Wearable Arts Gown

In the realm of Wearable Art, you will often find the rareest materials employed to create smart objects with unexpected ease. I approached the challenge of making a garment for an upcoming wearable art show from the standpoint of a sculpture and furniture maker. I looked at the project as a designer would confront any other, the material must meet the function and contribute to the elegance, we are talking fashion here. Looking around my studio for possible resources, I came across the remains of an old staircase I had replaced years prior. The wood was an aged cherry, and I had forged several piece of furniture and a few sculpture from this lot before. I liked the idea of giving it a new life again as a runway gown.

The concept arose as a full floor length dress, as elegant and simple as I could make out of wood. I used the raven’s feather motif create a varied texture hidden in the black detail skirt. For the bodice I wanted it to be sculptural, like a necklace, and red to contrast with the black. The bloodwood  mimics the throat of the raven in a mixture of short curled and long slender feathers integrated together.

The skirt is made of cherry up-cycled from a stairway in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Each element was cut to a 1/16th of an inch, and then recut to shape and finally sanded to mimic a feather.  They were then treated with a black aniline dye and oiled. Each of the five hundred feathers was hand sewn to a lining, and moves independently from the lining, to give the appearance of fluidity. The dress bodice is carved and shaped from Bloodwood. It is all links together as a necklace. The bloodwood’s natural color was remarkable offering contrast to the black skirt.  The design was intended to be simple and highlight the model’s beauty in an understated way.

Photos courtesy of Amy Watt.

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Richard Crangle

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