Be the Tulip!
This week, as you can see is a bit of a departure from my usual art response. But in keeping with my blog’s challenge to mix things up and share new things, I have done some sewing this week. To be perfectly honest sewing is not a new thing for me, in fact designing and making clothes is the door I walked through at the start of my artist journey. Early on I loved paper dolls, changing the doll’s clothes with the fold of a few paper tabs. My Grandma got McCall’s Magazine and in each issue there was a paper doll with an outfit to cut out, I loved those! A little later I began creating outfits for my Barbie with scraps of fabric and ribbon left over from the dresses my mom would make for we two sisters.
My mom made lots of clothes for my sister and I, including an Easter outfit each year. The dresses were always the same pattern and print but in different colors. We would wear our dresses with white gloves and patent-leather shoes, and sometimes brightly colored fishnet tights! What a look! Anyhow those Easter dresses were my gateway drug to fashion. In fourth or fifth grade I pledge to not wear the same outfit twice to school. I would mix and match, I kept track in a notebook (not saved I’m afraid), a different pair of socks would count as change in the outfit. I didn’t make it too far, even my fall school picture shows me wearing an odd combination of dress with blouse underneath, to my moms credit she didn’t stop me. Later in Jr. High and High School I made lots of clothes for my self. I drew fashion sketches like the ones on the front of the pattern envelope and poured through my seventeen magazines. I went off to college as a design major with an emphasis on wearable art and textiles. I loved my time at college and have a treasure box of odd, wild garments from that time (non of which were very wearable I might add).
As time passed and the practical reality of bills and rent and life set in I moved on to other art and teaching. But my love of clothes still persists. One of the wonderful things about spring emerging is the anticipation of getting the spring clothes box down. We live in a small house so spring and summer clothes must be boxed up and put away to make way for the sweaters and woolies of fall and winter. But as flowers begin to bloom and the time changes I begin to itch to take the box down. My husband and I have a joke about it because invariably if I take down the box and pack up my sweaters, flannel and wool then a cold storm will come. I try to hold myself back so as not to jinx it. It was hard during an unusual warm spell in January to not bring down the box, but I held off. The box is down now and winter is packed away, spring and summer are dancing from hangers in my closet at this very moment. And so that brings me to this weeks art response.
It is always at this time of year that I get the itch to sew. Skirts and summer blouses are so much easier to make than coats and pants of winter. The fabric is light and playful. This sent me searching in my cash of fabric. I inherited an enormous about of fabric from my mother-in-law Leonora when she died. She had a magnet on her fridge that said “the winner is the one with the most fabric when they die” and I think she was definitely in the running for that award. I ended up with the prize I guess, because I got all the fabric. After culling through much of it and sharing some with friends and quilting groups, I packed away my favorite fabrics for future fashion forays. Seeing those red tulips this week reminded me of the red tulip fabric waiting in one of those boxes, and so this skirt, an ode to spring, was born. I will save it for Easter to wear, with red shoes not white patent-leather I think, no gloves or white purse but the spirit of the thing is there; to somehow embody the bounty and beauty of spring, to BE the tulip.
Thorpe family at my Dad’s graduation, “The girls” in matching dresses, tights traded for bobby socks (thank god!)