Viv Sliwka's work is characterised by an exuberance of detail created with bright splashes of stitched & painted colour on time faded fabrics & papers. Handstitched coton-a-broder threads become stalks, flowers or loose-limbed knots covering the surface of vintage scraps of patchwork, enriched with red threaded buttons and handprinted motifs. Of course to many, including her huge online following, Viv is better known by the name Hens Teeth.
Viv's passion for vintage textiles, haberdashery and paper ephemera is clear. This marriage of materials is described on Viv's CV as, 'A celebration of the decorative union of transient snippets from the past'. It raises these textile scraps from obscurity to a happy, decorative place.
Viv's work is populated with figures and creatures such as dogs, rabbits and donkeys so for this reason the only white collar to be stamped with the Old England brand lion motif was given to her. The Old England brand was established in the 1890's and became the official shirt makers to the British army during the Boer war. By 1957 the company was rebranded as Peter England, a name we're more familiar with today, and the lion logo went through a series of design changes. By coincidence Viv discovered that she had a card of Old England spare buttons in her collection with a matching lion motif so it seemed that the collar pairing was meant to be!
Viv has utilised as much of the original collar as possible without the desire to maintain the collar shape. One of only two collars in the project to be deconstructed, Alice Fox's piece being the other. Viv has combined her collar pieces with a background patchwork of fabrics in her identifiable style which show the discoloration and fraying of age. The apearance of age is further enhanced with the use of tea staining on the collar wing tip above.
Although no longer collar shaped, references to it's original function are many - from the white collar stud to the button hole edging. Fortuitously, Viv found a vintage collar box which she used as both structure and backdrop - the original box remains visible and unchanged on the reverse of the finished piece.
Viv Sliwka on madebyhandonline.com