Thursday, 10 March 2011

and while we're reminiscing and handing out bouquets

just thinking about the happy connections that have spread
a bit like mycelium
over the past quarter century
i'd like to acknowledge Kay Lawrence
who, while sitting dam-side by a campfire on my folks' farm one day
"why don't you do a Masters?"
when i was [as usual] rabbitting on about plants and dyes
so i did
and then on my last day at the post-grad studio
i picked up the telephone
and [very boldly]
rang the Leigh Warren Dance company
fully expecting to be fielded by an administrator.
the great man himself answered the phone
and when i stammered that i would like to show him some textiles
"why don't you pop in now, seeing you're just around the corner"
which led to me doing the costumes for
'petroglyphs', 'wanderlust', 'seven' and now 'breathe'
[and because Frances Rings was dancing in 'petroglyphs'...and quite liked her frock, i think, she asked me to do the cozzies for 'debris', the production she choreographed for the West Australian Ballet]

and where do i turn to source the materials for this work?
Beautiful Silks.
and where did i first meet Marion [the Supreme Bird who manages that magical resource]?
you guessed it
at a Fibre Forum
organised by the lovely Janet de Boer

while i scour thrift stores and op shops, vintage suppliers of Japanese textiles
and the tip shops of the whirled to make all sorts of things
when it comes to making costumes that dancers will wear night after night
it's kindest to put them in new cloth
silk is gorgeous to dance in
and dyes beautifully

for 'breathe' i've used silk [satin and gauze and organza] from Beautiful Silks [this link takes you to their blog]
and of course also Milkymerino TM
which [while i sourced it directly from the producers] will be stocked by BS
and so available to all who have lusted after it in the past

the big dress in the pix is based on Julian Roberts' subtraction cutting principles
[except that because i built it before i went to his class so it's put together a little differently than he would have done]
it's a double dress
two bodices
cut from a rectangle [Julian worked with tubes in the class]
of silk organza that measured 12.5metres x 5.2metres*
try and fit THAT on a sewing table

 a composite lapshot pasted
together using the panorama app -
that blurry thing in the foreground
is my studio assistant Martha...

*the rectangle was stitched together using my overlocker and favourite thread 65%silk+35%cotton
my students will know i have a passion for it...but how to fit the thick stuff through a machine? easy. i talk to my friend Marion and make bleating noises about "wouldn't it be lovely if my favourite thread were available thinner"
a few weeks elapse
and a parcel arrives
the perfect response to my request. oddly the mixed thread dyes better than the pure silk, i think because the surface isn't so smooth and there's something for the colour to grip on to....


  1. most things seem to happen for a reason huh? and when your universe is on collision course with all the other good universes out there, magic and beauty happen... and where in heavens name, would a whole damn lot of us be if YOUR universe hadnt collided with the others and then ours???
    i love you and appreciate you and everything you do and have done for me! just saying....
    oh and ps... those billowy beauties up there are breathtaking... "breathe" is shaping up to be a visual feast xo

  2. thanks Samm
    and right back at you!

  3. well, it all seems that when you are striving and learning and moving forward with sound and good work and principles, and a dollop of love in there (because who knows how the love works in it all?) it sometimes seems to come together, as it has been doing (YOU know) for me too this last little while. in a non-corporate thinking world, goodness can move forward. and goodness abounds in those lovely amazing garments. i imagine dancing in them myself!

  4. mmmmmmmmmm Synchronicity.......sounds like a trip I took last fall.....and more......Samm speaks for so many of us, YOU with Love.....the dresses are sumptuous........I can feel the silk in my hands........I love this story, may it never end ....

  5. Thank you for sharing this. The dresses are gorgeous and its thrilling to learn how it came together. What a wonderful collaboration you have established with Mr. Warren. Sometimes it just takes that one gutsy move and everything falls into place. If it is meant to. Wish I could see the production.

  6. Oh i love the web of wonderful people who help direct our paths. I'm so glad i came upon you in mine as i'd all but lost my inner artist in a sea of nappies and finger paint (although that is all good fun also)....

    I know this is off topic but i am trying to dye a linen/cotton shirt for my friends husband and was wondering if you have any tricks for pre-mordanting this mix?

  7. thank you my friends....
    and in response to Jemima [pretty sure i've mentioned this somewhere before]
    traditionally alum has been used for cellulose fibres
    i prefer seawater/ash water/soy or dairy milk

    either singly or in layers

    good luck

  8. Ha yes i know you've said it before... Just was wondering if it changed anything with the mix of the two fibres.
    I will get to cleaning out the fireplace now, a good excuse to do something i've been putting off..
    Thank you..

  9. thing is they're both careful and don't make the ashwater too strong
    dissolving skin ain't pretty!!

  10. ew, dissolving skin. Will be careful i do like this man...

  11. ditto what everyone else has said and glad to see Martha is earning her kippers, but how is little Felix? xxo

  12. isn't it all about giving and taking? and you give so much...........

  13. Those dresses are beautiful! You may like to know that 'your' poem is going to be in my first collection coming out in the autumn. I've read it at a festival and people loved it, so maybe they will follow up and find out more about your work.

  14. oh there it is ! . . in white. . . this looks absolutely stunning do you have pictures from the performance ?
    what a vision i can imagine . . . h.xx

  15. there isn't much more to say about your beautiful has all been said my internet friendxx your work and experiences and teachings mean so much to so many of us all over the world Indiax lynda