Sharing the Process

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As I develop a new series of work, I thought it might be nice to share how these handmade garments are created, what really goes into these pieces besides color and pattern.

They begin with a desire to express certain concepts through shapes and color, or a mix of shades flowing around a figure (with the help of plants that I currently feel drawn to).

Most often these concepts rely on contrasts, an ebb and flow of a line, the way two colors change each others presence, or an organization of chaotic forms and elements.

I then work the fabric, washing, cutting, mordanting, tying and preparing it for its transformation. The fabric remains white through this stage, with a noticeable absence of color.

 Throughout these early stages of the process, it seems as though not much is happening though this preparation is possibly the most important, much like waiting for a seed to germinate. Simultaneously, a few jars of plant matter steeps nearby, extracting color and energy.

This seeming non-action all pays off when these two elements merge - the plant's essence bonds with the fabric in relatively unpredictable ways, rarely creating the exact same shade or pattern twice. The hand of the artist cannot help itself but to find a distinct difference in each stroke of the brush or tie of a knot.

The garment will inevitably be a unique expression of a specific moment in time - the temperature of the air, the mineral content of the water, the time of year the plant was harvested in and how much precipitation it experienced that year, even the occasional odd lumps in the otherwise repetitively manufactured base fabric contribute to the individuality of the final product. 

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I spent years trying to replicate pieces so they may appear the same, tidy up evidence of being created by hand, emulate the refined details and exact techniques prevalent in mass manufactured clothing so that it may be more familiar to the buyer, feel less "homemade" even to the point of feeling embarrassed that my kitchen stove was where most of the magic happens, oh and god forbid anyone find out that (until the slop sink gets installed) my BATHTUB is where most, if not all, of my pieces are washed out! 

As the process and my work evolves, I'm learning to embrace these differences and appreciate the evidence of nature and humanity in these pieces. I hope that the more we all share of our artistic processes, the ups and downs of it all, the more we can all learn to love our imperfections, in art as well as in life! 

 

 

Create, Makerschristi johnson