Copper piper in WOW final
Ribbon and rats may seem an unlikely combination but they are very much a part of a Levin woman's garment to feature in next month's World of Wearable Art Awards show.
Jean Valentine's garment, titled Fifty Sharps and Flats and based on the poem Pied Piper of Hamelin, is a finalist in the creative excellence section.
Described as New Zealand's single largest arts show and a two-hour spectacle of art, theatre, dance, and music, the annual awards are attended by more than 50,000 people from around the world.
Ms Valentine's entry is one of 164 finalists for this year's show, from September 27 to October 7 in Wellington.
She said the visual symphony theme in the creative excellence section was all about the garment making an impact both visually and via sound as it was worn on stage.
As well as 2.5 kilometres of copper-coloured ribbon and 1.5km of sewing thread, materials include a rubber ball, polystyrene, plastic trellis, a fur fabric bedspread, merino felt and a plastic vuvuzela horn.
"It looks quite good actually, a jacket, mini-skirt, boots, hat and a rat horde cape. I just hope the model is not squeamish about the rats - some of them were quite lifelike," she said.
"Designing for WOW seems to be as much about problem- solving and the mechanics of a garment so it can be worn and move well on stage, than more classical design and sewing skills. It involves a lot of experimenting, prototypes and trial and error."
Ms Valentine said her partner Paul bought a box of the copper ribbon at an auction and suggested she use it for the garment.
"It's the type of ribbon which craftspeople hate. It doesn't rip straight, it stretches and it doesn't curl when you run scissors along it. And we bought 7 kilometres of it."
Nevertheless, she took on the challenge of using the ribbon but admits she is now "completely over" the colour of copper.
"We've still got a lot of it left. We're now using it for all sorts of things, like marking a fence line and plant ties. It would be great for a cross-country course."
Ms Valentine, who runs an internet company with her partner, said wearable art was a creative outlet.
"I am not a professional designer or an expert seamstress but I've always had an eye for colour. I just don't think I'll use copper for a while."
She could not say how many hours she had spent working on her latest garment.
" I'd be embarrassed to say. It would question my sanity. I'm just lucky my partner Paul is as patient and supportive as he is."
Having "unsuccessfully" entered a jigsaw-inspired garment in last year's awards, Ms Valentine said she had learnt it was a good idea to make the garment so she could try it on herself.
"It's important to know if it's too heavy, too awkward, hard to get into quickly, etc," she said.
"Also plan for packaging and transport as you design, not at the end. If your garment is at all fragile, your creation might not even make it to the judging."
Ms Valentine said she was surprised to become a finalist in the awards and already had a few ideas for next year.
- Horowhenua Mail