KID ART: inspiration from art

Hi KCW sewers and blog readers. Shelley (aka Lightning McStitch) from Bartacks and Singletrack here to talk a bit about art as inspiration for making kid’s clothes. This is exciting for me as there’s nothing I like better than taking an idea, possibly unrecognisable to anyone else, and then getting completely carried away with it.

Often you’ll see art on clothing and the clothes themselves may be more familiar than the original artwork. A Magritte T-Shirt for example (René Magritte 1898-1967) or a Mondrian shift dress (Piet Mondrian 1872-1944). These examples may be familiar to us grown ups, but not at all to our kids. So how do we define the theme KID ART? (did you notice we haven’t?!). I think our kids can be very astute viewers of art in all it’s forms and their reaction to a piece of art is usually immediate and brutally honest. Kind of like how they can react to something we have lovingly sewn for them to wear, right?!

I want to show you how your local gallery can be a source of inspiration for your sewing, as well as a fun outing, so I collared a couple of kids (my own as it happens!) and we set off for the state gallery (NGV link) NB: All images from the gallery were taken myself and links reference the gallery or the artist directly. Other links for images or general information go to Google, Wikipedia or other external websites and blogs

You started it... I finish it 2013

 Paola PIVI
You started it… I finish it
2013

These larger than life bears filled the foyer and instantly my daughter was in love. Brightly coloured, oversized, feather bears, what’s not to like? Feathers will never go out of style if you ask a little girl! (Or a big girl for that matter, I’ll take that Oscar de la Renta dress please)

feather composite

 1: Miss Selfridge 2: Oscar de la Renta 3: Zulily.com

 I was fascinated by what the kids found interesting and why. Visiting the gallery with small children gives you the licence to not try and “understand” the art but just allow yourself to react to it.

Bul LEE untitled 2003

Bul LEE
untitled
2003

 The scale and space-bug-ness of this room-filling sculpture had my son enchanted. For me, my fingers were itching to make a sketch in order to cut a freezer paper stencil. Perhaps silvery white paint on a plain black T-Shirt. A bit more esoteric than a Star Wars stencil but every bit as cool, no?

Alternately, the art inspiration can be in the fabric itself.  This fabric, covering a whole wall of the gallery, is typical of the 1960s style and has been reimagined many times over.

Vernor PANTON Geometry I 1960

Vernor PANTON
Geometry I
1960

I couldn’t help snapping a picture of my daughter who happened to be wearing that very “mod” dress silhouette, the School Photo dress by Oliver + S.

What if your little girl is more into the princess style?

Issey MIYAKE Bustier 1980-1981

Issey MIYAKE
Bustier
1980-1981

Honestly, when my daughter saw this she loudly requested that I make her one! Then my son pointed out how the shadows look like angel wings and suddenly all three of us were imagining a fairy angel costume that involved wings and a red, patent leather bustier with peplum. An Issey Miyake knock-off is just the kind of princess dress up sewing I could get excited about.

Olarfur ELIASSON Limbo Lamp 2005

Olarfur ELIASSON
Limbo Lamp
2005

A less literal idea came from this wonderful light sculpture. As the kids chased and played in the moving light from the central spinning reflective disc, I was reminded of Shisha (mirror) embroidery. That’s a technique I’ve wanted to learn and play with for a while now and I think it would make a lovely detail on a skirt hem, or even within a quilt. (Shisha tutorial link)

But when techniques fail and it seems the sewing gods are conspiring against you there’s still the chance to say you were inspired by art. The kids love this video installation:

Charlie SOFO 33 Objects that fit through the hole in my pocket 2013

Charlie SOFO
33 Objects that fit through the hole in my pocket
2013

watch video here

…and all you need is a pair of beige, rolled up trousers with a hole in the pocket!

Robert MORRIS untitled c1970

Robert MORRIS
untitled
c1970

This felt sculpture could inspire a boys T-shirt. Perhaps a reverse effect using Alabama Chanin technique cutaways. It also reminds me a bit of this t-shirt from Zoolander which inspired this remake by A Little Gray. Film Petit is a hilarious sewing series and a fantastic example of art (film) inspiring kid’s clothes.

Luke RUDOLPH Portrait no.24 2010

Luke RUDOLPH
Portrait no. 24
2010

A modern painting (a mix of geometric abstractionism and abstract expressionism if you like your art with definitions) can be great inspiration for fabric painting. I can imagine painting the background geometric shapes onto silk then letting the kids loose with a large brush. The fabric would then make a lovely shirt or shirt-dress. In fact, I’d want one myself I think.

Finally, another sculpture that had us all enthralled,

Kohei NAWA PixCell-Red Deer 2012

 Kohei NAWA
PixCell-Red Deer
2012

…and another idea that I really want to run with. Could I sew tiny clear and amber glass beads onto a black knit sweater to make a mini PixCell red deer pullover for my daughter? I’m really thinking I might just do it, I’ve gone as far as tracking down the beads I would use…

I did mention I was prone to getting carried away with ideas, didn’t I? I hope I’ve inspired you to take a trip to your local gallery, look at the art, perhaps try to understand it, but don’t be ashamed if all you can think is “how could I recreate that?” or “what pattern would I use to achieve something like that?”.

You’re not alone.

Just try not to think out loud.

XX Shelley

This article has 14 comments

  1. Renee //nearestthepin

    Wow, I love the track you’ve taken with this post. A lot of food for thought. I’m now ashamed to say that I haven’t thought of taking my kids to the NGV – assuming its not super kids friendly, but I can see that I was wrong. Thanks for the inspiration Shelley!

  2. Wagyu Burger

    Oodles of of inspiration here! I think lots of art are suitable for little ones, not just the big people, and you have shown some great examples here. Also helpful as I am trying to decide whether to take bubba to Melbourne next year and I know she will love those bears 🙂 

  3. Deb Cameron

    Fabulous post! Most inspiring, thank you for sharing.  I didn’t even notice the wing shadows on the bustier, it was such an aha moment for me when I read what your little boy said and went back to study the photo, I love seeing the world through their eyes 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *