The Making of Fire Flies

The Common Threads Wearable Art Showcase was held at the Mandurah Performing Arts Centre, last Saturday night to a full house. This show gets better and better each year.

I was delighted to be a finalist in the showcase. My work Fire Flies was worn by Shannon White who sang “Say something, I’m giving up on you” accompanied by a grand piano and cello. It was beautiful…Shannon White Fire Flies

The Mandurah Mail has lots of great photos of all the garments in the show.

The garments will be exhibited at Contemporary Art Spaces Mandurah (CASM) from June 3 to July 3.

Fire Flies was made in response to the competition theme of “Illumination”

The original idea for this work came about through a couple of connections. Firstly a female friend who worked on a mine site for many years, said “There is no flattering Hi-Vis clothing” at the same time I started seeing people wearing Hi-Vis clothing EVERYWHERE. Not just in the work force for safety reasons, but down the shops, walking the dog, I even saw a guy asking survey questions on a sidewalk wearing a Hi-Vis vest. I began to question the “visibility” people have in this saturation of Hi-Vis. How do you stand out from this crowd?

Ironically, many roadside construction workers I see are wearing faded, worn out and dusty versions of the clothing designed to protect them…

I also considered if people always wear their Hi-Vis clothing, what could I make that they could pack in their suitcase and take to the mine site for a disco night?

Concertina and  folding came to mind…

I started with recycled plastic strips from ReMida. Stapling them together, playing with shape and design ideas. I went down the path of investigating spray paints in fluro colours and primers to adhere paint to plastic, although when scaled up, the plastic option became too heavy and I am sure would have been very uncomfortable to wear.Making Fire Flies 2Making Fire Flies 3

Accepting that I would no longer be in the Upcycled category gave me the freedom to choose the most suitable materials for the project design. I bought fluro t-shirting by the meter, stiffened it with interfacing, then cut it into strips ready to stitch together.

Hi Vi fabricsFabric StripsI was quite pleased with the sample results on the mannequin, so continued on…Trial 1

Fabric Strips 2Fabric Strips 1Endless hours of stitching many, many meters of thread and bias binding…Trial 6I trialed a variety of ways to create shape in the garment and use reflective tape.

Trial 4Reflection 3Trial 5

Nov 16 028And how to finish the neckline…

Neck 2Ultimately a navy blue under garment referencing the “work-wear pants” without reflective tape worked best.

Head Gear 1Head gear 2








The title Fire Flies comes from this Wikipedia reference –

Experimental use of high-visibility clothing began in 1964 on the Scottish Region of British Railways. Fluorescent orange jackets, known as “fire-flies”, were issued to track workers on the Pollokshields to Eglinton Street electrified section in Glasgow...



6 thoughts on “The Making of Fire Flies

  1. You are such a talented lady Louise and I too enjoy reading your thought processes and problem solving as the garment progresses. Congratulations on having your entry juried in to Common Threads – the competition was certainly strong so this was a major achievement. I thoroughly enjoyed the show although I would have liked to see your garment in motion – I think there could have been some quite strong visual “flickering” from the flexing of the honeycomb-like construction.

  2. You are certainly to be congratulated on getting into this performance, which was really well produced and hard to be juried into. That said, I saw the show. I think that there were several things against you that had nothing to do with the merits of your work. Your creation invited, at least, a sort of swaying movement. The presentation of a soulful (and, yes, beautiful) song did not allow that. Placement on the stage was modest i.e. did not inviting a high visibility. Lighting did not highlight the essential hi vis element of the message. I hope your garment gets another airing in a more sympathetic environment. I understand it will! In real life! May the queue to wear it at major events serve to present it as a real and stunning wearable!!

  3. Congratulations on another beautiful and clever wearable art garment. Each year you surprise and delight us with your creative thinking and technical skills and there have been a lot of positive comments at the exhibition. Seeing it close up and uplit to maximise the shadow play shows it in a different light again. Love your work!!!

    • Thanks Barb, as you know I love being part of this competition. It has been wonderful this year to see my garment “Showcased” in such a variety of ways.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *