The One Hundred Apples Exercise
Many years ago, when I taught 2-dimensional design at college, I presented an exercise to the students to draw or paint 100 pictures of an apple, each one different, within a space sized 10 x 10 centimeters.
This was so frustrating to some students. Even one of them had her husband talk to me about the irrelevance of this exercise in relation to design.
The Liberation Skirt Project – in my case, the liberation cape – made me remember this exercise. Setting parameters makes projects more difficult. I wanted to see how far I could stretch my creativity within these limiting parameters:
- 🧵Use only recycled materials – fabric, threads, beads, notions – which meant to not purchase anything new. These materials would come from what already I had at home.
- 🔨 Use only dyes that were sourced from our own yard – in this case, only from the Coreopsis flower – with modifiers such as rusty water from my husband’s old carpenter’s nails, vinegar, Arizona lemons, and tannins from our oak galls.
- 🤯Challenge to stop my tendency to have preconceptions and judgments about what is “modern,” “hip,” “a priest’s vestment,” or anything I allowed in my thinking from my past, or from trends or opinions.
Contemplating the concept of Liberation, as it relates to Freedom and Limitations, this liberation skirt project makes me think of the corona virus pandemic. Globally, we have been limited in our freedom (like going wherever we want whenever) and we now are limited and are socially distancing, mask wearing, staying home – to protect others and ourselves from the virus. We are left with looking inside, as well as seeing what we can do with whatever we already have – being in the home, in the neighborhood, and in our own thinking and creativity.
Similarly, this project has expanded my viewpoints and I’m trying to find ways to express myself in ways unexpected before. Is not that some kind of a liberation? Not what “I” wanted to communicate, but what the Coreopsis flower could communicate in her unending shades of yellow and orange, and her ability to survive extreme drought and heat in our high desert climate, and yet bring those bright rays of cheer and perkiness. Her leaves are like swords, no wonder!
To create something – the cape – that I am OK with inspired me as a springboard to other capes or other textile expressions.
The project is challenging my patience and willpower – sitting still and use my hands to embroider – does not come naturally to me! Only thanks to listening to audiobooks while pulling the needle through cloth, I am pulling through.
Regarding the 100 Apples Exercise: in the cape I am using lots of different techniques, yet try to keep the garment unified in its design: printing, reverse appliqué, my interpretations of sashiko, boro, smocking. There’s still lots to finish off, but I’m so looking forward to move on to the rest of the wardrobe that I’m going full speed ahead. I am grateful this Project and Marijke with all other friends have found me!