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Diary of a wearable artist: Part II

Jess Brown models "Twilight" by Melissa Griffiths at the 2013 Wearable Art Extravaganza. The theme was Organix. The piece was made with satin, tulle, steel wool and fairy lights.  Klas Stolpe
Klas Stolpe
Jess Brown models "Twilight" by Melissa Griffiths at the 2013 Wearable Art Extravaganza. The theme was Organix. The piece was made with satin, tulle, steel wool and fairy lights.

I wrote this before, but lost it. Here we go again.

This was my second year of participating in the Wearable Art Extravaganza and it was wonderful. I convinced my friend Jess to be my model again because we make a great team. 

The theme was tangentially inspirational — Organix = Organic + Mechanics = metal = steel wool. Mostly steel wool is used for scrubbing pots and pans, but it makes an interesting textile as well! I manipulated it by pulling and stretching so it created a random lacy pattern. I thought the silvery color would be well complemented by shades of blue and I bought some small string "fairy" lights online. With the shapes and the color scheme, I came up with the name Twilight — nothing to do with the books series.

I'm not entirely sure how much time went into it, maybe I should have logged those hours, but it did have my hunched over a sewing machine or hand stitching for several hours on several occasions. It came together pretty easily, though.

As much as making the piece is fun, I also enjoy choosing music, deciding on a feel, and working with Jess to choreograph. Jess does all the choreography, I just nod my head in agreement because I couldn't imagine anything better. The song I chose was Marble House by Swedish duo The Knife. I happen to really adore the band, but they might be a little avant garde for some tastes.

And as much as I like doing the creative work, I also really love the backstage, behind the scenes cameraderie and fun. For two crazy days, there's a flurry of makeup brushes, hair brushes, glitter and last minute touches. Some might be terrified of the concept of that many women in close quarters, ready to compete, but it really brings people together, forges friendships and makes people feel supported.

The actual show is marvelous. Personally, I love it more as a participant than as an audience member, but not everyone would feel the same. Watching your model move across the catwalk with your creation, hearing the applause — it's a rush. I also love the time after the show, as people walk by and get to see the pieces up close, get to ask questions or feel the fabric (or steel wool in this case). We, as artists, do it for fun, but we also do it for others.

Speaking of doing it for others, we as artists and all who attended can feel pretty great about having supported the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council in providing scholarships and grants to local artists. From Perseverance Young Theater participants to working artists and everyone in between, the work and enjoyment we all get isn't simply selfish — it's a good cause! 

So, save the date for next year — it usually falls the weekend closest to Valentine's Day — and consider JAHC membership to get tickets in time. The Saturday show almost sold out before it was even open to the general public to purchase tickets! It doesn't really take that much to become a member. All the details are at jahc.org. 

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