12 October 2013

alchemy arts

alchemy arts recycling is chic kate mackay di jennings

With interests in costume design and improvising with reclaimed materials, my browsing eye caught the attention of Kate MacKay and Di Jennings book, Alchemy Arts: recycling is chic earlier this summer, appearing at quick glance the perfect combination of these two things.

Bringing it home I discovered a fascinating little wearable art book that was not so much about step-by-step instruction (though many projects are included) as it was about sparking ideas when approaching your own costumery projects. Collaborating with a dozen designers from across the globe the authors combine tales of mythical creatures and ancient customs with tips for creating ethical statement fashion.

alchemy arts recycling is chic kate mackay di jenningsalchemy arts recycling is chic kate mackay di jennings
// antique bride & madam butterfly

Definitely aimed at the more experienced craft-seamstress, Alchemy Arts: recycling is chic contains some 40+ clothing and accessory projects that have been divided into seven categories grouped by source material.

Admittedly among them are many projects that in their entirety I would most likely never create other than for those rare high-days and holidays (such as the gorgeous Madam Butterfly costume shown here), there were also many smaller projects that I would reference in constructing more everyday and functional items (such as repurposed hand-warmers or record bag). All the same, what I did like about the more fanciful costumes though were the techniques used in their construction which could be transferred to my own assembled creations.

alchemy arts recycling is chic kate mackay di jenningss
// the illustrated dress of raven mary

Even more interesting were the entertaining stories that accompanied each project, both from a historical point of view that told the fascinating social history behind the chosen garments and also the artists own explanations of why they were drawn to work with discarded and second-hand things. With these tales my own enthusiasm is also fuelled...

Overall, though I initially borrowed (and repeatedly re-borrowed) the book through my local library system this summer, I will definitely be looking to add Alchemy Arts: recycling is chic permanently to my personal collection of craft reference materials as I explore creating my own assemblage and wearable pieces.

What are some of your favourite wearable art and costumery reference books? I'd love to hear your recommendations.

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