Wooden Dress

Finally, after many tears, I have an idea for my Wearables final! (And, for Materials, too.)

In one of my Wearables classes, we had a workshop where our instructors, Despina Papadopoulos and Zach Eveland, went around to give each of us some one-on-one feedback about our projects. Up until this point, I’d been working along the route of making a pair of pants that turned on a switch or something when you walked. The idea came from thinking about the inner thighs or legs, which seem to come as a “target” area for exercise. But, honestly, my design really didn’t work for a few reasons. I wanted riding pants which someone self-conscious about their inner thighs probably wouldn’t wear. Then, it didn’t really seem to thoroughly reflect a lot of the research I’d previously done.

When Despina came over to see how I was doing, she had difficulty understanding my idea, and we went into the classroom to talk using the whiteboard. Well, she ended up asking a lot of really good questions…that sort of caught me off-guard…on a day or week when my confidence level was WAY low. I sort of ended up breaking down…. Despina gave me some really great encouragement and basically told me that I can’t fail in trying to do something, so I shouldn’t feel like my ideas are crappy. Eventually, I rejoined everyone else, and went back to brainstorming. By the end of that night, I’d already sketched out a new idea. And really, I just figured, “You know, just try it. If it’s crappy, fine.”

While I was thinking of my new idea, I thought of just one part of the body. The skin. And, in relation to my research, I obviously thought of skin color. And then I thought of what could represent skin color. In my Materials class, Peter Menderson showed us some really nice wood veneer samples, for different types of wood and in different colors. Different brown colors…like skin.

Wood. Skin. A wooden dress.

So, right after that night, I immediately started prototyping. First in paper, then in foam core. I used twine to connect the pieces, which I eventually secured with hot glue. So now I have a full dress. I actually can wear it – luckily for me, one of ITP’s dress forms pretty much has my measurements.

Now, I’ll need to look into different types of lumber, wood stains, connections – metal, twine, leather…? – and also just adjusting the height/width of each piece. Fully, my idea is to make a series of wooden dresses, from dark to light, representing a range of skin tones. Unfortunately, given the amount of time left, I don’t think that’s possible.

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