Paper Fashion Show 2018

I participated as a designer in 2017 to get the feel for how this event works, but 2018 I really went all out.  I spent about 125 hours on the dress, which debuted at the show on March 23rd, 2018.  My theme was the 4 seasons of Colorado. I'm very proud of my results, even if it didn't win anything, and it did take up a lot of valuable time. My friend Jesse modeled for me, and did a great job.  Still undecided if I will participate again in 2019.  It was an exhausting process, and honestly, cuts into my ski season, heh.
My paper was Neenah Classic Crest. I used 30 parent sheets of their standard white 24lb, raw finish instead of smooth since I wanted a little more tooth to the paper, knowing I would be painting it.  I have a Silohuette Curio cutting machine, I specifically liked that type because I can easily import illustrator vector files, and I work so much with illustrator. Parent sheets that were being used with the cutting machine needed to be cut down to 6"x8", painted the approporiate color on each side.  I used either watercolor or acrylic paint, depending on how bold I wanted the color. The cutter has a sticky mat, which holds the paper in place while a blade cuts everything out. Peeling off the cut sheets of paper was pretty satisfying.
I cut down a bunch of cardbord boxes to use as a drying rack for painted paper sheets, and it worked pretty well. I could compress it to make sure they dried flat, if I tried to put wrinkled paper on the cutting machine I found it would not stick as well, and the blade would eventually jam up.  

The first thing I figured out how to make was columbine. I cut out little "columbine innards" on yellow paper, rolled them up, and bent them out. that same method worked for the other flowers as well.  I folded the inner petals a little, and dabbed some purple watercolor, and let them dry. The outer petals were folded in half on the long part, and then an origami reverse fold where the long part met the petal base. I glued everything together with a glue gun.  I made about 50 of these, and then moved on to the easier flowers.  
I split each season section up with a river made up of overlapping "paper squiggles", which I also used to decorate the bodice. Spring had the lighter, watercolored flowers, like the columbine, mountain roses, and purple daisies, as well as watercolor leaves, and small tufts of grass. Summer had bolder colored flowers, like the indian paintbrush, yellow daisies and small blue flowers, as well as bigger tufts of grass, mountains, butterflies, green spruce trees and a marmot. Autumn was mainly aspen leaves, going from green to yellow/orange. Winter had white spruce trees, white little feathery frost things, brown branches, and snowflakes.

I tried to count the flowers after the fact, I think there's close to 300 of them in total.
I found for the aspen leaves and snowflakes, it was easiest to make them connected.  I also found it easier to make sure as few small cutout scrap pieces existed as possible, since they were hard to scrape off the cutting machine, so I designed all my vector files that way. The aspen leaves are glued to twisted paper for branches.

After getting some of the more complicated details figured out, it was time to make a base dress. The bottom part of the gown was modeled after a hoop skirt, with a belt holding everything up, and layered strips of paper gradually getting longer going around the skirt so it would curl.  I kept adding strips to reinforce the skirt.  The bodice was paper mache, formed around my dress form, with strips of paper hanging down to cover the top of the skirt. The boots were paper mache as well, designed to cover a regular shoe, and fastened in back with velcro, but we quickly learned they were not flexible, so very difficult to walk in. There was a vest as well, I wanted to not have the boots be the only rugged part of the dress, so I assembled that out of larger pieces of paper, similar to fabric, and painted it with water color to look like worn leather.

Once the base of the dress was built, I started gluing the details to it until everything was covered up.  Cut out more things as needed, I underestimated the number of water squiggles I needed for sure.  Started with winter, then spring, then autmn and finally summer, which was the hardest for me to visualize.
Once I had a functional dress, I saved the most complicated details for last, since they could be easily left off. I had a bunch of little wildlife creatures I wanted to add, but time only permitted me to finish the butterflies and marmot. 

The butterflies were a little challenging to design, I ended up designing them on the computer, and printing out on both sides of a sheet where I needed to color, but did most of them by hand. I colored the details in with colored pencil, cut them out with an xacto knife, and glued them together.

The marmot was equally challenging, I also drew his face by hand with colored pencil, painted paper and cut out fur for him on the cutting machine, which I placed to make his fur more dimensional, and then wadded up wet paper to make the rocks that he was sitting on before painting them with acrylic paint. He was Jesse's favorite part, she named him Mortimer.
Finally the day of the show came.  I'm not sure the runway did all the details justice. Even up close, you could completely miss things like the butterflies.  But the evening was very fun as usual. Plus, an open bar combined with me not having had a substantial meal for most of the day meant I really enjoyed myself. It was a huge relief to not have to work on the dress anymore afterwards.  I really enjoyed seeing all the different designs everyone came up with. One designer did ask if I was my model's mother. Seeming as there's only 6 years between us, I may have flipped him off. I heard that the rest of his team was really nice, though, so I'm not upset they won.
I will likely take a break in 2019, and do it again in 2020 instead. I may still watch, or maybe see if another team needs my help. But I absolutely enjoyed it, so we'll see!
Paper Fashion Show 2017
2017 the Paper Fashion Show was more of a dry run for me. My graphic designer friend Brielle (who also does some amazing work of her own, check out her work  here) suggested I give it a shot. There was a bit of a learning curve for me, having never designed a dress out of paper before, or even really made more than a few dresses, and not knowing much at all about fashion shows, so I kept things prety simple to start. I got frustrated a lot, and swore I'd never do it again, but after all was said and done, I enjoyed myself, and ended up giving it another run the following year.  My theme was MC Escher.
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