labricoleuse: (mee)
Wow, i can tell it's been a busy season and semester--no posts since October! But, the semester's winding down and i found some time to blog. Today, a survey of some of my students' footwear projects for the class i'm teaching this semester! (If you follow me on Instagram, you'll have gotten a realtime peek at some of these already...)



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Button-boot spats by first year grad Michelle Bentley

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Crossweave faille button boots by first year grad Robin Ankerich

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Top left: velvet spats by undergraduate Natalie Carney
Bottom left: plaid wool spats by undergraduate Athene Wright
Right: wool spats by first year grad Robin Ankerich

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Heels with appliqued leather/suede "wings" by undergraduate Athene Wright

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Heels with 3D printed dinosaur skull toecaps and foot/claw heel ornaments by first year grad Erin Torkelson

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3D printed platform sole prototype by first year grad Michelle Bentley
labricoleuse: (mee)
I've been lax at sharing student projects, probably due to having taken up Instagram, but hopefully this post will remedy that a bit. This semester's graduate crafts course is Decorative Arts, but what that tends to mean is a catch-all for craft topics that don't fit neatly into one of my other three classes (Millinery, Dyeing/Surface Design, Masks/Armor). So far, we've made it through two projects--gloves and period accessories. Check them out!




Top: ultrasuede gloves with beaded trim by first year grad Erin Torkelson
Bottom: burgundy leather gloves (replica of antique pair) by second year grad Emily Plonski


Left: blue knit gloves by second year grad Max Hilsabeck
Top right: crepe knit gloves by first year grad Robin Ankerich
Bottom right: rick-rack inset gloves by first year grad Erin Torkelson


Top: royal leather gloves with cutwork by first year grad Robin Ankerich
Bottom: coral leather gloves with cutwork and ruffly by first year grad Michelle Bentley



Sequin lace fan by second year grad Max Hilsabeck


Beaded reticule by first year grad Michelle Bentley


second year grad Emily Plonski designed the frame for this velvet reticule and had it 3D printed by the makerspace at the Kenan Science Library here at UNC. This purse is now featured in a display at the library on using 3D fabrication technologies across arts and science disciplines.



First year grad Erin Torkelson designed the rigid base for a gambling purse and had it 3D printed by the makerspace at the Kenan Science Library here at UNC. She then ombre-dyed the print to get the blue halo at the bottom shown here.

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Then, she created a crochet pattern and made this sweet gambling purse!
labricoleuse: (vintage hair)
Judy Adamson's period pattern class presented 1920s day dresses last week (this semester is 20th century womenswear).

Here's some pix, plus a bonus footwear project!

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (design)
This semester, i'm teaching my graduate level millinery class, and today my students presented their first round of projects--buckram forms!

Here are some of the highlights... (plus also a bonus pair of super-awesome Alexander McQueen-inspired platform shoes!)

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (shoes!)
Decorative Arts class had their final presentations today! I have only three images to share but they are pretty fantastic.

Also, i'd like to congratulate two of them on some awards/honors.

Undergraduate senior Lydia Hanchett received an acceptance of an abstract for presentation at the USITT national conference in Forth Worth, TX this spring. Lydia's work on invisible wefting of synthetic hair will be on display at the juried exhibition of the Costume Commission Poster Session. Congrats, Lydia!

And, third year graduate student Candy McClernan was awarded one of the university’s Impact Awards, a campus-wide honor for graduate-level research impacting the NC economy. Candy’s submission, which presented the work she conducted with digital textile designs used in Playmakers Repertory Company's production of Cabaret and its connection to the NC textile industry, won one of the $500 awards. Her submission illustrated how the visibility of her digital textile creations in online press and at regional and national conference presentations have driven costume production artists in the Southeast and nationwide to patronize digital fabric printing companies based in NC. Congratulations, Candy!

But shoes:

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (paraplooey)
I completely spaced sharing photos of my students' parasol projects, earlier in the semester. Things got pretty hectic with the repertory shows and it just fell through the cracks! So, here they are, late but nonetheless fun and fantastic.

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (vintage hair)
My Decorative Arts class is winding up and i have some intial shoe projects to share. They do two pairs of shoes, a "simple" and a "complex," and most of these are their simple projects. Some fun stuff in here!

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (macropuppets!)
In my last post, i shared some pictures of the more "conventional" sorts of body padding projects my students might elect to do for this recent unit--pregnancy pads, gender-crosscast padding, and "permanent" dress form padding.

Some of my students though chose to do what are called "pod bodies" for this project--the kind of non-human physique structures typically made for creature costumes, like theme-park walkarounds. Due to space and time constraints (and in the interest of conserving materials/$ as well), we do these on the half-scale. Check them out!

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (vintage hair)
My Decorative Arts students presented a round of projects this past week, and i've got some images to share. This project is called "Reshaping the Actor," and it covers a range of different topics--body padding, faux deformities, character/mascot bodies, and so forth. So the projects can be all over the map, depending on a student's area of interest.

This first set of pictures is of some more "traditional" reshapers. I'm splitting it out and will make a second post in the future with the more fantastical/mascot shapes.


Read more... )
labricoleuse: (design)
As i said in my prior post in this two-parter, the second unit in my Decorative Arts class is formally called "period accessories," but informally called "propstumes"--items which are sometimes considered a prop, and sometimes considered a costume, usually aesthetically determined by the costume designer, and sometimes made by the costume production staff. The point of the project is to explore the creation of an item which often has a very specific function within the context of a theatrical production--reticules must contain other props, housekeepers must unlock doors with the keys on chatelaines, fans must easily and smoothly open and close (and often stand up to abuse like smacking a fellow actor with them!).

So, since i have eight(!) students this time, i've decided to share these projects in two separate posts, split by theme. The first part featured three handbags and a fur muff, and today we have two fans and two ocular/spectacles/goggley devices that i don't really have a good term for!
Read more... )
labricoleuse: (paraplooey)
The second unit in my Decorative Arts class is formally called "period accessories," but informally called "propstumes"--items which are sometimes considered a prop, and sometimes considered a costume, usually aesthetically determined by the costume designer, and sometimes made by the costume production staff. The point of the project is to explore the creation of an item which often has a very specific function within the context of a theatrical production--reticules must contain other props, housekeepers must unlock doors with the keys on chatelaines, fans must easily and smoothly open and close (and often stand up to abuse like smacking a fellow actor with them!).

So, since i have eight(!) students this time--i'm overenrolled by two, my normal course max enrollment is six--i'll share these projects in two separate posts, split by theme. Today features three handbags and a fur muff.


Read more... )
labricoleuse: (macropuppets!)
My decorative arts class has just presented their first round of projects, gloves. They make a simple pair in order to get a hang for the weird shapes of glove patterns, then a complex pair which involves some sort of challenge--either a pattern manipulation, or a material like leather, etc. Here are some images of their results.


Read more... )
labricoleuse: (shoes!)
My decorative arts class turned in their last round of projects yesterday, and i have some cool images to share! This class is seriously awesome.

The final project is a unit called "Reshaping the Actor," and it deals with projects in which the basic human form needs to be altered. On a traditional level, this can be a project like a fat pad or a pregnancy belly. On a more craftastic level, students have chosen in the past to do things like a dimensional spine/ribcage, extra arms (think Kali), etc. And, i also allow them to choose to do a half-scale pattern for a creature costume pod-body shape.

Check it out!



Read more... )
labricoleuse: (shoes!)
Super busy right now with the end of the semester and the beginning of our repertory shows coming into the shop, but i cannot wait--i have to share these images of first-year graduate student Leah Pelz's complex footwear project from my decorative arts class, a shoe mod based on the Alexander McQueen lobster claw/armadillo shoes popularized by Lady Gaga!

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (shoes!)
My decorative arts class presented their simple footwear projects yesterday, and i have a few fun photos to share. These projects usually consist of either soft shoes, spats or gaiters, or recovering shoes.

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (paraplooey)
My decorative arts class has just presented their parasol projects. Check them out!

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (design)
My decorative arts students have just finished their second round of projects, for a unit i call "Small Hand Props." This is a new project topic i added this year, in place of a former unit on jewelry for the stage. I was never happy with that project or topic in general, jewelrymaking being one of the areas in which you can often find plenty of documentation and local classes and such, and my philosophy of graduate coursework in crafts is that it needs to cover topics and artisanship study you cannot likely find elsewhere.

So, the Small Hand Props unit was born of the inspiration that, in my career i have often been asked to create items which were essentially props--fans, chatelaines, reticules and other period bags--simply because the costume designer oversaw the design of them in tandem with the clothes. I wanted to offer a project which would address those areas in an atmosphere of guided study, with emphasis in both the aesthetic of the final product and the functionality. Here are some images of the projects they did!
Read more... )
labricoleuse: (frippery)
My Decorative Arts class turned in their first round of projects today, gloves! They do two pairs, one simple pair to get a feel for the strange process glovemaking requires, then a more complex pair in which they choose a more complex style, pattern, or challenging fabric (or leather).

Here are a few pix of some of their work:

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (design)
I've said it before and i'll say it again. One of the things i really love about the teaching component of a Teaching Artist job is, the cycle of my classes forces me to revisit specific topics on a regular basis, remind myself what i know about them and do more research into both historical methods and new technologies. It's not that i didn't love my previous jobs of being a non-teaching artist, but in those jobs my opportunities for doing research and development were attached to the requirements of the theatres and designers for which i worked.

The class i teach this semester is called Decorative Arts, which is to say that it encompasses all the crafts artisanship topics which aren't covered by Millinery/Wigs, Dyeing/Surface Design, or Masks/Armor. So, for example, right now my students are well into the first project, gloves. I'll have images of their work to share next week when they present, but i'm a step ahead and am focusing on the next project.

In previous years, i've taught a jewelry unit. It focused on jewelry production and rigging for stage and we covered topics like soldering, types of frequently-used stageworthy hardware like split rings or magnetic clasps, and media like polymer clay and silicone molds/resin casting. I've never really been satisfied with the fairly narrow scope of that project/unit though, and this year i've decided to switch it out for a new project focus, which i'm calling Small Hand Props for the Crafts Artisan.

Since Decorative Arts is the class in which we address parasol production (which IME often falls to the craftsperson because the parasols usually match the dresses and are designed by the costume designer rather than the scenic designer), I thought, why not do a unit on the OTHER things that are technically props, but which costume production artists are often asked to create for similar reasons? Namely, reticules and other period purses, chatelaines and other functional-but-worn jewelry items, and fans.

Fans! What fun! As someone who carries a fan in her purse all summer, you could say i'm a fan. Hur.

Anyhow, I've made quite a few fans to match gowns, and even written a blog post on the topic with a ton of useful links. Today's post is similar, but involves the services of the excellent digital fabric printer Spoonflower.

When thinking about this project and what sorts of options my students might wish to consider, i figured, clearly you can take a fabulous fine fabric and make a fan with it, but the more i researched period fan designs and read about historical fan production and the incredible popularity of fan painting as an art, the more i thought, I have to do a sample fan to show them which incorporates that element.

I found all kinds of wonderful images of elaborate fan leaf designs (even some by famous artists like Gaugin and Degas), but i decided upon an image from 1885, painted by Jean Beraud, depicting a crowded city street cluttered with bowler-hatted men sheltering bustle-dressed ladies with large umbrellas from a rain-goddess storming upon them. I found a great image of it in The Fan: Fashion and Femininity Unfolded by Valerie Steele, which is a wonderful resource book for such things.

I scanned the Beraud fan painting at a high resolution and then fiddled with it in Photoshop until i got it to be the proper size and scale for the fan frame. The original is very painterly and precious in its brush-strokes, so i tossed a couple of filters on it as well to sharpen some lines and contrast and "age" the image a bit to make it look better from a distance when mounted on a fan frame. Then I uploaded it to Spoonflower and ordered it centered on a fat quarter of silk crepe de chine. Five days later, I had my beautifully-printed silk Beraud fan leaf! Thanks, Spoonflower!

But, rewind. Another thing i wanted to address in my sample project was the sturdiness and operation of the fan monture (that's the proper term for the frame structure of a fan).

When you're making a decorative fan, or even a delicate fan for a "regular person," the action of the mechanism is not always the primary concern. If a fan is going to hang on a wall, or if someone wants to carry it around at their wedding, it may be the case that the look of the monture is more important than that it withstand violent snaps open and shut.

Actors are a whole different ballgame. If you give an actress a fan, it will become an essential part of her creation of character--she will open it violently to get someone's attention, snap it shut in frustration, even smack someone with the closed fan. I've worked on two productions of The Mikado where fan choreography was employed for an entire chorus, two dozen actors snapping and popping and cracking their fans open and shut on cue over and over and over. You HAVE to work with a monture that can go the distance.

In my experience, the best fans to cannibalize montures from for "ornate looking" designs for stage purposes are these inexpensive plastic-stave fans which you can usually find for around $5 apiece. The sticks are resilient and the hinges are strong enough not to drop apart with dramatic use, but not so stiff you can't firmly snap them open and shut with the flick of a wrist. The leaves (a "leaf" is the term for the fabric portion of the fan) are typically easily peeled free from the frame intact and can be used as a pattern for your replacement fabric. They come in a range of colors and while the gold detailing looks cheesy up close, it actually looks great onstage. If you plan to use the fan in a close-range situation (strolling performers or a house where the audience is very close to the action), you can tone down the metallic ornamentation with a rub-off treatment using some FEV or enamel paint for plastic.

The rest of this is best illustrated in a series of photographs. Read more... )
labricoleuse: (shoes!)
Just the quickest of breaks in end-of-semester hecticness to post but i couldn't keep them to myself! Decorative Arts class presented all their final projects yesterday afternoon, and i have some fun images of some of the projects.

The way the semester worked out, we wound up doing the footwear project last due to respirator training scheduling with our Safety folks; because of the danger of the solvent-based chemicals we use in footwear applications, i won't teach that unit til all students have gone through respirator training and fit-testing and have their proper PPEs. They have to do two different footwear projects--a simple project and a complex project. Simple projects are often something like spats/gaiters, a soft shoe, or a basic shoe modification. Complex projects are all over the map, everything from animal feet for human performers, to transformation of a modern shoe into a period style.

click for footwear fabulosity )

Aren't they lovely, fun, zany, and just excellent? I am so proud of all their work.

Here's some nice news: I decided to cross-post a lot of my "grad school application FAQ" posts over on TheatreFace.com (a networking community for the theatre profession), and my "Should I go to U/RTA?" post was profiled as a highlight in their weekly news update. Cool!

And, a book link: one of my students brought in a book she used in a research paper, and it's really fascinating, X-Rediography of Textiles, Dress, and Related Objects, by Sonia O'Connor and Mary M. Brooks. The old footwear is truly amazing--with all the nails and shanks and in one case, even TOE BONES down inside them. There are some really disturbing-looking x-rayed old dolls, too. If that interests you, definitely check it out!

I swear, i just have to finish getting these evals written and grades turned in, and i will write that entry on the bloody lipsewing appliance.

That will be my Christmas gift to you all, perhaps. Ha!

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