E PLURIBUS UNUM (out of many, one)
One of my recent graduate students happens to have been my daughters’ high school art teacher. Luckily for all of us, Mr. Francis is a terrific teacher. If you don’t believe me, he was the 2012 Pacific Region Art Educator of the Year!
This last year Mr. Francis was really trying to understand more about the process of artistic creation and so he asked his students to document and reflect throughout their time in the course. Mr. Francis also kept his own records as he worked. His efforts were truly interesting and inspiring and I expect he will get around to publishing his experiences in his own due time so we can all benefit. But in the meantime, I am going to share what I have been thinking about regarding artistic creation.
I frequently ask my own undergraduate students to present an account of their artistic inquiry in some way. This could simply take place in the classroom, but since I teach adults, I invite them to share their learning experiences with the public. They often do this through public performance, exhibitions, or by posting their experiences on blogs or websites. I have challenged them to select a topic that they are interested in but don’t really know much about as far as that topic’s history, politics, and skills needed for production or representation. For example, in my technology course, many students use Make Magazine and Instructables as inspirational resources to 1) find out how to first make something they were previously unable to do and then 2) to bring this project into the discourse of art by scrutinizing its social and pedagogical possibilities, uncovering its political influences, researching its historical and cultural iterations, and playing with its aesthetic and metaphoric potential. I believe materials, processes, and inquiry are all important to artists, and should be to art educators as well.
This fall I am taking part in a group exhibition at the Twain C. Tippetts Gallery on the campus of Utah State University. The show is curated by Namon Bills, and is called E PLURIBUS UNUM, (out of many, one). For my piece, I am creating a pair of conjoined denim jeans with separate openings, but shared legs. I would like to use the piece in a performance as well, but I am still working the details out for that idea. To be able to construct this object, I learned how to make my own custom jeans using my body measurements. In making this piece I am really not drawing heavily from the foundational skills I learned in my art classes as a high school or undergraduate student.
I believe it is crucial for art students and art educators to understand that artists, especially contemporary artists, use materials, data, stimuli, situations, and processes to create new understandings and experiences as their artworks. Paint, clay, and graphite may be important traditional media to contextualize within art education history, but these need not remain the foundation nor the end goal of an art education experience in my opinion. I wonder if techniques and materials, if overemphasized or overdetermined, might constrain artistic discourse in oppressive ways.
To put this question to the test, I will be sharing my technical and material investigations this month, showing readers: How to make a custom pair of jeans. And also, reflecting on questions of how dress, art, and education can be both oppressive and liberating. I hope readers will share their own understandings by commenting throughout this process. I am really inspired by Peter Lappin’s “sew-along” invitations on his blog malepatternboldness. Peter chooses a vintage pattern and invites readers to join him in making. Everyone can upload images to a Flikr account for feedback. Sew-along participants discuss topics on the blog’s comment page such as politics of the fashion industry, their favorite colors, to the ethical sourcing of materials. Wouldn’t it be cool if secondary students (and older) could start their own renditions of “art-along” blogs? They could choose a topic and ask the public to join along as they construct, perform, act, etc. Or, what if teachers worked together on curricular projects this way? Hmmmm, let me know if anyone has tried this out yet.
Ok, back to making your own jeans. You will need to take some measurements in order to create a jeans pattern. You’ll need to ask someone to help you with the measurements. The following directions have been adapted from Helen Joseph-Armstrong’s Patternmaking for Fashion Design (5th Edition) (see pages 535-538 for more). I have tried other methods, but this one worked best for me. You can also try out some of the references listed at the end.
Pattern Drafting PART I: Follow the instructions and start drafting your own pattern. I tape together pieces of paper to create one big sheet. Remember A to B is the outseam length so plan accordingly. Leave a few inches at the top because later in the week I will explain how to create the waist, center back, center front and leg shapes.
A-B: Outseam:_____ True waist to floor measurement. Measured, without shoes on, from the outside seam at the waist down to the floor.
A-C: Crotch depth, plus 1/4” :_____ The crotch depth can be found two ways. You can find the difference between the outseam and the inseam (measure from center of crotch straight down to the floor). Or, measure a seated model from the true waist straight down to the chair’s surface where seated.
C-D: Hip depth is 1/3rd of A-C:_____
C-E: Knee depth, 1/2 of C-B, minus 1 1/2”:_____
*extend perpendicular lines on A-B at A, D, C, E, and B
D-F: Back hip arc, plus 1/4”:_____
C-G and A-H = D-F: Connect G to H
G-X: 1/2 of G-H
D-J: Front hip arc, plus 1/4”:_____
C-K and A-L = D-J: Connect K to L
K-X = 1/2 of K-L, raised 1/2” up towards L
K-M = 2” (plus 1/8” for each size over 34 or minus 1/8” for each size under 34)
G-N = 1/3rd of C-G minus 1/2” for regular fit or plus 3/4” for relaxed fit
Remember, later in the week I will share Pattern Drafting PART II. I’ve got to get back to making my own project!
-Daniel T. Barney, PhD
Helen Joseph-Armstrong’s Patternmaking for Fashion Design
David Page Coffin’s Making Trousers for Men & Women
Lori A. Knowles’s The Practical Guide to Patternmaking for for Fashion Designers
Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting for Menswear
Sider, Jerry. (1990). A jeans draft for men. Threads (April, May)28, pp. 58-62.
Sandra Betzina shares how to adjust jeans for specific fits in an online version of a Threads article.
TaylorTailor is on a mission to create his own wardrobe by sewing it himself. His blog documents this attempt.
Fundamentals of Society has a bunch of tutorials and even a video on how to sew your own jeans.
One-person jeans-making operations: