I received my first sewing machine from my mother when I was six years old. I have gone in and out of phases making different things, but sometime in the last few years, I became attached, and make things on any free weekend I can.
Though I did attend art school (DAAP, University of Cincinnati), I was a 2-D Fine Arts major, not in the fashion design track. Thus I began using and altering commercial patterns, and over the past several years have taught myself patternmaking, use the draping method primarily. I now try to make most of my clothing; my closet is approximately 2/3 my own work. I love the design and construction process, and I consider this process to be my way of actively taking a stand against the fast fashion industry, which is entangled with sweatshops and pollution.
When it comes to pairing fabrics with form, I work in three methods:
1) I purchase a fabric because I adore it, often something I pick up while traveling abroad or visiting one of my favorite fabric shops (shout out to Silk Road Textiles in Cincinnati!). After that, I decide what it can become, sometimes this is instant and sometimes it takes months or even years
2) I have sketched a design and then search for the perfect fabric (certainly the most ‘normal’ approach but my least frequent approach!)
3) The ‘scrap’ garment. These garments are made entirely from scrap material leftover from other garment projects. They can also utilize recycled fabrics from garments that I no longer wear or have become worn out. This method, which relies on odd-sized pieces and combining different patterns and colors, usually produces my most innovative and beloved garments.
I also enjoy experimenting with the application of adornments onto clothing, ranging from embroidery and beadwork to cut-felt and corded piping details. Long before I dove into making my own garments, I started testing these techniques with jewelry making. During my undergraduate studies, I would create sculptural pieces that merged beadwork with sewing and embroidery. These works pulled together beads I would collect with found objects, ranging from beach shells to animal teeth and old coins.
I have also tried my hand at reconstructing ancient garments based on both surviving textiles and their representations. Below is a photo of reconstructed men’s and women’s Sogdian kaftans, as well as a gallery of a small selection of my garments. I regularly post my newest creations on my instagram (@hensellek).
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