The Gown of Fea the Soul Weaver Picture

The Gown of Fea the Soul Weaver is a fiber art garment completed through the University of Washington Tacoma Undergraduate Research Program. Defined by combining storytelling with costume making, the project’s scope included developing the concept of a character and storyline, designing the garment, researching materials and construction methods, and constructing the gown. The final result of the project is an art piece that explores elements of shape, materials, and construction that best represent the concepts behind a character’s story.

Nestled within the holes of Irish myth, Fea’s story is a combination of carefully chosen elements from the historical legends of the Tuatha De Danann. Even the mythological figure Fea, who’s name is based on the Gaelic word for “weave”, is chosen to support the initial character concept. Where Fea’s traditional history lacks content, a new story was created: During the Tuatha De Danann’s battle against the Fomorians, Fea saves the spirits of the dying by weaving their souls into her garments. Fea’s gown becomes an illustration of a moment in her newly created history.

To further support the character concept, materials and construction methods were selected to emphasize Fea’s action of weaving souls. Materials like hand-dyed wool were sculpted into faces and felted into a base garment. The felting process, like Fea’s weaving, knits the individual wool fibers into the weave of the base fabric. Garment construction and materials also include making weft-fringe of human hair, fabric appliqué of Celtic patterns, and hand-sewn beading.

“The Battle of Mag Tuired against the Fomorians was a critical event within the Tuatha De Danann history. For seven years the leaders, considered gods of the Tuatha De Danann, made preparations for a great battle against the Fomorian invaders. Most importantly, Nuada, the King of the Tuatha De Danann, made a pact with the Morrigu, a collection of goddesses that had an influence over war. Neamin, Badb and Fea were three of the Morrigu women who agreed to help King Nuada.

The war against the Fomorians finally came and was tremendously bloody and brutal. The battle turned badly for the Tuatha De Danann when the King of the Fomorians took the field. Similar to a Cyclopes, King Balor of the Evil Eye, had a single enormous eye. When open the eye would unleash a deadly poison directed at anyone Balor looked upon. With the great lid open, thousands of soldiers fell screaming to the ground doubled over with the crippling effects of Balor’s poison. Unable to continue fighting, the forces of the Tuatha De Danann were decimated. Dian Cecht and his healers navigated through the fallen, desperate to treat the poison with the magical well water. Too many however had been inflicted and the healers could not deliver the cure fast enough.

Observing the events from high on a hilltop, plaiting together the omens of Neamin and the conclusions of Badb’s touch on the battlefield, Fea was suddenly pulled from the trance of her craft by an unbearable sound, the cacophony of a thousand souls all crying out for salvation. Fea could no longer work through the din of anguish and she paused to watch Dian Cecht with his healing waters and Bilé, the god of the dead, navigate the battlefield. Drawn to the carnage of war, Bilé had already opened a path to the Otherworld and began the task of escorting the dying to Tir na Nog. The poison from Balor’s eye was an unbearably painful toxin and those affected called out to both Dian Cecht and Bilé to relieve them from their pain. The Tuatha De Danann’s need for aid became obvious. If the souls of the poisoned were kept from Bilé’s reach, Dian Cecht may have enough time to save them. The pact for aid made between the Morrigu and King Nuada had to be honored. If Fea could help, she was honor bound to do so.”

The complete story of Fea is available on the project website: [link]
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