At times clothing functions as an exoskeleton, shaping and protecting our bodies from the environment we live in. And when this environment is toxic, we sometimes retreat and close ourselves up, much like the lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) encases itself as it adapts and changes into a different self.
Having those two things in mind, I have tried to incorporate elements that allude to the lepidoptera’s wings and pupa merged to a human skeleton form. The color black was chosen for its association with introspection.
The corset body base layer is made of corsetry mesh, with satin coutil for bone casings, center front and back, and lightweight power net for the panty sides. I originally intended to use strong power net but didn’t realize there wasn’t enough of it until it was too late, so I resorted to the lightweight net I had at hand, and think the end result was satisfactory. It’s very stretchy and can accommodate different shapes and a wider hip sizing; the elasticated edges and adjustable crotch also help with that. It is lightly boned with six 5mm spiral steels, four 6mm flat steels next to the grommets and one 10mm flat steel at center front.
The overlay is a hand cut and molded vegetable tanned leather. Some panels were made with lighter weight leather, and others that needed more structure with a heavier weight one. Decorative stitches with silver thread were hand sewn through pre punched holes. All leather panels were stitched and secured to the base layer by hand.
I developed the pattern for this corset body back in 2012, but I never got to make it as other projects took over. I created the overlay design recently for this contest and I decided to use wet molding (picture 5) for that, instead of my usual tooling technique.
I tried my best to use only materials I had in stock, which meant there was little room for mistakes and I had to accept that some parts weren’t as nice as they could be (some parts of the hide tend to distort more and don’t look as smooth as others).
I tried many things I haven’t tried before and was very experimental with techniques. This was definitely a great learning experience!
It has been a challenging learning experience and a great opportunity to think outside the box and grow as a maker. It might be intimidating, but this works as an incentive to push harder and therefore learn more, acquire new skills and hone pre-existing ones. Go go go!