Wednesday 21 January 2015

Garment 3: Exploration #1: Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

Answer quite slowly

My record player!
I discovered Elvis playing hot potato at Teresa Armstrong's 8th birthday party in 1973, her mother dropping the needle randomly onto that thrilling record to signal us to GO! and doing her best to lift it up again without scratching the vinyl, to STOP! An exciting game for an 8 year-old, but not as exciting as the feeling inside my body when I heard that incredible voice.

I returned home to enthusiastically tell my mom about the new singer I'd just discovered. Turns out, she had been just as excited to discover him, years before. A few months ago I watched my 7 year-old daughter dance around the living room, clutching an old vinyl copy of Blue Hawaii, and squealing, "He's so sexy!" The apples didn't fall far from this fuzzy tree. She, too, was all shook up.

That Christmas I received three Elvis albums. I played them continuously on my plastic Sears Wish Book stereo, writing out the lyrics to the songs as fast as I could. Later, my first CD purchase was a box set of Elvis' complete '50s catalogue. I didn't even own a CD player yet.

The Beatles I discovered over the course of decades. The first of their songs to transfix me was "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds". For a period of months in 1980, I repeatedly pencilled the opening line on the surface of my desk in Mr. Humphrey's Social Studies classroom. I was in grade 10. "Picture yourself in a boat on a river..." And she's gone.

Julian Lennon's drawing, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
John Lennon was inspired to write the song when his son returned home from preschool with a drawing he had made of his friend, Lucy. She was in the sky. With diamonds. I, myself, have a painting by my son entitled Vase of Crud and Stuff. There could be a song in there, I suppose, or certainly a garment made of abandoned materials.

Inspiration can come from anywhere. When it does, it is simply a matter of shutting up and letting it come, flowing from the universe through the mind and right down to the earth. I think this is what I responded to as I slouched in my seat, doodling Lucy. That pure, channelled song has been stuck in my head now for 35 years. So has "The Lonely Goatherd", though that one I'm not so sure about.

This top is my homage to "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds". The first of two identical metallic blue/brown tunics made of hand-me-down fabric, it features extended shoulders, French darts, French seams, bias trimmed hems and a draped collar with a mind of its own. My very first felting project, I spent 8 blissful hours stuffing the roving fibres through from the front to the wrong side to anchor the loose, discarded threads and serger dregs that make up the lettering. When it was over I ran machine stitching along it once or twice, to make sure it wasn't going anywhere. Guess what I was listening to...

I hope the blue will become crumbly and faded-looking, and the brown will show through the cracks even more. Though the fabric is pre-shrunken, washing gently will preserve the felting.

Answer quite slowly. Or, shut up brain, I'm trying to listen!

Size M. For sale by appointment. Enquiries at

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