Kick off your shoes and stay a while...
I started off in the early 1990's using, almost exclusively, reclaimed fabrics; a lot of vintage draperies and contemporary textiles such as silk and linen. It is important to me to use only natural fabrics. The style I chose to work with was the basic "Chanel" cut jacket; very boxy, the perfect "garment as a canvas" design. My goal is to try to work at least five different fabrics into the garment; every year I have developed a new approach to embellishment techniques and combining these techniques keeps my work fresh and exciting for me. Appliqué, piecing, quilting, embroidery, piping, pintucks, overlays, runching, plackets, beading, and anything else that I can think of, are all used in varieties of combinations.
There is something so satisfying in cutting things up and putting them together a different way; the art of quilting taken to new heights. Colour is an important component in my designs, while most jackets keep to a range of complimentary tones, once in a while I break loose and use only colours that aren't supposed to work together. But they do.
White makes me nervous. Some years ago, realizing that all the white fabrics I was getting were piling up in a corner untouched, I decided that the only solution was to learn how to fabric paint. What an education, I had no idea I was choosing the most difficult medium there is! First it was only silks; especially using the French serti technique. That kept me off the streets and in the studio! Now, it is anything I can get my hands on: silks, linens, cottons, rayons, I even gave wool a whirl. Batik, shibori, watercolour, salts, sugars, acid dyes, fibre reactive dyes, brushes, brayers, spray bottles, stamps, stencils, woodblocks, linoetching, just name it. So many possibilities and so little time!
My silk-painted jackets are all allegorical: a glimpse at how the ordinary, everyday world is transformed by our spiritual essence. There are lots of dancing women and napping cats, and lots of dancing cats and napping women. There are fish and birds and gardens and angels. They all tell a story about our journey.
On cold January days in my studio, sometimes I stop and wonder why I am pursuing this bizarre fantasy of fabric. Does this really matter? Why can't we all dress in polar fleece jogging suits and get it over with? But the comment book from the shop brings me back to the real world of art and why it is.
Why wearable art? Because we can buy a wonderful painting and hang it on the wall, and eventually, no matter how brilliant, it eventually becomes invisible and only a few people will ever interact with it. A piece of wearable art becomes alive every time it is worn; it begs for reaction from those around it; the wearer cannot be ignored. It rounds out the individual and ignites self esteem. It goes past being three-dimensional.
It is most definitely not a uniform, you cannot be invisible.
Often I hear neophytes to my work ask "But where will I wear it?"
My answer: "to the grocery store".
When did it become necessary to dress down for everything? Now, instead of worrying about looking good enough, we worry about looking too good! Clothing shouldn't be disposable, it should be something that can be worn for years, dressed up or worn casually.
Note how much fun it is to stand out in a crowd!
One person is wearing Oddacity Art...can you find her?
Nova Scotia Premier's award recipients, 2006
Most of my clients are over 40. They've reached the stage in their life where they feel comfortable being who they are and are not afraid to express themselves. They are proud of their achievements and want to stand out in the crowd. They know they do not have to be a size 8 to be fabulous.
In 2004 I sojourned to Thailand and learned about Thai silks. The luminescence of the silk is a marvel to me. I am doling out the stash I came back with in small pieces; using new embellishment techniques inspired by Asian culture. I now have a new style of jacket with a kimono cut and my intent for each piece is to make it as much like a origami construction as possible.
I do occasionally stray from jackets to make hats, scarves, purses and jewellery. But it is the jackets that really express the personality of the wearer. It is three-dimensional art; a piece of sculpture that takes itself out into the world and says "here I am"
Fashion should be organic in its nature; it should become part of the wearer rather than the wearer being controlled by the clothing. Trendiness is a result of the last 50 years; style in one year and out the next. Real fashion is classic and beloved. I am most thrilled when I see someone wearing a piece they bought from me ten years ago, or hear someone talk of how much they have worn one of my pieces, their enjoyment of it, and the compliments they receive.
The most important thing I have learned in the years I have been doing this is to let the fabrics speak for themselves. Starting off with one idea about how a jacket will look has no bearing on the final result. Just like our own journey in life, being open to the possibilities is the most important lesson of all.
I am now in my new studio which has both a fabulous view of the tidal river and magnificent sunlight all day long. It is very close to being in heaven, and a lot more organized than my previous spaces, so I am having more fun being experimental. I persuaded Louise Chisholm, a brilliant artist friend, to create a number of "faces" for me and with them I have been working on the "Art of Being Yourself" series, which features hand bags and jackets. I love them; they are so freespirited and my customers have responded in kind, proving once again that there are many more audacious women out there than we realize...Yippee!
Because I now have all my studios in one spot; (the dye studio, sewing studio, bead-work area and multi-media room) I can integrate the techniques and media much more readily and it is leading to some really exciting results. The possibilities really are endless.
Unfortunately, Louise has no web site to link to,
but her work is fantastic and renowned accordingly.
When I first began the creative journey of Oddacity, it was with the idea of making jewellery, not clothes (silly me!) However, I haven't yet gotten the jewellery out of my system and am now designing one-of-a-kind pieces using a variety of vintage pieces and very small collages that I make myself. This is truly where I've "got a headful of ideas and it's driving me insane" (yes, Bob Dylan).
Anyways, it is a very therapeutic release from the sewing machine. The art of collage is fascinating; finding the random relationships in otherwise unrelated materials is traveling to untouched places in the subconsious. Brain orgasms!
LAYERS: As we travel our life's journey we are hopefully adding layers of experience, insight and wisdom to our persona. This eliminates the two-dimensional aspect and gives richness and depth to our spiritual essence. That metaphor of layers is important in my art; the more you add, the more interesting and holistic it becomes. But the hard work comes in trying to achieve a balance and harmony of components. The creative process is to break the existing rules, but it is also important to let the work evolve as its voice insists. A great exercise is just to take the random pieces lying on the studio floor and work them into one thing; talk about suspending your disbelief! Amazingly, these are the pieces that fly out the door; maybe because they are hardest to do.
WHERE TO BUY ODDACITY: No, I don't sell off of the web. No, I don't sell in other stores. Yes, I would make a fortune in Toronto (or New York, London etc) but then it would be something entirely different and not nearly as much fun. You just have to come to Bear River and visit the shop between Victoria Day and Thanksgiving or visit the Nova Scotia Designer Craft Show each November in Halifax. Another reason that wearing Oddacity is so special.
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Copyright 2007-2008 by Jeff and Zoë Knorek-Onysko except where noted.