Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Runaway Runway ... and the Wildlife Rescue

(Above: Stitched, recycled tyvek mailing envelope. Click on this or any photo in this blog post to enlarge.)

An artist residency is truly "the gift of time". I love getting up in the morning and immediately going to "work" ... stitching and making art! It is a fantastic way to spend the day. Yet, every day I also try to "see something" new in Key West and to ride my bicycle. As a result, I'm getting to know the place pretty well and also getting a little tanned (or at least my arms and lower legs are!)

Yesterday I went to the Wildlife Rescue Center and the White Street pier. I saw lots of birds. Some can't be released back into the wild due to the injuries they've sustained. Others are mending and will be set free. Lots of birds just enjoy the pond and the jungle-like grounds. The place is near the White Street pier. It was windy but the sun was shiny brightly. I know that the color of the ocean is a result of some complicated way sunlight refracts and reflects through the water ... but, seriously, the two sides of the pier seemed like two totally different bodies of water!

One side was variegated green ... from mint to kelly.

The other side was all turquoise and blue! Both sides were amazingly clear to the sandy bottom. There were plenty of fish too!

Although the cruise ships dock on the other side of the island, I cycled past this one earlier in the morning.

So ... what have I been up to "art wise"?

(Above: Runaway Runway 2012 two-piece recycled garment. )

I've been working on my Runaway Runway 2012 garment. This fashion show of recycled materials is being held on Saturday, April 21st. This is also the same day as the Historic Elmwood Tour of Homes and the Columbia Open Studios. Our home/business, Mouse House, will be featured for both these events ... and then we'll get to the Township Auditorium for the fashion show that night!

My mother and youngest sister Sonya came to Runaway Runway 2011. The morning after the show, Sonya and I designed the concept for this year's entry. Sonya warned me not to blog about it but I can't help myself. (Plus, I've never really been someone to keep an art secret. When asked about the possibility of others copying me, I've always figured I'd simply invent something else ... something even better! I have faith in my imagination.)

The two-piece garment will be worn by my neighbor's daughter. She's fourteen and into pageants. The base fabric is recycled packaging felt from River Runner, the local kayak and canoe shop. The owner, Guy Jones, has been donating this felt to me for years. It is the same material I use as the base of my "In Box Series" and all my faux-stained glass fiber pieces. Most of my Grave Rubbing Art Quilts don't have traditional batting; they've got this recycled, black packaging felt.

The white buttons were salvaged from the floor of the former South Carolina State Mental Hospital's laundry and alterations building. I used them in my December storefront window installation at S & S. Now, I've been stitching like "crazy" to cover the felt ... a little every night before going to sleep in the big, comfy bedroom chair. Even the decorative buttons around the neckline came from the mental institution.

(Above: "Junk" from my youngest sister Sonya's travel agency!)

The garment isn't all that will be on the cat walk next month. My model will be carrying a red faux-alligator bag made from "junk" from Sonya's travel agency. She sent it to me within a month of last year's fashion show. Some of it dates to 1989 ... like the disc covers for travel agency computer programs from Delta Airlines!

(Above: Stitching the tyvek mailers.)

Some of the mailing envelopes were made of tyvek. I stitched a grid ... well ... several grids! Then I zapped them with a heat gun. Heat made the fabric pucker and bubble. I painted it red.

(Above: Stitched, zapped, and painted sheets of recycled tyvek mailing envelopes.)

I gently ironed the "material" as flat as I could. Then, I restitched the largest piece onto a couple of bubble-wrapped mailing envelopes.

(Above: Bubble wrap mailing envelopes about to be stitched onto the zapped and painted red tyvek.)

(Above: Red faux-alligator bag for Runaway Runway 2012.)

Eventually, I used some of the foam material and more tyvek for the strap. More buttons from the Mental Hospital were added ... plus an elastic hairband that I took from one of the other artists-in-residences! Kristen Michelle is appearing at the Waterfront Theater's production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. She was generous enough to supply the used hairband I needed for a purse closure!

I also added some wax and black crayon to better emulate the look of faux-leather.

The interior still shows the materials used in the construction. There's another accessory for my model ... but I'm keeping that one "a secret" for a bit longer!

Unbelievably, I ran out of painted Wonder Under. I use this while constructing my faux-stained glass fiber pieces. I'm currently working on twelve, small "Windows" (approximately 13" x 11".) It was nice to allow the washes of color to dry in the tropical garden just outside my cottage!


Karen Christensen said...

Love love love the "alligator" bag! I just added a bit of bubble wrap to a piece I am working on. The stuff we discard can be such fun for artists! I am so enjoying your posts from Key west. What a joy to be so free for a time just to create!

Gayle said...

Your faux-alligater is amazing...
and FYI...I don't think you are going to run out of ideas anytime soon!!

Margaret said...

Lovin' the alligator bag. Isn't Tyvek fun?

Gerrie said...

That purse is smokin' hot!!

Lynn said...

I so saw YOU wearing the button skirt and top!!! And the purse rocks in wonderful red contrast color.
Can't wait to see what else? A hat maybe? Wrist bands? Shoes?

Your eye for detail excites me no end! Can't wait to see the photos from the Runway Show.

I see prizes here!

Wanda said...

Wow...what a neat post! Where to start....okay, the 'junk' from the travel agency was once the lifeblood of it. Funny how time moves on. I don't think there are too many computers running that still use those floppies. What fun they were and how technologically advanced we felt! OK...so why did the mental hospital have so many buttons?? You use them in a lot of projects and you aren't skimpy with them and yet, there are still so many left...what the heck did they need all those buttons for?? OK, NOW I know why your travel dates to come here are what they are...up to the very last second, you will be busy! Pack BEFORE travel day or you won't have a chance!!! Your recycled items are all beautiful and I so look forward to seeing the pictures of your model! The colors there seem more colorful than real. Is that even possible?? Beautiful place. Awesome experience. I want to try to do it too!!!

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I'm so excited! I'm coming for this fashion show and weekend of festivities...and bringing Stephanie and LuLu! Put us to work...we're ready to help!

I suppose there was a reason why I saved those old floppy discs for so many years...anything for fashion!! Gosh...I tossed so many old ticket jackets and I feel bad...you probably could have made boots out of them!! lol

Wanda...the inmates had to button up their jackets with those tiny tiny buttons, that's why they were there in the first place...all those buttons must have driven them there!

Susan, the outfit is amazing...I usually try and do the 'wrap-around' when a button is loose...I know I'd never ever have been able to sew all those buttons on..and certainly not in such perfectly straight lines!


Susan said...

Sonya ... You are "so bad"! You know that Wanda is totally gullible and will actually BELIEVE YOU! Of course those patients (NOT inmates!) didn't have to button their own straight jackets. They had "people" for that! Just kidding! The truth is that the Mental Institution had its own laundry department and alterations department in this one building. This is where clothing was washed, mended, and issued to patients. They apparently also taught basic stitching skills to some of the people there ... hence they needed a supply of buttons. Sonya, however, would never guess this as I don't think she ever learned how to sew a button onto anything! She probably figured out a way to skip Home Ec (or get herself tossed out of the class!) She knew that she'd only ever wear something a couple of times before considering it "old". So ... Sonya ... you can send me more "old clothes" anytime. I hate shopping and will generally wear anything if I don't have to go into a "trying room".
PS To anyone else reading ... Sonya and Wanda are my younger sisters!


For your information:
(1) I got an A in Home Economics because I'm a good cook and because all we had to sew was that four square pillow (which I had Laura Hicks finish for me!!).
(2) I did learn how to sew from Mrs. Datt...well, I took classes from her until she called Mom and said "I think Sonya is done now." I sewed a lovely sun dress which NO ONE would wear...even Mom didn't actually say it was good..she sort of commented "Well, there you are." or something like that.
(3) Yes, if the button falls off...and sometimes if I have no idea how to clean it, it usually means time to retire the outfit and go shopping! Thank goodness these days all that really means is to go online and order something to be shipped...I can't be bothered with stores either!

To anyone else reading...note that I'm Susan's YOUNGEST sister!!!