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Topic: Experimental hat series: Stages of Grief (Wordy and image heavy) 5 hats  (Read 20311 times)
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« on: May 19, 2008 06:13:07 PM »

I hope everyone will forgive me for being a bit verbose here. Please feel free to skip the text and just view the images as I am about to get quite personal, and what I'm writing may make some people sad or uncomfortable. Thank you.

For my latest fibers project, I could do anything I wanted, provided I could do it in two months. I had long ago decided to do something involving hats, as they're such an interesting medium--only the most basic dome shape is needed, and then anything can grow off of that. The subject, however, didn't come to me until the project was assigned. Looking for ideas, I asked some friends and my boyfriend, who suggested I use a subject matter with which I had an intimate relationship. After thinking about it for some time, I couldn't come up with anything I knew more about than any of my friends in the class--obviously we all love art, and crafting; we are all hugely inspired by animals and the environment; we all love to read...that sort of thing. But while looking at photos at home, I realized what I was most familiar with beyond all of my friends: death.

My hope is that I don't sound too depressing here, because it's so hard to get the proper tone across in typing. I'm not a sad person at all, and I'm definitely not throwing a pity party here; it's just a fact--I have seen much more death than most people at 21. My father died when I was four, my two uncles who were like surrogate fathers died within a few months of each other when I was seven--all three of these were difficult. But the next two were the worst. I saved my best friend from suicide at fifteen; she had slit her wrists while her parents were out of town, and her nine-year-old sister, whom she had been babysitting, called me in hysterics because my friend wouldn't come out of the bathroom. I was the one who called the ambulance and pulled her out of the bloody bathtub, and held her sister when her parents refused to come home. This was the worst experience of my life until my oldest brother, who I adored and couldn't have been closer to, died in a plane crash just two months later. I'm almost certain I would have withered away out of despair and loneliness had I not started dating a wonderful boy a few months earlier, who rose to the challenge of comforting his brand-new girlfriend more admirably than could be expected of anyone, whether sixteen or sixty. I'm ecstatic to say that six years later we are still together, and are one of the most indestructible couples I know because of all we've been through together.

With all this in mind, I would like to say this: I am a very happy person. I take nothing in my life for granted, and treat each day with my loved ones as though it may be the last time I see them. After six years, I have finally made peace with all that has happened to me and the people around me, and I wanted to illustrate this in my favorite medium, fibers.

As a result, I started a series of hats based on stages of grief. These aren't the five stages illustrated by, I believe, Kubler-Ross; these are five stages I myself have experienced. I'll post several pictures of each hat and a brief explanation of what it means and how I did it. Thanks for sticking with me up to this point Wink

Stage 1: Naivete

This is one of my favorite hats. It's hand-dyed, discharged and printed habotai silk in Fuschia, Turquoise and Sun Yellow. I used ink in the same colors. The fabric was made into bubbles and stuffed with polyfil; the rest of it was gathered and ruched, which took forever, and sewn into a sort of turban shape. The bubbles are meant to resemble my brain before the tragedies which shaped my life--pretty and smooth, but ultimately filled with fluff; the silly dramas of everyday life.

Stage 2: Shock

My other favorite hat. This one is made of hand-dyed, discharged and printed kona cotton and raw silk. I tore thin strips of kona and spun them with a spindle into a sort of yarn, then crocheted it into the base, onto which I sewed long "dreadlocks" of silk noil. I wish I'd taken pictures of the silk noil before I cut it up, because it was really beautiful (I used Fuschia/Sage, Sun Yellow/Eggplant, and Turquoise/Pumpkin Spice combinations poured directly onto the wet silk). At the end of each dreadlock is an eye screw, and there is a blindfold attached to the hat. This represents how I felt immediately after each thing happened; as though I had been uprooted, torn away from the wall, and I was blind to the people around me who were happy.

Stage 3: Rage

This hat is made of hand-dyed kona cotton, torn into very thin strips and wrapped around wire frames. I don't like it as much as the others, mainly because it took so long to do! Also, I find the imagery a little more cliche than the others. The dyes were the same combinations as from Shock, only in different amounts. This one is pretty self-explanatory, I think.

Stage 4: False Cheerfulness

Recognize this? It's the same as "Naivete," only with silk organza, and the bubbles are turned inside out. They're stuffed with a mix of polyfil, black organza, and balls of yarn, thread and lint--gross stuff. Dye colors were Fuschia, Sun Yellow, and Turquoise, plus some browns and blacks. A few weeks after each of the tragedies of my life, I notice myself pretending that nothing is wrong--I put up a front to seem stronger to my family and friends, and not worry them. But on the inside, I am still sort of "rotting" emotionally, and the people who really look can see that. These bubbles are meant to resemble this.

Stage 5: Peace

The last hat! This one is constructed of hand-dyed and discharged kona cotton, hand-dyed silk gauze, and hand-dyed and printed silk noil, plus some hand-dyed cotton yarn and glass beads. The bubbles from False Cheerfulness and Naivete have opened into flowers, so that everyone can see the insides--I have become very open with my secrets. The dreadlocks from Shock are still present, but their ends are uprooted no longer. And instead of childish, overlarge bubbles, the hat is decorated with simple glass beads, much more refined, but still pleasant and "bubbly."

I hope everyone has enjoyed this, and I thank you all so much for taking the time to read my little story. Making these was very cathartic for me, and I enjoyed it a lot, up until the all-night I pulled to finish the stands (I made those too, out of aluminum dowels and mesh, plain cotton, pine, and Plexiglas). I wanted to share this here because I feel that Craftsters truly understand me better than anyone, and I love this, this sense of community we have all forged together. Now I need to go see a movie or I'm going to get sappy Wink So everyone have a lovely night, and don't forget to tell your family you love them.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2008 08:04:56 AM by Calliel » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2008 06:23:24 PM »

that is an extremely touching story, and i love how you decided to use it to do your project!  You are a much stronger person for going through all that, and I love what you did!  Like you, naivete is my favorite.

anxiety is the maiden hand of creativity - T.S. Eliot
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2008 06:24:46 PM »

I love every single bit of it! It's fabulous. I often use art in many forms to express my feelings. I understand how to someone who may not know you may think you're gloomy or whatnot. I often am most creative when I'm sad. So a lot of my art ends up looking "dark".  But I'm not a gloomy person. I'm fairly positive I hope! I'm so glad to hear you're still with your boyfriend. I'm such a mushy person, that thrilled me! And I'm sorry about the difficulties you had to go through. I'm glad you've found peace in it all.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2008 06:25:37 PM by Gomerriffic » THIS ROCKS   Logged
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2008 06:26:18 PM »

Not only is this a healing process for you, it's also a lovely tribute to those you've lost.  I'm so glad you've been able to heal and make peace with those memories.  I love this post!
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2008 06:32:32 PM »

You are both an amazing person and a gifted artist. I read your entire story and was greatly inspired by your strength and spirit. The hats themselves so artistically interpret your journey that to me they should be travel from gallery to gallery to tell the story.  I looooooooooove those hats, but I love the story behind them even more because you didn't give up and you came out on the other side a wise woman.  Thanks for sharing that story and reminding us all not only just how fragile life is, but how love is so much stronger. 

Say hello to my lil' friend!
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2008 06:34:05 PM »

The hats are awesome, as are you yourself, I'm glad you don't let your bad experiences own you.

You are a truely wonderful person.

It shows.

« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2008 06:40:25 PM »

What a lovely thing to be able to express yourself through your artwork.

Both the hats and the symbolism behind each one is inspiring.
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« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2008 06:42:02 PM »

this is incredible!  yes, inspiring!

« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2008 06:50:57 PM »

I am glad you have found Peace.
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« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2008 06:58:00 PM »

thank you so much for sharing this with us.
the projrcts in and of themselvrs are beautiful, but the stories behind them add another dimension altogether.
I'm glad you ar at peace with your turbulent past; death is never easy...

and since everyone else is doing it: my personal favorite is 4 - false cheerfullness. The forced joy in this piece really doesn't hide the sorrow, and I really like how it reflects that.

keep up the great work; I hope that this project impresses in class as much as it has here.
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