Process: The Shield Dress

The process of creation is the "why" of what I make, not an end product, but the sometimes windy path that takes me there.

A wise yet obnoxious motivational self help poster once (or three billion times) said "It's not the journey but the destination" 

I try and share the process as often as possible, but frequently struggle with the challenges of feeling like the process doesn't look good enough.

The table is a mess, or the walls a mash up of seemingly chaotic items pinned up.

As part of my personal evolution, I'm realizing that it is exactly those imperfections that make up my process. 

While my process embraces imperfections, the documentation of imperfection in the process has always been a struggle for me. Case in point, my studio for all of last summer. Back story: me and my guy moved into a trailer on a friends farm (aptly named Majestic Farms because that land is pretty damn majestic!) in the Catskills while saving up money and searching the area for our own place to call home. 

In hindsight and in description it was an incredibly magical experience.

Hell, even the experience of working in it was completely magical. But every time I attempted to document it, it felt so... raw. Mostly because it was about as raw as a studio could get, a table built out of 1x10's (that would be used later in the summer as siding for a tiny house, so they could not be drilled into anything) balancing on a web of natural materials including but not limited to:

an existing boulder at table height and close to level

any and every rock in a 20 yard vicinity that I could lift

various wood stumps with the same qualifications

twigs perfect size for jamming into whatever was wobbly that day

 There was also an extension cord for my laptop or sewing machine. 

I can remember the decision to not share this photo on social media. What will they think of me?!

What a hillbilly!

What an idiot!

Doesn't she know it RAINS in New York?

She can't possibly maintain that studio through the fall and winter.

What an immature idealistic hippie. 

As though anyone thinks that deep into an Instagram post, or as though anyone who thought that way made a difference in my life.

As another motivational quote shared over a billion times suggests, those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.

The truth is, it DID rain. Not as much as usual thankfully, but enough for the tarp hanging over this table to sag and leak regularly in the middle (aka right where I was usually standing) There were also spiders, LOTS of spiders, chipmunks (this was a plus, nothing like having an adorable and fashionable rodent hop over the end of your table as they chase one another thought the forest) regular visits from the farm dogs, occasional curious chickens stopping in, and the rare escape-artist pig sauntering by in search of food scraps. 

These are not fashionable animals, they are awesome, useful, and great to be around but all three smelled bad and added to the rawness of the experience. 

Oh, and then there was the thought of... what if they find out I'm living in a trailer?? What will they think of me then? How can I sell fine clothing to people out of a trailer? 

So I kept it for the most part on the DL (unless you knew me personally, in which case I was like, come visit us in our awesome TRAILER and please camp in our back yard!!) and frequently used the dining room table in the main house when our friends were at work for sewing final pieces and keeping things clean. 

Now I look back at these photos with fond memories of campfires, sewing en plein aire, and chasing pigs back into their fields. So I share with you, the process of creating The Shield Dress.

First, using the same pot of dye, I created these three shades of brown.

The darkest fabric being first in the pot and left in the longest, then adding to a mineral bath to darken colors, and the lightest dipped in for just a few minutes when the dye bath was almost exhausted after the second color was dyed. Below are the results. 

 Here is the process of patching all the pieces together, with everything requiring weights so they didn't blow away (I moved the 'studio' to the large outdoor table with a better view) 

The aforementioned better view (our trailer was in the far left corner of the photo along the tree line, behind the sewing machine)

Anyways, short story long, here is one of the pieces I tried to document the process on but was too chicken to share for fear of... I don't even know what.

I guess that is the whole point of this ramble. So often we don't even know what we are afraid of.

If I had just asked myself that, "what are you afraid of?" and gone through the process of identifying the root of these fears... I would have realized how silly and futile they are.

Below, a shot of the final piece, which is ironically based on the concept of a shield, a design created with the intention of protecting oneself from outside forces and influences.

It only took a year to really GET that concept, but I guess that's all just a part of really being involved in your own creative process.