Updated: Sep 14, 2021
Earlier this year I had an intriguing invitation from Eddie Shanahan from the Council of Irish Fashion Designers, to be involved in a project organised by CIFD and the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland. This project pairs fashion designers with crafts people across a range of disciplines, encouraging creative exchange and exploration in the production of a final catwalk ready design.
My collaboration partner, Wendy Louise, is a Longford based milliner, who specialises in bespoke statement, sculptural hats. Her love of colour and ability to create striking wearable shapes made the perfect base to combine with my handmade sculptural glass components.
We were lucky enough, when lockdown restrictions eased slightly, to meet in my studio, where we researched and experimented with glass, textiles, textures, colours and forms.
One of the most valuable and interesting aspects of our collaboration was learning about each other's making process and what it was potentially capable of producing in the timescale we had.
My process is ‘lampworking’ also known as ‘flameworking’, this entails the heating and shaping of individual glass rods in a torch flame. Using a palette of greens, teals and transparent glass I created collections of coral-like, sculptural arms and discs which could be clustered and stitched together for textural impact.
Wendy's process was completely new to me, in her own words,
‘I hand dyed the angora felt then steamed, stretched and pinned over the wooden hat block….because of the weight of the glass I also made a fabric buckram base which sits inside the hat. I used a crown hat block and a teardrop base, two hats in one.
The shapes once dried were stitched with grosgrain ribbon inside to keep the structure and shape. All the glass pieces were hand stitched and for added structure and strength to hold the glass rods more felt shapes were stitched..to create movement in the piece with balance when worn’
The final version of hat, skilfully constructed, stitched and re-stitched by Wendy, is something we’re both excited about and proud of. We really enjoyed working on this project together and especially valued the opportunity to expand our everyday practice. Thanks to the Irish Fashion Council and The Design and Crafts Council of Ireland for initiating and overseeing the collaboration partnerships which involved makers from a wide range of disciplines, including wood, metal, glass and lace.
Combining skill sets like this is a bit of a voyage into the unknown, this proved to be both fun and interesting, so much so we’re planning something new….
Find out more about Wendy Louise Designs here www.wendylouisedesigns.ie www.instagram.com/wendylouisedesigns
Watch the full catwalk show here https://youtu.be/E6HAqksngQU