Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Creative Collage with Koos

I attended this two day course last month with Koos van den Akker at the American Sewing Expo in Novi, MI. I've always loved the look of collage in art and garments but was rarely good at it. This was the course for me.

My sewing friend, a custom clothier, attended a five day course last year with Koos at the Academy of Fine Sewing and Design in North Bay, ON. With the benefit of her experience, I felt I prepared to learn some pretty amazing things. I was not disappointed.

Learning from a 70 year old designer from New York, who is confident and strongly opinionated, who has weathered the ups and downs of fashion and has stayed true to his style, who actually works and sews every day in his studio, is a great experience. To obtain some insight into this man, read the interview with VBS, TV/Vice Magazine posted on the Koos website. Anyone who is easily offended by a critical assessment of their work and the "f" word, be warned. But if you are willing to look past that and listen, you are likely to benefit from a course from Koos.

Here's what won't happen in a Koos class:  hand holding; step-by-step instructions, handouts, slide shows, kits or formulae. But he will explain how to get started and come around to ask how you are doing. He also will help you when you ask for it. You need to be able to dig in and work independently on your own collage. Koos will demonstrate lots of techniques used in creative collage, but it's up to you to lay it out and stitch it down.

He brings templates of his "cut-outs" that you may copy and use, He also has his own garments on display for students to examine and learn from. He shared with us a pattern for a trumpet flower scarf and a cloche hat, items that are made and sold in the KOOS store in New York. He showed us how to make a beautiful belt from a mobius. He doesn't seem to mind sharing his designs freely.

Section of Collage
There is a book Koos Couture Collage written by Linda Chang Teufel. It contains colourful photos and collage techniques. I've had the book for years having picked it up at a sale, long before I really knew who Koos was. I think that once you have an eye for creating collage, the techniques in the book will guide you on construction.

I now have a one metre collage that I am very pleased with. The background is black quilter's cotton. A thrift store find sits comfortably next to a $29 a yard designer animal print from Haberman's of Michigan. My creative collage will likely play the starring role in a jacket. For now it hangs in my studio as a reminder of a terrific learning experience with a most talented designer.

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