Here is a photo of the tutu on Edgar Degas’ sculpture “The little dancer of fourteen years” being shown here at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge in 2017 marking the centenary year of his death.

Twenty-eight copies of the sculpture are in different collections all over the world.

The tutus worn by the bronzes vary from museum to museum.

Read More

The carved body is abstracted using a barley twist design to suggest tension and energy. I used the pose of Degas’ Little Dancer, especially the feet, with the body thrust back and upwards.

I have painted her legs to look as if she is wearing black stockings. The arms are also painted because free-standing arms would have made it difficult to attach the tutu afterwards.

The knitting of the tutu, using copper wire, took much longer than I expected and so, to speed the process, I knitted at every opportunity in any location where I was likely to be sitting down with nothing else to do but knit. I have knitted on the underground, on trains, in cafes, the cinema and everywhere peoples’ attention has been drawn.

I knitted many rectangles of varying thickness of the wire which I hammered into ‘gathers’ before sewing them into place. My biggest dilemma was whether or not to make the tutu removable but I found that the weight of the copper tended to make the dress slip down after a while so, in the end, I decided to sew it into place on the body.

The underskirt is knitted in a thicker copper wire to give it some ‘body’.

The copper tutu has been knitted in several layers, just like a real ballet skirt, giving it a translucency.

The making of the tutu has been important for me because all 28 tutus have been made individually with no one of them the same. I found on the internet a video of a conservator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art who had replaced a tutu for their little dancer and it was quite fascinating because he and I had shared some techniques although his tutu was made of cotton tarlatan.

Close-ups of the finished tutu