Tuesday, December 5, 2017

In Silhouette - Moon and Trees

Supermoon December 2017 - Photo Jennifer Hawkins Hock at Toile La La

My "Toile de Jouy" Photograph - Jennifer Hawkins Hock at Toile La La, Fall 2017
These two photographs were inspiration for my new embroidered blog header. I snapped the "toile de Jouy" photo from a mountaintop a few weeks ago and if I could convert it to fabric, I would sew a beautiful poufy long skirt with the tree silhouettes surrounding the hem!

Nature as Muse...

Fall-ish, Winter-ish, Spring-ish dusk ambience had me thinking I'd rather be outside in the evening, sitting in my yard with the cat - than anywhere else... except maybe inside a really phenomenal museum. The early nighttime of Daylight Savings Time had the moon out even before dinner, but the temperature was unexpectedly pleasant enough to enjoy being outside at night - no shivering. Birds chatted and chirped. Everything felt very peaceful. I suddenly wondered how serious gardeners winterize their gardens - because so many of my flowers still thrived despite the a light frost or two. The next day I weeded my flowerbeds and put them to sleep with a light layer of shredded leaves and pine needles - a homemade mulch - topped with a light sprinkling of dirt (to prevent the wind blowing it away). 

I've enjoyed being outside so much that I've actually felt immersed within the traditional Toile de Jouy cloth scenery of tree silhouettes and countryside. If you visited this blog in its origins, you know of course the name Toile La La did not spring from my love of that fabric, but from my sewing of small-scale clothing toiles. 

When I first began the blog, in 2009, my goal was to explore fashion design and art - and the history of both. At the moment though, I'm going through this back-to-nature transition and really there's nothing I love more than what Nature itself creates... a beautiful moonrise, foggy mists lifting off water and out of valleys, the silhouettes of the trees against a pinky-blue evening sky, flowers in all phases - even faded and papery on the stem or stalk. I love the varying shapes of trees, the intricacy of flowers, the swooping and soaring flight patterns of birds, and the changing scenery of the sky.

Throughout the year, my kitchen window became a museum to a small collection of things I find in nature - in my yard, on paths, or alongside a river... expired butterflies, hatched-out birds' eggs, glittering beetle shells, smooth old pottery shards, papery remnants of flowers. You can see some of the things from my window collection at the Art Fashion Creation blog.

The Cat - Asleep.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

In Construction.

You may notice my STITCHT header is gone. I'm replacing it with something which requires a bit of handiwork. I'll continue the STITCHT zine idea later though. You might check out my Art Fashion Creation blog too and see the changes there. It's a lot of pink... pink, and nature.
STITCHT collage and wordsmithing - Jennifer Hawkins Hock
 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Cat, Color-Filtered.

I stay on the lookout, protecting the birds from teeth and claws during her daily Nature Appreciation. Being a cat, she's not interested in looking pretty for photographs - so you'll see she's been wallowing in the grass and dust, smudging her stripes. I like the first photo best - with the birdbath base, the upturned watering pitcher, and an old 70s chair with nice curvilinear lines. It's a magenta-tinged photo, whereas the second photo is filtered with red, and the third with green.
Toile La La cat - photo by Jennifer Hawkins Hock

Toile La La cat - photo by Jennifer Hawkins Hock

Toile La La cat - photo by Jennifer Hawkins Hock

Monday, April 24, 2017

My Tres Petit Trianon Garden is Ready for Spring : )

For Spring 2017, I'm taking an ever more natural approach to the wee garden. You may have seen it here at Toile La La or the Art Fashion Creation blog - as a venue for a small fashion show I created using my poupees de modes dolls first and then collage models the next year. I like the work of Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf and have over the years started focusing more on perennial plants and native wildflowers. This year I decided to expand the borders of the garden and move out of its former rectangular shape. This decision was inspired by the appearance of purple wildflowers - within and without the rectangle - which are attracting bees large and small daily. 

In 2015, my husband and I visited Versailles and nearby - The Musee de la Toile de Jouy in Jouy en Josas, France. The palace of Versailles and the surrounding gardens are very impressive - beautiful, but my preference is a look of wild and flourishing - almost untamed Nature. And that is what I found at the Queen's Hamlet - Versailles, also - to some extent there was a similar look within the gardens greeting visitors to the Musee de la Toile de Jouy. In the 18th and 19th centuries, charming fabric often printed with country scenery was printed in Jouy en Josas. In long strips, the fabric was stretched out under the sunshine to dry, so today the museum displays colorful flowerbeds shaped like those expanses of fabric.
photo - C P Oberkampf Instagram, Musee de la Toile de Jouy
Working in my flowerbed today, I drew inspiration from Piet Oudolf, the Queen's Hamlet, and the flowerbeds of the Musee de la Toile de Jouy. I'm also hoping to treat the birds, bees, and butterflies with some of these new additions - as well as myself (who loves color and fragrance).

Although my really little Trianon garden is now predominantly filled with perennials, which return year after year, I couldn't resist planting a few annuals this year. Here, a look at what I planted - and views of some perennial Lily of the Valley (wonderfully scented!) and the purple wildflower I-don't-know-the-name-of with bumblebees and honeybees buzzing among its tiny petals.
Lily of the Valley, photo Jennifer Hawkins Hock

Honeybee on purple wildflower - photo JHH




Bumblebee on purple wildflower - Photo Jennifer Hawkins Hock

photo - JHH

Friday, March 24, 2017

Misia Sert 1872-1950

Reclining on a thrift shelf in her polka-dot, mega-mutton-sleeved dress - this doll immediately reminded me of Misia Sert and her Gibson Girl visage. Immersed in studies of Les Nabis artists Edouard and Pierre Bonnard, my eyes were immediately drawn to this porcelain person. I finished my artist room study assemblages, shifted gears from painting to sewing - producing an Art Fashion Creation fashion exhibit, then cooled my jets by returning to the mini Misia. For her here, you'll see I kept Misia in the comfort zone of riotous florals, ruffles, and a high collar - but brought her into the present with a slender sleeve cap and some latex capris. Perhaps we'll revisit those mega-mutton-sleeves later with another update. The real Misia was a talented pianist, but her namesake's hands are like mittens. With imagination, the leggings might allow Misia to jog up and down the keyboard creatively. 

For my fellow feline-focused, I've included a photo of Misia outdoors with Number One - my tabby assistant. You'll notice what looks like a piece of the sky unraveling, which is actually a strand of blue tarpaulin unraveling from an artsy bird family's abandoned nest.

Misia with my artist room study assemblage for Edourard Vuillard's "Misia et Vallotton a Villeneuve". Jennifer Hawkins Hock artist room study.


Number One and the unraveling blue sky. Photo Jennifer Hawkins Hock

Misia in the Victorian-inspired minidress with latex capris. Doll ensemble and photo - JHH

Misia on the piano keys - mini ensemble and photo, JHH

"Vallotton Chez les Natanson" - Edouard Vuillard, 1897

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Art Fashion Creation Fashion Videos

Most recently, from Knoxville Fashion Week 2017: The Kamama Hanamichi: Butterfly Flowerpath Art Fashion Creation show is here at this Youtube link.
And, my original fashion shows - posted in the pen-name Toile La La - were created with dolls of ceramic or paper and with small-scale toiles. The 2015 Spontaneous Now fashion video is here. Thank you for attending my video runway shows.

Edward S. Curtis Photographs of Native American Women

Though nearly a century old, Edward S. Curtis' photographs of Native American Women spoke to me - with no words - more understandably than most day to day face to face conversations of the present, or certainly more intelligibly than most clipped, abbreviated texts. I had the opportunity to enjoy Curtis' photographs the last day of their exhibit at Booth Western Art Museum and was so struck by the faces, clothing, surroundings and handiwork of those women of the past - I was inspired to further study them. 

If you have the opportunity to view the exhibit or to see these photos online, do note Curtis' ability - through his photography - to connect people despite the seeming limits of time. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Snips of Fabric, Glitter, Dust, and Petals

During the process and behind the scenes of my very first Art Fashion Creation show - which was beautifully and artfully presented by professional models this time, instead of dolls of ceramic and paper:
Number One Employee Cat is discovered napping on the Art Fashion Creation flower train!
Number One was fascinated with this dress from its conception. She also wanted to trod upon the satin of the Pink Paris Moth Dress (the same satin also used in the Butterfly Frock and the Butterfly Empress dresses). As my worktable became loaded with partially-finished headpieces, brocade seed necklaces, and obi sashes - I had to cut and piece together many of the dresses on the floor, which delighted Number One - although she many times had to be banished from the workroom : (

After finally handstitching the color-blocked and piped lining to the top of this flower train, I took a much needed break - as 2.5 months of sewing begins to tighten neck and shoulder muscles. This is what I saw upon returning. What an accessory Number One would be! Ha ha, I can actually imagine the model trying to navigate the runway with a striped tabby accessory happily riding the flower train. Please don't rush out looking for your own tabby accessory, unless you have plenty of time and sufficient money to care for it : ) 

Now that the show's over, I enjoyed looking through the little snipped piles of fabric I saved during the creation of 12 dresses (and the accessories). You'll see bits of lace, brocade, satin, netting, and even some small practice samples - such as the caterpillar striped tube I assembled after designing the fabric by stitching ribbon stripes to satin. I dressed a pencil in one half of the caterpillar sample. And the bands of fabric are part of a sample I created while deciding the order of fabrics for the hem of a skirt.
Art Fashion Creation photo


Here, you see some brocade and some glitter fabric from obi bows, and some glitter and veiling from headpieces


The small fabric triangles were snipped from the seam allowances of curved areas within the Obi Bow

Tube made from ribbon stripe fabric I created for the caterpillar ensemble

Sample created to determine order of brocade and lace fabrics for Kabuki Skirt


Threads I save in a jar, which are later added to collages
Photos of the Art Fashion Creation Spring 2017 Kamama Hanamichi fashion show garments are posted here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Rescued Sewing Pattern

Proof of my sewing pattern fondness - this scruffy, bandaged old Simplicity:
rescued sewing pattern - Toile La La


Yesterday, I once again professed my love of old sewing patterns - for their illustrations, instructions, and too - little bits of the human touch, such as the handwriting on this one. Notice the consistency of the letter "t" - uncrossed, at the end of the words "fit", "skirt", and "it". And aren't those shoes rather appealing... but the main reason I purchased this pattern (for 10 cents!) was the collar - described as "Italian-type". So feminine, like leaves framing a flower bud. Ironically, the formerly most-coveted component of the pattern - the skirt, is gone. You'll see the pattern owner's writing which says, "Very good skirt. I think you will like it! Easy to make! I want this back when you are through with it." So, perhaps either the original owner or the borrower decided to keep just the skirt pattern pieces.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

An Exercise in Spontaneity

I'm writing about spontaneity today - as it came to mind in my observation of what I know at this moment due to life and memory, compared to what is known due to googling, reading, or research. I emerged from deep thought regarding my love of research regarding garment construction and fashion history - which resulted from an overheard conversation in a used bookstore. (I wasn't trying, they were talking very loudly.) Two ladies discussed their luck in avoiding the donation of boxes of sewing patterns - saying where would they have stored them and agreeing they're no good after someone's cut into them. Regarding their space, the first comment made sense. However, I truly LOVE examining a used sewing pattern - and know there are multitudes of other people who sew and feel the same. Here are the reasons: the illustrations are fashion history documentation, the instructions very often impart little sewing tricks many people have forgotten, the garment pattern shapes also document fashion history - such as collar shapes, pant widths, and dart location. Which leads to my theme of spontaneity: I began to wonder if there is a museum somewhere dedicated to the commercial sewing pattern - and namely, a museum not affiliated with any particular pattern company...but, first I wanted to think these thoughts without googling the answer - to relish in the spontaneity.

Another cheer for spontaneity: I've switched my exercise routine to focus on dance and spontaneous movement in response to music. Following many many years of teaching various forms of fitness, there are a lot of movements stored in my kinetic memory - my own written and memorized libraries of routines set to music, as well as collected information from other proponents of fitness. However, after all those years (including several spent enthusiastically immersed in kickboxing, yoga, and Zumba), I've made the most important discovery about myself - music is my ultimate motivation. Fresh sound prompts fresh movement.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Little Flower Garden, Autumn Evening

To pull weeds, cultivate dirt, plant new leaves and flowers - I find very relaxing. My favorite gardening tool I call Chicken Foot - is shaped like a big claw and is perfect for digging and scratching out weeds.  Next favorite looks like a large fork and is good for poking all around, loosening dirt and making space for roots. 

My gardening has gone through phases: First, along an old stone and concrete wall, I planted a very large packet of seeds specially mixed to attract butterflies, bees, and birds. I never weeded the garden because in the beginning - I couldn't discern between weeds and wildflowers. The mix did attract a lot of butterflies and also I remember the birds liked the sunflowers. 

Second - I planted a little herb garden, with dill - for tuna salad, and oregano - for spaghetti sauces, and I had spearmint, and apple mint and chocolate mint. Several times I've planted lavender, but it never returns. 

Next, I tried a rock garden - which was on a little hill - very hard, sweaty, sunburnt work! I noticed the slope had several rocks jutting out of the soil and so dug out around them to emphasize their structure. Then I scouted the property for more rocks, big ones, which I carried in both arms or hauled uphill in my wheelbarrow - huffing, puffing, grunting, and hoisting them into the perfect place. Then, big mistake, I planted some cactus - which took over - and will very carefully someday have to be removed.

One year I planted purple and pink morning glories everywhere, giving them sticks and twine to climb. They're beautiful, but quickly take over a whole flowerbed.  The mint does the same thing, so I learned things of that sort are better in containers.

Another year, zinnias and sunflowers were my fascination and they are both adored by bees, butterflies, and birds. The sunflowers like to have support, so I loosely tie them to tall sticks. 

Roses I haven't much experimented with - imagining them to be difficult, but I did transplant one from another location where it would have met its demise. It seems to be happiest when I remove its blooms - and produces even more. It's a beautiful creamy orange color, with a soft and sweet fragrance.

Gladiolas are some of my favorite flowers, but this year I didn't have many. They're another flower that sometimes needs a stick to prop against. They grow quite tall and have a multitude of blooms which get heavy with rain. 

This year, I'm off to a late start in tending the garden. Sometime, when I wasn't paying attention, my mother planted bee balm in my flowerbed. It has become one of my favorite additions - as it attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. And, it has an interesting, sharp, herbal smell. This year, since it's so late - the flower options are limited, so the garden has to rely on strong perennials which are still appearing - and the few things I recently added: dark pink Gaura, yellow mums, purple aster with yellow centers, and some pale pink dianthus with a magnificent, soapy, rose-scent.





Some photos from late in the evening - after adding new plants. You'll see the lily-of-the-valley, red bee balm (mostly seed heads now), purple spike, and a pale frosty green foliage with light orange flower (name forgotten). Also, a few photos from this morning - including a grumpy Number One after I warned a bird of her presence.

pale pink dianthus - soapy, rose-scent

purple spike

dark pink Gaura - bumblebees love this

purple aster

dark pink-red bee balm - beloved by bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds

orange butterfly weed, wild

aggravated expression of tabby, bird warned of its presence

Friday, July 29, 2016