After seeing an incredible museum exhibit, Pulp Fashion, at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, with life-sized paper gowns by Belgian artist, Isabelle de Borchgrave, I was inspired to create my own small version of a paper dress. With paint and paper, de Borchgrave creates depictions of dresses from works of art and from famous designers. As Rem and I walked into the first gallery we were amazed at the delicacy and detail of these pieces. Some pieces had gauzy paper overlays or veils with paper made for cleaning glass lenses.
I knew I wanted to play with paper and paint (or ink) and make something akin to her pieces. First, I spent some time looking online at gowns through the ages, veering off as I followed various links (toilet paper wedding gowns, anyone?), spending way too much time looking at sites with beautiful, historical recreation gowns from Renaissance to Edwardian, I looked at Victorian tea gowns and turn of the century ball gowns. I saw creations by many different designers, especially gorgeous gowns by Charles Frederick Worth. But I finally picked a portrait of Lady Jane Seymour by Hans Holbien the Younger that I was familiar with as the dress I would interpret.
Even though I was working on a much smaller scale than the museum creations, I didn’t get started until after dinner and needed to be finished before midnight since this is part of my 30 Days of Creativity project. I wasn’t even trying to make a whole dress but rather a kind of popped-up paper doll dress. Not flat and one dimensional but not full 3-D either. The finished piece is about 8 3/4 inches tall. I made a sketch to get started and after that the whole project was trial and error. I sponged rose red pigment ink onto some paper that is soft and fibrous to get the color I wanted in a paper that wasn’t too stiff. I got lovely, fabric- like results but later had lots of problems with that paper resisting adhesives which made it very challenging to work with.
I embossed gold border designs onto paper to cut into thin strips for the trim on the gown and head piece. But then had to use gold ink on the skirt because I couldn’t get various adhesives to stick. Frustrating. Meanwhile, time was ticking away!
The bodice went a little faster than the skirt and underskirt. I layered the challenging paper (that wouldn’t adhere to anything) over another paper so I could use some of my yummy gold trim. I put a little bit of thin tissue (from a separated layer of white napkin) around the neckline. Now onto the the most difficult part: the sleeves!
At 11:21 PM I was done. I started snapping photos, then grabbed the computer to download them and here I am! It is minutes from midnight and I’m tired but I’m very pleased with what I created. I have no idea what I’ll do with it but I ran with the inspiration from Isabelle de Borchgraves gorgeous works and came up with something I am proud of.
Here is my finished gown with cards from the museum exhibit – these are pieces inspired by Mariano Fortuny. It is 11:58. Whew!
Tomorrow’s The Day 12 project will be something more simple.
Thanks for the visit!
6/12 Update: When I went to the artist Isabelle de Borchgraves website this morning to add the link to this post, I saw she is holding a contest: make something out of paper and send in a photo. I’m going to enter the contest! I also looked up a better photo of the original painting and went back to my project and added a few details. It’s almost noon and I’m still working on yesterday’s creation. I enhanced the jewelry and added some ruffled cuffs to her sleeves. I was too tired last night for that kind of detail.