A WOW of a time

As the WOW 30 show continues to roll on, my experience is complete. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, "the wait to the Awards Show is so long for it to be all over so quickly."

I missed out on the 2017 show, so returning for the 30th Anniversary show was such a relief, very exciting and fabulous! We attended the pre-show fundraiser event on Wednesday. Oh my. I felt so proud walking into TSB Arena. Seeing my entry on stage with some of the most extraordinary pieces that I have ever seen just tripled, not quadrupled my pride; and appreciation for just how beautiful it was to be selected this year. All the hours, all the sewing, all the persevering with making my weird plant cell mass. All totally worth it. I flew over not expecting to place or receive an award. On seeing the show, I knew that I wouldn't, and I was very ok with that. It's cliche but just being selected is so extraordinary. I'm filled with pride and joy.

A week in Wellington is never long enough. It's one cool capital. The food, the beer, the climate: I love it! It's familiar, it's comfortable, and it feels like home. Attending the show is excellent, but it's catching up with WOW friends that I cherish. I confess this year I felt some pangs of shyness and awkwardness. I'm not sure if this down to not being selected in 2017, or why I felt so overwhelmed with waves of anxiety. My mind can be its own worst enemy. I just wish it hadn't chosen WOW to go on a bender. Not to be discouraged, I really had a ball. I received plenty of positive feedback and reactions to my entry Cell Belle. The two I will carry with me are "Did you use Swarovski crystals?" and " You really managed to camouflage the human form."

WOW put on a Designer's Day on Thursday before the awards show. All attending designers New Zealanders and International, gather for a full day of activities, networking and fun. In the afternoon the 6 section details for WOW 2019 were revealed by Dame Suzie Moncrief and Heather Palmer. Even as the words came out of Suzie's mouth I felt a rush of inspiration, excitement and I was bursting with ideas. In past years my design concepts have taken a few months to develop. It seemed almost instantaneous for me this year. I have already nominated my intention to enter and have been feverishly working out several elements and writing patterns for the crochet pieces that will make up a complete wearbleart piece. I wish I could just stop everything and work 100% on this, but the bills roll in and the work must be attended to.

Under the Microscope: Cell Belle

I can finally share with the world my World of Wearableart entry for 2018. The section theme is Under the Microscope. My entry is titled, Cell Belle. I didn't like to hope that I would make it through to the show this year after not making it last year. If I have learnt one thing from WOW, it is not to expect to make it. This year I didn't dare even think that it would be successful. People say to me "you're awesome, of course, it will" but I know better. I have been to a show. The entry standard raises with each year. I feel like I have fluked it to date.

In April when the pre-selection notifications arrived, it was beautiful to draw a breath and consider that I was in with a shot. The judging weekend in July proved to be a polarised set of emotions. Parts of me felt like that it was fine. There was nothing more I could do and that it will be what it is. Other parts of me were exploding with terror thinking about how poorly the fit on the model might be, and maybe I had packed her up poorly so that she didn't unpack well. It turns out the model presenting Cell Belle sold the ever-lovin' shit out of her and that her programme photo was taken that day. Now here I am tonight at the Awards Show being WOWed up the wazoo! There's no doubt a flood of tears pouring down my cheeks as this post well, posts.

The entry process beyond the creation of the garment is extensive. It pushes me to express myself to the very boundaries of my abilities. The Dressing Instructions are the most fun for me, as I love creating and formatting documents. I am not a whizz with the words, but I enjoy that element of entering. Coming up with the inspiration wording for my entry, on the other hand, is a huge challenge me. I am keenly aware of the why and the process, but due to the sheer personal nature of it, I struggle to get the words out right. Prepping for this post I re-read my entered spiel, and I can honestly say that I impressed myself. It had been a while since I'd written it, so I was pleasantly surprised by what I wrote. Go me! I'm so impressed that I feel like sharing my words with you as an accompaniment to the visuals. We are asked to supply three pieces of information:

1. Short Inspiration - which is the wording that will appear in the programme.

2. Long Inspiration - which I guess is a wordier version that the judges are provided with as the entry garment is presented for assessment.

And 3. Garment Story. The model selected to represent a designer for judging reads this. They use it to develop their understanding of the garment so that they can best present what we (the designers) are wanting to express and provide a clearer understanding of why the entry is where it is. The following are my three submitted descriptions:

Short Inspiration:

Plant cell sequins'ing.

Long Inspiration:

My inspiration came when I Googled 'single cell organism,' and saw Euglena for the first time. I wanted to create a plant-based creature/cross-section/thing, with sequins - lots of sequins. And it had to have a long, sparkly flagellum (tail). The garment is made up of 100% crochet. The many, many sequins have been individually handsewn.

Garment story: 

I knew what I wanted to create as soon as I Google Image searched for single-celled organisms. One species, Euglena caught my attention. When I read that most species of Euglena have "photosynthesising chloroplasts so that they feed like plants and can also take nourishment heterotrophically, like animals," that was it! I also enjoy a good feed. These guys must like one so much that they adapt to ensure eating no matter what. I wanted to create something that was in essence plant-based. I took the chlorophyll element as the base for the overall palette. I didn't want to make an exact representation of the cell structure. Instead, I opted for a multi-celled organism of a garment that is a bit glam, strong, feminine, and sparkly.

My creative process tends to go like this: I start with my initial sketches and concept. Once I begin the crochet part, it all becomes a whole other 'beast.' The crochet tends to guide me as to how it will work and wants to be. The original silhouette radically changed when I was working out how to structure the crochet fabric around the human form. The lower section of grid-like sequins came about when I thought I wasn't able to purchase more of the yarn that I was using (engage panic stations!). It was the backup plan, and I have fallen in love with it, and it is perhaps my favourite bit. I can happily say that sewing sequins are my meditation. Which is lucky as I kept thinking of new ideas and elements like the shoes, that needed sequins sewn on them.

In my previous designs, I have made a creature, which in my eyes, have had a very male presence. Cell Belle is female. Once I recognised her femininity, the construction of future pieces of the garment came easily. The tutu skirt came out of the fact that I'd made ten too many of the green cell motifs that form the upper section. I was fiddling with them imagining what they might be; the next thing I knew I had started on an undergarment. Crochet guided me on it the look and overall outcome 100%. It whispered that it would be a skirt and onwards I went. I know gender is not essential, particularly in a garment but I tend to feel a personality from the things I create. Perhaps it is this more than a gender that I take guidance from? Maybe I'm just a bit nutty and see a soul where there isn't one.

When I make an entry for the World of Wearableart, there is one thing that I can be sure of, and that is that I learn, and I develop my skillset as I go. I am driven by a voice in my head that encourages me to make something that will impress Suzie and Heather. I catch myself muttering "no, Suzie won't like that" if I feel I need to make a drastic change or improvement. Each year I have entered I have finished the process with new techniques and abilities. Trying to impress WOW makes me a better creative. This year my entry is beyond anything I have ever attempted before. I feel like I have made a real fashion piece. I have gone beyond my creature bodysuit costumes. I have embraced negative space over complete disguise. I am proud of the result.

If you made it through this far, thank you for reading. Here's a snapshot of the individual elements as they were being created.

Jumperhead Unleashed

I was incredibly nervous about the time when it came when people outside of my immediate circle get to see the pieces I have been working on for the past few months. The time came on Thursday 12th July. It was installation day. 'Jumperhead' is my second solo exhibition. This time around I was a little more organised and focussed on what I wanted to do. 'Monsters Under the Bed' in 2013 saw me with absolutely no clue as to what I was doing. I am slightly more aware of myself, my work and my artistic expression. Now that Jumperhead is open and people are seeing and reacting to it, I feel sheer relief. I can also see what a weird little world there is tucked away in my head. When I learnt to crochet, I didn't expect that I had found my calling. That it would be my creative voice. That this voice would be quirky, weird and whimsical. Perhaps I hadn't really appreciated that these are words that describe me. I wear it as a badge of honour. Weird is cool, right? While I was waiting to commence my Zombie Yarn workshop at the Warwick Art Gallery, I was among the throngs of people attending Markets at the Gallery. The joint was jumping! The vibe was buzzing, and the sun was shining. I was stationed in behind the counter of the gallery volunteer's stall. I had an excellent view of the spectacle. There was a moment where I looked through the gallery windows to see the room completely full of patrons. There were a couple of groups of people taking photos with the pieces, and there was no room to move through the exhibit. I'd be lying if I said that I was not puffed with pride or that tears of joy were welling in my eyes. It was quite a particular moment which I will think fondly on.

Oh WoW Oh WoW Oh WoW

It is with great joy that I shout out the news that I am a finalist in the 2018 World of Wearableart Awards! I was thrilled to be pre-selected for the judging round in April. The wait is long. The judging weekend took place at the start of July. To see the word 'congratulations' at the beginning of the email brought tears to my eyes. Tears of joy!

After suffering the gutting news that my entry last year was not selected, this notification has been received with utter delight and relief. While I cannot share any details about my entry just yet, as soon that 1st show kicks off on Thursday 27th September, there will be images and details galore!

Jumperhead is coming

In 2017 I was named the Inaugural entrant into the Jumpers and Jazz Hall of Fame. For the 2018 festival, I have been invited to exhibit a brand spanking new installation in the Warwick Art Gallery. A recent feature in the Warwick Daily News revealed the details.

The exhibition features new pieces created from yarn which I have repurposed from garments I have sourced from op shops and my own closet.

The process has been exhausting and rewarding in equal parts. I'm excited to install each of the pieces and to see how they interact with each other. Some old friends will also make an appearance. I have selected pieces from a collection of my entries into the World of Wearableart.

I will also be hosting a workshop at the gallery on July 21. Zombie Yarn: Raised from the Dead will demonstrate some of the techniques that I have used in creating Junperhead.

Visit the Orange Wall Gallery July 12 - August 11 in the Warwick Art Gallery to see how these old clothes were Jumperheaded.

No WOW for me in 2017 :(

I haven’t posted anything about my World of Wearableart entry for 2017. The reason for this is that it still stings that I was not selected for the show this year. I have been devastated, embarrassed and kind of in denial about it. I’m typing this on the day that the awards show will be happening. My WOW mates are in Wellington. They went to Designer’s Day activities yesterday. I’m really feeling the loss of not being a part of it all. From the sadness though I take strength in determination to do better next year. I also see that life goes on. My friends still like me and that there is life beyond not having been selected in WOW for one year. It just simply can never happen again!

This was my entry in the UV Section Illumination Illusion: Fly, Float, Flow

BoBo is a mutated glow bug. If I could do over I would add black detailing to the wings or a thousand other things. BoBo will see the light in a display of some form in the future.

WoW 2016 – A-cup and Saucer

Here it is.

My entry in the Bizarre Bra section of the 2016 World of Wearableart: A-cup and Saucer. The pun title is my favourite bit of it. Obviously it is an alien and a flying saucer in the night sky. Special thanks to the amazing Cara from Kawaii Klaws for modelling g

This year I went a bit ‘crazy’ and did not use a base bra. Each element has been crocheted, with every sequin hand sewed in to place. It did take quite a long time to make, and I thank you for asking. I can now sew on sequins like a demon. In fact I quite enjoy the process. Just like crochet, I find the repetitive aspect of it quite soothing. Yes, also frustrating, time consuming and sometimes painful (when I stitch into my finger). Enjoyable through all that though none the less.

WoW 2016 – Squarecrow the unsuccessful

I created two entries for the world of Wearableart this year. Luckily I did too as I received my first unsuccessful notification for one of the entries Squarecrow. Thank goodness I had received the successful notification for my Bizarre Bra entry – look out for the big reveal at the completion of the 2016 Awards Show on Friday 23rd September.

At first I was ok with the news. It quickly became sheer and utter disappointment. I was even somewhat embarrassed about it. I think I sulked for almost a week. I am part of a WoW designer forum. Other unsuccessful designers started to share their entries. The ones I saw were very impressive. It only makes me ponder at just how flipping incredible this year’s show promises to be! And seeing these amazing pieces that also were unsuccessful really helped me to feel better about poor old Squarecrow. Now I look at the images my friend Benjamin Nicols of Big Fry captured I can see things that I could have made better or different. I can also see that it is rather impressive. I think I tried to step out of the box I was starting to put myself in with my garment designs. For WoW 2017 I aim to get back in that box. Iterated and am that box. Design phase has commenced. I have been tinkering away with developing patterns for pattern elements and streamlining a concept. As soon as the entry kit is released I’m certain that there’ll be several hundred additional concepts swirling through my brain. I can’t wait!

The utterly gut wrenching news of an unsuccessful entry serves only serves to provide me with the drive, determination and positivity to push on and create garments with my WoW factor style. It has given me a better understanding of what I need to do; of what I can do to make it through next year. I guess it has enforced my belief in my style and ability.

WoW 2015 – Pablo

 

So… it would seem that I am a terribly slack person when it comes to posting on my own website. I haven’t even made mention that at this year’s World of Wearableart Awards Show my entry PABLO was announced as Runner Up in the Children’s Section: Imaginary Friends. Pablo_OOmMCTo say that I was shocked and delighted is an understatement. More accurately flabbergasted and ecstatic! The show this year was very different to previous. Very different, but just as spectacular. I was able to learn that the model in my garment is named Laura. Laura was simply A W E S O M E. The choreography for PABLO and his “imaginer” a young boy brought the character to life. It was fun and whimsical. You can watch the highlights from the show HERE.

The Entry Kit with section details for next year’s awards is out. I have started on design concepts for an entry. I just need to settle on one clear idea and get cracking on it’s construction. The start of April will roll around way too fast!

Hobart the White is in fact the 3rd! …the inside story

Hobart-the-White_wow300

Oh. My. Goodness.

Just completing an entry by the start of April was the target I set myself when I first conceived to enter in the World of Wearableart. The 25th Anniversary Show in 2013 saw my first attempt at putting together an entry. Gary was the product of my imagination. He made it to the stage as a finalist in the Weta Workshop: Crazy curiosities of the creature carnival section. Placing third in my section in this year’s show is almost too beyond my expectations I can barely fathom what just happened!

WoW 2014. This year I completed two entries in two separate sections: Children’s (one colour) and Bizarre Bra. A designer I met last year at WoW, and have since claimed as my friend, suggested submitting a bra to help with the chances of selection for judging.

I had a rough idea in my head how I wanted my creature to end up looking. I start with feet. The feet determined the character and kinda set the mood for the rest of the body. It was while I was working out the first foot that I thought they looked rather like Hobbit feet. I came up with the garment’s name “Hobart” from this. Shhh! Please don’t tell Sir Richard Taylor though!

toes foot-plan

foot-beginings foot-to-legHobart_b&w3

The hands and arms were created next along the creation path. The head and face were next. I’ll be honest. Hobart looks much more alienesque than I had anticipated. My original sketches had him looking far more ancient, mystical and peaceful. It came to be that I was creating a teenage yeti, not the old wise sage as I intended out to make. Which as I type this I realise it was pretty silly of me. It is the children’s section after all!

The body. The back flowed easily down from the head. Including all the scales which I had made separately proved challenging. In the end I was thrilled with how they looked. He has to have a tail and a chubby belly. I had designed the costume to be in 2 parts for ease of access for the performer. As I progressed I worked him out to be just a one piece dude.

Fast forward to current day. I arrived home from Wellington last night. Hobart would have been bouncing about the stage at TSB Arena as the plane’s wheels hit the tarmac. My WoW journey is nearly at an end for this year. Hobart and the WoW show have a few more performances yet to perform though. I bring home the joy of having placed in my section. I was on the stage and accepted my award from the Dame Susie Moncrieff. I have interacted with all the designers from New Zealand and the rest of the world. I fan grrrled out and met the wonderfully talented designers I admire David Walker (Lady of the Wood), Lynn Christiansen, Shaun Purucker, Svenja and Michelle Yeager & Tim Merz. My head is swirling with possible concepts for 2015. I’m tired but happy, thrilled in fact!

Hobart-the-White_stuff.co.nzAnd! Hobart made it in to the 2015 WoW Entry Kit booklet! Holy moly!