They stitch the thin line between fashion and folk art.
And they had their coming out party in a big, mirrored yogi room on the Gila Community College Payson Campus, with a happy explosion of color and stitchery at the 2014 “Wearable Art” Fashion Show.
Instructor Leslie Peacock seeks to unleash the artist in her students, encouraging them to take chances, get in over their heads and go a little crazy — as evidenced by the riotous creativity and color of the afternoon’s fashion show.
Besides colorful jackets that required hour upon hour of work, the show included a cowboy shower curtain and a daring little coat for a beloved — but obviously tiny — Chihuahua.
The class has built a staunch following, thanks in part to Rim Country’s wealth of quilters. The creations of the class require much of the same meticulous skill, creative leaps and sense of color that characterize the region’s quilters. Rim Country has several nationally known quilters and regularly stages some of the best quilt shows in the state.
That playful and inventive creativity was on display for an appreciative audience of perhaps 100 people, chomping on cookies and sipping soft drinks.
The show pieces included Fabuloso Frederico’s Fantastico Flamingo Fandango, which managed to work 10 bright pink flamingos into a single intricately stitched jacket. Some of the flamingos were stuffed, making them stand out from the fabric.
Creator Karen Bruns noted that she doodled on the fabric with chalk and then stitched the sketches into reality.
“The other day I tried to count the number of techniques I have learned in Leslie’s class and stopped at 12 because the phone rang. I know there are more and they are all quilting techniques that we have used in our jackets.”
Another jacket invoked a tropical hallucination — something you might get from an overdose of hibiscus and pineapple — including no fewer than 28 Snapplique pieces with a traditional Hawaiian theme bought on a jaunt to Hawaii.
Creator Natalie Elliot noted, “each Snapplique motif is layered on double-sided fusible facing then laser cut into its various colors and patterns. They are purchased with the paper still attached to the back so they may be peeled and fused onto any fabric with an iron. Each piece was painstakingly stitched onto a square, color-contrasting background. The blocks were shaped into octagons the edges folded and ironed and then laid out into the resulting pattern. Then each piece was machine appliquéd into place.”
But the final piece provoked the biggest reaction — mostly laughter.
Wanda Boggs made a shower curtain for her husband, adorned with cowboy boots. For the show, she enlisted a couple of students to walk the curtain across the room, then peaked out around the corner in her shower cap — bare feet showing at the bottom and her shower brush already deployed.
Wearable art — with a sense of humor to boot.
Wearable Art pieces:
• Louise Snow: Green jacket decorated with embroidery motifs and decorative stitches with a long skirt to match.
• Monette (Mo) Makepeace: “African Dance” vest, “Blue Fusion” jacket: “Menage au Vin” jacket.
• Karen Bruns: “Spring is Sprung” jacket, “Penelope the Pumpkin Passionista” jacket, “Adventures of a Trailer Queen” jacket, “Fred” (Flamingo) jacket (modeled by student Juan Rios)
• Emily Gore: “Black Magic” jacket reversible to, “Sedona Sunset” jacket
• Diane Larned: “Birds in Flight” jacket, “Woven Purple Waves” jacket
• Patty Vogler: “Blue Sky” jacket, “Diamond Point” a “doggie” jacket for her Chihuahua
• Wanda Boggs: “Iowa Farm Girl” vest; “Seminole Maiden” jacket
• Vivian Seville: “Tequila Sunrise” jacket
• Sue Ericksmoen: “Woodstock Revisited”
• Natalie Eliott: “Happy Hawaiian”