“The precise positioning of each fabric creates an interrelationship – like that of a jigsaw puzzle,”
Lea has a habit of collecting found fabrics. Loving them too much to let them gather dust, she thought of sharing her appreciation.
“I usually shop at flea markets; I prefer understanding an object through touch – in greater detail than online shopping would allow. I choose my fabrics based on intuition and interaction, favouring hand embroidery and homespun linen. Though, of course, many machine-made fabrics are equally precious. Still, I’m attracted to handmade fabrics – for their warmth,”
In examining fabrics, Lea is already visualising the various manifestations they can take on. Indeed, having an eye for beauty and the skill to help others discover it is a talent.
“My starting point is minimum interference with the fabrics where possible. I want them to take centre stage,” Of all kinds of clothing, she committed to apron dress, owning the process from finding fabrics through to cleaning, mending, designing, sewing, dyeing, and handmaking ceramic buttons at home.
過程中會了解到每匹古布都擁有神秘又與眾不同的經歷，所以更希望把每塊布的獨特都展現出來。很多從前的手工已經很難找到，經過時代洗刷，布本身就已經成為了one of a kind。我想修復她們讓人們繼續使用！」
She collects out of love – and flows from love.
“I began mending found fabrics after reading Masters in The Forbidden City. That was when I realised what a pleasure it was to calm down and to understand, respect and give antiques a second life. Upon finishing the book, I emailed a nearby antique and vintage textile shop (Sharktooth) and asked for a job opportunity in their studio. That was my introduction to mending fabrics,” And the beginning of a love affair.
“Before the mending process, I’d look out for how the fabric was made in the first place, and for all the traces of subsequent repairs. The world comes to a stop as soon as I begin work; all that remain are my hands, my eyes, the needle, the thread, and the fabric I am holding. It is as though I was collaborating with the original maker of the fabric,”
“Often, the process unravels a lesson in each fabric’s unique and mysterious history, propelling a desire to tell their stories right. As remnants of time, many of these fabrics are one of a kind in the sense that you can no longer find similar craft anywhere. I want to repair them so that people can continue to appreciate and use them,”
It takes two to three days to create an apron dress if the fabrics are in good condition. Sometimes, an ideation could take much longer.
“Personally, the most memorable apron dress I have made so far is the Antique Lace Collector’s Apron Dress. It’s one of my earliest works, using fabrics that I had been collecting for a long time – for my dream wedding gown. I love them; I’ve always wanted to incorporate their beauty in my work – which I did. This apron was entirely handmade, the positioning of each fabric the result of a thousand thoughts. It took me weeks,”
Made with extreme care, it embodies Lea’s sincerity. But it’s also meant to be used like tableware, to come alive, notwithstanding its seeming fragility. “I hope its owner wears it often. It makes me so happy seeing customers treat their apron dresses as actual aprons,”
She speaks of her apron dresses with such passion. When she’s working, she forgets about time, or hunger. She sits at her desk by the window, pouring her heart and soul into perfecting each dress. “I owe it to my partner for looking after me and reminding me to live. It hasn’t been easy for her, so I’m grateful for her support. It makes me so happy to be able to create things that I love. Nothing brings me greater joy than the process!”
On her days off, Lea adventures with her partner and their cats and dogs. Together they go hiking or gallery-hopping, make pottery, shop for seasonal fruits from the farmers’ market, or “time travel” at the flea market. Grounded in living, in the warmth and the disorder of the present, some things are inevitably forgotten – but most live on in a kind of object permanence.
「畢展那年後，我很知道自己的想法是什麼，也發現自己在創作上挺固執的。我反覆問了自己很多問題，解決了很多製作上的疑難，跟創作中的自己反覆溝通。在Parsons School of Design最後一年，我發現自己很在乎材質，很在乎手工製作，喜歡用只有一種fiber的布或材料。並且期許自己，之後做的東西不需要多，但是要有意義，要夠精細，尊重材料以及背後每個maker。」
“What’s most important to me is the warmth of people, of things. Warmth as in passion and commitment,”
Where her gaze falls, she forges her own path.
“After my graduation exhibition, I developed a very clear notion of what I wanted and realised: I could be quite stubborn when it came to the creative process. It’s a process of incessant self-questioning, problem-solving and internal chatter. In my final year at Parsons School of Design, I gradually became aware how much I cared about material and handicraft, and how I preferred fabrics made out of a single type of fibre. I made a promise to myself that what I did from there on out didn’t have to be much, but it had to be meaningful, refined, and respectful to the material as well as the maker of the fabric,”
Love gains substance and becomes a commitment to protect – and to go far, together.
“Now I’m surrounded by people and things that I wholly connect with: my family, my partner, my fabric scissors and sewing machine. They mean the world to me. I hope them stay with me for a very long time.”