Last week I visited the fantastic exhibit at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco … Pulp Fashion by Belgian artist, Isabelle de Borchgrave. The fashion was life-size period costumes made from nothing other than paper and paint (of course it was either glued or stitched together). Not only did I thoroughly enjoy her beautiful, realistic creations, but I really appreciated the thorough explanation of her process. The video was well done and you could get “up close and personal” with her art.
The costume time periods ranged from the renaissance period to modern-day Coco Chanel.
De Borchgrave uses stencils and other techniques to re-create the uniformity of fabric and I especially liked the use of metallic paint. That really made it look like silk. The foundation paper is quite thick and looks to be very heavy and resilient. The lens paper lace was fantastic and all the tucks and pleats … mind-boggling! Beads and hair pieces, and even the hair itself, if necessary, was made from paper. Every piece was a little different and had a different flair and inspiration. All the pieces were exhibited on simple paper mannequins.
In the last exhibit room was a presentation of costumes De Borchgrave created using actual paintings in the Legion of Honor for inspiration. They were incredible!
At the end of the day … we decided that it was impossible to decide on a favorite. We even tried to break it down by room, Everything was beautiful and different.
Not only did I have a great day with my good friend, Linda, but was really inspired by the creative use of paper and stencils and how it could be translated into the “real thing”. I have pulled out the mylar, the textile paints, and the tees to create my own stencils and give it a go. My creative juices are flowing!!
One of my all-time favorite children’s authors is Maurice Sendak … I have spent hours reading his books to my 2 boys and everyone knows his iconic “Wild Things” from the book Where The Wild Things Are”. I was looking for something to re-energize my second graders and this was the thing to do it! We had a blast making our Wild Things Masks!
Since all of the “Wild Things” in the book were based on real-life characters in Mr. Sendak’s book, I asked students to think about the personalities in their lives and create their Wild Thing around them. I’m pretty sure that there was some embellishing of characters, but isn’t that what artistic license is all about?!
Starting with tag paper, students drew a large head that took up most of the paper. Sendak’s characters were all bigger than life, physically and in personality. The shape of the head was at the discretion of the student. I gave them templates to help make big eyes, as all of the features in Sendak’s characters were large too. We talked about dimension and how that means there is something that pops off the paper. I was expecting that at least one feature on their mask was going to pop off, giving some dimension to their character and making it more life-like. Students are familiar with manipulating paper from first grade projects and it all came back … accordions, corkscrews, twisting paper, cutting a tab to make the horns stand out etc.
Using pastels, students colored like mad. Everything had to have color! Then they got down to the fun of putting dimension on their mask … a tongue sticking out, jagged teeth, horns, hair, a beak – you name it, we had it. It was wonderful!
After all the dimension was put on, students were given googly eyes and feathers. I hold these myself took help keep things under control … especially the feathers!
If there was time … students then cut out their mask! I think Maurice Sendak would be proud of all imagination and creativity that went into our Wild Things!