Here’s a shot of my youngest getting her hair cut off just last week to donate to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, and organization that helps women fighting cancer receive real hair wigs. I think it’s amazing for anyone to consider cutting off all their hair to give away, let along a 14 year old. And the hair has to be long to donate, so it’s a significant thing. My girl gave away over a foot of hair! And the best part is I know of several other young girls who have done the same. My oldest did it a few years back, and some of their friends have done it repeatedly. I’ve heard of girls getting together to have little hair cutting parties where they donate it all away. I can’t imagine I had even a stitch of this awareness at their age. Whenever I hear something negative about where kids are headed these days, I think of beautiful stories like this.
Back to the Naked Lounge Chair. I wanted to take you through the upholstery design process, in case you want to get some Naked fabric of your own. We had some ideas about how we wanted the fabric to look and what we wanted it to say. This chair had to be all about breasts, and it had to make a visual impact. We knew we wanted a naked figure, and lots of pink. Our plan was to create a “booby” design and get it digitally printed on fabric. But when talented Canadian artist Shawn Skeir agreed to donate his time to help with this project, we knew he would take it over the top and make this piece truly a work of art.
We thought Shawn’s bright bold abstract work would look amazing on our chair, and that he could work with fabric dye since it would behave something like watercolour paint. We headed over to G & S Dye for their recommendation, and chose Pebeo Setacolor Opaque and Transparent dyes. These dyes were vivid and intense, easy to mix and dilute with water, lightfast, and did not stiffen the fabric. Setting the colour was easy – instead of ironing with an iron as recommended, we just baked the fabric in the oven for 10 minutes at 300°. This was something we tried after doing some research and testing a sample first. Fast and easy! Make sure you run an exhaust fan if you do this, since there was an odour as the fabric baked.
The next stop was fabric mega store Designer Fabric Outlet at 1360 Queen Street West. They recommended a reasonably priced 100% cotton upholstery-weight fabric and gave us generous sized samples to experiment on. We headed home to experiment with the dyes and check out the colours.
We were thrilled. Each bottle gave us a range of colour strengths depending on how much water we used, and the effect was gorgeous. Even the fabric samples we made with random streaks of colour looked great. I just have to say here that if you have ever considered trying a project like this, don’t be intimidated even if you don’t feel very artistic. Simply layering some of these colours on fabric in a random pattern looked fabulous, and the process was very forgiving. Don’t be afraid to give it a try.
We washed our fabric to remove any sizing, dried it on high temperature to pre-shrink it, and ironed it out so that we could cut the pieces properly using the pattern we made. Then we headed off to meet with Shawn in his Queen West studio. Here are some shots of his amazing work.
And here is a look at Shawn’s notes as we discussed the direction of the design.
And here’s the talented Shawn!
We gave Shawn our pre-cut pieces and he created a breathtaking artistic expression of the female body for our chair. His gorgeous naked figure, bathed in Rethink’s Pink, reminds us to think about our breasts, talk about our breasts, and get to know our breasts like the back of our hands. And that we can beat breast cancer with sass and style.
Check back tomorrow for the final chapter in the story of our Naked Lounge Chair, where we try to put it all back together. And realize that in fact becoming an upholsterer overnight is not quite as easy as it looks.
Have a look at our other posts on this project – Presenting: The Naked Lounge Chair for Rethink Breast Cancer, DIY: How To Create Your Own Naked Lounge Chair, and Covering Up Our Naked Lounge Chair: Some Upholstery Tips.