April 16, 2017

Wearable Art: Strange Water Stays (Part 2)

When we last left off in Part I, I had about 16 hours into the wearable art project with binding and hardware still left to install.  For the class presentation, I brought along both the recycled material stays and my mid-century corset to compare and familiarize my classmates, hopefully changing their perceptions of the "torture devices."  Based on the positive responses from critiques, I think it's safe to say that the combination of water pollution concerns and early 19th century undergarments made quite a splash!  

Strange Water Stays, completed!

Design Concept:  From recyclable materials to wearable art, the Strange Water Stays are a visual, environmental statement.  Much as stays served as the foundation for the early 19th century silhouette, water supports our very existence and its vast bodies sculpt the landscapes of the Earth.  The dark blue denim, lace and vibrant green binding of exterior of the stays represent the beauty that is, much like our lakes and waterfront views offer.  However, the interior speaks to an unnoticed, sinister truth of death and decay lurking beneath the water's surface.  Intention and unintentional litter, like the paper, plastic and shiny metal products representing unnatural pollutants interspersed among the lily pads of the corset, silently chokes plant and marine life to death.  If we do not strive to make greater efforts to protect our irreplaceable aquatic ecosystems, polluted, lifeless, strange waters, will be the only reminder of the natural beauty that once was left.  

Completed Stays:  This project, transforming trash and recyclable materials into art, challenged me not only as a designer and artist, but technically as I had to adjust to issues that arose with the use of non-traditional materials.  (I only stitched all the way through one finger and broke one sewing machine needle in the process!)  After binding the top and bottom edges of the stays, I installed the grommets for the straps and used a pair of old shoe laces for lacing.  In the spirit of conserving resources, I decided to only place bones (aka plastic zip ties) at the center backs and save the rest of the grommets for future projects...

Outside - Shell of denim re-purposed from a skirt, lace curtain overlays and green cotton binding.  

All laid out, exterior.

Bust gusset and lace overlay detail, exterior.

Center back, exterior.

Inside - Blue cotton interlining, plastic shower curtain liner re-purposed for lining, plastic zip ties for boning, metal grommets and shoe strings for lacing.  The "pollution" included aluminum foil and paper coffee filters, and the "lily pads" were leaves left over from a plastic flower bunch. 

All laid out, interior.

Center front, interior.

Comparison -
Side view, exterior.

Side view, interior.

Strap and grommet detail, interior

Bust gusset and grommet detail, exterior.

Bust gusset detail, interior.

Strap detail, interior.

Strap detail, exterior.

While I do not foresee myself actually wearing these stays, remade in the appropriate historical materials and natural fibers, they might provide decent support for early 1800s and 1830s endeavors.  All in all, the construction time totaled about 20 hours.  

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