Once in a land just around the corner…
There was a girl who did not have the finest things but was endlessly curious about the making of things. She and her family moved many times all through her youth, so making friends was tricky. Her sister and brother were her friends, but she was also responsible for watching over them, and like many chores this became tiresome. She sought the company of the woods, of books, and of songs. She spent many hours making toys and tools, puppets and characters out of the materials she could find around her.
Objects didn’t ask questions or have rules to follow. Pieces of wood and hardware, old radios and fabric didn’t tease like people did. But the materials around her had a language of their own. They had shapes they wanted to be and stories they wanted to tell. If she was very quiet and worked with them, the objects would tell her what they wanted to become.
The girl grew and learned many things, both in school and out. Music and dance, drawing and sculpting, writing and geometry. She loved books and history, the stories of the people behind designs and styles and creations. She learned about costumes and customs and became fascinated with them. She grew to work in costumes, first in one way, then another, always seeking the way that was most creative. So many of these paths led to the making of other people’s stories. She became skilled at this work and desired for these abilities.
And yet something was missing. It was not clear to her what it was, only that it was lacking. She sought for it, trying all the traditional paths she could take, but it was not there to be found. After much work and many trials, it came to her that she no longer wanted to work in the service of other people’s stories. This was frightening and exhilarating. What could she do? What would she be?
And the voices of the forgotten and discarded pieces and objects called out to her from corners and thrift stores and trash heaps. They wanted to be made into something new. The leftover bits from her daily work had songs yet to sing.
She wanted to tell their stories.
Slowly, bit by bit, experimenting and failing and trying again, she found ways to tell those stories. Along the way, she found out she was also telling her own tale.
What is the purpose of staple draping with re-purposed fabrics? Sure, it looks like fun. But what does it do?
This is about sculpting on the body. A live body.
It’s about getting back in touch with what bodies actually look and feel like.
It’s about using that material you’d throw away otherwise, or that material you’ve been keeping for forever because you planned on making that coat, dress, set of drapes… fill in the blanks yourself.
It’s about getting back in touch with how things are created and experiencing it firsthand.
Staple draping helps get us in touch with our intuition again and away from arbitrary rules.
It helps lose the certainty that this shape is what a center back of a jacket looks like, that this is what a side front of a dress needs to be. It frees you from the tyranny of symmetry.
This is about regaining the notion of clothing and the body as art.
Yes, it has practical applications. Yes, you can actually use this method to gain practical results quickly. Yes, this is an excellent way to create a fantasy costume, a dream sequence, a masquerade look or a science fiction extravaganza. It’s a great way to come up with a garment at the last minute, when all the measurements you got were wrong and you need the costume done NOW.
But most importantly? It’s fun. It’s so cheap it’s almost free. Using an old sheet to drape up a new look is stress-free. There’s no worry about wasting fabrics, and staples are dead cheap. You probably have all the materials at home.
Let me address the possible objections. While the process looks scary (and that’s part of the fun) a stapler has built-in ease room at the front that keeps your model from being stapled. All of the cutting happens on the outside of your stapled seams, so it’s really unlikely that you’ll cut anybody. As long as you’re not using a lightweight sheer or very thin fabric, the staples shouldn’t hurt the fabric. They’re often less damaging than safety pins, and you’re much less likely to pin your model or yourself.
Worst thing that could happen? You might staple someone’s shirt. I’ve been known to accidentally snip off a little piece of a shirt hem. People are usually pretty forgiving about it, since they’ve already signed on for the process. And if you’re reasonably careful you’ll probably only have to remove a few staples. Carry a staple remover with you, pull the staples out slowly and you won’t cause any damage. If you have your model wear something close-fitting, you won’t have any trouble at all.
It’s easy. You don’t have to know a lot about patterning or draping. Just look at how the fabric drapes on the body. As you drape, the fabric will tell you what it wants to do. Really.
Get back in touch with the body. Get back in touch with your intuition. Come play with old fabrics and with sculpting. It’s not wrong to have fun while creating.
In fact, it’s good for the soul.
Staple Draping by A.Laura Brody is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
A. Laura Brody
I re*make mobility devices and materials and give them new lives. Sometimes I staple drape.