By: Joanna Del Giudice, Owner, Uniquely Dipherent by Joanna Stella, LIU Post Alum (BFA, 2011, MA, 2013)
I am an artist, teacher, and entrepreneur. During my free time, I am determined to save the world with my art, one stitch at a time.
One day, as I was browsing the web for different art opportunities, I stumbled across “Project Blue Wrap,” a name that reminded me of the popular TV show Project Runway, which, incidentally, many people had encouraged me to be a part of. However, the time restraints set forth in each competition wouldn’t have worked for me as it takes me over 100 hours to complete one full ensemble with the crochet technique that I use.
Intrigued by the name, I decided to check it out and discovered that it was indeed a competition that I could enter. The competition entailed using hospital blue wrap to make a dress and the chosen finalists would have their dresses featured on the runway at DC Fashion Week in Washington, DC. According to Inova, the hospital system that sponsors Project Blue Wrap, “blue wrap is a recyclable plastic fabric that is used to maintain the sterility of its contents – most often, surgical instruments and kits. None of the blue wrap used for Project Blue Wrap has ever been in contact with any patients and would otherwise be recycled.”
Immediately after researching this new opportunity, I reached out to a friend who works at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital to see if she could inquire about having them sponsor me, in addition to providing me with recycled blue wrap. Mather Hospital agreed and I acquired about 6 sheets. This proved to be easy; the hardest part was yet to come.
For me, the most difficult part for this competition was coming up with a design concept. In each of my works, I always like to have meaning, so ultimately, I decided to be inspired by the Forget-Me-Not flowers. I chose them because they were my college roommate’s favorite flower and her father had recently passed away, so I wanted to make a dress inspired by her.
I cut up the blue wrap into thin strips (that way it would act as yarn) and I began crocheting…
As the deadline approached, I literally utilized all of my free time. In fact, I began making parts of the dress in public, like a performance artist. For instance, I cut up one of the sheets of blue wrap while on the train to NYC for a concert. I also crocheted some flowers while I was sitting in line waiting for the concert to start.
In order to be considered as a finalist, there also were certain size requirements. This was to ensure that if a model were to wear it on the runway, it would fit regardless of what size she was. I began to search for females in my area who would fit those size requirements that way I could have the dress fitted properly. After all that work, I did not want to chance having my dress being disqualified over a size requirement. I had late night fittings and early morning fittings to work around everyone’s schedule. I was going to do whatever it took to make this dress “runway-ready.”
When it came time to finally mail it, I was both nervous and excited. I had never mailed one of my recycled crocheted dresses before and it had to go a fairly far distance. I had to mail it to Washington D.C. and the dress would have to be physically looked at and tried on. After mailing it, I emailed the woman in charge of Project Blue Wrap to let her know that my dress was on its way. She emailed me back to let me know that she had received it and that everyone in the office loved it. In fact, she said people were stopping by just to get a look at it. What a great feeling that this statement gave me!
However, there was another week to go before the finalists would be officially announced. My mother reassured me that I had to have been one of the winners after receiving such a lovely email. Turns out, the day before my 24th birthday, I received an email congratulating me that my dress would be featured in the kick-off event at DC Fashion Week in Washington, D.C.
The email also stated that I was the recipient of two tickets to the runway event for the kick-off of DC Fashion Week and that I would have two spots reserved for a guest and myself. I immediately called my friend from Mather Hospital and I made the trip to Washington D.C. with her because if it wasn’t for her help, then I would never gotten the blue wrap needed to make my dress.
Project Blue Wrap was such an amazing experience. I ended up sitting in the front row and I watched my dress be the first one to make its way down the runway at DC Fashion Week.
The most valuable thing I learned from this experience was that I do have the potential to get somewhere with my art.
The ultimate goal I have for my art is to one day make it to the red carpet. I want my art to be front and center, as the red carpet signifies a much larger audience. Eventually, I want that larger audience to view my art and learn about the importance of recycling and protecting the environment. Having someone from the entertainment world wearing a dress of mine and having it photographed would definitely make a statement.
I want to make that statement with my art.