Photographer : Emmanuelle Trompille Photographe
Brittle translucent wings, whimsical hinges, iridescent and stiff carapaces...
Deep blues, petrol blues, teal blues, emerald greens and a hint of violet.
An exoskeletal corset with plates of carapaces seemingly expanding and winged other-wordly veils. They all clash softly with their deep blacks and bluish-green reflections, raised by a hint of gold. The shape was already there, in my mind, a perfect synthesis of all the fascinating and strange beauty the insects hold for me. Taking into account my great enthusiasm for myth and legend, my choice was crystal-clear: this will be an adornment for Her Majesty of Faerie, both scarab and dragonfly.
In order to give life to the piece I had in mind, I had to use many techniques:
- A large patternmaking work was necessary to obtain the body-corset's foundation and the hips and plates design.
- The shadings on the silk wings and back-veils are hand dyed.
- Golden shades and colors tones are hand made with textile paint.
- The wings structure are made of beaten copper wire,
- The wings' veins and hips shadings are drawn with free motion machine embroidery,
- Beads are hand-sewn
I spent 15 hours on the front plates only, stiching near to 4000 glass beads, one by one, to obtain the colour gradient I wanted.
I mainly make practical corsets to shape and support costumes, and remain comfortable during long and busy days. So working on this unique piece was an opportunity to have long reflections and make several tests to improve my cutting and shaping skills. It was also my first attempt for a body corset, and I encountered many design challenges.
But the biggest challenge was about the wings. I wanted them removable (for maintenance, storage and transportation, but also for being replaceable). I had to find how it could stay on the corset, be comfortable, be easy to use, and how I could prevent it turning and sliding and falling down. I managed with an extra channel between two boning channels, opened at the top with a hidden snap fastener which held the wings' rods. I even added a little strip to help the opening of the fastener when the corset is worn.
As for all my personal projects, I had ethical ambitions: I tried to work with materials which were already in my workshop, and only bought small a amount of technical materials.
The last challenge was time: I made my decision to enter less than three months ago!
But after 60 hours of work, 4000 glass beads and a few meters of silk, a new creature joined my bestiary: my Coleoptera Fae is born!
Read more on my blog
What was it like to compete this year? What would you say to someone who is on the fence about entering next year?
I was a little short on time, but it was an exhilarating challenge!