The Unfolding of Mariano Fortuny

Art Narratives by Cynthia Korzekwa

What is a pleat other than a fold.  And what is a fold other than the combination of order and flexibility.

Pleats have been around for a long time. They were around in ancient Egypt and continued to be used throughout history. Just think of Mary Stuart’s famous pleated collar, the Scottish kilt, and the Greek fustanella .

Textiles of the past were coarse and thus more difficult to fold.  Now synthetic fabrics make pleating much easier for contemporary fashion designers.  One such designer is Issey Miyake who loves pleats so much he’s even named a perfume  in their honor.

Miyake Like Pleats

But the most successful pleated dress of all times is that of Mariano Fortuny, the “Delphos” dress.

The son of a well-known Spanish artist, Fortuny was born in Granada in 1871. His family was wealthy enough to permit him to study and travel. At the age of 18, he moved permanently…

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Intaglio Top

Intaglio Top

Intaglio is the process of cutting away material to create a design. The term in generally used referring to a type of woodworking. However, it’s also a term used in Italy in reference to a kind of embroidery where cut-outs have been made on a piece of fabric and the edges of the remaining fabric are embroidered. If you are interested in seeing images of this beautiful art form, look up “ricamo intaglio”.

I like the peek-a-boo aspect of intaglio embroidery placed on top of another fabric. But I am somewhat lazy and came up with a rather folkloristic approach of my own. I cut leftover white fabric into squares then folded these square as one does to make paper snowflakes then cut away. Then I sewed these “snowflakes” onto a repurposed black top. The top was too short for my tastes so I added a colourful piece of fabric to give it extra length.

Anthy’s Purse

Paros, Waiting for Take Off

Many of us makers get enthused about a project then, at a certain point, the thrill is gone and the project gets abandoned. My friend Jo says they’re called UFOs, UnFinished Objects. Maybe one way to get them finished is to give them to somebody else.

My friend Anthy gave me an unfinished purse. It was beautifully crocheted and merited special attention. The hard part was done and all I had to do was add a handle and maybe some embellishment.  I made a handle by covering a piece of rope with scrap material and attached it with crocheted stitches. And for a bit of flare, I added some gathered trim from an unused skirt around the bottom edge.

This summer I finished the text and layout for my graphic essay about growing older (almost 200 pages!). Afraid that my suitcase could get lost at the airport, I decided to carry it with me. Because we travel with our cat, I needed something I could carry easily. on my shoulder. So I brought my manuscript with me inside of Anthy’s purse. It made me feel so poetic.

Athen's Airport

At the Athens Airport with Anthy’s Purse

Volver and the Manuscript

Volver and the unfinished manuscript


Porta Portese Briefcase

Porta Portese Briefcase

About 25 years ago, I bought this briefcase at Porta Portese, Rome’s famous Sunday flea market. At the time, it was obviously used and an ugly colour of brown. This year I finally decided to give it a make-over and painted it with bright coloured flowers. It’s used mainly to transport my drawings to and from the studio.

I love color because it let’s me be happy and wild!

“Mexico” Purse

My mother gave this “Mexico” souvenir purse to my daughter when she was a little girl. Chiara rarely used but, because of it reminded me of trips to the Mexican border, I wanted to not only keep it but to make it useful again. It was too small for adult use so I added height via fabric scrap crochet. A shoulder strap was made from crocheted fabric, too. The pompoms were leftovers from another project.

And here it is at La Sussurrata hanging in between weights made from sea glass in plastic bottles and a basket made from woven paper and plastic bottles.

Muy Marcottage purses

Art Narratives by Cynthia Korzekwa

Every summer while on Paros, I try to make purses using my  household trash.

“Clean Clutch”
clean clutch, muy marcottage

clean clutch, muy marcottage


This is a little clutch made from a transparent detergent bottle. I cut the bottle open then used scrap materials to crochet the missing part. There’s a flap that opens on the front kept in place by velcro.

 “Piselli Purse”

piselli bag, muy marcottagepiselli bag, muy marcottage

Another plastic bag purse.  The base is from heavier plastic whereas the “ruffles” are from flimsier bags.   It’s named “Piselli” (peas) because of the pea picture from a frozen food bag appliqued on.

“Chupas Bag”

Chupas purse

On one of my walks to Krios, I found this deflated plastic football and decided to transform it into a purse.

Chupas purse

Not liking the brown, I sewed on strips of plastic from garden dirt bags.  The rest was made from plastic bags.  Maybe when I get back this spring, I will make some additional changes.

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Triqui Women and their Huipiles

Clothing is also about identity.

In a mountainous region in the southwestern part of Oaxaca known as La Mixteca Baja live the Triqui. The Triqui practice bride price, that is, the exchange of women for money or commercial goods. This patriarchal treatment of women as property has been interpreted by some to be like slavery or prostitution. And the women have started to rebel.

Triqui Woman

In recent years, La Mixteca Baja has become increasing violent provoking people to leave the area and with it the indigenous Triqui language spoken only in Oaxaca.

The difficult terrain and lack of water limit agriculture. So, to boost the economy, the indigenous people have turned to crafts. They make baskets, morrales (handbags) and huipiles.

Using traditional weaving methods, the Triqui women make incredible huipiles using primarily red threads. Huipiles are made only by women and worn only by women. They are made with backstrap looms which means that the width of the fabric and three strips are sewn together to make a huipil. It takes four-six months to make a typical huipil.

Triqui Women & Red Huipiles

A huipil is full of symbolic figures such as butterflies, pines, birds, jugs, etc.  The ribbons that adorn the huipil symbolize the rainbow.

Mal Oo

Copyright © 2016 Cynthia Korzekwa. All Rights Reserved
Related: The Triqui presence in California’s San Joaquin Valley + + Triqui de San Juan Copala (Spanish) + El Huipil Triqui de Chicahuaxtla (Spanish) + Selling Brides: Native Mexican Custom or Crime? + Triqui woman finds freedom weaving huipiles

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