A Study on Fashion Design on the Basis of Formative Characteristics of Lichens: Focusing on applications of Nuno Felting

By Lee Su Hyun – August 26, 2016

As people expect mental healing and completeness centering on nature, regarding the view of life of modern people, there have been eco-friendly, naturalistic trends in various areas, and to correspond to the differentiated individual sensibility and the desire for freedom, there is growing consumption of limited products that are made through handcraft or with luxurious design. Against this backdrop, this study aimed to work on fashion design that mainly uses the nuno felt method, a handcraft technique that takes the theme of nature and produces products in a close relationship with human sensitivity. Also by creating art wear that expresses the formative beauty of nature, this study intended to put value on designs that have natural sensitivity and distinctive beauty and expand scope of expression.

Lichen is written as 地衣類 (jiuiryu) in Chinese. 地 (ji) means land, 衣 (ui) means clothing, and 類 (ryu) means type.  In the sense that it is the type of clothing that nature created, this study tried to use the shape and color of lichen in clothing in a decorative way and by collecting and analyzing the data of this unique organism, it tried to apply its formative features in clothing. As for analysis, aside from analysis based on biological features, classification and analysis were conducted focusing on visual perspective to create the work. Based on this, the selected images of lichens were set as motifs and reconstructed, and to express them in a unique way, various nuno felt techniques were tried and applied in the work. Nuno felt technique is a way to combine wool and silk to create fabric of distinctive texture, and it is eco-friendly handcraft that uses wool, silk, warm water, friction, and soap, which is alkaline. Compared to using the traditional felt technique, it is possible to develop light and stable materials, and with the flexibility of wool, it has the strength to combine with various techniques and create unique expressions.

Photo 1 was made by taking its motif from lichens that grow on rocks and developing it into a dress. By putting irregular concentric circles in a way that they seem to be expanding, it gives the impression of blossoming flowers. Also, it combined nuno felt and needle felt techniques to create the smooth, gradient effect using a brush in the areas where the lichen expands and meets the other parts. To add decorativeness, three-dimensional texture was given to the edges so that they will stay lifted.

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Photo 1

Photo 2 took its motif from the unique shape and color of lichens shown complexly in trees. Concentric circles, ring shapes, and circular motifs take more and more vivid hues of white like they were drawn with a brush as they move on to the outer line, and the center feels transparent. The orange colored alga in the background seems distinctive and interesting. The orange background color was expressed using nuno felt technique and white lichen was placed decoratively using needle felt technique.  These patterns and colors are from photos taken by Dr. Robert A. Thomas, Loyola University New Orleans, on Half Moon Caye, Belize, and the lichens and algae were growing on a coconut tree. The lichen photos that were the basis of inspiration are below the photo with the model, Photos 3 and 4.

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Photo 2
Macintosh HD:Users:rathomas:Desktop:What lichen Half Moon Caye Belize 5-22-14 3.JPG

Photo 3.  The whitish lichen is Dirinaria applanata (possibly D. picta), and the orange is the alga Trentepohlia sp.  They are simply growing on the same coconut tree on Half Moon Caye, Belize.  Photo by R. A. Thomas, May 22, 2014.
Macintosh HD:Users:rathomas:Desktop:What lichen Half Moon Caye Belize 5-22-14 13.JPG
Photo 4. Same as above.

Photo 5 took its motif from the images of bright orange-red colored lichens photographed growing on rocks on a mountain in South Korea, Mt. Kariwang. Shapes of arcs and circles, gradation of the black in the center and orange-red at the edge, and wrinkly texture were applied using the characteristics of felt and expressed with three-dimensional texture, and used decoratively in clothing.

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Photo 5

Photo 6 shows the motif of circular lichens that turn into darker gray toward the outer edge using expansion and repetition on the front of the coat. Using nuno felt technique, circular motif was completed first and needle felt technique was used on some parts on top of the first layer. As lichens appear to be drawn on rocks, the patterns were created as they were drawn using white water color on the front of the coat so their shape will look natural.

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Photo 6

The organic creatures, lichens, take rocks and trees as their canvas and their growth create unique shapes and irregular arrangements along with the flow of time. Expressing the pictorial sensitivity of nature through handcraft has its significance not only in expanding the ways of expression in producing clothing, but also in finding the potential of fashion design as formative art. As there are not enough books on lichens in Korea and academic research is normally conducted from an ecological perspective to define standards of environmental pollution, it is difficult for a non-biologist to grasp an understanding of these beautiful organisms.  It is expected, however, that there would be studies and efforts for fashion design that are based on such formativeness of nature and that try to satisfy sensitivity and desire for distinctive expressions.

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