This past week, I’ve been tackling a lovely, colorful custom project using a client’s deceased husband’s neckties! I’m transforming them into fabric that we will then cut into handbags the family can enjoy. I love these types of projects! It is such an honor to be trusted with such personal items – remembrances of someone long gone.
So, while I was working away, my mind took a little trip down memory lane to the very first time I did anything with neckties, or any recycled material for that matter. And here’s my quaint little story!
Once upon a time (I don’t know the year, but I’m sure it was longer ago that I think since time gets away from me so quickly!), I was in a group called the Creativity Continuum. This was a set of ladies who all met once a month at the TLD Design Center in Westmont, IL with the purpose of supporting and stretching ourselves as artists. We did all sorts of fun, crazy activities meant to make you think, challenge you to be brave, and mostly trigger the need to keep creating!
Well, each year, we would put on a small exhibit to show what we have been working on and for a couple of years, we decided to give the exhibit a theme. One of those years, we settled on the theme of “A Woman’s Wardrobe”. Now, there were no other restrictions beyond the theme. You could take that as literally or philosophically as you wanted to. So that very broad topic, combined with the fact that each of us worked in different mediums and possessed very different strengths, always guaranteed a wildly diverse and fascinating collection!
While I was mulling over the theme, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to do a play on stereotypical gender roles. Now, keep in mind that this was LONG before it was commonplace to discuss gender identities at the kitchen table. I was aiming for something much more simplistic than that. So, I settled on the fact that I wanted to create an item that was very feminine, woven with very masculine materials. And when it all came together, I had a pencil skirt constructed using hand-woven fabric made of men’s neckties!
The end result was clunky and stiff and you couldn’t really walk in it (never mind that I couldn’t fit into it now by a long shot even if I wanted to!). But, I remember marveling at how unique the fabric was! Blending all those patterns and colors together gave it a completely different look from anything I could achieve using traditional yarns! And it wasn’t until a few years after that that I connected the dots and started using recycled materials to make fabric for handbags. But, it is so wonderful to look back through my history to ponder the seemingly random, wonderful starting point for an idea I really love!
So, here’s to pencil skirts, the Creativity Continuum, and the family members who gave me their neckties knowing I was going to chop them up into who knows what! Thank you!!!