After working 20 hours on the weekend, I managed to complete the outer shell. It was far from easy, presenting many challenges.
Challenge #1: Creating a pattern for the material.
I am no maths wizard. In fact, I am terrible at maths, and unfortunately maths was required to create a pattern for the giant “skirt” of plastic. Luckily, the internet is your friend. Through the wonderful website of Craig Russell, I found a Flat Cone Template Calculator.
With this weapon in hand, I entered the measurements of my two circles, plus the length needed to fit a model around 180cm. Through digital magic, it returned the correct measurements needed to make a single panel. I then worked out how many panels needed, which informed me I needed 3 panels to make a non pleated full “skirt”.
Challenge #2: Getting the Pattern onto a Template.
I may have generated the right measurements, but that left me with a new dilemma – how do you translate these numbers into a working pattern?? The answer was once again “maths” (groan!). This time it was beyond my thinking capabilities (I left high school at 15, before I got that useful education in trigonometry – if that is indeed the right branch of maths), so after consulting someone with a much larger brain than myself, I used string and – you guessed it – maths to created the right curves for my pattern. This was a bit tricky and I made too many lines due to my poor coordination (keeping a string taut while drawing a curve is difficult you know!), but I got there eventually, and the plastic used to create the template was suitably drawn and cut to relative perfection. One thing I realised is that it would have been easier to have created the patten out of card or calico.
Challenge #3: Where For Art Thou Plastic?
Yup. I didn’t have any bubble plastic on me. So off to Bunnings I skipped, trying to find more of that dazzling material. 4 stores and 4 towns later, I had 12 meters of this bad boy under my belt. Hooray!
Challenge #4: Pin and Sew.
Oh lord. I can’t express how terribly awful this was. This was my Vietnam. Bunching material. Meters of plastic that was simultaneously too sticky and too slippery to keep my stitch straight on the sewing machine. Pins in fingers. Breaking threads. I almost cried. But eventually it was done. When pinning the hems that hold the metal rods, I realised I had to cut little snips into the plastic to relieve the tension of the slightly circular pattern.
Challenge #5: Tubes and Rods
Sliding the rods of the structure into the hems was difficult, but after the sewing of the beast, it was chump work. A bit of patience and gentleness and voila! IT’S ALIVE! ALIIIVE!
What’s brilliant is how the performer can utilise the structure to make dramatic movements, as evident in this video:
Now the hardest part (although this took me 20 hours) is what goes underneath. Kylie will be taking the lead on this. We need to make the objects (currently hair) work with the fabric, and make sure that what we use is just as dramatic on the stage as off.