New Year, New Designs

What a way to start the New Year…New Designs featuring sticks-a-gogo Art Cloth.

Frosty Morning
Frosty Morning ©Mary Lou Fall 2020
Art Nouveau Feathers
Art Noveau Feathers ©Mary Lou Fall 2020
Landscape
Landscape ©Mary Lou Fall 2020
Thai Art
Thai Wall Art ©Mary Lou Fall 2020

 

Looking for Something

Over and over, I keep asking myself the same question, “What am I good at?”   Of course, this question does not refer to me as a person, but as an artist.  I’m an accomplished knitter publishing  free patterns on Ravelry.  Out of necessity, I learned how to sew my first garment when I was eight years old, and currently I’m enrolled in the Fashion Program at Canada College located in Redwood City, California.  Later in life, I studied Art History at the University of California, Berkeley.  Fulfilling a life-long dream, and being the first in my family to graduate from college was bittersweet.  But, “What am I good at?”

As a young girl, I enjoyed taking pictures with my father’s Kodak Instamatic Camera with plastic flash cubes.  When my father started using the Polaroid Camera with the peel-apart color prints, I was hooked.  I carried a Polaroid Pocket Camera everywhere I went.  A few years back, I began experimenting with Holga plastic cameras.  The journey which began with “red eyes,” instant color prints along with the double-exposure capability using 120 film, prepared me for the boundless creative options of the cellphone camera.

How could I take advantage of the beautiful art images I captured with my cellphone camera?  In a world with digital prints on fabric, why not put my images on fabric?  Better yet, why not sew with fabric which created a digital narrative of what I “see” as interesting.

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sticks-a-gogo Art Cloth Trees 1
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sticks-a-gogo Art Cloth Trees 1

These photos were sent to me by Virginia.  Along with sticks-a-gogo Art Cloth, Virginia used the Yuya Dress pattern by Damar Studio.  It is so gratifying to see my digital narrative take on a new meaning.

I began this post with a question, and I’ve found the answer.  For a view of my digital textile images, visit http://spoonflower.com/profiles/sticks-a-gogo_art_cloth

 

 

Power Sewing

Sandra Betzina's Newsletter
Captured from Sandra Betzina’s Newsletter October 2019

I was so excited to receive Sandra Betzina’s current Newsletter.  What a wonderful surprise to read about sticks-a-gogo Art Cloth.  I look so forward to seeing the fabric stitched up in one of Sandra’s designs.

What’s next for sticks-a-gogo Art Cloth?  I’m ready to find out!

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After The Dust Settles

Well, last weekend was Artistry in Fashion at Canada College in Redwood City, CA.  My first installation of sticks-a-gogo Art Cloth was well-received.   One person said, “Your booth is really fresh and original.”  Another mentioned, “Your work is original, and believe me, I’ve seen a lot.” I wasn’t sure “people would get me” and what I was trying to express until Sandra Betzina, said, ” You’re on to something, keep it up.”  I don’t usually like to name drop, but in this case…Why not!

Mary Lou Sandra Betzina
Mary Lou and Sandra Betzina at Artistry in Fashion, Redwood City, CA©2019

Here are the first of my new collection:

Foggy Morning Commute
Foggy Morning Commute ©Mary Lou Fall 2019

 

Sunset Behind The Mountain
Sunset Behind A Mountain ©Mary Lou Fall

 

Morning Commute #2
Morning Commute ©Mary Lou Fall

 

Leather and Knit Woven Stitches
Weaving With Polka Dots ©Mary Lou Fall

 

Color Etching
Color Etching ©Mary Lou Fall

Sticks-a-gogo Art Cloth is exploring other avenues for fabric substrates.  Leather may be added to the collection.  How exciting! I’ll keep you posted, or follow sticks-a-gogo on Instagram.

 

 

Sticks-a-GoGo Art Cloth meets ZigZagDesigns

What started as a casual meeting during a presentation Christine was giving at Canada College Fashion Department, has become a friendship.  A friendship which recently blossomed into a  professional collaboration.  Christine Groom of ZigZag Designs and me, Mary Lou Fall of sticks-a-gogo Art Cloth are collaborating at Artistry in Fashion on September 28, 2019 from 10-4 pm at Canada College located in Redwood City, California.

I am so excited to share one of our collaborations.

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ZigZag Designs Loretta Jacket and sticks-a-gogo Art Cloth Trees_1

Lorettas-Christine-2 (1)

 

The Loretta Jacket is a pre-order and can be found at @zigzagdesignsbychristine and http://www.etsy.com/shop/ZigZagPatterns and the art cloth can be purchased at Artistry in Fashion or ordered through https://spoonflower.com/profiles/sticks-a-gogo_art_cloth

 

 

The Many Images of Art Cloth

Creating digital textile images via contemporary digital printing technology empowers me to make my own art cloth designs.   Looking through the lens of my cellphone along with a gentle click of the finger, I am able to create a narrative of places, people and things I find interesting.

The ability to bring my vision to “life” from start to finish elevates my importance as a designer and a consumer. Utilizing new skills, which by the way, I’ve been taking classes using Photoshop Elements, supports my desire to create something special, a timeless unique piece of artwork.   A symbiotic relationship develops between me and the image, I am emotionally attached to the cloth because it describes who I am.

©Mary Lou Fall 2019   Cranberries and Lemon Zest
©Mary Lou Fall 2019    Shapes and Lines
©Mary Lou Fall 2019   Sunflower and A Bee

To view more of my work visit https://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/sticks-a-gogo_art_cloth

 

 

 

 

 

Art Cloth Abounds

Spider Webs for Spoonflower
Spiderwebs ©Mary Lou Fall
Trees
Trees ©Mary Lou Fall
Trees #1
Trees #1 ©Mary Lou Fall

All of my designs are found at  https://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/sticks-a-gogo_art_cloth

Sticks-a-GoGo Art Cloth

For a long time, I’ve wanted to combine two of my passions…photography and fabric.  I’ve been fascinated with Photoshop for some time, and recently discovered a vehicle for designing fabric digitally, Spoonflower.

I started out with a picture I captured with my digital camera.

A Few Of My Favorite Things #12_1
Melissa’s Origami©  Photography: Mary Lou Fall

Used Photoshop for fun, and uploaded my design to Spoonflower.

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I proofed the design to make sure the visual imagery was what I wanted.

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I’m excited about all the creative possibilities for this fabric design with more to come.  Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conflicted

In the “Back Room,” my yarn and fabric are co-mingled into an organized system by color, content, weight and gauge.  While knitting, I think about sewing, and while sewing, I think about knitting.  I know many sewists and knitters listen to podcasts, audio books, or stream, but I let my mind wander in silence.

Today, while knitting the cuffs on a cashmere sweater, out of the corner of my eye, three pieces of bark cloth caught my attention, two are vintage and the other a current day piece from Japan.

knitting with cashmere_1

 

bark cloth

bark cloth #2
Bark Cloth c. 1943
bark cloth #3
Outback Wife by Gertrude Made. Kirstine ella blue      Made in Japan

If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m a very curious person.   I like to “fill in the blanks” so to speak, when it comes to the history of things.  And I constantly wonder why I am attracted to a certain style, design, fabric or yarn?  What about the history of bark cloth, and why do I like it?

According to Wikipedia, bark cloth was once common in Asia, Africa and the Pacific.  Bark cloth has been manufactured in Uganda for centuries and is Uganda’s sole representative on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.   France produced bark cloth as cotton mixed with rayon in the 1920s and was known as Cretonne.  In the 1930s, the fabric was produced in America and was popular in Hawaii.  Common designs were florals, botanical prints, tropical prints, geometric and abstract atomic era prints.  American bark cloth also shot through with gold lurex threads called Las Vegas cloth, and was a combination of 65% rayon as well as cotton. I remember bark cloth being used in the 1960s for upholstered furniture, curtains and cushions. Along with a rough textured appearance, bark cloth is about the texture of the cloth, rather than the fiber.  It doesn’t have a wale (rib) or distinct weave effect.  Vintage pieces of bark cloth may be found on etsy or ebay.

Today’s densely woven cotton “bark cloth” is named such because it resembles the texture of tree bark and are look-a-likes to the traditional fabrics.

According to Blueprint Africa http://www.blueprintafrica.com/interior/homewares/female-african-textile-designers-not-designing-african-print/  currently, there is a female African Textile Designer, Yemi Awosile (Nigeria/UK), using the bark of the East African fig tree, also known as the Mutuba tree.  Mutaba is harvested every year without felling the tree and has a naturally occurring fibrous structure which resembles woven bast fiber. Her design was exhibited at UNESCO’s Bark Cloth in Manufacturing Architecture, Arts and Design event.

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Yemi Awosile (Nigeria/UK)

Ugandan born British eco-sustainable designer, Jose Hendo,  http://wwwjosehendo.com “takes a fresh approach to contemporary fashion designs challenging the obsolescence nature of fashion and the throw away culture.”

jose hendo
Jose Hendo, Getty Images
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Jose Hendo, Bark Cloth

I seek pleasure “filling in the blanks” about the the material I use.  Building a connection and having a relationship with the tangible object I create is an extension of who I am.  How could I throw away a piece of fabric or a skein of yarn I cherish for its unique qualities?  I like bark cloth because of its texture and its resemblance to the bark of a tree, and not having a distinct weave effect creating an uneven texture.  Expanding my knowledge and worldview adds meaning to my life experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healthy Fashion

The most recent concern over man-made fabrics vs. animal or plant based fabrics, cheap fashion and slow fashion are not “new” concepts. Have you ever heard of the Rational Dress Exhibition at Kensington Town Hall in 1883, or the Health Exhibition in London during the Spring of 1884?

At the Rational Dress Exhibition, Liberty’s fabrics were described as,

“Playing an essentially prominent part in connection with Rational and Healthy dress.”  The healthiness of the fabrics came from “their purity, their natural dyes, their unadulterated by any finish or dressing, their freedom from any of the usual processes resorted to in order to impart a meretricious appearance of value to worthless materials.”

For the organizers of the Health Exhibition of 1884, Edward William Godwin wrote a handbook where he pointed out, “Some modification to the Greek costume was perfectly applicable to the British climate if it was worn over a sub-stratum of pure wool, such supplied by Dr. Jaeger under the modern German system, explaining,

“The principle was to suspend all apparel from the shoulders and rely for beauty not on the stiff, ready-made ornaments of the modern milliner, bows where there should be no bows, flounces where there should be no flounces, but on the exquisite play of light and line that one gets from rich and rippling folds.”

Was this the beginning of the end of the corset?

English architect Edward William Godwin (May 26, 1833 Bristol – October 6, 1886 London), was best known for his Ruskinian Gothic style of architecture, evidenced in the Guild Hall Northampton.

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Guild Hall Northampton

Starting in the 1870’s through the 1880’s, Godwin was associated with Liberty’s.  He designed wallpaper, printed textiles, tiles, “art furniture” or metal work set the tone in houses of those of an artistic and progressive attitude.  Oscar Wilde said, “Godwin was  one of the most artistic spirits of the century.”  In 1884,  Liberty appointed Godwin to supervise the Costume Department.

Dr. Gustav Jaeger, (June 23, 1832 – May 13, 1917), German naturalist and scientist, gustav-jger-1832-1917-german-zoologist-and-biologist-who-gave-his-jj83bc

believed wearing  wool “close to the skin,” was healthy.  Jaeger began creating wool suits, around the same time he cut ties with Germany around the start of World War I, and became a British brand.  Long johns were the beginning leading to an established clientele looking for British made garments at a reasonable price.  Jaeger’s branded his fashions with wool and exotic fibers such as cashmere, angora and alpaca.  Jaeger’s yarns are also used by the hand knitter.

vintage organge jaeger jacket
Photo from Poshmark

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Here’s a photo of camel hair fabric, natural cashmere yarn undyed and brush tail possum from New Zealand.

We still have the same concerns of those living in the 1800’s, consider the research expressed by Elizabeth L. Cline, in her book Over-Dressed, page 84, “The production of man-made fibers has doubled over the last 15 years…”  How many of your garments are 100% wool?  Do you recognize the fiber content on your garment labels?  Check out the New York Times T Magazine, dated August 19, 2018 and explore, The Shape of Things to Come, pages 168-177.  A visual commentary on fashion with “voluminous proportions layered for maximal impact.”

(I used Wikipedia and Liberty’s A Biography of a Shop by Alison Adburgham for this blog post.  Photographs have been cited above.)