If you've walked down Ludlow Street recently, you may have noticed a giant mermaid built entirely out of zip-ties in our boutiques window. Yes, ZIP-TIES.
We love our local artists and all their quirks so we had to show off the stunning work of Brooklyn-based artist and designer, Casey Caldwell, who hand-tied thousands of these plastic hardware pieces - usually seen fastened on dirty old pipes or strewn on the dusty floors of a construction site - and turned them into one of the most delicate-looking and show-stopping pieces our window has featured.
Check out our interview with Casey to find out the answers to the questions I know you're currently asking yourself...
WHY ZIP TIES?
I was working on costumes for an experimental dance company that wanted bodysuits woven out of elastic cording. It took me about a month to weave and hand sew the elastic together for 3 bodysuits. While I painstakingly hand stitched for hours, I tried to think of a better, faster, more durable way to create a similar effect and thought of using zip ties. So, essentially, the idea to use zip ties arose out of laziness. Little did I know then, that I would spend hundreds of hours of my life zipping zip ties together to create fashion.
WHAT IS THE SECRET TO YOUR TECHNIQUE THAT ELEVATES THE LOOK OF THESE PLASTIC HARDWARE PIECES?
I hand-dye the zip ties different colors using poly-dye and assemble them together very densely so, from a distance it is difficult to tell what the material actually is.
HOW LONG DOES A PIECE OF THIS SCALE TAKE YOU TO MAKE?
I’ve zipped together thousands and thousands of zip ties in my young life, so i have the process down to a science. But the mermaid tail alone probably took me about 50 hours to weave and zip together.
I'VE SEEN GARMENTS THAT YOU'VE MADE THAT COMBINE ZIP-TIES WITH VARIOUS FABRICS. HOW DO YOU FASTEN THEM TOGETHER TO CREATE WEARABLE, FUNCTIONAL AND COMFORTABLE?
It’s all about placement. Every zip tie faces away from the body so you don’t scratch yourself and I try to use a combination of techniques to create pieces that are visually striking, yet surprisingly comfortable to wear. That said, sometimes I create looks that are so extreme there is always going to be a certain level of discomfort. It takes a very committed individual to rock some of my more avant-garde pieces. I believe the most daring art and the most striking fashion should not always be comfortable.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE ZIP-TIE PIECE THAT YOU'VE MADE SO FAR?
I created a gown and headpiece using red zip ties and hundreds of yards of red elastic cording that was used in promotion for the final Hunger Games film. The headpiece was styled with a crown made out of porcupine quills. It was a very special moment for me seeing that look come together.
ARE THERE ANY UPCOMING PROJECTS WE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT?
I run an event called Fashion Frenzy the first Sunday evening of every month at a bar called This N' That in Williamsburg. A dozen or so other designers and I set up pop up shops to sell our wares. I also make over local drag queens in custom fashions who put on shows for the shoppers. I also am currently in the process of planning out a new collection that will hopefully be unveiled this fall.
About Casey Caldwell:
New York based fashion and costume designer, Casey Caldwell, specializes in experimental design using unconventional materials to create striking and conceptual pieces. Before moving to Brooklyn two years ago he spent five years creating costumes for theater companies in California and collaborating on production design for film projects. He enjoys collaborating with like-minded designers and artists to create work that pushes boundaries and blurs the lines between costume and fashion, gender binaries, and reality and fantasy.