Monday, March 17, 2014

Monday Musings: Vernal Equinox

Lately I've been really inspired just by the little, simple, beautiful things in life. Clean laundry. Pet cuddles. Buttery popcorn. Jumping photos. Blooming springtime. Sunsets.
Every year at the brink of springtime I get filled with an overwhelming sense of hope. It's like I lose hope by the end of winter and just assume it's never going to end. Then all of a sudden there are crocus' popping up in the sidewalk cracks and spring time wins me over again.
The Vernal Equinox was the inspiration behind my lingerie project. I thought I would share the paper I wrote that went along with the project as the equinox is on Thursday (the sun will be in line with the equator at 12noon Thursday, to be exact).

Love  Equinox
Equinox is the point in time in which the sun’s rotation becomes most near parallel to the equator of the Earth. The term Equinox comes from the Latin aequus, which means equal, and nox, which means night. This is referring to an equal 12 hour day to 12 hour night at the Equator, and either means the beginning of spring, or the beginning of autumn, depending on the hemisphere. In Canada, and for the rest of the northern hemisphere, the Vernal, or March equinox signals the beginning of spring. Days become longer, flowers begin to bloom, ice starts to melt, animals come out of hibernation and mating season begins. It is the most romantic and hopeful time of the year and was the inspiration for this entire project.

Lingerie is an interesting beast to deal with. You want it to be sexy, but not too obviously sexy, there still must be a lure of mystery to peak interest, something to look forward to. Spring is kind of the same this way… it creeps in, not too obvious at first, a couple buds on the trees, a few flowers poking through the frozen ground and then, almost overnight, it turns into full blown beautiful spring. Everywhere you turn there is colour and flowers, beautiful aromas fill the air, even the rain is seen less daunting- as more necessary to feed the season, than to dampen spirits.

On the outer kimono, floral motifs created with acid dyes were used on breezy silk chiffon to create a bright and exciting aura. The sheer silk alluding to intimacy, while the bright acid dyes refer more to the hope that flowers bring with them- a hot summer around the corner. I experimented a lot with the shape of the flowers and the tone of colour which I wanted to achieve. I didn’t want the colours to be too muddled, nor too pale- they had to be bright, but not tacky or immature. I also didn’t want the colours of the flowers to compete with the indigo shibori used for the undergarments and trim of the kimono. I settled on a four colour combo: a bright gold, complimentary orange, passionate red, and a bold, mature deep purple. All colours were created with a base of turquoise, magenta and bright yellow and 4 tsp dye powder concentrations.

For the undergarments and trim of the kimono, I experimented with a combo of shibori tie-dyeing methods and ancient natural indigo. The entire process of working with shibori and indigo were also very inspirational in and of themselves, and also relate a lot to the main theme of the vernal equinox.

Shibori is ever intriguing. You tie your fabric and you have these expectations, you see how it looks now and you predict how it will look later. Add natural indigo into the equation and things get extra tricky.. You don’t know how your fabric will turn out until you untie it 48 hours later- It’s like the weather man calling for a short and cold spring on the the equinox and then experiencing a long and hot season. It’s very unpredictable, but also very exciting! It keeps you guessing and intrigued, wanting to experiment and indulge.

Each indigo vat has a life of it’s own. Developed independently around the globe, this magical substance is super complicated and super rewarding. Indigo doesn’t creep and yet has a natural inconsistency. It is activated by oxygen and must be kept hot, but not too hot. You literally have to be gentle and loving with it, wrapping it in blankets and waiting patiently for hours for it to reach perfection. You really must care about your vat in order for it to respond properly and give you ideal results.

As indigo is activated by oxygen, the fabric must be dipped, oxygenate, and then re-dipped multiple times in order to achieve deep tones of colour. I fooled around with longer dip times but found that despite being left in for one minute, or ten minutes, the fabric turned out basically the same tone, while as one 3-minute dip compared to 10 3-minute dips (with oxygenating time in between) yielded much different results.

          From the floral motifs down to the gauzy silk chiffon, the light and hope of spring is embedded in the kimono while the tricky shibori and intimate indigo processes give the undergarments intricity and meaning. Love is about more than that hope and light, it is about dealing with tricky situations positively and being intimate enough to open up and be honest with one another. While hope is important and exciting, this lingerie line speaks to more than pure infatuation, but deep and meaningful love.
From the colour dilemmas to the motif selection, this entire project had me looking deep into the processes to figure out what was the best for the final project. I learned so much- not just about the dyes but also about their history and traditions. How they work and react, what they mean to their cultures and how they could be used best. I am grateful and infinitely inspired by each portion of this project and I can’t wait to use this knowledge further. Three days and counting. And then we can welcome the sun back to our hemisphere. Sorry Australia, she's ours until September!

Anybody else as excited for springtime as me?

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