And you thought Elvis Presley has moved on to a different world. Remember all the rumors about him being still alive? Those stories went on for years and I would bet there are some folks who want to believe it or they do believe it. How could you not love Elvis? Many young girls had a poster of Elvis on her bedroom wall, except for me. My catholic father wouldn’t have such a thing.
Sorry Dad, I was not trying to get back at you when I decided to do this life-size replica of animated Elvis. I was in the middle of creating a series of musicians on silk. Elvis just happened to be COOL of Cool so I thought, why not? It requires seven steps to produce a silk painting but it is worth every moment of labor. It is similar to water-color but there is no forgiveness of the craft. It takes guts to begin a large piece. You are either going to ruin your very expensive silk or you will be delighted at the development once it has been steamed and hung dry.
The question is, where shall Elvis go now? I was thinking of finding a home at the Hard Rock Cafe or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. Possibly, you might know of someone who is a major Elvis collector. There must be some places in Beverly Hills that would find a home for him.
Is this a mess or what? I’m not sure about my art most of the time. When I finished this, I thought…..”You’d better get a new career, girl!” But, after I steamed the silk and I took a photo of it, I had a different perspective on it. I saw some of the movement in it and I liked that part. I’m still not sure if anyone else would like it. It might take a great frame job to pull it off. Art is subjective, right?
This story begins,” Once upon a time…. I met a prospective client through my online store, SilkEscape which showcases my wearable art.” I quickly answered a request, “Could I paint some fabric for a wedding dress?” This wasn’t your average every day wedding dress. Christina knew exactly what she wanted.
She told me about her sweet romance story. David and Christina met 10 years after dating in high school. Once again, they found their original true love. Just before their reunion, Christina was drawn to the mountains of Sedona, Arizona for some unknown reason. She fell in love with the beauty and healing powers of the natural surroundings. Hence, she wanted to share her experience with David. They both agreed this is where they were to be married. The fabric would represent all the values in color of the Sedona earth. This is how my part in the story comes in to play. I was chomping at the bit but had to control myself. I really wanted to make this happen for them.
Typically, it might be difficult to get inside someone’s head unless you engage in lots of conversation to gain trust. This is hard to do when you are working online and you can’t see the person face to face. When I start a commissioned project with a client, I’m evaluating how easy they will be to work with as much as they are doing the same with me. You might say, we are sizing each other up until there is a comfort zone. Why waste each other’s time? Well, it can work for everyone if you take baby steps, charge only for a test or sketch and move on from there.
Long before the start of the final painting, we established a nice working relationship. Christina supplied me with color chips, photos of her concept and a copy of a vintage sewing pattern. I could now evaluate how much the dress would cost regarding the time and fabric it would take. I did my homework by creating initial sketches and color pallettes.
With the input of 50 or so convos and emails, we were off to a terrific start. Above is the sample piece I emailed to Christina to see if I was on the right tract. Some additional conversation was made regarding the flow of color and how it would vignette from a dark shade of bordeaux to a very nude shade of peach. We also discussed which silk would work best for the skirt. It couldn’t be too wimpy, heavy, or too shiney. I ordered one yard each of three fabric weights and finishes. I painted those pieces and shipped them off to Christina. In the end, we both agreed it would be crepe de chine. It is one of the softest to the skin because it has a subtle nub. It’s my favorite.
After final approval of the color values and silk samples, I went to work building very large frames to stretch the silk on. It had to be wide enough for a ample skirt bottom. I think that was the toughest part of my job.
I produced 11 1/2 yards of fabric which just about broke my back because of my deadline. I had to be meticulous in matching color on each sheet of silk so the seams would flow perfectly together. After this process, the silk must be steamed in a steaming unit for 4-6 hours to set the dye colors. After it cools down, I unwrap all the paper and foil off the silk and just stare at my work. I had great success except for a couple spots of imperfection on a sheet or two but I beleived the seamstress could cut around them. I was worried that I might have to paint over some of the sheets of fabric. No, No, please No! My anxiety was pretty heavy at the time as I am a perfectionist and I would paint it over if means satisfying the client. Now, the silk must be rinsed thoroughly to release all dye residue.
Done yet? Nope, not yet! I carefully took every piece out individually and layed them in the sun to air dry. A light pressing, then I boxed it all up with all original concept notes, color chips, sketches and fabric. Off it went to Christina where I hold my breath until she unveils the box.
This is what she said after opening it all up at her busy office!
“Just received. GORGEOUS MICHELE!!! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!!
Can’t wait to meet with Rosie and strategize the pattern lay out. I’m sure there will be plenty of fabric. And you really did such a lovely job. The tones are perfect and any “imperfections” just make it what it is… a unique, gorgeous, piece of ART! THANK YOU!!!”
Awwww! I jumped for joy! Now, I can relax…..no……not yet…..not until I see the final dress completed! Only then will I relax. And so, the happy ending to this story is…………..
My many thanks to all the collaboration on this beautiful representation of my work.
Thank you Christina and David for giving me the opportunity to do this for you.
Thank you Rosie, for the tremendous sewing, insight on design, and perfect fit.
Thank you Andrew Holman for your eye in the camera capturing the most perfect wedding moments. www.andrewholman.com
Thank Giovanni, (my love) for helping me make the very heavy frames and for always supporting my talents.
Spring has sprung. Well, almost. It’s still a bit cool in Long Beach, CA but it won’t be long when we will all be looking for something cool and lite to wear. Or, maybe you will be searching for the perfect gift for Mother’s Day. I don’t know a mom in the world that wouldn’t appreciate silk, especially if it’s wearable art. It will be a very special gift!