Updated: Dec 10, 2020
Having been an illustrator and print artist for years, it wasn’t until 2014 while home from work taking care of my child post-surgery that I really found my stride with this new three dimensional artform of historic dresses. Someone had recently given me some vintage maps of Kansas and without any structural or design challenges, “Kansas Antoinette” came
together almost miraculously. As I worked on her, I reveled in folding the tiny pleat and ruffle details and making the tiny flowers. The repetitive movement of creating these elements helped me to process my worry and fear about my child’s recovery.
I have found that the more details I use, the easier it is to keep depression and anxiety at bay. When I give myself repetitive tasks like making hundreds of flowers for Titania’s skirt:
or tiny paper rose garlands for paper Christmas trees:
or making hundreds of miniature books:
I somehow feel better – at peace. Maybe getting into the “zone” is akin to meditation, a connection to something greater than myself.
I recommend a TED talk called Embrace the shake by Phil Hansen– it’s a commentary on moving forward with whatever gifts or handicaps you may have. He posits, and I believe this too, that one can be more creative given parameters or limitations.
There is a great deal of fun in choosing and creating details too. Whether it is finding Hammer and Sickle buttons for the flounces of Frida Kahlo's skirt,
or sewing together actual foreign currency for the underskirt of The Horsewoman of the Apocalypse War:
I especially love adding subtle details, such as black medical stitches up the side of the Mary Shelley's gown made from pages of Frankenstein or quilted pages of the DSM-4 for Ophelia's underskirt.
Enjoy the details of life; small, large, mundane or sparkly; they are what sustain us and we all need plenty of sustenance right now.