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!

Thread Storage

The easiest way to change the look of your home is with a can of paint. Just imagine your livingroom with all the furniture painted a different color (like everything painted yellow…yum!). Paint is like a magic wand.

My neighbour gave me an ugly brown cabinet that we repurposed so it could be used to store my thread. First the legs were cut off and castors added so that it could be moved around easily. Then it was painted white. ABRACADABRA! On top is a tray made from a fan covering that I found near the dumpster. I covered it with papier-mache then painted it blue and white. I use it for my current sewing projects so that they can be moved around from one room to the next.

Sometimes I feel like a magician!



Bricolage Purses & Books

Recycled Purses and Books

Purses Made from Trash

On the top shelf are three purses made from wine cartons. The first one is covered with woven plastic bags, the second with fused plastic bags and pasta packaging, and the third with woven paper. The handles for all three are made from crocheted plastic bags.

On the second shelf are three flower pot coverings. The first two are made from plastic bags and the third from scrap yarn.

“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.