Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Gretchen Klimoski's Iris-Inspired Jacket


This is Floris Flam, your May blog editor.  Today we are going to look at the work of Gretchen Klimoski, whose jacket, Iris in a Clifton Garden, won a jurors' recognition award in our show of work inspired by Van Gogh's painting of irises.  
Gretchen Klimoski. Iris in a Clifton Garden

I asked Gretchen to tell us about her work and her process for designing and making her wearable art.

Gretchen told me "I created Toad Hollow Designs after moving to Virginia in 1965 after a long history in the field of historic preservation and serving as a consultant in nonprofit management.  Realizing that this area didn’t need another consultant, I followed a friend to Design With Heart, a fiber arts conference in Santa Fe.  Inspired by so many creative women, I returned home and began to experiment with designs and techniques.  While I had sewn my own clothes for many years, my only try at original design was “designing” new clothing for my paper dolls by cutting up my older sister’s Seventeen magazines. 

"Since 1995 I have explored many surface design techniques but have become very fascinated with all things Japanese.  It all began when I found a merchant on Cape Cod who imported bales of kimono, sold the “best of the best” and took the rest apart to sell as fabric.  I was hooked!!!  Soon I found that the stains and wear and tear of many of these salvaged fabrics limited their use and I now purchase unused kimono bolts from Japan.  Staying in my “Japan” frame of mind I began to experiment with sashiko, the quilting technique of northern Japan. I now us this running stitch technique to re-create traditional – and not so traditional – patterns on many of my designs.  I love the rhythmic flow of the needle through the fiber and can almost meditate while I sew.
Gretchen Klimoski. Sashiko on raw silk vest
"Aside from the kimono fabric, I am an opportunity shopper.  I love ethnic fabrics of all sorts, particularly the ikats of southeast Asia and the rough hewn weavings of parts of Africa.  I sort fabrics into related piles by color and fiber and just sit back and let them speak to me.  That is how Iris in a Clifton Garden came to be.  With the theme of the show in my head my gaze settled on this lovely violet dupioni silk – what could better convey iris in a garden?"
Gretchen Klimoski.  Detail of Iris in a Clifton Garden
Gretchen doesn't confine her work to ethnic fabrics and sashiko stitching.  Here is a hand-painted raincoat she made:

I hope you can visit our gallery and see Gretchen's work.  Iris in a Clifton Garden has already gone home with one of our customers, but you'll find Gretchen's other work and that of our other talented members when you come.