The Art of Wearable Paper

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Finished paper dress

Wearable Art comes in many textures and designs and none so challenging as the paper dress. Lisa Haas, a crafts woman living on the North West Coast of Tasmania, is literally labelling her design for the Burnie Wearable Paper Art Competition. I caught up with Lisa whilst she was busily sewing labels together to discover the method behind the paper dress design

What inspired you to enter the competition?

My inspiration for this work has come from a few places – firstly I have been collecting swing tags from clothing for a number of years as they interested specifically as little mini works of art in many cases and, generally, just too appealing to just discard; a further inspiration came from the idea of patchwork and also a dress noted in the media fairly recently that was made from American Express cards.

What is the process of making the paper dress?

The steps involved in the actual making of the dress are many. Initially I attended a workshop with Colleen Burke, a designer from Melbourne, who helped us explore possible methods of construction seeing paper was such a different medium to work in to make a wearable item. I tried a couple of alternative methods before deciding upon the one I used. I started by pinning tags to a dressmakers form and then used a hole punch to punch holes in the tags. I then sewed the tags together using a very fine paper thread that I sourced from a company in America. I did this in strips and then layers and gradually built up form.

How long has it taken you?

Making the dress has been very time consuming –  I made it over a 3 month period and have probably spent around 50 hours in its construction.

What does the competition involve?

The competition is the inaugural Burnie Wearable Paper Art Competition run by Burnie Regional Arts. Another similar competition has been run by the Burnie Council for a number of years but dresses made for that competition were decorative rather than functional. Basically the competition involves the design and manufacture of a wearable piece of art made from at least 80% paper. Artists underwent a selection process which involved submission of a design concept, among other things.

Have you ever attempted anything like this before?

While I have not attempted a work specifically made of paper before I am always making something! I generally work with textiles and yarns and have been involved with a group of women who get together to sew regularly and also have a stall at a handmade market.

What would you like to achieve from entering the competition?

I have already achieved the main thing I hoped to from participating in the competition which was to network with like-minded people and to make creative use of the swing tags. I am also looking forward to the culmination of the event, especially to see all the works created, which takes place next week.

Related Post
Paper Dress Result

Further Information
lisa haas blog

Sue Bell

Sue Bell is an entertainment writer and author of Backpacked: A mostly true story, Beat Street and When Dreamworks came to Stanley.

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