labricoleuse: (silk painting)
The first workshop we attended at USITT-Southeast (held the past weekend on the campus of the University of Georgia at Athens) concerned fabric painting techniques using a special type of transparent paint mixed and sold by Gene Mignola for costume painters like Margaret Peot (the workshop leader).

Mignola's fabric paint (or perhaps "fabric paint" is a better notation) is actually a sort of dye paste--dye suspended in a gum arabic base, which results in a transparent color medium that thins with water and can be used to paint silk, wool, and nylon substrates, including nylon/spandex stretch fabrics. Margaret told us that this type of fabric colorant was devised in part by legendary costume designer Willa Kim for doing painterly techniques on her dancewear designs. Mignola only sells it in bulk quantities (gallons and up) though, so for most folks working on a small scale in regional or academic theatre, you'd probably be better off blending your own in the smaller quantities you need on a project-by-project basis.

In this first workshop, we used the dye/gum paint to paint on woven silk and stretchy nylon/spandex swatches. Margaret illustrated how she achieves several unique paint effects in her work, from scales to warty blobs to feathers to wood-grain. Here are some images i snapped of a couple of processes.

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (silk painting)
The past few days, a contingent of us from the UNC-Chapel Hill graduate program in costume production attended the regional conference for USITT-Southeast.

Regional conferences can be kind of hit-or-miss, depending on how far you have to travel to go to one, who's running it, and how the luck of th programming draw falls. Sometimes the conference turns out better for say, scenic folks than costume folks depending on who they get as guests and presenters. This year was a good one for us, in that we were able to travel to Athens in a university van (so, no travel costs for our students) and one of the guests of honor was renowned Broadway fabric painter Margaret Peot, who also teaches fabric painting at Tisch. [1]

Margaret conducted two workshops on different fabric painting techniques, which i'll be writing up over the next few days, but i thought i'd post a series of images from her own work as a first-look sort of thing. She brought a huge selection of paint samples and gave a talk the first morning on her own career and experiences, kind of like a portfolio presentation, almost, in that it included a slide show full of stage shots, design renderings, and fitting photos of various costumes for which she's done paintwork. Her career has so far spanned from Cats to Spiderman, so it was an incredible array of what amounts to Broadway costume production surface-design history of the past 20 years, really.

Here are a few of the photos i took:

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (design)
Last night, assistant costume director Adam M. Dill and i attended Spoonflower's holiday party at their new location in Durham, NC, just right up the street from my house!

In addition to providing a lovely spread of hors d'oeurvres (including some peppermint chip cookies to die for), the staff were so welcoming and friendly, and gave us a tour of their new digs. Check it out!

scenes from the party )
labricoleuse: (Default)
A couple quick reposts before i head out for the dentist (boo) and then hatblock casting (yay):

First up, I'm always on the lookout for recycling opportunities for stock-culling, and this is a great one. Clean out your stock of nylons! And, partner with some local hair salons to help with the oil spill cleanup in the Gulf! This info came through the costumers' e-list from UNCSA's Martha Ruskai:

There is an organization stuffing old and new pantyhose and old and new tights with human hair and animal fur to make booms that will soak up the oil spill in the Gulf.

If while doing your end of school year purge, or beginning of summer stock sorting please consider sending those old dead elastic hose to

You must sign up to donate. They will then send you an email with the address of where to send.

The other forwarded bit of info is on this summer's USITT Costume Commission Summer Symposium, which is hosted by UNC School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC. The topic is wigs and hair, and here's the info from Vice-Commissioner of Symposia Kevin McCluskey:

This summer's symposium "Wig Making and Styling" will be held August 5-7 at The School of Design and Production at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The symposium is hosted by Martha Ruskai.

The Commission is proud to support this unique chance for focused study in wig making and styling, both areas of interest continually requested by members as subjects for workshops and symposium. Martha has worked hard to put together a strong symposium, one at which everyone will leave with a focused study in their area of interest.

So here is a great chance to work with wig and hair artists who have designed and worked in more venues than I can write here....

You can download a symposium brochure and registration form at:
labricoleuse: (Default)
I found the notes file for the session i attended at USITT hosted by USA 829, the costume designers' union, and realized i'd never posted it. Now that i'm off contract for the season at PlayMakers, i can catch up on a lot of posts i've had percolating. Yay!

So, first up, here's the transcript (now a bit out of date, since this was last month and the text refers to "yesterday") on the union session:

I did get into the USA 829 intro session yesterday--I gather from some colleagues in other programming tracks that some of the rooms have been filled past capacity, and have had to turn people away.

The union presentation was interesting and informative, though heavily slanted toward scenic design and scenic artists, both in the panelists and the information covered. It was clear that the presentation was aimed at undergraduates--panelists kept throwing in phrases about "when you're young like you all are," and "when you are first beginning your career like you," and so forth, which felt a bit odd, given that when i looked around the room, i saw several attendees like myself, people 20 years or more into their careers.

Much of the information presented and the questions asked from the audience were things you could find on the union website--info about dues and fees, contract specs, locations of offices, etc.

It was worth attending though, in that they did elaborate on several topics not covered on the website--such as what their primary foci are ("Film and TV are our bread and butter," which makes me wonder how much they prioritize serving their members who work primarily in, say, theatre or opera) and what the nature of their entrance exams are like.

They answered a lot of questions about the nature of their benefits program (insurance/pension) for members, which is a definate concern for most freelancers, and gave some interesting figures on membership and payscale. For example, they estimated that for any given round of entrance exams, they had around 110 prospective candidates vying for admission, that around 30 made it to the final round of interviewing/examinations, and that they offered membership to about 7 of those. So, joining isn't easy, and not something you can just choose to do and get right on it.

As a designer, should you prioritize trying to join? The reps advised yes (as you would expect), but not right out of school--they advocated working first and building up a good portfolio for the entrance exam. (Good advice, not just for the union but for grad school application processes as well.)

Myself, well, the majority of my work is production, not design; it's not something i plan to join unless my career were to take some kind of drastic turn. Career designers, though, perhaps it'd be a smart move. I'd be interested to see how the 829's benefits package compares with the group insurance you can get as a member of the Surface Design Association--i always advise my freelancing students and colleages to check out the SDA for access to health insurance options.

Food for thought.

Also, a quick announcement that i've set up a Facebook page for [ profile] labricoleuse, so if you aren't a LiveJournal user or if you'd rather follow posts over there on your FB feed, you can Like it and do so easily! (I admit, i was inspired by the new FB page for A Sketch A Day...)
labricoleuse: (opening night gala)
Project Runway is really rushing the costuming community hard this season. I have now been forwarded their call for designers five times, so i'll do my bit to get the word out. Here's a C&P from the one that went out to the USITT costume commission email list:

We are seeking fashion designers for our new season. Many of our strongest designers have come from the costuming world.

Submission information is on our website:

Please feel free to forward this email. We are looking for a diversity of designers--age(21+), region, POV--we want to see it all!

In related news, NCSU Colleges of Textiles and Design collaborate to stage a huge wearable art show each year, held in their Raleigh campus coliseum and drawing crowds of over 1000 spectators. Though Art to Wear is highly fashion-oriented in a lot of ways, due to the international profile of their College of Textiles and its ties to the fashion industry, they are starting to really pursue costume designers' input and participation as well. One of this year's jury members who judged the show and sponsored two of the awards is Tony-winning costume designer and proud Carolinian William Ivey Long.

It takes some time to page through, but i promise that a perusal of this 145-image slide show of both the runway and behind the scenes at the event is well worth it. Some highlights: the swirling millinery of Eleanor Hoffman, and the fast-food trash collection created by Kirk Smith, a surprising entrant out of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences who entered the competition on a dare and wound up winning the Juror's Choice award for his amazing creations.
labricoleuse: (CAD)
In addition to vendors and school info booths and book signings and panel discussions, USITT also featured some interesting exhibits.

  • Design Expo is a yearly event, which features costume, makeup, and stage designs.
  • The Costume Commission sponsored and "Honor Our Mentors" exhibit of costume design and production artists celebrated by their former students.
  • "Evolution of a Designer" was an exhibit contrasting established designers' early and recent work.
  • "By the Hand of a Scenic" showcased painted drops by scenic artists.
  • "More is More: Costumes of Kansas City Repertory" featured both actual costumes on forms and design renderings from the nearly 50 years' production history of the Kansas City Repertory Company.
  • "False Faces of W. T. Benda" was an amazing exhibit curated by Elizabeth Popieri, who chanced to have the great-grandson of renowned mask artist W. T. Benda in a props class and put together this beautiful overview of his work and methods.

So, without further ado, here are some pictures of a selection of what was shown!

costumes and renderings galore )
labricoleuse: (safety)
I'm about to head out from the conference for a day's worth of driving, but i'd like to share another photoset from the Stage Expo--the main convention floor where all the vendor booths are located, where the schools set up their info booths, and the location of some of the other curated and juried exhibits.

You can go to the convention on an Expo-only pass for a greatly reduced rate, if your main goals are to get swag, check out schools' displays, and see most of the exhibits. (An Expo-only pass won't get you into any of the sessions or panel discussions, or any of the catered parties.) In fact, i may write a post later next week about the costs of attending USITT, from the "big spender" version down to the shoestring version. Expo-only is one way to do a lot of networking without forking over the top-dollar pass money.

Some vendors and schools on the Expo floor! )

While i'm on the subject of schools, one really cool thing i learned from the folks at the Boston University booth is their new certificate program in Costume Crafts, whereby students with a bachelors degree can take specialized crafts coursework and do practical hands-on work with Boston area theatres like the Huntington as crafts assistants, and in two years' time earn a professional certification credential and get a whole mess of excellent production credits. This struck me as a brilliant way for folks interested in working as freelance crafts artisans to get valuable training and resume-building without the enormous time/money commitment of a graduate program, should they decide that a masters is not something they're interested in or ready for.

This post is by no means approaching a complete overview of the Expo, either--there were literally hundreds of booths on the Expo floor. These were just vendors and schools whose displays caught my camera's eye. I've also got plans for one more photo post, of the special exhibits "Masks of W. T. Benda," the Design Expo, and some of the other non-vendor/non-academic Expo selections, as well as some session writeups. Once i get out of here, that is, and back down Carolina way!

And, unrelated but excellent, please enjoy this wonderful article in the New York Times about the rise of textile arts among long-haul truckers, particularly knitting and quilting. Awesome!

ETA 4/5/10: edited the post to correct some company attributions/links. Thanks for the clarifications, y'all!
labricoleuse: (Default)
The Costume Design & Technology Commission sponsors a juried exhibition of poster presentations on new and innovative costume production topics at USITT each year. Exhibitors are chosen by a panel of five professionals based on submitted abstracts. This year, we had two entries, my own presentation on the parasols from The Little Prince, and 3rd year grad student Randy Handley's costume production paperwork tracking database program, CAPS.

I took some photos of the exhibits in the session, so you can see what other kinds of presentations were like! I'll be writing up the panel discussions and presentations i've been attending...probably once the conference is over, since i have so many more yet to attend today. But photos, those i can share quickly, so here they are. I don't have all the info on which ones belong to whom--i had to zoom through in a flash in order to get back to my station--so if you recognize something here and it's not credited, please comment and let me know so i can add the right attribution!

A glimpse at the 2010 poster session )
labricoleuse: (Default)
This morning, I arrived in Kansas City, MO, for USITT, the North American conference for technical theatre practitioners. This year is a particularly noteworthy year for USITT, as it marks the 50th anniversary of the organization's founding. For the next four days, I'll be attending a variety of sessions and seminars on relevant topics, and hopefully i'll have time to blog about some of them!

Today (Wednesday), I've got three events on my schedule: a seminar on the pros and cons of USA 829 union membership, the annual Costume Design & Technology Committee meeting, and tonight's "Fifty & Nifty" party (basically, a big catered shindig for celebration and networking purposes).

Tomorrow, i mentioned in a previous post that i'm scheduled to participate in two events, portfolio critiques and the juried poster session presentation for costume innovation. Unfortunately, two sessions i'd love to attend directly conflict with the poster session--techniques for teaching color theory and an overview of the maskwork of artist/artisan W. T. Benda. There is a companion panel discussion to the Benda session on maskmaking media and processes in the evening which i *will* be able to attend, so that's exciting.

Friday, I'm eyeing seminars on the history and future of fabric in theatrical applications, future predictions for ballet costume innovations, a panel on technologies for supporting long-distance artistic collaboration, an intro to the L*A*B color communication system, "USITT and OSHA," 50 costume designers of the past 50 years, and the Costume Commission evening reception.

Saturday i plan to check out a seminar on sustainable/"green" theatre practices, and the international designers' forum for costumes and scenery.

And, somewhere in there i'm going to swing through the Young Technicians and Young Designers fora, and collect a bunch of swag on the floor of the Stage Expo!

Busy, busy.
labricoleuse: (Default)
First up, i'd like to mention that I'll be participating in the post-show Talkback event for the opening night of I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me By a Young Lady From Rwanda on Wednesday night.

This is a really exciting part of the PRC2 series, our second-stage programming at PlayMakers, because it allows for a conversation between the audience and various people who worked on the production. Sometimes it is the actors, sometimes the designers, director, dramaturg, sometimes people who have real-life experiences similar to those in a given play, sometimes even other interesting professionals, like the "Mindplay" series where psychologists discuss the potential motivations of different characters' behavior. It's really cool "DVD Extras" sort of augmentative event, and i'm very excited to be a part of it for this production as costume designer. This is exactly the kind of stuff i love to read about theatres putting into place as yet another means for connecting with the communities and audiences they serve.

The other topic on the table today is USITT, the national conference for theatre production professionals, held next week in Kansas City, MO, from March 31st to April 3rd. I'm attending (along with many others in our department), and will be blogging from the conference with all kinds of behind-the-scenes pix and info about what goes on at one of these things. If you've never been, it'll be a great way to get a good handle on what it's like, so you can decide whether to attend in future. This year is going to be a particularly big event, as it's the 50th anniversary of the organization, and proves to be a great conference.

There are a couple of events i should mention in advance of particular interest to costumers: the Costume Design & Technology Poster Session, and Portfolio Reviews.

The poster session is a juried presentation of posters that involve innovations and developments in the fields of research, design, production techniques, media, etc. It runs from 1:30pm-3pm on Thursday, April 1st (and that's no foolin'). During that time, you can wander the presentation hall and ask questions of the presenters, who are on-hand to discuss their topics. Most presenters bring handouts of their work for attendees to take home with info on supplies and methods. There'll be three of us on-hand from UNC-Chapel Hill this year--third-year grad student Randy Handley, myself, and second-year Shanna Parks.

Randy will be presenting his costume production management database software, CAPS (Computer Aided Paperwork System), which streamlines management paperwork from measurements to fitting requests to tech notes, allowing for much greater speed and ease of information-sharing.

I'll be discussing the modifications to parasol frame and canopy structure developed for the "Flowers to Apple Trees" illusion created for last season's The Little Prince. Shanna served as my crafts assistant on that production and will also be there to answer questions, as she was directly involved in streamlining the construction of the transformational canopies.

So, if you're at the conference and attend the poster session, look for us and be sure to say hi!

Portfolio reviews are another excellent opportunity at USITT, for which you can sign up in advance or during the conference. They're coordinated by Rafael Jaen, costume director at Emerson College in Boston, and you can contact him via the prior link to reserve a space.

I'm going to be participating in the reviews this year, teamed up with Stacey Galloway of University of Florida. We've got four 3-minute slots scheduled for Thursday the 1st from 11am to 1pm, so hopefully we'll get to meet some great folks and help them with their portfolios!

For now though, it's back to Rwanda for me. Two days til opening and notes yet to be done!
labricoleuse: (top hats!)
Just a quick update on this final night of what has been a wonderful tech for The Importance of Being Earnest (which begins previews this week and opens Saturday night):

I'm going to be joining director Matthew Arbour and costume designer Anne Kennedy for "It's All in the Details," a special presentation on the costume creation for the show tomorrow night--Monday March 1st--at McIntyre's Fine Books in Pittsboro. We'll be talking about the production process, on taking a show from concept to design to reality from a costume perspective. The event will include a display of some of the costume renderings and research, and I'll even be bringing some millinery for attendees to see up close!

This (free!) event begins at 7pm at the bookshop. If you live in the area, please drop by!

I have to say, i caught the beginning of tonight's run-through, and this production is going to be absolutely stellar. I'm not just cheering for the home team there either--i tend to be hypercritical of productions of Wilde plays because it's so easy for them to just ride on the text, even with low-level production values. This production features one of the coolest sets i've seen, conceptually, and the costumes are just plain spectacular. The hats in this show are the best of the season, and that's really saying something in a roster that included Nicholas Nickleby, where millinery is a vital part of the plot.
labricoleuse: (supershakespeare)
USITT 2010

Are you planning on attending USITT's 2010 National Conference? This is a great year to go, being USITT's 50th anniversary! We'll be there (meaning, several of us from the UNC-CH Costume Production MFA program), and there are a few special events I want to give advance notice on, in which we'll be participating.

The Costume Commission Poster Session is the primary juried competition specifically for theatre costume production innovators at the USITT conference (as opposed to the other competitions like Design Expo for designers in all areas, or Tech Expo for production artists in all disciplines). It's sponsored by the Costume Design and Technology Commission. According to their official blurb, the mission of the Costume Design and Technology Commission is to provide costume design and production practitioners with opportunities to share ideas, to exchange information, to develop professionally and to impact on the future welfare and development of those in our field.

Here's what the CD&T Commission says about the poster session:

At every Annual Conference & Stage Expo as many as twenty scholars and professionals present their posters, each illustrating an innovative or imaginative design or construction technique, a solution to a problem, a classroom or management technique, the results of research, or other ideas, discoveries, or developments in the field of costuming. Poster presentations are widely accepted as meeting the requirements for scholarly publication. Poster presenters also have the opportunity to publish their work in the USITT journal Theatre Design & Technology.

Both myself and Randy Handley (aka [ profile] handyhatter) had our abstracts accepted to present at the poster session this year!

My presentation will be on the parasol canopy and frame alteration innovations developed for the "Wall of Roses transform into Apple Trees" effect in PlayMakers' production of The Little Prince and its subsequent remount. Because we remounted the show, i had the rare opportunity to refine and streamline the modifications developed the first time around, and perfect the transforming canopy effect. Shanna Parks, a second year masters candidate, served as my crafts assistant on the remounted production last year and assisted in the construction of the final design; she will be a co-presenter at the session with me. Randy's presentation will be an in-depth look at his costume production management database program CAPS (Computer-Aided Paperwork System), for tracking and sorting all the documentation required for costume production, from fitting requests to measurement sheets to tech notes. We've been advised to expect an audience for our presentations of between 200-250 conference attendees. If you're at USITT this spring, drop by and check it out!

Another event i'm really looking forward to is the Member Author Signing session, at which i'll be signing copies of Sticks in Petticoats. I've sent off a review copy to Theatre Design and Technology magazine as well, so hopefully that'll be some advance input about the book from someone besides, you know, the author.

Carnegie Mellon's New Costume Production MFA Program

The ranks of costume production focus MFA programs have just expanded to a dirty dozen! We're glad to welcome Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, to the shortlist of schools offering a production-only focus. Here's the text from the official announcement:

Faculty and Staff members in the Costume Area including Barbara Anderson, Susan Tsu, Brian Russman, and Ken Chu are excited to offer a unique program that seeks to educate students who are sensitive to the interplay between artist and artisan. Our goal is to educate individuals who will be an integral part of the increasingly globalized theatre, television and film communities. We believe in flexibility and collaborative effort and are committed to producing innovators, thinkers, practitioners; artisans who can communicate as intelligent and conducive members of a team.

We are pleased to provide a broad ranging program that emphasizes the development and synthesis of skills including draping, flat patterning, tailoring, fabric painting and dyeing, jewelry creation, millinery, management and mask making, while allowing for investigation in fields of personal interest. All of this is in conjunction with training in the essentials of the world of Costume Design allowing for a wide connection to the theatre community. We encourage self-expression and seek to provide students with a great span of knowledge that will allow further self-exploration.

Join us in forging new territory as we undertake the adventure of marching toward the world of the future in Costume Production.

For more information please contact:

Brian Russman, Assistant Professor of Costume Production / 412.268.3648

Pretty exciting! I think it's so new they don't even have a live webpage for it yet, as i couldn't find any link on the CMU Drama Department site about it. Once they have a linkable URL up and running though, i'll be adding them as the twelfth program on my list of links to costume production focus MFA programs in the US.

Kaitlin Fara's Fin de Siecle Clocked Stocking Pattern Published

Remember Kaitlin Fara's fin de siecle clocked stocking pattern she created for one of her footwear projects? Kaitlin researched stocking trends and knitting patterns of the period and, utilizing several obfuscatively-notated period knitting patterns, created a reproduction, transcribing her process into a written knitting pattern that can be read by knitters accustomed to modern knitwear pattern conventions and notations.

Over the break, she published the pattern on, where it can be purchased for $2.99. (You do need to be a Ravelry member to purchase/view it; if you aren't but would like to be, request an invitation here.) Exciting!

I'm so proud when my students go the extra mile for publication of their work like that, and now, anyone who might need to knit turn-of-the-century clocked stockings has an extant publicly-available resource!

PRC Company Member Kenneth P. Strong

My final bit of news is one of care and concern. PlayMakers patrons and Triangle area theatre enthusiasts will remember the many thrilling performances of our dear company actor, Kenneth P. Strong, who in my time here has portrayed "The Aviator" in The Little Prince, and "Cleon/Helicanus" in Pericles, among many other memorable roles. Ken has bravely battled glioblastoma brain cancer for four(!) incredible years; over the holiday break, he entered a local hospice. Those who would like to leave him a message, well-wishes, and so forth, may sign his guestbook, here:

There is also an option to read updates on his condition, via the main journal that has been set up here:

Ken taught many many undergraduates as a professor here in the Department of Dramatic Art, and after his diagnosis, would tell them about his condition, his struggle with the cancer, and then would say to them that if they wanted to do something to help, to tell him a joke, because "laughter is the best medicine." If you want to leave a note for him but are unsure what to say, a joke is a good bet.
labricoleuse: (Default)
This came through the departmental listserv, and I know it'll be of interest to some of you, particularly undergraduates wanting to build their resumes. It's a great way to connect with a whole bunch of DC arts organizations all in one big event!

Washington, DC 3rd Annual Internship Fair for the Arts

Monday, February 15, 2010
10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Harman Center for the Arts
610 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20004
(near the Gallery Place/ Chinatown Metro station)

Sponsored by:

Arena Stage
Choral Arts Society of Washington
Class Acts Arts
Folger Shakespeare Library
Folger Shakespeare Theatre

Ford's Theater
Live It Learn It
National Building Museum
Olney Theatre Center
Opera Guild of Northern Virginia
Round House Theatre
Shakespeare Theatre Company
The Studio Theatre
Synetic Theater
Theater J
Tudor Place Historic House and Gardens
Washington National Opera
Washington Performing Arts Society
Wolf Trap Foundation
...and other participants


  • Arts Management
  • Artistic Technical
  • Community Outreach
  • Graphic Design
  • Media Relations
  • Production

Questions? E-mail sjameson-at-shakespearetheatre-dot-org
labricoleuse: (Default)
I feel like all i've been doing lately is posting links to other blogs and sites and conferences and such! Sometimes though i guess you get to be the originator, and sometimes you're the conduit. If the goal is information flow and open-source costume production, i suppose it all furthers that, so yippee, right?

And, we are about to go gung-ho on some Nicholas Nickleby action at work, so there'll be primary-source posts coming soon, and hopefully some event and exhibit coverage, too.

Anyhow, i have two commercial-supplement blogs to share which are pretty interesting and topical, the first being Paul's Hat Works. Basically, Paul's Hat Works is a hattery that has been in operation for decades in San Fransisco, and which was recently sold, lock stock and barrel, to a group of four women entrepreneurs and artists. The blog chronicles their takeover and revamp of this historic business, and ranges topically from "see and be seen" pix of shop-sponsored soirees to coverage of the work they've been doing. In a related post, Mr. Darcy from the Tall Blog (about life as someone who is 6'7" and attendant challenges) wrote a great overview of visiting Paul's Hat Works to have his head measured with their conformiteur. If you've never seen exactly how one of those contraptions works, he's got some great photos and process descriptions!

Period Corsets Blog is another business-related blog, written by the corsetieres at Period Corsets, a business that provides top quality bespoke corsetry for stage, film, and other uses. They specialize in functional undergarment corsetry in coutil with a wide range of specific period shapes. The blog is quite diverse, topically--sometimes it's a product focus sort of deal (such as their featured Corset of the Month series, where they talk about a particular style and show stage shots and film stills of them being worn), but sometimes they post about cool corsetry topics like "What is a Corset Winch?" or discuss specific machinery applicable to their industry like Phil, their industrial bum-roll stuffer machine! PC have a shopping cart on their website, but they also put some OOAK ensembles and fashion-fabric corsetry up on their Etsy page.

I also want to share info about an upcoming conference of note, In Its Time, Materials and Techniques Throughout Jewelry History. Held October 11th at FIT in NYC, it's sponsored by the Association for the Study of Jewelry and Related Arts. Looks pretty cool!

And lastly, another professional organization worth noting, the League of Professional Theatre Women. (The name pretty much says it all.)
labricoleuse: (opening night gala)
I'm so pleased to announce that the graduate students in our department are presenting a spring showcase of their work on Saturday, April 25th, 2009, which is free and open to the public.

The work of our graduates in all three concentrations will be featured (costume production, technical production, and acting). There will be PlayMakers stage costumes and props as well as some made purely for coursework (like the half-forms i post in here), monologues and scenes performed, portfolios displayed, short films projected onscreen, and lots more! Our third-years will be presenting their thesis projects, and it's going to be an all-around extravaganza.

If you live in the area or within reasonable driving distance and want to see what our program is all about "behind the scenes," come check it out! And say hi, because i'll be there, too.

Official flyer behind the cut. )
labricoleuse: (Default)
Today i want to talk about professional guilds and organizations which are of interest to costumers and crafts artisans.

Too often i hear students and colleagues dismiss the usefulness of such organizations as being "too expensive" to join for "just a resume credit." I can only assume that this type of statement is couched in ignorance, because professional organizations worth their salt provide so much more than "something to list on a job application," and in this industry, we have some great ones if you only know where to look! So, peruse these, and if you spy one for which you feel a good fit, i encourage you to join!

First, a couple of media-specific guilds:

Surface Design Association

The SDA is aimed primarily at serving artists and designers worldwide working in the medium of textiles. They welcome artists, costume designers and production professionals, textile designers, and so forth. Membership begins at $60/year, though you can save some cash if you pay for multiple years at once. As a member, you receive their full-size glossy quarterly journal Surface Design Journal, as well as their quarterly print newsletter and email updates (and, as a member, you can submit work for publication). They host a biennial conference, offer grants and scholarships, maintain a swatch library and an image library (great for putting together powerpoints and class lectures), and perhaps most exciting for freelancers: they provide the opportunity to enroll in a group insurance plan which provides health care, long term, accident, critical care, and disability. Yes, you read that right: you can get health insurance as part of your membership in the SDA. That alone is a great reason for students on the cusp of graduation to join, especially those looking at a period of freelancing and job-hopping, or those intending to make a career out of self-employment as a working artist.

Handweavers Guild of America

The HGA is deceptively named, since it is in actuality an umbrella organization that also emcompasses spinners/knitters/crochet artisans and (perhaps most relevant for costumers) dyers, and its membership is not limited to American citizens alone. Membership in the HGA is inexpensive for a professional guild--$40 per year ($32 for students) or $70 in two-year increments--and comes with a range of great benefits, such as your subscription to their full-color glossy trade journal Shuttle Spindle Dyepot (to which you may also submit work). They maintain a couple of great library collections on textile topics, from which members can borrow books, periodicals, videos, and slide collections (the book/periodical library is a free service, but the video/slide library charges a small rental fee. They offer a huge range of learning services, from mentorship instruction to formal workshops to their highly challenging self-paced "Certificate of Excellence" programs. They host a biennial conference, sponsor a yearly juried exhibition of fiber artworks, and award a wide range of substantial grants and scholarships.

If you live in one of the regions where there is an active milliners' guild (NYC, Chicago, or the west coast), those can be a great organization with useful membership benefits as well. So far, for those of us who don't live in one of those hub areas though, i haven't found one that seems to have any overarching benefits for satellite members--mostly they seem to focus on working as a group to foster the millinery trade in their area in ways like organizing wholesale buying circles among solitary practitioners, buying group ads in fashion publications, and hosting locally-specific events like exhibits and fashion shows and hatwearing cocktail parties and such (hi, fun). What i really wish would happen, is that the many disparate milliners' guilds across the country would band together under an umbrella guild, and get together everything perkwise that goes along with that--publishing a journal, hosting a trade convention, and so forth. Then i think membership would benefit milliners outside of those hubs as well.

In addition to craft-specific organizations, there are also the theatre-specific organizations, whose existence most folks know about, but maybe the exact particulars of membership are hazy.

United States Institute for Theatre Technology

USITT is perhaps the best-known in North America because of its huge conference held in different US cities each year. In addition to the yearly stage expo, they also host a biennial tech expo (specifically for scenic, props, costume, lighting, and sound artisans), a yearly costume symposium, and offer grants, fellowships, scholarships, awards, and theatre-specific international travel tours. They publish the quarterly TD&T: Theatre Design and Technology, set industry safety and excellence standards, offer various technical certification programs, and send a delegation each fourth year to the Prague Quadrennial international theatre competiton. Membership is $105/year for an individual ($63 for students or $84 for seniors).

Under the umbrella of USITT, there's the Costume Design and Technology Commission, a special-interest group serving the needs of costumers in the for-profit, non-profit/regional professional, and academic fields. The CD&TC sponsors a number of projects in addition to their yearly symposium, maintains two listservs for costume topics as well as a number of related archives and databases, and offers a yearly award to upcoming young designers and technology professionals.

In addition to USITT, there are the regional theatre organizations, which are dedicated to serving a particular area of the US. The one applicable to my area (North Carolina) is the Southeast Theatre Conference. Regional organizations like SETC often have very similar structure to USITT, in the sense of publishing newsletters and journals on regionally-relevant theatre topics, offering grants and awards, and hosting conferences and the like. They usually also maintain a job board with postings in your part of the country. Sometimes these regional organizations are even splintered down to the state level: for example, here we have the North Carolina Theatre Conference, which addresses concerns in the industry at a state level, such as lobbying for arts funding opportunities and job creation.

Hopefully, this post makes a good case for why you might choose to join one or more of these organizations, besides just so you can list it on your resume. In terms of "full disclosure," I'm a member of the SDA, HGA, and USITT, myself. And, if you belong to an organization not listed here and want to mention it in the comments, i'd love to hear about it!
labricoleuse: (milliner)
PhotobucketSaint Catherine is the unofficial patron saint of milliners, thanks to the trade's association with the Catherinettes.

The term catherinettes historically applied to unmarried women over the age of 25, who were essentially "queen for a day" on the Feast of St. Catherine. Part of the custom involved the making of an elaborate hat and wearing it all day long, hence the millinery association. Catherinettes' hats were traditionally done in shades of green and yellow, though in modern celebrations, it seems to be more of an "anything goes" kind of deal, the more elaborate the better. The Parisian fashion industry throws a huge millinery-centric fete des Catherinettes celebration every year in November, and the custom has been adopted elsewhere around the world by milliners and millinery enthusiasts. Attendees wear grandiose, fabulous hats and often march in procession.

I've gotten wind of a couple of hat-centric events coming up in celebration, so i'm passing on the details in case any of my readership want to go check them out. (If you do, please take pictures!)

Chicago and NYC event images/details )

Are you planning anything chapeau-centric for St. Catherine's Day? Or, want to paste a link to your local millinery collective or guild? I'd LOVE to hear about it!

Locals, want to meet up for an impromptu St Catherine's fete (sporting hats, of course) somewhere? If there's any interest, i'd be glad to coordinate something.

You know, it's a shame that there's not an overarching united collective of regional milliners' guilds, either for the US or North America, which might also serve those of us who are (for lack of a better term) satellite practitioners. In addition to NYC's Milliners Guild and Chicago's Millinery Arts Alliance, Chicago boasts a second milliners' guild, Chapeau, and the Millinery Artisan Guild serves west coast milliners from Seattle down to LA. For those of us who practice our art in an area where perhaps there aren't enough milliners to warrant the formation of a guild, it'd be nice to have the opportunity to be a part of a professional organization addressing millinery concerns anyhow.

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