Monday, May 21, 2012
I was inspired to name my business Harlequin Feltworks by the personal & symbolic importance of the “harlequin,” a classic figure in Italian theater.
As a young child growing up in the Veneto region of Italy (my father was a doctor at the military base in Vicenza & my mother became part of the local community), I vividly remember certain moments of the annual Carnival festival in February. One particular memory was of the Arlecchino throwing candy from the rooftops. To a small child, this was literally candy raining down from heaven. Abundance, sweetness, joy….mythical costumed characters coming to life and sharing their gifts.
Costuming became an important form of artistic expression in my life. There were many opportunities for costuming growing up with a birthday so close to Halloween (tragically, I was induced early and missed being born on the holiday) and costuming even became a genre of art that I took very seriously for a couple concentrated years. During this time, the elegant clown character became something I would return to over & over again. Fortunately, it had special resonance in the Bay Area which has a strong tradition of Commedia dell’Arte & circus. During this period of intense costuming in my early to mid-twenties, I would piece together costumes from found materials in an ad-hoc & spontaneous combination (most costumes were completed in under 24 hours), always aiming to be elegant, fanciful, and over-the-top; a momentary manifestation and statement designed to dazzle and amuse.
When I began to make wearable art from felted wool and other materials, I wanted to retain this sense of playfulness, spontaneity, and a subtle element of spectacle/theater. The Harlequin became a great mascot for the business: agile in making new designs and pieces (but also kind of mentally slow, as some skills took longer to develop); a sort of greedy & vain character (business can be a bit greedy & vain-at least those are aspects that one wrestles with: profit & presence); a romantic figure who personifies love and enchantment. Colorful & illusionistic, he is a character as well as the concept of animation through color (near & dear to my heart). His mask is anonymity or a new/auxiliary identity, something you become as a business entity.
The harlequin brought to mind notions of old-world traditions & craft, which related strongly to the craft of feltmaking. Coincidentally, the harlequin also had great currency in high fashion, inspiring such designers as Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, and Miuccia Prada. No matter when or where, the harlequin has a delightful, charming innocence juxtaposed with a certain sexual mystique.
Since the beginning of Harlequin Feltworks in 2007, the years have been full of nimble acrobatics in the fields of design, fashion, art & business. These 5 years have seen a lot of evolution & change, yet the harlequin continues to be a source of inspiration, keeping me company and sharing his gifts.
Harlequin or Arlecchino in Italian, Arlequin in French and Arlequín in Spanish is the most popularly known of the zanni or comic servant characters from the Italian Commedia dell’arte and its descendant, the Harlequinade. The Harlequin is also known to be a type of clown.
The Harlequin character may have been based on or influenced by the Zanni archetype who, although a slow thinker, was acrobatic and nimble. Interpreted thus, Harlequin’s distinctive motley costume may be a stylized variant of Zanni’s plain white garb, designed to reflect the ad-hoc patching necessary to prevent the garment’s degradation
The primary aspect of Arlecchino was his physical agility. While generally depicted as stupid and gluttonous, he was very nimble and performed the sort of acrobatics the audience expected to see. The character would never perform a simple action when the addition of a cartwheel, somersault, or flip would spice up the movement.
He is typically cast as the servant of an innamorato or vecchio much to the detriment of the plans of his master. Arlecchino often had a love interest in the person of Colombina, or in older plays any of the Soubrette roles, and his lust for her was only superseded by his desire for food and fear of his master.
He eventually became something more of a romantic hero around the 18th century, when his popularity provoked the Harlequinade.
Source: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harlequin
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
HARLEQUIN FELTWORKS: Model: Amber Flower Head Piece: Harlequin Feltworks Makeup & Hair: Kenya Aissa for Ruby Envy Photo: Moja Ma’at
After sorting through many wonderful images, I am rewarding the hard work with this finished image of the harlequin mask shot which shows the felt fascinator at a better angle. I believe a fascinator usually has an elastic band, so this might be more of a barrette as there are 2 baby hair clips that are doing the work of holding the piece to the hair. One of many nice things about felt is that it is so light-weight.
Well….enough of this dry & dreamy computer work! Time to get down to the studio and get sudsy.