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Wearable art! Jasper artist transforms creations into clothing

Louise Hayes wears her artwork. One of her fabric art creations on display at the Jasper Art Gallery in 2019 caught the eye of someone from LeGaleriste, a wearable art company in Montreal. That started the ball rolling and today Hayes’ artwork is on clothing and household accessories. (Supplied photo)

By Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter /Jasper Fitzhugh

Artist Louise Hayes wasn’t expecting clothing and household accessories to be the canvas for the fabric art she creates. 

But when she took part in The Buzz exhibition at Jasper Art Gallery (JAG) in January 2019, a visitor from Montreal with LeGaleriste, a wearable art company, photographed one of the four works of art she had on display and emailed it to her in February. 

One thing led to another and now Hayes’ artwork is on dresses, tops, pants, boxer shorts and household accessories such as tablecloths and placemats.

It’s a transition Hayes wasn’t expecting.

One day she was scrolling through emails that month and saw a message from LeGaleriste: “This is what your art would look like on our fabric.” 

“I had no idea,” Hayes recalled. “I said ‘This is a good idea.’ The only way they could have seen it is by being at the art gallery. 

“It caught me by surprise. I didn’t know places like this existed. It’s called wearable art. They sent me a link to the design department. I thought, ‘This is fun.'”

On the link there were silhouettes of dresses, pants and more. 

“You virtually put your artwork into the silhouette,” Hayes explained. “I sent them five photos of my artwork.”

LeGaleriste uploaded the photos into silhouettes and sent her an email. 

Around April, Hayes purchased some items – leggings, t-shirts, dresses, a skirt and a sweater, and wore them in Jasper. 

She said, “When people saw me downtown, they’d ask, ‘Where do you get your clothes?’ 

“That’s pretty interesting isn’t it? I wasn’t expecting anything.”

Hayes said the products, jersey/polyester mixes, are comfortable and well made. 

“I’ve been wearing some for over a year and it doesn’t pill, the colours don’t run,” she said.

Around the end of October this year, the LeGaleriste set up a virtual storefront for Hayes and there have been purchases already, including by locals.

Things have moved quickly, considering Hayes started doing fabric art in 2018. Before she got into fabric art she made pillows and donated one of them as a door prize to a craft sale at the Activity Centre in 2016.

It featured a scene with an owl in a tree, with little flowers embroidered on at the base of the tree. It was a bit after that that Lynn Wannop encouraged her to get into fabric art. 

“I think she saw a pillow,” Hayes said.

Hayes said she quilts a lot, and makes baby quilts on behalf of the Tonquin Valley Quilters to give to the public health nurses to give to newborns.

“I do needlework anyway – embroidery and silk ribbon embroidery – so this is an extension,” she said. 

Hayes said she creates drawings too, but fabric art is the main medium for her.  

Her work is of the natural world. 

Sometimes animals are part of a scene, sometimes they aren’t. 

“I do mountains mostly – mountains with wildflower meadows,” she said.

These days Hayes makes ice and water the main focus of her work. 

“It’s more geology,” she said. “Ice causes winter water, waterfalls. I’ll work on that this winter.” Hayes has three creations on display already at JAG. 

One is an ice cave and the second is a millwell – a hole in the glacier ice. 

“It’s a cross section with water tumbling down the hole in the ice – in blues and whites,” Hayes said.  She added a festive snowman last week.

Hayes has all kinds of items in her art toolkit: Fabric, thread, crocheting cotton, sequins, beads, ribbon, embroidery thread. She uses shadow box frames to display her creations “because it’s a three dimensional piece. 

“If I put it in a shadow box it doesn’t flatten the art,” she said.

Find Hayes’ wearable art online at www.thegaleriste/louise.hayes.