grad school

The processing of process….

Notes on November

…thus far.

Nothing dries here. Mom bought me a box of sun, which seems to be helping the doomy gloomies a bit.

I think too much about what I could be doing, and berate myself for not living the life I think I want, or am supposed to want, but if I want to be the sort of person who goes to bars alone and practices karate, why don’t I ever actually want to do those things? Perhaps the new coolness is someone who goes from home to school and back again and eats mac and cheese. This is a thing, right?

I think too much, I think. Oh wait. Crap.

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School is different the second time around. Better and deeper in many ways, but I can no longer summon that wild, vicious sense of youthful self-import that undergrad held. There is less of a sense of inevitable greatness, though it is replaced with a stronger sense of what I do and why. But I miss feeling like a ball of greatness waiting to explode. Maybe it’s a slow detonation. Also, I drink much less in this iteration, which is probably for the best. I seem to recall a lot of drinking alone and baking cookies while crying at “Friends” the last time.

So, basically, I’m awesome.

I am continuing to work with letterforms. I did the whole alphabet in large, 18″x24″ form:Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 12.05.47 PM

…and hung the whole shebang up for crit. I kind of want it up forever.

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I’m trying to learn to use it, which is trickier than I thought. Learning to write in it is going alright, but reading it is a whole other matter. Makes you realize that we don’t see the individual characters when we read; we just grab the whole word. I can READ the code-language, but I still have to parse it letter by letter. I’m going to try to get some friends to be secret code pen-pals with me to help me learn– I need stuff to read that I did not write, that’s cheating, and really doesn’t work. It’s, in the wise words of my father, like a three-year-old memorizing Go Dog Go and then pronouncing that they can read. I suspect he may be speaking from experience on that one.

I’m not quite sure where the language/code thing is going yet, but I find it compelling. I think, at the core, I’m trying to create the world I want to live in, all magical and shit, and this is perhaps how language looks in that world. It seems very important for me to be able to use it, not just have created it and let it sit there. I have lots of little seeds of ideas of how this might fit into other work later…

I also started to get back into makeup a bit, at the urging of my mentor. Again, not sure where that leads but hey, we’re all about experimenting right now. Can you tell that “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing” is a common theme recently?

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This one was mostly practice with a white base makeup I got for Halloween. There was no character theme; just play.

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My mentor suggested I remove variables to make the focus really on the face and makeup, so going forward I’m going to try a few set poses, same outfit, no wig, no face expression, just really focus on the makeup.

Oh, and speaking of Halloween, here’s how THAT turned out:

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We were pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. Dancing at the Lovecraft ensued and a good time was had by all.

Right. Off to make some capes and write some letters. Huzzah!

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grad school

The story so far…

Right, so… I moved here:

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And I finally decided to learn to be a sort-of bike commuter. Behold: Shadowfax the Magnificent!

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…And now my legs look like this:

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My program takes a mentor-based approach, and my mentor has told me to stop working the way I’ve been working for a while– to open up, explore, and nurture the creative practice. Part of this practice has included creating a collection of inspiration and resonant items– lots of pictures, etc. It’s sort of like making a visual representation of my head.  A psychological mood board.

Another part has involved poking around in vinvtage stores, where I found PONIES!

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Ponies of all sizes!

I can’t exactly explain the allure– it’s surely at least partially nostalgia-based, as I had a LOT of ponies as a kid, but there’s also something just aesthetically pleasing to me about some of them. They are a nicely-shaped object, and certainly cute. We are doing a lot of reading and discussion about objects and our relation to them, what gives an object value, the nature of craft vs. art or design, the psychological resonance of everyday objects, etc. and all this was rattling about in my head. When I saw the pony on the left, something just struck me about it. I felt the need to rescue and resuscitate it; I also felt as if it was a totem object– something of potentially profound significance or spirituality waiting to be found. This is what art school will do to you…

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So I took it home and took it’s face off.

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Our process here is big on iterations– you don’t do just one of something– so I got myself a mini-herd to play with. Originally I thought I’d plan each one out– have a concept and design plan, but then I remembered I’m supposed to be playing and experimenting, and definitely not overthinking, so I just went for it.

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Pony workstation.
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In-progress poniesScreen Shot 2014-10-15 at 2.04.57 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 2.05.24 PM


Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 2.05.37 PMPonies set up for first critique session
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Part of my visual mind-mapping. This took up a whole wall. I had more pictures but my phone has eaten them in a dramatic fit of pique. Have I mentioned that electronics seem to commit suicide around me?

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Crit went pretty well. I really need to practice speaking about my work; I tend to get so nervous that I am not able to pay as much attention as I would like because I am busy calming the fight-or-flight stuff that is happening. It is also so hard to allow yourself to be vulnerable and open to questioning, as opposed to coming at it from a defensive position. This experience of changing my working patterns has been both hard and freeing, but it did put me slightly in a place of feeling like I needed to defend what I’d been spending my time on, that I’d been doing enough. I think a lot of us felt that way… Anyway I survived and the exploration continues.

I’m adding in new things this week but I’m still working on the ponies. I am still enjoying them and they also seem to serve as a tool to think with my hands. None of them are exactly done but this one is close. I discovered there was a run of large, 9″ tall ponies in 2006 and I have managed to snag a few of them. The large size is so nice to work on and feels very compelling; my theory is because it’s the proper pony-to-person ratio for an adult.

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Through the mind-mapping, I began to recognize (or remember) how much language and visual communication and codes are resonant with me. This has me starting to play with letter forms… 
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So that’s that. More to come.

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Space Koyote

Space Koyote Art Hunt, Endless Series: Despair

Despair gets a pretty raw deal in the Sandman, as you might imagine. It’s hard to be the anthropomorphic personification of the loss of all hope.

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I felt a strange, Winnie-the-Pooh-esque desire to cheer her up, ironic as that may be. And while we’re being ironic, I thought it might also be fun to make her a pinup girl. Because why not?

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In keeping with the theme, I put her sigil in the word balloon, and of course had to put in her rats.

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I left the first one at Therapy in Berkeley. The setting was too rife with irony to pass up– I mean come ON!

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…and it was quickly snapped up by @ass666beater, who definitely wins the instagram handle award for the day.

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The second one I left at Dr. Comics and Mr. Games in Oakland. Comic books stores just seem like the right venue for these guys.

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This one was nabbed by Jazz Tigan, who has the perfect home for her all set up. IMG_2966

The last one I was going to hide a bit better… but I didn’t. It’s a tricky balance between hiding and plain sight. Eventually I’d like to hide them more, make this harder/more fun, but I’m concerned that I don’t have enough followers yet and I don’t want them to be hidden and never found. So they’ve been more on the plain-sight side, but I promise I will start hiding some more sneakily, for you intrepid followers out there.

My friend Ryan came along with me on this drop and we drank tea while scoping the area like polite British spies. I think I may have gotten him hooked on the art-hunt– you feel so clandestine, despite not actually doing anything illegal.

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Matt snagged the last one, and we were 3 for 3 this time with none disappearing into the ether… which makes me SO happy.

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Thanks for playing, everyone. Next up, DESTRUCTION (dun dun dunnnnnn)!

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Space Koyote

Space Koyote Art Hunt Endless Series: Dream

For the newest addition to my art hunt project, I thought it might be good to do a series. My dear friend and inspiration for this project, PonderMonster is doing a rainbow one, and how cool is THAT?

If you have read any of my recent posts, you know one of my biggest artistic/life inspirations has been Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. Now I am a rabidly loyal Neil supporter and will love, or at least read, everything he does as a matter of principle, but this particular work stands out as massively, pinpointedly life-changing.

I wonder if Neil gets tired of people ranting about Sandman.

I hope not.

The series is a perfect storm of myth-blending, world-creating, vibrant characters and just a really compelling story. I discovered it through the first boy who ever really broke my heart. I wouldn’t even say he was my first boyfriend, because we only “dated” for a month or two, over the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of high school, but he was for sure my first heartbreak. He was an older man (a sophomore!); tall, dark and handsome, with flowing locks and long purple fingernails. Did I mention I was a bit of a gothy teenager?

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And this is AFTER I grew out the black hair. Pity.

 

We had a short and fairly awkward teenage love affair, followed by several years of flirtatious friendship, heartache, general teen angst, and, strangely, actual love and loyalty. I still consider him a dear friend. He swept me off my combat boots and broke my black, tender little heart, but we did have some grand fun.

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I know. Total dreamboat. What was a girl to do?

He introduced me to Twin Peaks, Ben and Jerry’s Cool Brittania (eaten by the pint, always keeping the top smooth and flat), Sisters of Mercy, and, of course, Sandman. I would spend hours reading them voraciously in his cave-like basement room, hiding from the sunlight (hissssss!) while he made mixtapes– it was a short but golden era.I was a mope-tastic gothy teen, awash in synthy bass-beats and my own gloomy importance, lost in the twilight netherworld of my  adolescence, and this, THIS was my goddamn bible.



All of this is to say that Sandman has deep personal resonance for me, that goes far beyond the actual work itself and plugs into a very specific time and place in my evolutionary continuum, and as such continues to form the base for a lot of inspiration and creative drive.

Clearly I must do a Sandman series of little art pieces. It is only right. You like how it took me this long to get to the point? You’ve been very patient; here’s some pictures.

Sketchy-pencil times. I decided to stick with the theme of the speech bubbles, so it seemed right to have my Endless with their sigils. Dream would like his hat back, please.

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I think there’s a hint of Le Petit Prince about him.

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Et finis.

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It seemed only appropriate to leave these around comic book stores, plus I was hoping that would up the chances of them being found by people who would get it/know the character/appreciate it. I guess I can’t expect EVERYONE to know the reference of a comic series from the early 90’s.

I dropped the first one in Berkeley at Fantastic Comics, hiding in the window ledge.

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This one was the fastest turnaround yet– Suzageddon nabbed it in about 5 minutes. Awesome.

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The next two I took on an outing to the city. I went on a Wednesday, which seemed appropriate as it’s new comic day. It’s also when I had time. Art vigilantes lead strangely-scheduled lives. 

I ventured to one of my favorite SF shops, Isotope Comic Book Lounge, and enlisted the help of this dapper gentleman:

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If you haven’t met James Sime yet, you should. He agreed to help me in my schemes and I left the painting inside the front window with James as Gatekeeper.

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It was found later that evening by Gamoid–well done, sir.

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The last one has apparently disappeared into the ethers, as little left paintings are apparently wont to do. This round was 2 for 3 though, so that’s a step in the right direction. I may have made a bad decision in my hiding spot, but I couldn’t resist.

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City Lights Books is just so wonderful and I get swept up into a creative-romantic flurry every time I go in. I also was experimenting with leaving them inside, thinking that might make it easier for them to be found by the right people (book-loving beatniks vs. meth-head street-wanderers). It occurred to me later though that perhaps this was not wise, as people might think it was merchandise, or even if they didn’t, who’s going to want to slip something into their bag in a store? On the other hand, it’s a store that sells radical zines and Steal This Book, so come on now. Perhaps I should have asked permission of the shopkeepers, but that hardly seems very art-vigilante, plus I get nervous making a damn phone call, so can you imagine the anxiety of that conversation?

“Hi, can I leave a painting here”

“We don’t buy art”

“No I just want to leave it to give away”

“We’re not a gallery, dude.”

“No no I don’t want to SELL, it, I just want to hide it for someone to find.”

“What? Go away.”

Yeahhhh… that seemed too risky to my poor anxious soul, so I just left the thing. It seemed so cozy, hanging out by Patti Smith and Allie Brosh. Plus, I left it right by Neil’s Make Good Art. How’s that for an easter egg, people?

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Apparently not very good, since I never heard from it again, but I like to think it found a good home. Or maybe Jack Kerouac’s ghost took it.
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That’s it for this installment of art-hiding theater. Good night, and good luck. 
http://instagram.com/spacekoyote

 

 

 

 

 

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Space Koyote

Space Koyote takes to the streets!

New project! One that will get me drawing a bit more– gotta use that ol’ illustration degree.

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On my recent Boulder excursion, I got to chatting with my dear friend Sam. He’s been doing this incredible found-art treasure-hunt project, and of course I just had to get in on the action, because FUN and AWESOME. I encourage you to go ogle his site, but the basic gist is: make some art, leave it somewhere with a note, post hints to the location to Instagram, hope that the person who finds it will post their treasure to Instagram as well. That last bit is the tricky part, and not really the point– the point is to hide free art for the finding; it’s just nice to know where it ends up, and gives a feeling of closure to the game.

I love this because it’s street-art (which is a wonderful thing), but without the criminal aspect. I admit that I have always been too incredibly chicken-shit to even THINK about such things, except for that one time when I spray-painted my first boyfriend’s and my nicknames on on overpass we always drove under… badly, I might add. Shut up I was seventeen.

AAAAaaaannnyway. Street art. Free public beautification with a hint of subversion. Awesome. And the treasure-hunt aspect makes it even more fun, because everyone wants to find out what’s under the X that marks the spot– it’s been ingrained into us since birth. And as an added bonus, since I’m totally stealing Sam’s idea, it’s almost like collaborating, or at least like being art pen-pals.

So here’s the progression of the first one:

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Sam and I decided I needed a different pseudonym for this, largely because I needed a new Instagram account. I know, I know, the trials of today’s world! I never like to use my real name for my work– I don’t know why. Maybe ’cause no one can spell it. Anyway names are fun so we cracked open the ol’ Thinkin’ Bourbon to get the job done!

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Which is how Space Koyote was born: a culmination of bourbon, word-smashing, checking to see what was available on Instagram without having to add stupid letters, and discussions of the finer points of the Simpsons. What, how did you get YOUR name?

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It seemed only appropriate to make the first run actual depiction of The Space Koyote. Did I mention there was bourbon involved?

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I made four of these guys. 3 to leave in the world and one to keep, because it’s easier to leave your babies on street corners when you still have one left at home.

I am SO ready for parenthood, aren’t I?

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Here’s the letters that I taped into the recessed backs of the panels. Basically I want people to know that it is not only ok but encouraged for them to take this little found-art home with them, and I ask them to please post a picture with themselves to Instagram. Yes I know not everyone has tech at their fingertips, but I can at least hope this prompts them to play the game. I think next time I may add a twitter thing as well just to cover more bases.

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The first one I left near the university in Berkeley. This is harder than I thought! Finding a spot that is fun but not so hidden that no one will ever find it (I need more people to know and/or care before I can get too clever) is harder than it sounds. Plus I felt like such a creeper, leaving my art about and running off. I wandered about aimlessly for about half an hour before finding this awesome wall by @digitaldoesntcount:

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So I left it here:

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I then hid in the park across the street to see what would happen, feeling like a total badass and a total creeper all at once. In a word–nothing. No one noticed it. People took pictures of the gorgeous typography wall and flat out didn’t see it. Then I went to put money  in the meter.

Then it was gone. Like Sam says: a watched painting is never found.

Then Julie posted her conquest and the circle of life was complete!

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The next two have not fared so well. I left them in the Mission and decided NOT to just wander about Valencia looking shifty, and to just trust to the universe to look out for them.

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Well screw you too, Universe!

So far nothing has come of it, and they seem to have disappeared into the void of the city. Sigh. It’s a little sad, but that’s what you get when you go leaving free art about. I just hope that they were found by people who liked them, even if they didn’t want to play the game with me.

On to the next one, then. If you want to follow along or join in, my awesome new name and profile can be found at:

http://instagram.com/spacekoyote

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Coats, Works in Progress

Dream Coat: Part Three–Fabric Explosion!

I’m started on the outer layer of the coat. I found a nice black-patterned bottomweight for the base layer and have cut out the MILLION pieces, so now they are ready to get all artsy.

Laying out fabric like a bawss.

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So many pins… so very many pins…

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This was my workspace/bed a few days ago…

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…and this is it a few days later.

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This part of the work is not exactly tedious, but it’s this weird, non-verbal sort of brain work. After a day of this I am pretty incapable of coherent speech. I communicate largely through strange sounds and hand gestures. I am pretty much an ewok.

The good thing is I get to listen to a lot of audio-books while I do it, just to remind my brain what words are. So far I’ve “read” The Giver by Lois Lowry, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (how appropriate),  Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon, The Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling, and Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. Several of these were read by British narrators, so at least my squeaky ewok noises sound posh and classy.

I’m attaching all the strips and scraps with lots and lots of stitching. Ungodly amounts of stitching. I may actually be liking the back more than the front at this moment.

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Here you can see the chalk layout for some of the quilting:

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Then, because I can’t get enough quilting action, apparently, I thought I’d try sewing flame patterns on the bottom section of the pieces. Remember that whole bit about Dream’s cloak being all flames inside? I wanted to bring a bit of that to the outside as well, so I stitched in flames in red metallic thread. I don’t have a picture of that yet but here’s the chalk layouts.

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The red thread is much more subtle– you  have to really get up close and look before you notice that it is laying out flames. I felt a little torn on putting in so much stitch work that is so subtle, but it’s all a learning process, right? If I hate it or it isn’t worth it I won’t do it again. And in any case I’m taking the attitude that all these details, however subtle, are adding to the overall majesty of the piece. Right? Of course.

That’s all for now. It’s weirdly hot-yet-cloudy in Boulder today, which I think is a sign that ice cream should be sought. OBVIOUSLY.

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New Stuff, Works in Progress

Philosophical musings and a new coat project…

This “have a clothing line” business is crazy, and I am constantly discovering that I am not following, or often even aware of, the rules. I don’t release collections on a seasonal schedule– largely because it’s just me here and I seem to get too distracted to be on a such a calendar, but also because I like releasing things whenever I damn well feel like it and whenever I get the photos done.  I do not read fashion magazines or follow fashion blogs. I find that a lot of “fashion” doesn’t interest me that much, the same way that much of what was in the galleries in NYC while I was in school left me cold. Don’t get me wrong, there is some beautiful stuff coming out of the design houses (especially the haute couture stuff, when everyone is allowed to get weird), but I guess it doesn’t seem all that relevant to my world most of the time. Maybe because I really, really don’t like it when clothes are described as chic.

I like clothes with a narrative. I like costumey pieces. Not in a cheap Halloween-store way, but in the sense of a piece that builds your character, even if it’s just your character of the moment. I like clothes that I am excited to put on– these are my warrior leggings, my gypsy pants, my empress dress, my pixie skirt, my fairy tale jacket. I find cosplay generally much more exciting and inspirational than high fashion.

Speaking of cosplay, a wonderful thing about that genre is the DIY nature of it. I love seeing the incredible things people create, and so many of them share process photos the whole way. Ask Versace to do that! Somehow, the open, community attitude of the cosplay culture doesn’t ruin the mystery or monument of the final piece at all; it serves to make it more personal somehow. By the final reveal I am INVESTED in how that Skyrim armor came out!

Right, that’s a lot of rambling; I’ve been getting very philosophical lately on the nature of my work. It is clear to me I MUST MAKE STUFF; the question is what to make, why make it, and where does it go? Where are we going and why am I in this handbasket?

So…I’m finally starting in on a project I’ve had in mind for a long time; coats. Technicolor dreamcoats, actually. I’m going to take a class on making coats and jackets from scratch, as I would like to learn more tailoring and be able to make whatever I want, but I also have an interest in reviving old coats; working magic with something pre-existing, something with history. Very green, right?  Coats and jackets are probably my favorite garment in existence. There’s something wonderful about a good coat. NOTE: This may be my years as an angsty goth teenager rearing their black-lipsticked, dog-collar wearing heads, the years when a coat (black, trench) was both fashion statement and security blanket. Never mind that…

The crux of the project, however, even more than just foraying into a new garment, is to dig back into my fine art roots. I have been wanting to experiment with taking some of the techniques, ideas and moods of my paintings and apply them to my clothing. Make some pieces that are truly unique and unrepeatable; blur the lines between art and attire. Spend more time on one truly fantastic creation and really go all-out on it, rather than concern myself with it being easily reproducible. Sounds a bit like my rant about the faun costume from last year, doesn’t it? Hmmm I sense a theme.

Anyway, I’ve never done this before, so despite all my pretty thoughts it may all go down in flames. Boom.  It’s all learning, right? LET’S MAKE SOMETHING, PEOPLE!

Right, so I found this coat in my basement:

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I bought it at a thrift store in Boulder a few years ago when I was suddenly invited to an Bacchanalian revelry in the mountains and had nothing warm to wear. It has nice bones, but the lining is kind of ratty, I don’t love the color, it’s too big and it smells a bit like mothballs. See why it’s been in the basement?

First I removed the lining, then cut off part of the hem. I should have done this later, but I didn’t realize what else I was going to do to the thing and just jumped in. Ah well. Somewhere in this process I started ripping out the seams on the sleeves, which resulted in a very flappy coat, which resulted in a fit of silliness. The dogs are clearly working hard to contain their wild enthusiasm for my sweet moves. 

Anyway, it was too long for my tastes, so I cut off the front to give it a shorter-front/long-back hem. Then I altered it a bit– the shoulders fit fine, but the whole body was too big, so I took in the side and back seams to slim it down to fit me. Then I decided I couldn’t stand the color and dyed the thing. This took about 3 dye baths, which made the cut hem go all scraggly– see, should have done that last. Here it is, sans buttons and with gross hem. Weird cuff details have been removed, as have the belt loops (I don’t like belts on my coats)

It’s a much more interesting color now– sort of a mottled deep purple. Also it no longer smells funny.

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On to the artsy part. My concept for this coat actually came from a dream I had recently. In classic dream style, it doesn’t really translate well, but a key feature was that I had a dragon. A purple/blue iridescent DRAGON. Yes, I am about 8 years old, what? Anyway, I shan’t bore you with my subconscious, but the end result is that I want to make a dragon-rider coat–something that draws from fantasy armor designs and might both decorate the rider and also blend and match them to their dragon. Nerd alert, I know.

Some rough sketches:

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I am very inspired by Selene Gibbous’ work, along with some other textile, quilt and collage artists I’ve been looking at recently and wanted to try a fabric collage technique. Something that will allow me to use fabric more like I use paint. I have no idea what I’m doing, as this is a new technique for me, but nothing else to do but jump in and pray you don’t muck it up too badly.

Here it is as I start to lay down fabric. I drew chalk lines to block out the general shape. I’ve removed the sleeves and undone the side-back seams for ease of movement with the machine.

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Close up of this panel. It’s more or less done I think, but I keep coming back to pieces and adding more as I go.

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Starting at the middle back, I’ve been working my way down and around. I think there will be more to the back, but it made the most sense to keep moving around the body at the time. Here are the back and side panels.

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Here’s the chalk-marks sketching in one of the front panels.

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And the panels coming together…

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…And more detail shots of the whole piece…

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So far I’m only about halfway around the body and haven’t even touched the sleeves yet. Long way to go. It’s been really interesting and satisfying so far though– it is wonderful to play with the fabric in such an organic way.

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