labricoleuse: (vintage hair)
We're working on a production of Ibsen's Enemy of the People right now at Playmakers Repertory Company, and i've had the occasion to do a distressing/aging project that some of y'all might enjoy.

Our production is set in the 1950s, and we've got a character whose very nice, new wool suit actually needs to look old and decrepit. The actor playing this character is one of our company actors, which means he's cast several times a year, and we have some go-to items for him which get used frequently--suits, shoes/boots, etc. Rather than wrecking a really good suit from our stock which we know fits him well and which would get future use, if it could be restored after this show, I'm using the Schmere line of products to do some reversible surface design.

Schmere makes a line of wax-based crayons and "smudge sticks" which have dry pigment suspended in them. You rub them on the costume, and they wash or dry-clean out. They're used a lot in the film industry, when a production might rent a HUGE number of costumes for a crowd scene and need them dirtied up, but not actually wrecked beyond restoration. For theatre, use of Schmere does mean that any treatment will need reapplication after each cleaning during the course of a run. For us, this means i'll need to "re-up" the Schmere at least two more times. Take a look:

Yes, they come in deodorant containers. Yes, one color is called sweat stains. Yes, that's funny.

Would you believe all the highlights and lowlights and shading on this coat will disappear at the dry cleaners?

Detail of streaky "sun-fading" and "sweat stain" on the coat back.
labricoleuse: (design)
My favorite project on Henry IV is far and away the aging process for Falstaff's fiddleback leather coat, which was custom made for actor Michael Winters in the role.

We brought on board tailor Kara Monroe (also a UNC alum from our costume production MFA program) to pattern and construct the coat from three hides of lovely buttery leather. (It had to be big to go over Mr. Winters' prodigious fat padding suit!) Kara made a beautiful garment, but a just-made coat looks like exactly that: a new piece of clothes! Falstaff is not the sort of man who has a brand new anything in this play, unless it's maybe a brand new bottle of booze.

Costume Designer Jennifer Caprio had very clear ideas about the nature of the coat--my notes from our discussion about the aging say:

  • his favorite coat
  • worn it for 30 years in battle/war/bar brawls
  • lays around brothels in it
  • drinks all night in it, passes out in it

photos and method )
labricoleuse: (Default)
A few posts ago, I made an update about the show opening tonight for which i have designed costumes, a world premiere of a new script by playwright and director Mike Wiley. The play, The Parchman Hour, takes place partly in Mississippi's notorious Parchman Farm prison.

My prior post talked about how I came up with the costume design for the inmate characters doing hard time, whom we know from copious research images wore ragged, faded, black-and-white striped convict uniforms:

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (CAD)
I'm currently designing costumes for a very exciting project, the professional world premiere of The Parchman Hour, a new play written and directed by Mike Wiley.

The play chronicles the stories and songs of the Freedom Riders, a group composed mostly of college students who, during the summer of 1961, challenged segregation in the southern US by riding Greyhound and Trailways buses into the Deep South and refusing to observe segregated waiting rooms, restrooms, terminal lunch counter seating, and bus seating.

They met with violent resistance--one bus was firebombed and several of the Riders were beaten so badly they had to be hospitalized. They were not deterred, however, and more busloads of them kept coming--eventually over 300 people in all. Ultimately the state of Mississippi began incarcerating them in the notorious Parchman Farm Penitentiary, where they endured cruel abuse but kept their spirits up with songs and a nightly "vaudeville show," in which they would trade off reciting poetry, delivering speeches and sermons, telling jokes, calling out their contributions to everyone down the row on their cellblock.

In our production, there are several performers (one actor and four musicians) who are costumed as long-term Parchman inmates--men who are not part of the Freedom Riders group, but who instead are part of the Parchman gen-pop, hardened criminals and chain-gang workers who toil in Parchman's fields day in and day out. The uniforms worn by those prisoner characters are the subject of this post.

In researching what the uniforms looked like, I was specifically looking for photographs of prisoners making music, since the majority of our performers costumed in this way will be prominently featured onstage providing the music for the show.Read more... )

ETA: If you also need yardage of pre-aged prison striped fabric, you can buy this design from Spoonflower at this link right here!
labricoleuse: (Default)
I never did get a chance to write up a whole bunch of seminars from USITT National convention, because Big River and the end of the semester carried me away. Now that it's summer though, I can go back through my notes and post about them!

This is the first of probably three or four in a series. All of them will have different topics, which for today is custom surface design and digitally printed fabrics, addressed in a seminar hosted by Disney, called “Making it our Own.”

This seminar was hosted by employees of Disney's sublimation print department, which is located in LA. I'm going to preemptively apologize to the presenters for my questionable ability to credit them. Going by the conference program, the presenters were two women named Rebecca Carroll-Mulligan and Brenda Mercure. I admit though, this was an 8 AM session and I did not take good notes on who said what when so from here on out I'm just going to talk about “the presenters” and the like.

Most of the fabrics the department produces now are for costumes for Disney's shows, everything from a one-off show that is performed a single time, to theme park productions which run 20 times a day and feature lots of duplicates of all costumes. The fabrics are worn indoors and outdoors in all weather by performers doing physically challenging choreography, and must sustain a huge amount of laundry processes. It's a facility with three employees, two printers, and a yardage heat press machine, and serves all of Disney's parks and productions worldwide. I was surprised that a company as huge as Disney has such a small facility, but they said it was growing as more departments realized and utilized its capabilities. For example, the sublimation print department has begun doing work for the scenic departments in the parks by creating UV resistant banners.

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (dye vat)
Our next production at PlayMakers Repertory Company, Tanya Barfield's Blue Door, opens this coming weekend.

Here's what our website says about the play:

A soul-searching journey begins when an African-American professor is left by his wife due to his reluctance to embrace his identity. The night of their break he’s visited by the spirits of several male ancestors whose stories illuminate and guide his way. Blue Door is a beautiful exploration, through text and song, of what it costs to disconnect from our past and from the legacy of our cultural heritage. Tony Award-winning Trezana Beverley, who brought us The Bluest Eye and Yellowman, will direct.

The play features among the professor's ancestors a man who says he's over a hundred years old, though he appears wearing the clothes of his youth, including what was once a nicely-tailored wool vest. This vest (in fact, two of them, since the staging calls for a duplicate of this garment) was made by tailor B. Daniel Weger in-house. The costume designer, Jade Bettin, wanted the vest aged to look very old, but not tattered--a vest well-kept by its owner.

Before and After... )
labricoleuse: (supershakespeare)
Tonight is Opening Night for Pericles, so it's time for an overview post of the work that came through the Costume Crafts department on this show! This post doesn't include every single item we worked on, but it does cover quite a few...

First, let me offer my usual disclaimer that all of the images and information that i share in this blog is strictly by permission of the artists, artisans, designers, and companies that i work for. I have worked under non-disclosure contracts and the pieces i have produced in those jobs have not appeared on this blog nor been discussed. I have had some inquiries about the legality of "behind the scenes"-style blogging--when i write about PlayMakers shows and the UNC graduate program, it is with their knowledge and permission.

Now that that's out of the way, let's go! (Lots of images behind cut-tag.) )
labricoleuse: (silk painting)
I don't teach this class, but i like to share photos from their projects anyhow.

sideless gowns and lirapipe action )

I've also got one documented project of aging for our second stage show, In the Continuum, opening tonight. A length of brand-new cloth needed to be worn and aged--it's worn as a wrap by an elderly man character, and the designer wanted this piece of cloth to look well-cared-for (i.e., not ragged or holey or gross) but definitely old.

before and after )

Also, TOTALLY unrelated but so cool i have to share it: [ profile] bearhedded posted a link to the USITT costume e-group for this fascinating video on how dress forms are made! Great info in case you find yourself with a dress form that needs repairing or refurbishment, or just wonder what's inside of them...

My millinery students present their first hat project tomorrow, so i'm hoping to have some cool pictures to share of their buckram forms soon thereafter.
labricoleuse: (opening night gala)
In addition to the cage crinolines, which were featured in their own post a few days ago, there were quite a few craftwork projects in the current production of The Illusion, running through May 6th at PlayMakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill, NC. (The icon is from a candid photo taken at the opening night gala for this show--I think it's my new icon for "Yay, this show is done!" overview-posts!)

photos and descriptions of dye projects, fabric painting, hats, and more )
labricoleuse: (dye vat)
This post though is an overview of the crafts projects involved in the PlayMakers Repertory Company's current mainstage production, The Bluest Eye, running through the end of the weekend at the Paul Green Theatre in Chapel Hill, NC.

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (hats!)
Yesterday i had to distress two jackets and vests for our upcoming show, Stones in His Pockets. Here's a quick photographic overview of the first step in this process, soaking and weighting:

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (me)
My dyeing and distressing course came to a close today with final presentations of projects. One of my students used a particularly creative and effective method to do some completely removable extreme distressing on a pair of mens trousers, which i thought i'd share here:

salt water! )
labricoleuse: (me)
First up: forthcoming posts will include the final two segments of my studio setup discussion, backstage at The Lion King, and an exhibit review of the current costume history gallery at the NC Museum of History.

This post though is an overview of the crafts projects involved in the PlayMakers Repertory Company's current mainstage production, The Underpants, running through the end of the month at the Paul Green Theatre in Chapel Hill, NC.

photos and discussion )
labricoleuse: (shoes!)
Here's the second part of my four-part studio setup series, but first i should give you guys a heads-up on a couple of very exciting things i've got coming up.

First up will be an in-depth report on the exhibit, What We Wore in North Carolina, a huge exhibit at the NC Museum of History in Raleigh, the first installment (of a planned two) of which just opened and runs through February 19, 2007. The exhibit covers over 200 years of fashion and reputedly has an excellent collection of antique pieces. I'll let you know all about it!

And second, admittedly exponentially cooler: I've swung backstage access to the wardrobe department of The Lion King. Reportage will be most assuredly forthcoming late next week. I'm so excited i might as well be doing the pee-dance. I did work on the rebuild of Julie Taymor's King Stag that the American Repertory Theatre did a few years back, and at that time i had the singular opportunities of being able to observe milliner Denise Wallace rebuilding those hats with the then-new thermoformable felt Fosshape, and myself refurbishing masks Taymor herself built originally around twenty years ago. Being able to see inside Taymor's TLK designs, particularly the ones that came out of the Michael Curry Design I can't wait!

Now, to return to my series about setting up a crafts studio, today's focus is on shoe repair, leatherworking, and costume distressing supplies. Read more... )

Lastly, unrelated to upcoming posts here or setting up a studio, I recommend checking out Entwinements, the blog of the shibori studio of Karren K. Brito in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She's got a ton of really informative in-depth posts about her shibori artwear creations. Fascinating, creative, inspiring stuff!

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