal grandmother's greatest skills.

Good collage or bad collage?

The issues here, outside of colour coordination headaches: combining synthetics with naturals (potential care/maintenance problems galore), construction (lots of bulky seams), and TIME. This process is experimental, excruciatingly slow/tedious and gets increasingly difficult as the size of the composite expands.

I am not even sure this is the best possible configuration of shapes, and probably never will be. The possibilities at this stage are already endless. And then, after these 2D shapes are sewn together, what 3D garment can be sculpted from this quilted piece? More possibilities...

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