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Classical Elemental | Elizabeth Fuller
classical elemental - skirt
Detailing of the Classical Elemental skirt.

Classical Elemental

classical elemental - skirt

Detailing of the Classical Elemental skirt.

Classical Elemental

There are many reasons that classical statues are preserved in museums: they are fine works of craftsmanship to be marveled at, they are physical reminders of past cultures to be studied, and, possibly the most important, they have the amazing ability of suspending the graceful lines of draped fabric into a solid form. You didn’t think that was important? Oh but it is.

There is an art to the draping of fabric. Despite the looming menace of spandex and American Apparel, there are still champions to the cause of loosely fitted luxury and the decadence of excessive fabric consumption. I chose to take up the ornately draped mantle in my most recent Living Art project, Classical Elemental.

While inspired by draping fabric, the original vision of this project was to be a piece that interacted with wind or the motion of the wearer. This was to be visualized as embedded LEDs that lit on contact with something else through the use of soft switches. I chose, instead, to use magnets and explore random patterns caused by their attraction to each other.

Living Art has been a class exploring different concepts in generative art. I chose to explore several of these in the midterm project:

Finite State Machine: The finite state machine is a mechanism that takes in an input and moves to a new state within a limited number of states. The movement and placement of the skirt results in the contact and connection of magnets on different parts of the skirt. The number of possible connections is limited by the number of magnets.

Randomness: While rather self explanatory, randomness can be a vague principal since it can take different forms and interpretations, from attempts to discover something truly random to what is only perceived to be random. This skirt has the potential for a random design by allowing the motion of the skirt to bring magnets into contact rather than methodically connecting them.

Patterns: While seemingly simple, patterns allow and elegant and appealing method of modularizing a look to create complex pieces. I decided to place the magnets in ordered locations so that the potential for draping was evenly divided. Similarly, rather than having a single buckle fastening, I chose to have three descending ties.

The creation process itself was quite organic. With the general theme of nature and technology in mind, I walked around the fashion district and looked at different materials. I chose a blue base fabric that struck me as something brilliant like the sky but with an earthy weave. I used some shiny silver satin for metallic accents along with metal rings as fasteners. The sewing portion was similarly organic as I cut and sewed fabric as I was inspired, rather than buying a pattern or drawing out a design.

In the end, the skirt had fantastic draping. Though, now that I have the techie part proved, I may replace the magnets with snaps so that the skirt doesn’t just get attracted to everything that is metal.

Thank you Nathan for letting me borrow your magnets. I’ll get them back to you ASAP.

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