Making of the Gilded Cage

The Gilded Cage is my entry for the Common Threads Wearable Art Competition 2014. On the announcement of the  theme  “Fabrication”,  I immediately had the idea of the fabrication of a story, the ones we create to protect ourselves, to keep us safe, our show to the outside world. Representing this as a cage came to mind. I was fortunate to attend the REmida workshop organised by Barb Thoms. Here I found the materials for my cage.

Gilded cage 7Gilded cage 6

I used 8 sections of this plastic off cut to make the cage and then wrapped it in “super absorbent material” used mainly for disposable nappies lining. All clean unused waste. I’ve since used this material in the arm knitting. It is really strong and dyes very well.

Gilded cage 1Gilded cage8I printed text from old letters on the surface prior to wrapping.

Gilded cage 9I wanted the garment to be bright, shiny and glittery. The store room at my husbands office had boxes and boxes of computer back up disk CDs. I thought these would be ideal for glitz and upcycling. The only condition was I needed to destroy the data. My initial trials were a combination of printing on the CDs and scratching them for texture.

Gilded cage 5Gilded cage 11The sharp edges…not good for a garment. I trialled cutting circles, firstly with a special drill bit – resulting in perfect circles, except for the heat of the drill bit melting the CDs!

Gilded cage 3The challenges of using new and untested materials Not all CDs are the same quality. Some cut and drill beautifully, some shatter, some lose their silver backing. Through lots of experiments, I discovered which ones to use for which section of the garment and also adapted my design to suit the CD sets available. Drilling one CD at a time worked, I then hand cut each “button”

making 14making 15Making 5

Making 4making 13I had concerns about the backs of the CDs that would be seen through the cage. Gilded cage 4This was resolved by purposely removing much of the silver backing.

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Making 1making 11making 8Playing with some of the left over triangles I made some larger circles.

Necklace 1A few design trials…necklace 5necklace 4necklace 3The final necklace made with upcycled shirt buttons. I love how the green is highlighted.DetailI am pleased with how the final garment worked out. I only wish I had gone back to ReMida and sourced more of the plastic off cut panels and made a larger cage. It would have been much easier to walk in.Side 1Back 2The Common Threads Wearable Art exhibition at CASM continues until Sunday 7th June 2105

3 thoughts on “Making of the Gilded Cage

  1. Great synopsis of your method – I bet each button took longer to make than it did for me to read this post! I must visit ReMida. Your photography of each stage is very informative. I like the concept behind this work.

  2. I really like the luminousness (?luminosity) of the whole garment and also the idea of all the “real” information or stories trapped within the now unreadable CDs !

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