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Annie Odell

Mixed Media / River Ridge, LA / Master Craftsman

Artist Statement

I make skirts, dresses, purses, belts, headbands out of recycled neckties, and quilted 'pleather' portraits of Louisiana musicians. I begin with a central theme inspired by the designs and color schemes of the ties. I then carefully select, coordinate, stitch and embellish them into hand crafted new, highly detailed and unique fashion items, each one bearing its own name and personality. Many of the ties I recraft have Louisiana or nostalgic themes with labels from places that 'ain't there no more' (Wembley, Maison Blanche, Holmes...). My work has been described as whimsical yet elegant, reflective of the colorful nature of Louisiana. Each project is a geometric puzzle. I don’t use store bought patterns. I pin and layout ties in a suitable sequence then clean and prep them before stitching them together. The size of the garment is dictated by the length and number of ties used. The 'pleather' portraits of Louisiana musicians are highly detailed quilted pieces with embroidered features and hair. I incorporate ties, trinkets and background materials reflective of the subjects' lives and music, paying homage to their accomplishments.

The majority of the sewing I do is on my 1976 Pfaff sewing machine. Although it is 34 years old, it is an old friend and workhorse with many utility and decorative stitches that I can mix and match to create textures and bind my pieces together. I focus on durability as well as design to ensure the pieces hold up for many wearings. I am also developing a tie jacket which I think will be stunning. There are endless possibilities when you start playing with ties.

Biography

In today’s disposable world, many treasures get discarded. I collect these cast-offs and refashion them into wearable art. My work is a fashion statement as well as an environmental one, to renew, reuse and recycle. My primary materials are men’s neckties, cummerbunds, vintage buttons and costume jewelry. I acquire these items at thrift shops, garage sales and donations from friends.

I have been creating things since I was a small child. Whether it be pompom dolls that I sold on the school bus, needlepoint altar runners for a church in Germany, floor plans for the next Kinko’s I was opening, or baby quilts for my children, I have always had a project going. I had been collecting ties for several years while working at my children’s school's annual garage sale, with the intention of doing something with them. After Hurricane Katrina relocated my children to boarding schools, I suddenly had an empty nest (full of ties) and plenty of time on my hands. I started experimenting with the ties and retooling them for their second lives.