Making La Mariposa’s Cocoon

My usual way of working, is to get a great idea, think about the project for a while, make a start, slowly work and refine, let it sit at various stages, think some more, have a serious period of doubt, rethink, rework and over time, usually a few months, the original great idea in my head becomes a finished work – often not as I had possibly imagined it.

La Mariposa’s Cocoon was a very different experience. A waiting game…
Although I could see the development of the Wearable Art Whispers Project and form some ideas, as the final artist I needed to respond to the work of each of the other artists and add to the overall piece. Until I received the box and had the opportunity to unwrap each artists contribution, see the details up close and set up the whole garment, I had no idea if my thoughts would be possible.

A very short time frame. Each artist in the Wearable Art Whispers project had a month to complete their section. Half way through my month, I had an absolute deadline for the launch, then made even shorter by garment fitting and reveal rehearsals.

A completely different starting point. La Mariposa’s cocoon is the first work I have ever made with performance in mind as the initial idea for the work. I had an image of La Mariposa emerging from a cocoon, surrounded by curious young children and them unwrapping her. M. C. Escher’s Bond of Union came to mind.

Untested materials. I used materials I had never worked with before, I had never made a piece so large.

The process and the practicalities. “How is she going to get out?” was the question my immediate family continued to ask as I planned and then made the cocoon. “I’m not really sure yet” was my usual answer.

I started the process of making La Mariposa by researching images of cocoons (technically Chrysalis) for shape, colour, texture and how butterflies emerge. At this point I could have become VERY sidetracked as they are beautiful, a huge variety of colours, shapes, designs…then I started looking at the amazing variety of caterpillars and…

I chose a simple style with a distinct cap and ridge. The ridge defined the widest point of the cocoon to allow for La Mariposa’s wing span. It also determined the overall height. I chose to use cane for the armature for its lightness, flexibility and natural curve. Thank you Liz Arnold for a wonderful supply of cane 🙂Layers of cane masking taped together. The cane itself created this lovely curve.

Happy with the ridge, I continued to make large circles to define the width of the cocoon and create the cap.Each circle was then strung together to get the shape and height correct and then secured with crochet chain.

Testing the height on my daughter’s very tall friend.Of course this had to be hung as I worked on it. You can see above, I used a pole suspended between two cupboard doors initially and then a broom handle between two clothes airers so I could work at a reasonable height on the cap section.Above is a family affair – my daughter testing there is enough space for the wings, my Dad to the right, he had just brought over a free standing hanging frame he made and Ruby the Dachshund supervising.

Happy with the shape, next was to what to cover with. From the red and black in the  images I had seen of La Mariposa I planned to use a gorgeous piece of shot red/black/silver Ruth Tarvidas fabric I picked up at Para Quad op shop, however next to the garment it looked awful.

Back to google. I found images of microscopic details of cocoon patterns distinctive to particular species of butterflies. This started the inspiration for the use of recycled doilies.A quick Facebook request to our local Buy Nothing Group, a quick email to family and friends…crickets. A mad run around all the local op shops, and then slowly a few donations came in. I realised that people have either long ago cleaned out their linen cupboard, or they collect and cherish them. And I agree, I couldn’t donate those precious doilies made by my Nanna either. The lovely Rachel from our Buy Nothing group gave me over 50 from her collection and others gave generously too. Below are some of the beautiful designs donated.
Eventually I thought I had enough to cover the 2.8m height and 3m circumference. Initially I hand stitched individual pieces to the cocoon top…Then to speed things up for the main body of the cocoon, doilies were cut into strips and machine stitched back together. Before I attached this covering I needed to make a final decision about the opening. La Mariposa was to emerge herself, however very delicately to protect the wings and hand pieces. A few sleepless nights considering ideas:- unraveling – it needed to easily be reconnected to unravel again…  the front dropping down – it would become dirty very fast… and finally parting – lose press studs with gaps in between gave the model enough room to wiggle her hand through and then be able to expand the opening with her wrists, arms and leg.Cutting the cane armature for the opening, so close to completion was one of the most difficult things to do. Luckily it pretty much held its shape.

Other things to consider A free standing hanging frame to allow the cocoon to be used in a variety of locations. My Dad made the hanging frame from an old base for a table on wheels, a tent pole and a piece of chrome rod. The over cautious counter weight was made from a 20kg bag of sand covered in black fabric.

At this stage it functioned as a static piece…However the vision for La Mariposa to successfully emerge by herself was the dream goal and Tash from DTX Studios took my vision and ran with it. She made La Mariposa come alive and performed such an elegant reveal.

The Making of Everlasting Love?

Early last spring when nothing much was flowering, I watched the first blooms of the Everlasting Daisies on the median strips in our neighbourhood and on the daily commute taking my son to school. I watched the daisies follow the sun, close their petals against the rain, cloud cover and as the sun sets and open brightly again on sunny days. I documented them as they faded and went to seed. This coincided with my son’s final day of high school. Both with the promise and hope for new beginnings the following year.A year prior, on the last morning of Vicki Mason’s Fibres West class we learnt to make flower like brooches from computer wire. In July as we set up twentyONE+ there was a skip bin full of discarded computer equipment and cables near the gallery as the University was upgrading their technology systems.

The idea for Everlasting Love? came from these connections –
Our everlasting love with bright shiny new technology, often quickly discarded is resulting in landfill. Will future generations be planting everlasting daisies made from plastic coated copper wire from computer cables as our environment carries this burden of waste?
My vision was a wearable carpet of everlasting flowers.
Each of the 1000+ flowers in this work have been created using UTP computer cabling.
The blue plastic covering was stripped away, the paired wires were untwisted using a cordless drill, then stretched and dyed pink.The flower shapes were then spray painted in three shades of pinkOver 500m of cabling was used. I tried several materials to create the desired “skirt/train” shape and background for the flowers, eventually settling on chicken wire for the lightness and transparency.The “skirt/train” is clipped to adjustable shoulder straps and connected to large metal rings across the waist. The challenge was to make this comfortable for the model as well as quick and easy to remove. The corset has a side zip as well as adjustable lacing. Through experience in wardrobe I know you need the quick change option of a zip. Recycled buttons from Para Quad were hand dyed yellow for the flower centres and pink for the flower buds.
There were lots of trials for the flower buds.The final version being on an armature from wire, felt and sari silk to cover the shoulder straps.
 The completed carpet of flowers.

Wearable Art Mandurah Showcase – What a weekend!

It was a massive weekend. The brilliant showcase, seeing all the finalists garments, meeting up with new friends I have made through this competition, and enjoying the company of family and friends that came along to support me. AND, I’m absolutely thrilled that my entry Everlasting Love? won the Avant-Garde category in the Wearable Art Mandurah showcase last Saturday night.

Above with my darling Dad.

More images of the show here and backstage

There were some amazing artworks by TAFE Fashion and Floristry students in the foyer.


Due to a sell out show in 2016 a second show was also held on Sunday. In conjunction with this matinee show a DADAA initiative offered an enhanced performance for people who are blind or visually impaired. An audio description of the visual elements of the show via a personal headset was offered along with a pre-show tactile tour. We designers were given an opportunity to be involved in the Tactile Tour and asked to bring samples and leftover pieces of the materials we used to make our garments. These included wire, felt, doilies, cane, milk bottles, cool drink bottles, fabrics, wool, buttons and elements of artworks.The participants moved around the room to hear our “mini talks” about the making of our garments and descriptions whilst they touched and felt the materials. This was a very memorable and thought provoking experience for me and the other designers. So much attention in this very visual medium of Wearable Art is given to the story behind the work and the wow factor. It was an absolute pleasure to describe the details of the materials, textures, colours and construction to this very interested audience.

This cheeky guide dog sat on my foot during my talk. There is still a chance to see the amazing WAM artworks up close at the exhibition in August.

Artwalk Freo – Getting out of the studio

Sunday afternoon and the others are going to the footy. I should continue working on the canvas I have a deadline to finish, I feel like having a nap, I chose to visit Artwalk Freo… Best decision.
Artwalk Freo is a 4 km walking tour of home studios of eight well known Fremantle Artists, held last weekend. I visited six of the venues. Eveline Kotai, Jo Darbyshire, Annette Seeman and John Teschendorff, Ian de Souza, Penny Bovell and Trevor Richards.It was a delight to explore the lovely calm, light filled spaces in which these artists produce their work, see work in progress and materials of trade. Each artists’ home was filled with their own unique and interesting collections of books, objects, artworks, their own and those of others.Images are of Trevor Richards’ 1960’s house with its stunning terrazzo floors throughout (I understand built by the owner of the factory that produced much of the terrazzo flooring in Fremantle homes), and the original kitchen!Coincidentally, Down Under Textile magazine arrived today and I am thrilled that my own home studio is featured. As many people have already commented, it is very tidy…on this occasion 🙂

 

 

WA Inspired Art Quilters

A Dollar Each Way by Roberta Chantler

Fruits of Our Labours by Denise Mallon

WA Inspired Art Quilters is a group of eight ladies:- Hilary Arber, Roberta Chantler, Meg Cowey, Pat Forster, Elizabeth Humphreys, Stephanie Knudsen, Stella King and Denise Mallon who have joined together to exhibit their work with West Australian inspired themes. Their first exhibition is currently on at Mundaring Art Centre. It was a cold and wet Saturday afternoon when the Quilt and Textile Study Group visited the exhibition and were given an inspiring and informative talk by one of their members Liz Humphreys.

Eroding Dunes by Liz Humphreys

Water for the Goldfields from the Forest by Liz Humphreys

It is very evident that the group have a love and appreciation of the Western Australian landscape, have all travelled widely and many lived in rural settings.

A Pinch of Salt Please & Red Earth by Stephanie Knudsen

Wildflowers by Hilary Arber

Farm Feet with Attitude by Pat Forster

The exhibition consists of two Series of works:- Series – One Sand/Strata/Scheme/Salt & Series Two – Primary Production.

Lovely close up stitch details.

The exhibition runs until 18th June 2017.

 

 

Armatures Workshop with Katrina Virgona

My Mother’s Day gift was a 1 day WAFTA workshop with the lovely Katrina Virgona. 3D Textiles (or what the heck to do with an armature?!) I have admired Katrina’s work for some time and her piece “Emmeline” from twentyONE+ has pride of place in my studio.

The workshop was a great reassurance that I was generally on the right track with the few armatures I have made and has given me confidence to explore a range of wires, sizes and techniques for future projects…now happily sitting in the background until needed.3D workshop 113D workshop 123D workshop 13

3D workshop 143D workshop 16The great group of fellow workshoppers inspired each other throughout the day. It’s always delightful to see the what others create from exactly the same instructions and materials.3D Workshop3D workshop 93D workshop 10

We also discussed the pros and cons of Instagram…I now have an Instagram account louisewellsartist

 

Everlasting Love?

Everlasting Love? asks “If we continue to throw away our once loved technology for the latest bright shiny new thing, will we have room to plant flowers? Or will the only flowers be made from landfill contents?”

CITY OF MANDURAH WEARABLE ART, APRIL 2017

The 1000+ flowers in this garment are made from over 500m of UTP computer cable. The enclosed eight strands of wire were untwisted, stretched, dyed, wrapped, spray painted and assembled.

These images of the gorgeous Amy on judging day are by photographer Elle Norgard and courtesy of the City of Mandurah.

CITY OF MANDURAH WEARABLE ART, APRIL 2017

I am delighted that Everlasting Love? will be in the Wearable Art Mandurah showcase Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th June. Along with La Mariposa and her cocoon.

I’ve just seen the images of all the other finalists and I know the showcase is going to be amazing.
Here is a short video of 2016 showcase:-

To purchase tickets for 2017 showcase  click here

Dates and Times:

Saturday 10th June 6.30pm
Sunday 11th June 2.30pm
Mandurah Performing Arts Centre

 

Wearable Art Whispers

No longer a whisper, La Mariposa was revealed yesterday in a beautiful performance by Tash from DTX Studios in Perth’s Forrest Chase Mall.cocoon (3)Wearable Art Whispers was the brain child of Anzara Clarke, a project involving seven artists from around Australia, each contributing to the garment. Each artist responded to the project theme “La Mariposa” from Clarissa Pinkola Estes book “Women Who Run With The Wolves” and the work of the previous artists. The artists in order are Deb Hiller (WA), Sue Sacchero (WA), Tanya da Silva (NSW), Philomena Hali (NT), Larissa Murdock (QLD), Stephanie Powell (NSW) and Louise Wells (WA)La Mariposa 1Each artist chose the area of the work they wanted to create and wow, seeing each piece up close they are all works of art. Deb – started the garment with a lovely velvet corset, beautiful details up close, Sue – a stunning skirt with panniers to give La Mariposa the hips she proudly wears, Tanya – a beautiful macrame necklace, Philomena – A felted dreadlocks headpiece with embroidered words relating to La Mariposa, Larissa – Delicate hand pieces distributing pollen, Stephanie – Wings, that are exactly as described in the text, Louise – A 2.8m cocoon made from recycled crochet doilies.La Mariposa 2We each has a month to design and create our section, followed by freighting to the next artist. We have a private Facebook page for up dates, show and tell, and support. I am really looking forward to meeting some of these women in a couple of months at Fibres West.La Mariposa 3As the last artist I had the pleasure of seeing the whole garment to conclusion. I chose to make La Mariposa a cocoon (more correctly a chrysalis) to emerge from, to start her journey. This is the first piece of work I have made with performance in mind as the initial concept. I was delighted that Tash could see my vision and brought her to life so beautifully. Still have goosebumps!La Mariposa 5La Mariposa 6La Mariposa 4

Wearable Art Mandurah 2017 – Judging Day

I attended another fantastic Wearable Art Mandurah judging day yesterday. The excitement and anticipation grows each year. I love the chance to catch up with the friends I have made through this competition and it’s the day you have the first opportunity to see many of the other amazing garments designers have entered. Here is a link to some images in the Mandurah Mail.Make upAway from the studio, you see your own garment at its best. I was very fortunate to have the gorgeous Amy model for me and Duvah’s hair and makeup team did a beautiful job. Everlasting Love 1The garment is called Everlasting Love?Everlasting Love 2These images are quick snaps I took from behind the professional photographer…Everlasting Love 3

Guarding Secrets

This box arrived late last week. It has grown in size and accumulated address labels as it has travelled across Australia, through the middle, up and down the east coast and now back to Western Australia. Ruby on box 2Wearable Art Whispers is a project facilitated by artist Anzara Clarke and will be a part of Wearable Art Mandurah 2017. I am the last of seven artists to contribute to the project, each person adding their own unique piece to the garment, whilst responding to what has gone before. It was a delight to open the box and see the beautiful work the others have made. You, will have to wait…My Studio Supervisor is guarding the contents of this box.

 WAFTA members received their “Altered States” bags at the general meeting last night. The challenge is to create a small work (30 x30cm) from the contents of the bag which will then be exhibited in September…this is also a secret. A quick look in my bag…it is going to be a big challenge, one with lots of giggles 🙂 WAFTA Challenge Bag
Not so secret is the announcement last night of the WAFTA Fibres West 2017 Scholarship. I am delighted and very grateful to be the recipient of the scholarship. Fibres West is in July and I am really looking forward to spending a week away to immerse myself in everything textiles. A 5 day workshop with Amanda McCavour, along with lectures, activities and textile related events.
And finally last week I made an Artist page on facebook.
Louise Wells – Artist. An extremely simple process I discovered when I mentioned to the Gen Y in the house “I really should have a Facebook Artist Page” “Yes” he said, and proceeded to set it up for me quicker than I could login to my account…occasionally things really are that simple 🙂
My High School

And to really end – Last Saturday my High School celebrated its 50th year. It was wonderful to catch up with old friends and also to be reminded of where my immersion in art began. I attended a specialist art program here for five years along with every other art and sewing class I could wiggle my way into.