Mannequin Collective

I started a new project on Monday. The Mannequin Collective is part of the celebration of the reopening of the Santa Monica Place mall in August.  When I first arrived in Santa Monica almost 31 years ago, I drove west on Colorado Blvd from the DMV and ended up on the pier; Santa Monica Place was a big hole in the ground.

The mall was the talk of Los Angeles when it opened. It generated a lively conversation about architectural design. Responding to the challenges presented by a small piece of land (its Santa Monica), the architect had done things that had not been done before in mall design. It played the exterior of The Mall in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” Santa Monica Place became the anchor for the glittering renovation of the Third Street Promenade. The mall grew old and became passe, as glittering new fashionable malls will do. It has been under reconstruction for the past few years, and is ready to be glittering and new again.

I was supposed to stay in California a couple of months at the end of 1979, but I never left. Last Thursday, a few hours before Michael’s high school graduation, I got an email from an artist friend, Todd Bank, telling me about the mannequin project. I’m coming late to the party, the mannequins were given out on May 19; and I picked mine up on Monday. They are to be dropped off on July 20, but I’ll have to be done by the 16th. Regina Vorgang, Gerri Johnson-McMillin, Deborah Jarchow, and I are heading out on the morning of the 17th for our Fiber Roadtrip to Convergence in Albuquerque.  

The Mannequin Collective is 100 mannequins decorated and dressed by 100 artists and designers. I think I got the last one. My idea came to me instantly: a dress of crocheted plastic bags.

 When I got her home I was really happy to find she has a beautifully painted face. Since I am in no way a portraitist, I was relieved I wouldn’t have to deal with that.

On Monday I opened up the boxes of bags I got from Virginia Fleck, and I enlisted Michael to help me sort, straighten and cut the many bags I’ll need.

I decided to use a hyperbolic crochet technique to make a very ruffled skirt. I pulled out two balls of a strange and wonderful plastic yarn, called Jelly Yarn, that I got in a raffle at a Designing Weavers meeting last year.

I’m knitting a bodice out of the bright pink Jelly Yarn, with the skirt set at the high hip line (3″ below the waist). I started out with the lemon lime color of jelly yarn, knitting most of the day and evening on Tuesday. On Wednesday I woke up, decided it was not good, ripped it all out, and started over. This seems to be my normal MO now; to start, rip out, and start over. I did it on my Yardage de Refuse` and the Mini Cool Globe.

This is where I am as of this morning. The skirt yoke represents one full ball of the yarn. I want the bodice to go all the way up above the bust line, where I’ll finish the top edge with a crochet ruffle. I actually ordered three more balls of pink yarn – yes I did, I bought new materials.

What you can’t see is that the circular needle is still attached, waiting for the new yarn to be added so I can continue knitting the bodice. The paperclip markers are at the Center Front, Front Dart (Princess) lines, Side Seams, and Back Princess Lines.

 I drew on my patternmaking background to help calculate the knitted bodice. I am about half way around the 2nd crochet row on the skirt, which according to my calculations needs to be 20 rows to be the right length.

And I’ve just done some calculations and I’ve got to take out those two rows and start again. If I keep up the rate I’m increasing, as the rows get bigger and bigger, I will never be able to finish within three weeks. Well, I guess I’d better get my shower and get dressed, and start ripping.


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