Whidbey residents create 'wearable art'

Jody Wilke, left, Nanette Leaman, center, and Bobbi Lauducci work together to make design decisions on their work-in-progress coat, featuring locks from Leaman’s long-haired sheep. - Michelle Beahm/Whidbey News-Times
Jody Wilke, left, Nanette Leaman, center, and Bobbi Lauducci work together to make design decisions on their work-in-progress coat, featuring locks from Leaman’s long-haired sheep.
— image credit: Michelle Beahm/Whidbey News-Times

It all started with Nan Leaman’s locks.

At least, it did for Jodi Wilke, one of three team members participating in Port Townsend’s Wearable Art Show.

Wilke’s and Leaman’s team  also includes Bobbi Lauducci.

The trio is designing and producing a coat made from hand-crafted felt for the Wearable Art Show, and the starring feature is wool locks from Leaman’s Old English Long Wool sheep.

“They define the design, I think,” said Lauducci.

Leaman has been interested in fabric, cloth and texture for her whole life, and has been creating and designing “wearables” like scarves, shawls and outfits since the early 80s. Leaman uses wool from her own sheep for a lot of her pieces, and creates her own felt from it.

Leaman got together with Wilke and Lauducci at the Pacific Northwest Art School. They’ve been meeting regularly for five or six years and decided to submit their own design for consideration to this year’s Wearable Art Show.

“We make felt, we collaborate, we share ideas,” said Leaman. “We get together and we just, we play. And we experiment. So it’s a nice collaboration of the three of us. And we decided, hey, let’s do it. Let’s go ahead and submit a piece. And we got in.”

The three created their design for a felted wool coat together. The design includes a tulip-shaped hem and plenty of unaltered locks from Leaman’s sheep.

The entirety of it is made from hand-made felt, most of which the team members made themselves.

“It’s been kind of a collaboration of ideas, a collaboration of making it, some of it together, some of it independently, but we’ve all agreed on the design,” said Wilke.

In the process of making the coat, however, some unexpected difficulties were found.

“The felt itself makes for changes in the coat,” said Lauducci.

Because felt is such a stiff fabric, making a coat that wasn’t too architectural in design, as Wilke said was the goal, is hard.

“Even though we know what felt is like, you have to deal with the lack of drapeability, with felt, when you actually start putting the garment together,” said Leaman.

Overall, this experience has been exciting for Leaman, and she says that when the Wearable Art Show is past, she and the rest of the group may go on to create more pieces.

“I love the creative process, I love color and texture and just getting my hands into whatever it is, whether it’s a wearable or it’s an art piece,” Leaman said.

The Port Townsend Wearable Art Show is Saturday, May 10, with a show at 2 p.m. and another at 7:30 p.m., at the Port Townsend Elks Lodge.

This show, held on Mother’s Day weekend, will benefit Jefferson County Community Foundation’s Fund for Women and Girls. Purpose of this fund is to empower women and girls through local investment in their future.

Leaman is not the only local participant of the 40-piece show. Brenda Lovie, Clinton resident and owner of Lovie Couture, also had a design accepted into the show. Her piece, a dress she titled “Turqoise Tango,” was inspired by a piece of fabric she found on a recent trip to New York.

“I had a theme that I was going for, a tango theme,” Lovie said. “So I researched different tango ideas. I put it all together, built it, from this one piece of fabric.”


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