Fea: Design Ideas

by Meredith 16. April 2008 14:43

Design sketch for Fea gown

The Fea project developed out of wanting to explore two ideas. The first was based on seeing an image of Animal X’s costume, “Holocaust“. I thought the idea of having faces integrated into a garment was fascinating. Unlike Animal X’s costume though, I wanted to explore making the faces more a part of the garment, like an overall texture.

To find more visual inspiration, I searched the internet for images that had the integrated texture I was wanting. Inge Stahl’s work titled “Medea” and Kalenisis’ photo “Sister of Earth two” were two images that I liked the merging of natural elements onto the female form. A second inspiration was Michelle Wyn-de-Bank and her use of felting to create “Hairy Face” and “Hairy Faces”. I had been exploring the idea of using wool to sculpt the faces and her projects helped to confirm that it would be possible. With these images in mind I made some design sketches to work out what Fea’s gown would look like.

The second idea in the overall development of the project came from wanting to combine storytelling with costume making. The process needed to begin with the story. I knew the character I was creating was going to be a mythological being that gathered souls and integrated the spirits into her garment. The story building then began with searching for a mythology already established. Influenced by the intricate weaving of Celtic knot work, I eventually settled on the Irish mythology of the Tuatha De Danann. As I researched the history of the Tuatha De I found a series of tales that had pieces missing; leaving a perfect opening for me to fit a character within the mythology. Out of the  Animal X “Holocaust“story I’ve described, Neit did have three wives (or a wife with three incarnations). These women were also considered the three incarnations of The Morrigu, a goddess that represented Fate, War and Death. Tuatha De mythology does link The Morrigu’s help in Battle of Mag Tuired and while there was information about Neamin and Badb’s participation, there was nearly nothing about Fea. The void became an open invitation to create a new mythology for this character and that is where I injected my fiction into the actual myths.

With a time period determined and a general idea of how the gown was going to look, I also wanted to do some research on period clothing that could have been worn by the Tuatha De. Using the euhemerist idea that the legends of the Tuatha De were based on actual people, there were several dates that estimated when the Tuatha De inhabited Ireland. Scholars placed the approximate time period at 1870 to 1830 BC, during the Bronze Age. There was not a lot of evidence available to explain what the people may have been wearing, but theories suggest that Northern European people wore clothing cut closer to the body than the flowing garments of warmer climates. Though the Vikings didn't come to the area until much later, research suggested that the clothing worn in Ireland was similar in shape and function.

Early Irish Dress

Viking Tunic Construction

From Concept to Creation: Making Fea's Gown

by Meredith 15. April 2008 14:33

The Gown of Fea the Soul Weaver"From Concept to Creation: Making Fea's Gown"
Meredith Cook, Senior, Art, Media and Culture
Mentor: Tyler Budge, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences
Undergraduate Research Project 2008

Abstract: The Gown of Fea the Soul Weaver is an art project designed to combine storytelling with costume making. The project's scope includes developing the concept of a character and storyline, designing the garment, researching materials and construction methods, and constructing the gown. Nestled within the holes of Irish myth, Fea's story is a combination of carefully chosen elements from the historical legends of the Tuatha De Danann. Even the mythological figure Fea, who's name is based on the Gaelic word for "weave", is chosen to support the initial character concept. Where Fea's traditional history lacks content, a new story is created: During the Tuatha De Danann's battle against the Fomorians, Fea saves the spirits of the dying by weaving their souls into her garments. Designing Fea's gown then becomes an illustration of a moment in her newly created history. To further support the character concept, materials and construction methods are selected to emphasize Fea's action of weaving souls. Materials like hand-dyed wool are sculpted into faces and felted into a base garment. The felting process, like Fea's weaving, knits the individual wool fibers into the weave of the base fabric. Costume construction and materials also include making weft-fringe of human hair, fabric appliqué of Celtic patterns, and hand-sewn beading. The final results of the project should be an art piece that explores elements of shape, materials, and construction that best represent the concepts behind a character's story.

The complete story is available in the gallery.

About Meredith Cook

Welcome to my repository of creative expression. I'm not a happy camper unless I am making something and over the years I have dabbled in quite a few different kinds of art projects. Some projects come from taking art classes, others are completely hobby driven, and projects like home decor come from a need to customize an item and make it better or unique. The overall theme behind what I do is to learn how to manipulate objects and practice what I know about visual aesthetic and good design. Oh yeah, and to have fun.