Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Class of 1949

(Above:  Sierra Hampton modeling The Class of 1949, a garment made from vintage yearbook photos for upcoming opportunities with ecoFAB Trash Couture.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

I'm very excited about my inclusion in a unique collective of artists known as ecoFAB Trash Couture.  It was founded by my friend Flavia Lovatelli who encourages participants to create unique garments made from material headed to landfills and other recyclables. For the most part, Flavia discourages the use of ordinary fabric/discarded clothing despite the fact that more than 15 million tons of used textile waste is generated each year in just the USA. The challenge is to make something WONDERFUL from more unusual materials ... like the photos from a 1949 yearbook!  Take a look at the ecoFAB link.  There are so many fantastical dresses made from used CDs, bicycle tires, dryer sheets, coffee k-cups, and so much more! 

 (Above:  The Class of 1949 on a dress form.)

There will be two runway shows for ecoFAB Trash Couture.  One will be during Charleston Fashion Week, Friday, June 14 and the other will be here in Columbia on August 31st.  More than just one-night-only events, Flavia organizes ways to showcase these recycled garments in artistic vignettes with related 2D and 3D artwork.  In anticipation of this, I've already finished my 3D piece for this garment.  It is my Anonymous Ancestors Folding Screen.  (CLICK HERE for a blog post featuring this work.)  My idea for a 2D piece is still rolling around in my head ... but it will include more photos.

 (Above:  Constructing The Class of 1949.)

Making a recycled garment generally takes a bit of ingenuity, some explorations with regards to the approach, and some experimentation.  For me, however, I knew this would work!  This garment was made exactly like my Grid of Photos and part of the skirt in my first Anonymous Ancestors Sculptural Garments ... both of which are currently in my solo show at the Gadsden Museum of Art in Alabama.  In fact, I will be devising a way to temporarily turn the skirt into a cape for this new dress.

 (Above:  The Class of 1949 being stitched on my Babylock Tiara.)

The make The Class of 1949, I first fused all the pages of class photos from a vintage yearbook to some unbleached muslin donated to my stash years ago.  Then I cut all the pictures apart.  The cover of the yearbook was already gone because I used it on the Alternative Storytellers pedestal made last month.

Then, I glued the individual images to a piece of Pellon's 806 Stitch-and-Tear. The Stitch-and-Tear was already cut into a basic shape/pattern for the garment.  I even stitched two darts on the front side.  I am thankful to have a Babylock Tiara sewing machine because it made it easy to keep the fragile piece together and flat during the free-motion stitching.  Every photo was linked to its neighbors on every side.

 (Above:  The Class of 1949, stitched.)

It really didn't take long to stitch the work, but it took two days to carefully tear all the pieces of Stitch-and-Tear away from the photos! My living room looked like a confetti bomb had exploded and everywhere I went seemed to leave a little trail of tiny paper squares.  It was worth it!

 (Above:  Detail of the stitching from the back, before removing all the Stitch-and-Tear. The little blobs/discoloration in the middle of each photo shows the tab of glue that held the photo in place for the stitching.)

Every square, no matter how small, was torn away.  Then, I had to address the side closures.


A garment like this is fairly adjustable in size.  This is a good thing because I really don't know who will be modeling the garment for the runway shows.  Siena would like to do it but it is not up to me!

 (Above:  Stitching cording from strips of plastic.)

At first I thought I would create closure ties from strips of plastic.  It worked well enough but the resulting cord was too stiff.  I ended up making cording from strands of neglected yarn.


There are four ties on each side.


I had fun arranging the larger senior class photos with the rest of the school portraits.


Sierra works two doors away for my state representative Todd Rutherford.  I asked her to model for these pictures and she came this morning dressed perfectly in black.  I think the outfit looks amazing and can't wait to start my next one!


2 comments:

Eleanor Levie said...

Just shows how much class you have, Susan. You get an A+ for this extraordinary wearable art tunic. The 49ers were after gold, and that's what you have struck. Now, if you come up with a quick and dirty way to remove that tear-away, I just may join a you after Class... 'Til then, I'm playing hooky.

Ann Scott said...

This is fabulous! Thanks for the detailed description and images. The model wears it very well.