Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Thoughts Behind "The Empress Dowager's New Jewels"

You know how they like to keep old people busy and their brains active after retirement? I'm not near that age and have only just conferred upon myself temporary lady-of-leisure status but I thought I should keep the brains well-oiled and the fingers nifty (should a suitable job come along). And keep myself occupied at home and my purse away from the shops.

Some sort of a sewing project (and an accompanying blog tracing the progress) should do the trick, I mused. Preferably one that does not call for new materials and will make me use up those that I have accumulated over the years. Something that requires repeated action and thus addictive...Grandma's jiap-boh!

Jiap-boh literally means "join cloth" in the Teochew dialect and in English, I suppose it's "patchwork". My grandma taught me how to make these little shower cap-looking bits and join them together to make bigger things.

I haven't made any since I was, like, nine and it's been always blankets and rugs but never "jewellery". Time for a self-taught refresher course and finally, a chance to put all my pretty jewel-hued Marimekko off-cuts to good use.

My naive work is nowhere close to the brilliance of those by these designers but they sowed the seeds of unlikely material-substitution, mild mockery and cheeky mind-fuckery in my head...

Mike And Maaike - Haven't been able to get their Stolen Jewels out of my head since I saw them about a year ago.

"An exploration of tangible vs virtual in relation to real and perceived value" - I'm a sucker for this sort of clever conceptual art-type thing that actually looks good and makes sense.

Slow and Steady Wins The Race - I'm a big big fan of their Manifesto and goods.

Ina Seifart - This is what she has to say about watches being increasingly used as status symbols and fashion accessories rather than timekeeping instruments.

Natalia Brilli - Leather vs Metal...Leather vs Pearls...Leather vs Wood...Leather vs Plastic...she's done them all.

The Simpson Girls - Not designers but I've always admired their necklaces and wanted some for myself.

The Name
A very obvious spin on The Emperor's New Clothes.

The Empress Dowager's New Jewels is similarly about how we look at things and why we choose to see them the way we see them - like how I look at the shower cap-like pieces that I've modeled out of cloth and see "precious stones". I am not delusional. Nor on hallucinogenics. Just equipped with a vivid (at times, child-like) imagination.

Not "Empress", "Queen" or "Princess" but "Empress Dowager" because it's a Chinese thing and it's the family's nickname for the grandma (quite a tyrannical matriarch) who taught me the fine art of jiap-boh-ing.

The Great Rock('n'Roll) Swindle
If, like me, you see value in The Empress Dowager's New Jewels and would like to adorn yourself or your pals with a cluster of these 100% handsewn "precious rocks", I'll be putting some up for sale soon...between filling pals' orders and trying to figure out how to piece together a "bejewelled" capelet for myself. And if I can detach myself from the new pieces.

If you'd like a commissioned piece made out of, say, a special piece of vintage fabric, or an old dress that holds fond memories but which you can't fit into anymore, I'd be happy to convert them into "jewellery" that you can wear. My only request is that they be of cotton or a pretty stiff material because anything too soft or thin would simply not hold their shape. You can write me at likklegirl(at)gmail(dot)com or leave a comment with your queries.

The con job starts here...

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