Who knew that one could use the art of felting to create a costume that almost looks like real animal skin. Artist Erin Shaw’s specialty in using materials like twigs, bark, moss and old wool to make this snarly looking headgear is mind blowing. Truly outrageous looking, some may critique its appearance but one thing is for sure that Erin’s work is no doubt truly eco-friendly.
Using traditionally female methods of crafting like felting, knitting and crochet, Erin’s creations adhere to a strong female artistic sensibility. In crafting these headgears, she draws her inspiration from Native American traditions, whose use of the animal headgear is a custom among the men. The fact that she designs these very headgears mostly for women is a starkly bold statement. Erin tells Ecouterre, that she:
…invokes its symbolism to celebrate the idea of “women warriors in a modern-day ‘tribe.’
Perhaps some may question the use of wool in the creations, as the argument holds that shearing of wool may not necessarily be an eco-friendly act. Yet, the fact remains that Erin’s work is inspirational to crossing barriers – whether it may be cultural or historical. The use of an iconic ‘cultural trait’ in her art work cannot be missed. Additionally, incorporating a distinctly Native American male custom into women’s fashion is revolutionary. It is also true that the use of headgear is not necessarily a mainstream fashion sense, where the headgear is typically identified as a cultural symbol related to a particular community.
These headgears run the risk of being called ‘kitschy’ and I admire Erin for sticking to her artistic sensibilities, in spite of cynicisms. My opinion is that her work is undoubtedly unique. However, it’s uniqueness lies much more in the use of the natural materials; and this makes the creation, what I call ‘a cultural icon of green-fashion.’ Whether one would wear such a headgear for any occasion isn’t the question here. The question is, what is the creation of such a costume impacting? What is this form of art striving to impress? Many reasons come to my mind. For one, Erin’s creations stand as a strong affirmation against animal cruelty. In addition, by using only natural or recycled fibers, this craft is authentically environment friendly. Mother Earth could do more with such deeply conscious artists.