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Elaborate jackets sewn with odd ‘fabrics’ go on display at USC

Architecture studio students show their painstaking apparel made with soap, pills, hair ties and much more

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Fingers crossed that sprinklers don’t come on Friday afternoon when the fifth-year architecture studio students of USC’s Lee Olvera display their Mao jackets outside Watt Hall.

The jackets are painstakingly assembled from unorthodox “fabrics,” and this year, one student, Tiffany Chien, used 24 pounds of clear glycerin soap to make her apparel. She bought the soap in 10-pound blocks, melted it in batches in a microwave, chopped up the thin sheets when cooled and stitched them together with 700 feet of invisible quilting thread.

“My worst nightmare would be if the sprinklers go off,” Chien said.

But classmate Tim (Ting Hao) Chen also will keep an eye out for spraying water. His jacket is made from 13,500 empty gelatin pill capsules, arranged in a colorful pattern and stuck to each other with heavy tape.

The 11 jackets will be open for public viewing at 2 p.m. Friday on the south lawn and grove area between Watt Hall and Exposition Boulevard.

The idea behind the studio assignment is for students to explore the ingenious solutions and frustrations arising from work with varied materials. Students are free to experiment with any material they want, but after the first two weeks in the project, they cannot change materials — no matter how problematic they prove to be.

One student, Yume Nishi, learned how to knit — thanks YouTube videos! — and knitted together 6,582 feet of correction tape for her jacket.

“No,” she laughed, when asked if she was allowed to “correct” her work.

Here are the students and the materials they grappled with this semester:

Jean Archamongkol: Cable ties were stretched around wood dowels in six different sizes to create a variety of shapes. Each tie was then fastened together with more ties.

Tim (Ting Hao) Chen: Empty gelatin pill capsules (13,500 of them) stuck to 810 linear feet of clear Gorilla-brand tape in a pattern worthy of Chanel.

Tiffany Chien: Twenty-four pounds of glycerin soap melted and cut into geometric shapes sewn together with 700 feet of invisible quilting thread.

Fernando Jimenez: 10,313 spacers used in tile installation. He bought them in packs of 1,000 and added pockets and a collar to his jacket.

Marisa Keckeisen: 23,127 tiny clear elastic hair ties (“I’ve left a trail of them everywhere in my house”) looped together.

Christopher Marsudidjaja: Black coffee stirrers (3,200 of them, to be exact), held together with 415 yards of silk thread.

Jessica Miksanek: Nearly 400 Valspar paint chips cut with an X-acto knife and adhered to each other with heavy-duty shipping tape.

Ani Mnatsakanian: White plastic picks for flossing teeth (3,600 of them) were repurposed in a new way as jacket “fabric,” along with 1,200 linear yards of plastic lacing.

Wanlu Ni: 2,340 silver plastic spoons (the handles were cut off and edges sanded), attached with silver jewelry rings.

Yume Nishi: More than 6,000 feet of correction tape and various sizes of knitting needles were needed for her delicate-looking jacket.

Phillip Yang: Nine hundred linear feet of medical-grade silicon tubes were chopped and ends slit, then arranged into a recognizable jacket shape with the help of 45 fluid ounces of silicone adhesive sealant.



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