I spent most of yesterday tinkering with the design and mostly hating it. It didn’t feel right, no matter what I did. Finally I sat down and thought about why I wasn’t liking it.
Here’s what I realized:
- The organic flame shapes on the top weren’t working well with the rigid phalanxes of phoenixes at the bottom.
- The phoenixes and the bodice were battling for attention, so the eye didn’t know where to go.
- While the top was well aligned and felt harmonious, the phoenixes were flying every which way in chaos.
- There wasn’t enough color difference between the layers of the skirt, so they blended into mush.
I spent some time thinking about how to fix it, and reluctantly decided that there really wasn’t any way to reconcile the top with the bottom. Since I wasn’t about to give up the phoenixes, the beautiful flame shapes, no matter how lovely, had to go.
You may recall that I had experimented with simulating a painted warp by monoprinting roughly-painted thickened dye in gradated colors. Also that those prints hadn’t worked with the flames. But could they work for the new bodice? I hauled them out to try.
And here’s what I wound up with:
Obviously version 2 isn’t done yet: I’ve only laid out the colors, really. But I like it better, because the lines are more harmonious, the bodice is much simpler (no longer fighting the skirt for attention), and it just “feels” less busy.
Plan for today is to dye some fabric a deep golden yellow with just a touch of orange, and screen print it with orange phoenixes as in the photo. I also want to paint some fabric in yellow, orange, and red so I can better simulate the diagonal expanse of painted warp that I’m visualizing from the dummy’s top right shoulder (top left of photo) down to the waist at bottom left (right side of photo). It’s currently represented by two pieces of fabric because I didn’t have a piece with the correct color changes, but it should really be a single smoothly flowing piece.
And then, of course, I need to lay out the lines for the bodice, so it isn’t just roughly-wrapped fabric. And figure out the sides and the back. And so on. But I am quite excited about this new direction.
Yes, version 2 is better, smoother transitions.
Jeanne Henzel says
Have you thought about doing your screen printing over a single ombrÃ© dyed piece rather than three separately dyed pieces?
Tien Chiu says
I hadn’t thought of it, but looking at ombre dyeing, it looks like it’s much more involved than dyeing three separate pieces. Is that right?
I know you’re still playing with version 2–but the draping (and the patterning of the phoenixes) reminds me of a sari…
Tien Chiu says
That’s funny! I was just looking at it this morning and thinking it would look fabulous with a drape over one shoulder (just like a sari!).
Teresa Ruch says
Have you thought of a simple under skirt of the phoenix and then dyed over petals of silk organza or chiffon. Then as you move the petal layer would shift as flame and give the illusion of the phoenix moving.
Tien Chiu says
Teresa – hadn’t thought of that. I might try chiffon, but I think it would mostly just obscure the phoenixes, especially at a distance. It’s a fairly delicate pattern and hard to get really good contrast.