I am not trained to do the design work I do for Whispirit. I wish I had gone to fashion design school or art school to understand the professional techniques of design. But I didn’t. I went to law school instead. Sigh.
But I have found that I love to create one of a kind clothing made from our own handmade alpaca needle-felted fabric. And, I have my own unique way of coming up with the designs, often with input from my husband Lee, Heather, JB, Sarah, Diane, Robin, June and others.
When I start to design something, I start first with colors. Multiple colors. Not a color chart, but instead something or some things that in combination make my spirit dance. It might be a beautiful silk scarf I already own or the wind blowing through our gardens pushing various colors together. Frequently, it’s a color combination that emerges from my flipping through the many magazine images I have pasted on cardstock (a practice I learned from Diane Ericson). It might be a beautiful basket of vegetables from the Taos Farmers’ Market. Or a rich sunset or stunning moon rise over the Sandia mountains. Or an artful piece of jewelry, such as the pieces I recently saw (and purchased — don’t tell Lee) at a jewelry party featuring artist June Rosen Lopez. Or the soft richness of Osita, our sweet New Mexico pup.
Often, particularly with my collage fabric creations, it’s a Perfect Button, created by Robin Pascal that pumps my color imagination.
Next, it’s to the “creation table” where I layout my pieces of dyed roving, fabric remnants, fleece batts, and go through my dyes. Typically, I dye the underlying fabric first, either cotton or silk, which will stabilize the fiber batt and infuse color into it. Sometimes I chose a fabric that has rich natural hues, and is on a neutral colored background and decorate it with the color du jour. For me the fabric is the work of art. Each sheet of fabric I make has unique qualities, drape, color, subtle or rich tones.
The fabric inspires the design of the jacket. Sometimes I will make my prototype and consult with Lee, who is really a great observer of balance and contrast. Seamstress Heather Briggs shares her inspirations as well, and has turned some one-of-a-kind fabrics into simply awesome jackets, vests, and hats. Seamstress Sarah Tafoya helped perfect the princess line jacket as well as our loose fitting comfort jacket/vest, the Hug.
But for me, my art of creation is first and foremost how color speaks to me. That makes my spirit dance.
Til next time. Sandy