grad school

The story so far…

Right, so… I moved here:

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 2.00.25 PMWhere they have doughnuts that watch you…

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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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Coats, Works in Progress

Stardust Coat: Part One

On to the next coat!

I am also working away on the personal statement to accompany these in my grad school applications, which is like moving mountains with my brain. I haven’t had to write an artist’s statement, or any sort of solid explication of my work and motivations, well, since graduating last time I guess. It was always my least favorite part, prone to causing tantrums and rage, but I’m all grown up now or something, so no stomping feet and crying. Ok maybe just a SMALL tantrum.

The next coat has been dubbed the Stardust Coat. It has occurred to me that all the ideas I have lined up so far are all inspired by books or characters in books, which, given how much the aforementioned personal statement talks about the importance of STORY in my work, seems appropriate.

Since the last one was all blacks, it seemed right to make this one of light tones. I was originally going to work in straight WHITE, but I found this pretty pearl-color upholstery velvet and had to get it. Guess all-white will have to wait.

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The Dream coat was worked in individual pieces, all the applique running vertical. I thought this time I’d try running some applique across the body. This is somewhat tricky, running cross-ways across curved seams, but I’m giving it a go. Here’s some layout experiments. I did this for about an hour in different combinations, then scrapped the whole thing.

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Eventually I settled on a few pieces of applique, with more focus on the stitching, trying some new things from the last one.

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Added in some hand-drawn elements on this one, too. These are the back pieces…
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…and a similar treatment to the front.

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Here’s the body so far. Back and sides are sewn together, with iridescent contrast panels in the back vent and box pleat. Pocket are installed, with contoured welts. The body stitching is done in either plain white or silver iridescent thread, and all the seams are top-stitched.

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Next up, the sleeves and hood attack!

xo

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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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Coats, Works in Progress

Dream Coat: Part Two–Lining

I started in on the lining first– seemed easier, I think. I was probably wrong.

I thought it would be nice to work the flames inside Dream’s cloak into the lining, so I decided to hand-dye it. I got a really nice flannel-back satin for the lining, which I KNEW was going to be hell to dye but I decided to go for it anyway.

I apologize to my husband and kitchen.

Here’s the first go. I used a mix of I-Dye Poly and Rit, to try to deal with the mix of poly and cotton in the fabric.

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Note the curious dog face in the corner.

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I was tricked by the “wet fabric” effect into thinking that several colors were darker and more saturated than they truly were. As a result, I re-dipped several sections of the lining and the whole process took about two (long, messy) days.

Second dip!

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Once it dried, it was a lot lighter, of course, but it turned out rather pretty overall, I think. The flannel-back satin has an interesting effect because the flannel backing takes the color much better than the satin, so there is a sort of interesting sheen effect of the light satin with this darker base.
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The pictures didn’t capture the orange bottom very well–it is light but is much richer and prettier than it is appearing here.  Bah.

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Next: Into the abyss of fabric experimentation on the outer coat. I’ve realized I’m a bit paralyzed with uncertainty, so I’m going to take a slug of bourbon and just start. Caution to the wind! Into the breach!

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Coats, Works in Progress

The Dream Coat (yes, THAT Dream)

To use the most-uttered statement in the world of WordPress–I’ve been remiss in my blogging.

I’ve been working. And taking pictures. But they have been just sitting on various devices, making rude faces at me, building up into a big ol’ guilt-mountain. UNTIL TODAY. Today, gentle reader, I have ventured into the wilds of Pekoe Sip House, where dude-bros discussing au pairs and Muy Thai rub elbows with white women in head-scarves doing dramatic chakra-blessings over their rooibos. I am not kidding. And it is only 8:30 am.

I have fueled myself with chai (with real milk, because I am going promptly to hell) and will now endeavor to sort out some of what I’ve been doing lately. I may need more chai.

A bit of foundation– feel free to skip this and go straight to pretty pictures. I’m in the process of building up a portfolio to apply to grad school, to continue to study the sartorial arts, or the artsy sartorials. One of those.  I’m building the crux of this portfolio around coats– sort of a conceptual bee I’ve had in my (shiny) bonnet for quite a while and have probably talked at you about before. Basically I have some ideas for pieces that are both art and garment, but it’s a lot of ideas in a lot of uncharted territory and I pretty much have no idea what I’m doing but I have faith it shall be, if not awesome, at least interesting.  So that’s the WHY of it.

I started with the Purple Scrappy Coat, which I still haven’t finished. It pretty much taught me just enough to know that I wanted to make the whole thing from scratch and have control over the shape and style of the coat. I may have control issues.

So I made the Piped Damask Coat to begin learning about that. I should mention that I am not, at this present moment, expecting to become a master tailor. Tailoring is an intense craft that, frankly, scares the shit out of me, so while I intend to pick up as much knowledge and skill as possible, please don’t mistake this for me being all “I’m a tailor now!” That’s like drawing a stick figure and then introducing yourself as an artist.  But I digress…

The newest project is inspired by The Sandman. That’s right, this guy:

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Isn’t he just DREAMY?

(i’m sorry.)

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If you don’t know the Sandman books, go read them all, right now, then come back. These books have been HUGELY influential in my life, and if I could pick ANY ONE LIVING, FAMOUS PERSON to be friends with, it would absolutely be Neil Gaiman. I have even drawn this wonderful alternate reality: It’s me and Neil drinking tea and discussing books and dogs and the magic of small things, all while taking a lovely jog, and we don’t spill a drop, no not a one.

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Right. Fangirling over. I am so embarrassed.

I thought to myself, “If I were the Lord of Dreams, what would I wear?” so it’s the Dream Coat… no technicolor involved.

Here’s some of the first sketches.

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Lots of doodle of pockets and sleeves…

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Dream is pretty much tall, dark and handsome. Emphasis on dark. He’s a bit of a mope sometimes, but you love him anyway. He makes my inner goth very happy. He’s always in black, so I’m thinking black on black on black for the coat, clearly. However, his cloak is all flames on the inside, so I want to work in an element of that as well.

I picked a very nice Burda pattern as the base pattern to mock up a muslin in. I’m basically taking the shape and sleeves of this coat and altering the hell out of it.

Point A:

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 I drafted a new collar, added a hood, lengthened and changed the sleeves, added inseam pockets, added pleats to the back and changed the hemline. Pray for me that it goes together alright at the end.ImageImage

Lots of alterations and bourbon went into this pattern.Image

It should be a lot closer to this now.

Point B:

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Next– into the (fabric) breach! Stay tuned!

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Works in Progress

Cowl-Hoodie!

Halloween is finally over and I have a bit more time on my hands. Time to make new stuff!

I’m in a space-themed fashion show in December, and I need some new pieces so my models aren’t strutting down the catwalk topless–space pasties? Also, I’ve been itching to make a cozy fall pullover. Something lined with nice cotton jersey– cozy on the inside, space-babe on the outside! Woo!

I’m working on V.4 today. I’ll post pictures soon. I’m also thinking of doing a guy’s version of this one…

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Works in Progress

Gold Dress Day.

My Burning Man orders are finally all done and out the door, and Halloween hasn’t really kicked in yet, sooo… time to work on new designs! I want to have some new styles for fall, and I particularly want to make some fun dresses. I worked up a LIGHTNING DRESS (boom) a few weeks ago…

It has a bunch of triangle inserts in the skirt to give it super flare, but I’m not sure if I love the way it hangs, so I wanted to try princess seams. Cue gallery of progress pics:

The gold fabric is really gorgeous. SOOOO shiny. The princess seams really help the way the fabric lays and flares, but they did sort of annoy my tender flesh on the inside, so I lined the dress with a cotton-lycra jersey. The bodice was lined anyway, to make bras optional, so the added lining was easy, and I think it helps the overall structure.  I think I may make it a bit longer… Jason says no, but of course the boy-type says that. Length is tricky; it’s a fine line between teenager-cheerleader, sexy-kicky-fun, and frumpy-kindgergarten-teacher. Not that kindergarten teachers are frumpy. Mine was a stone-cold fox, according to my father, who nearly married her. Long story. My college therapist LOVED that.

ANYWAY! Shiny dress. Therapy.

I’m loving these dresses because A: they’re just awesome, and B: I would have DIED for these in high school. See, I’m soothing my inner child. Take THAT, therapy! The more the brand grows, the more it begins to clarify. Like butter. These clothes are for kids who were weird in high school. Or still are weird. Or still in high school. All of the above. Anyway, for all of us out there… own your weird. And dress it up in shiny things and take it out on the town.

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