labricoleuse: (Default)
Well, let me start off with a direct quote from something i wrote in a recent post over in A Sketch A Day: I've been on hiatus from sketching or typing much due to a bad flare-up of carpal tunnel--i've had sporadically recurring RSI in particularly my right wrist since 2005, and managed to aggravate it with a combination of intense periods of typing too much, writing longhand, and sketching, topped off with overly-vigorous bowling. (I wish i were joking.)

The main lesson here is, if you don't have RSI yet and you are a costumer, please be mindful of taking regular breaks and resting your hands and wrists, and don't ever work somewhere that won't allow regular breaks or makes you use ergonomically-harmful cutting equipment or table heights.

This sure has put a dent in my plans for the past month, in terms of the commedia mask project and the other work i had been planning/wanting to do. I'm getting my mobility and dexterity back though, and i owe y'all one more post about SPESA on suppliers. It'll really be a link-list, since if you haven't heard of any of these folks, you're best off looking at their sites and seeing whether you want to bookmark them for future inventory reference. This isn't a comprehensive list of exhibitors, either, just folks whose catalogs and literature i picked up to pass on to our management.

http://www.axelrodco.com/
S. Axelrod: Jewelry findings. $100 minimum order.

https://www.universalsewing.com/
Universal Sewing: General shop supplies and equipment. I made a note of their iron shoes (as in, shoes for industrial irons, not footwear made of iron), which prevent mat bubbling. One of our irons is currently shoeless and bubbles its mat all the time.

http://www.feitcompany.com/
Feitsew had a great booth with all these aerosol products--various spray adhesives, cleaners, and lubricants for stitching applications. Their website design sucks though and only lists their machines. Too bad.

http://www.happyfeet.net/
Happy Feet insoles had a booth where they were putting insoles into attendees' shoes and letting them walk the floor. Because often you come across actors with really challenging foot and footwear issues, i grabbed a flyer for them.

http://www.diamondneedle.com/
Diamond Needle carries notions, particularly piles of different types of machine needles.

http://www.fasnap.com/
Fasnap had tons of cool fasteners--snaps, buckles, clips, etc. Too bad i can't get their site to load.

And, that's it, my final SPESA post. Glad i went, and i can see myself going to another one in future, if i needed to buy equipment for sure.
labricoleuse: (macropuppets!)
Anywhere you've got costume stock to pull from, you are pretty much guaranteed to have storage issues--how and where to store everything you own, methods for making it easily searchable, easily organized, how to fit everything into the often-limited space that you have. If you have a costume storage at your facility, like me you are probably always on the lookout for new and innovative storage ideas.

I've mentioned it before, but it bears a second look: Dickinson College hosts an online database of costume collection storage images--basically, pictures of how different facilities store costumes, all over the world. The archive includes all sizes and types of costume facilities, from universities to community theatres to rental businesses to professional companies, all kinds of stuff! This is a wonderful resource for those looking to overhaul their existing storage, expand their storage, or build a new facility. You can see how others deal with different storage issues, and adopt ideas that you like! The site allows guests to view it, but if you want to upload images of your own you need to contact Sherry Harper-McCombs at harpermc-at-dickinson.edu about getting a password.

To search the site though, go to ICON, Dickenson's virtual media center (choose Guest Account) and click on "Browse Collections" in the sidebar. You will be given a list of categories with radio buttons. Choose "Costumes." This will take you to the primary search page. You can search based on article of clothing (for example, if you want to see how other facilities store difficult items like hats, boots, or armor), on construction material (if, say, you have a bunch of unused pegboard wall and want to look at ways others have utilized pegboard for storage), or on the type of facility--university, rental house, etc.


Culling Overflowing Stock!

You are, like us, probably also concerned about what to do when you simply have more stock than you have space or use for, especially if the clothes are still in wearable condition! What with incoming donations and ongoing productions using newly-purchased or -made attire, we take in far more costumes and clothing items than we wear out.

I know that many theatres who operate without state-sponsorship raise a lot of money through yearly costume sales (especially in October!) or by running ongoing eBay auctions as a means of dealing with stock overflow. However, theatres like ours that are in residence at a state university often are restricted from such sales by legal SNAFUs. As such, we've always got to look for other ways to deal with overstock. Donation of clothing is our primary means of removal. We've got several stock-culling projects underway right now that i'd like to highlight.


Denim culling

One of the coolest things we've done this fall was participate in Access Cotton, sponsored by Cotton Incorporated, the "fabric of our lives" people. They've partnered with Habitat for Humanity to collect and recycle old denim into home insulation for HfH houses. Our stock manager and several student workers and volunteers went through our denim stock (jeans, overalls, jackets), culled out things in odd sizes/styles or too damaged to keep, and hauled them over to the drop boxes on campus. This program is especially great because it doesn't matter how damaged the denim is--it's getting shredded anyhow. If you don't have a participating organization in your community, maybe it'd be worth contacting the local Habitat for Humanity chapter and seeing whether they want to get involved with hosting one--could be not only a great way to cull your denim stock, but also to gain some great visibility for your theatre, AND to give back to the community and help some folks in need!


Fur culling

Most theatres have far more fur coats in their stock than ever would be used onstage--it's one of the most commonly donated articles of clothing. Furs are also hard to store properly, take up lots of space, and quickly become rotted when stored improperly (as they often have been before being donated even). Culling your fur stock frequently is a good idea, but what to do with them?

Start by calling local animal shelters and wildlife rescue centers, and ask if they'd like them for bedding. Or, if you live near the Humane Society headquarters in DC, they take old furs through their Coats for Cubs program--if your theatre's within a day's drive, see if a local chapter might want to co-sponsor a fur drive and deliver the results of the collection. The same goes for PETA's headquarters in Norfolk, Virgina, who collect still-wearable fur coats for the needy. College campuses are a great place to find animal rights groups who may help with fur recycling.


Coat/Jacket/Sweater/Pullover culling

Fall and winter are the perfect time to cull your sweaters, coats, jackets, and pullovers from stock. Churches and community groups are spearheading clothing drives for the needy at this time, or you might elect to head up your own warm-clothing drive! Here, we're going to be taking ours to the "anything warm" clothing drive sponsored by our local YMCA, but organizations like One Warm Coat can provide you with all the tools you need for either hosting your own drive or finding one nearby to drop your culled items off.


Business attire culling

There are many organizations all over devoted to the intake of business attire donations--suits; shirts/blouses; dresses; slacks; ties; skirts; briefcases; dress shoes; coats and accessories (purses, scarves, jewelry, belts). Often they are part of larger community organizations who help low-income men, women, and at-risk youth in learning to interview for employment and better their economic situations. Some examples are the many different local organizations in the US that make up the Women's Alliance (many of which also provide clothing and training for men), and Dress for Success, who have chapters all over the US, UK, Canada, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.


It does take some time and labor to deal with stock culling, but if you have folks in the shop put in just one hour a week toward sorting and culling a box of stock, you can quickly get together a pile ready for pickup or drop-off, free up some space and feel good about where the culled items are going--to reuse, rather than a landfill.
labricoleuse: (dye vat)
So, Rit dye.

You'll find a lot of differing opinions on Rit and other union dyestuffs in the theatre industry--some folks love them, others hate them, and everything in between. Whether you are positively or negatively inclined toward such dyes, the fact is, in many theatre dyeshops across the country, you find a stock of Rit and/or Dylon and/or Tinfix, and you need to be familiar with using them to the best of their abilities because it might be all you've got in a pinch. As such, we stock the whole Rit range and the first thing we discuss in my dye class is union dyes.

In addition to the small packets of powder and bottles of concentrate that you can buy in grocery stores and fabric shops, Rit sells larger quantities to industry through their Professional Line in 1-lb. and 5-lb. jars of powder, and 5-gallon pails of liquid concentrate. My aim here isn't to discuss the merits and faults of union dyes; it's to solicit opinions on Rit's new packaging of their industrial powder dyes from those who use them. I don't use this blog as a platform for rants or whining, so please don't infer that tone or subtext from this post; I'll cop to being personally dissatisfied with the new packaging, but what i really want to hear is how others feel about it. Is it just me? Is there some advantage to the new packaging that's escaping me? Is there some justification for the change i don't know about? Etc.

Let's look at the range of Rit powder packaging and compare.

Read more... )

ETA 9/30/08: [livejournal.com profile] jaguarx13 had the excellent suggestion of a letter-writing campaign. Should you wish to participate, the contact information for the company is here:

Rit Dye/Phoenix Brands LLC
300 Atlantic Street, 11th floor
Stamford, CT 06901
203-975-0319
866-794-0800

I suggest a traditional paper letter, as I've still received no response--not even an autoresponse--to email.
labricoleuse: (safety)
A recent query about MSDS records from a colleague inspired this post--i figured, perhaps i should share my response with my readership! I know these posts aren't as fun to read as parasols and masks and hats, but i feel they are just as important a part of this blog. And you never know when some bit of safety info might just save your life, or your fingers from amputation, or that of a colleague.

Here's her questions:

I am in the process of updating our MSDS sheets so that our new craftsperson can be certified for her respirator. I am tracking down sheets for all the products that we use in the shop and putting them into a binder. My question is about how to organize them. Are there classifications that appear on the sheets that I could group them by? Or is it acceptable to have everything in one binder and alphabetized. Also these products are in about four different locations/rooms within our shop. Do I need to have a separate MSDS binder for all these locations, with only the relevant sheets inside them?

Also one last question, if, for example I have the sheet for Bounce, but what I actually have is the Wal Mart brand is that acceptable, or should I track down the one from Wal Mart.


When you are assembling or overhauling an MSDS file, you can organize it several different ways. The idea is that it is organized in the most intuitive way possible for looking something up. Mine is completely by alphabetical order by the name of the product. I have seen them organized in categories (glues, paints, solvents) and then alphabetically within each category, but I think that is more confusing. Sometimes you wind up having to look up an MSDS in a high-stress time-sensitive situation (like if a coworker has gotten a product in a cut or eye or something), so usability is of the utmost import. I highlight the name of the product on each sheet as well, so that it is easy to quick-reference, and if an MSDS is several pages, they are stapled together before they are put into the binder, so that i can flip through them easily.

Our MSDS collection is so extensive it actually takes up two binders (A-K, L-Z). I have been debating whether to put ours instead into a file of folders, but i think there are pros and cons to binders and file folders both. Up to you! We have one MSDS collection for the costume department, which is kept in the dry crafts room bookshelf. Scenic has a separate MSDS file of their own. If your facility is spread out, you can post signs in other costume areas that say "The MSDS for the costume facility is kept in the dye room," and that’s sufficient notice. I believe though if you are extremely spread out (like, the wardrobe area is off-site in another building, or if you have multiple workshops on different floors of a building) you would want to put a copy in each general physical location, by floor or whatever.

You do have to have an MSDS for every single product in your facility, so if you have the Wal Mart dryer sheets and Bounce dryer sheets and Snuggle dryer sheets, OSHA requires you to have the MSDS for each brand. This is why our MSDS file is so large. Our costume and scene shops have the biggest MSDS files our OSHA inspector has seen, according to him, but he also commended us on how well ours was put together (alphabetized, highlighted, prominently displayed in my dry room), so I guess we have done it correctly!

Good luck with it! It can be a tedious project, but IIRC our Safety Officer’s assistant got ours completely put together in a week or two, then once it’s done, maintenance is easy. Every time you get a new product, you file the MSDS. Every time you throw out the last of a product, you chuck the MSDS in the recycle, easy-peasy.

A good reference to have in any shop for questions like these is The Health and Safety Guide for Film, TV, and Theatre, by Monona Rossol. Ms. Rossol is head of the watchdog organization ACTS (Arts, Crafts, and Theatre Safety), which answers specific safety questions via their various hotline contacts.
labricoleuse: (shakespearean alan cumming)
The folks over at The Lost Colony are of course still reeling from the fire that consumed their costume shop, storage, and maintenance facility in September.

They first set up an online donation form for monetary donations, presumably because that was the easiest thing to deal with immediately after the fire. They've now progressed to soliciting donations of items, having posted the lost inventories of both the costume shop and maintenence shop:

http://thelostcolony.org/wanted.html

Check it out and see if there's something you can help with!

(Incidentally, this is a good illustration of why keeping a current inventory is a good idea, and also an opportunity to see what the inventory of the shop of an outdoor drama looks like, should you wish to compare and contrast it with inventories of other shop facilities.)
labricoleuse: (hats!)
Here's something i'm inordinately excited about: Dickinson College hosts an online database of costume collection storage images--basically, pictures of how different facilities store costumes, all over the world. The archive includes all sizes and types of costume facilities, from universities to community theatres to rental businesses to professional companies, all kinds of stuff! This is a wonderful resource for those looking to overhaul their existing storage, expand their storage, or build a new facility. You can see how others deal with different storage issues, and adopt ideas that you like!

The site allows guests to view it, but if you want to upload images of your own you need to contact Sherry Harper-McCombs about getting a password.

To search the site though, go to ICON, Dickenson's virtual media center (choose Guest Account) and click on "Browse Collections" in the sidebar. You will be given a list of categories with radio buttons. Choose "Costumes." This will take you to the primary search page.

You can search based on article of clothing (for example, if you want to see how other facilities store difficult items like hats, boots, or armor), on construction material (if, say, you have a bunch of unused pegboard wall and want to look at ways others have utilized pegboard for storage), or on the type of facility--university, rental house, etc.

I know from experience, planning overhauls to a costume storage facility can be difficult and daunting, and seeing how others have arranged storage (both efficiently and with less than optimum success) can be an invaluable help. If you've been wanting to brainstorm how to gussy-up your storage areas, surf around the Dickenson archive! You might discover some inspiration.
labricoleuse: (CAD)
Our program director returned from the recent USITT Conference with a whole pile of great information, including a lot of literature on various computer programs. I thought i'd write up some brief overviews of them here for y'all.


The Costume Bible

The Costume Bible is a software package that contains a suite of cross-linked databases and form-generators designed to streamline the work of costume shop management. It's a FilemakerPro program that was developed by the folks at the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, VA. Barter runs year-round, producing an average of 20 shows a year, several of which run in repertory.

I'm no manager, but i did download the demo and poke around through it to see what i thought. It looked like it might be a bit hard to initially get your head around, but that once you had used it for a show or two, it'd be a great tool, particularly for managing multiple shows across the scope of a season or repertory run. I particularly liked the one-click budget reports and work lists and such, all consolidated within the same program.

TCB (ha!) isn't cheap at $300 for the software package, but it seems like if you are adept with computers, the time it'd save you once you get the hang of it might be well worth the investment.



PatternMaker

PatternMaker is one of those software companies i've heard about for years. It's a 2D CAD program designed to generate flat-pattern sewing patterns. It operates off of the Scandinavian fitting system, and you can read all about the measurements required here. You have to purchase the initial software, then suites of basic pattern shapes depending on what kinds of garments you want to make. This page shows some garments for a production of Twelfth Night made from patterns generated by PatternMaker software.

They offer a free 30-day trial version of the software that you can use to make a pair of pants and a bodice, to try it out and see how it works for you. After the 30 days are up, you have several options, depending on how much you want to spend for added features and new pattern sets. The minimum cost involved then is $99, the cost of the basic Deluxe Editor version.



Wild Ginger Software

Wild Ginger produces a number of programs that generate custom-sized patterns based on entered measurements. They're probably best-known for their garment software, Cameo and PatternMaster, and their digital range of basic patterns, Click-n-Sew.

Because it's targeted to my field, I downloaded their free "Wild Things!" accessories program and found it to be easy to use, quite intuitive in its setup for adjusting scale of various elements of the patterns. It generates what look to be CAD-drafted patterns for basic hat, bag, wrap, and simple shoe shapes. I'm not going to be doing any elaborate fancy millinery with it, but the next time i need to bang out a fast newsboy cap, this program's going to make my pattern for me, just to see how it goes!

They offer a more complex version with a wider range of vintage/20th century styles of hats/gloves/etc called Wild Things Vintage for only $40. I might invest in it, just as a speedy way to crank out custom glove and cloth-cloche patterns and the like.

Another of their programs that might be of use in a costume shop (and certainly for home-sewers) is Stitch-n-Stash, a database set up for inventorying and cataloguing your fabric stash, patterns, sewing-related publications, notions, etc. You can scan swatches of the fabrics and notions, and print out suites of project information from the database. Stitch-n-Stash is only $30 for the download.



Got any other recommendations? Favorite computer software you like to use? Do you use one of these and love/hate it? Tell me about it! I'd love to hear your feedback.
labricoleuse: (dye vat)
I thought i'd kick off 2007 with the final installment of my four-part studio setup series!

For those who haven't been following this series, Part One is here, which addresses the equipment and inventory needs of a typical dyeshop or "wet room," Part Two is here, which focuses on specific equipment and inventory utilized in leatherworking, distressing, and shoe-related areas, and Part Three is here, which is an overview of millinery equipment and various supplies used in hat and headdress production.

As for why i first sat down to develop these lists, some background:

The MFA program where i teach allows the students to focus in a range of non-design areas of professional costuming: draping, tailoring, craftwork, or costume shop management. The fall semester's management seminar topic was "Sourcing and Supplies"--this is not just how and where to find everything from a spoon busk to an industrial shoe-patching machine, but also strategies for addressing shop supply inventories, storage, etc.

I gave a guest-lecture in that course last semester on the appurtenancing of a crafts space. The thrust of the matter was, what if a managerial candidate was hired and coming into a space where s/he had to either set up a crafts shop from scratch, or analyze the existing inventory of a crafts area and do supply ordering for the beginning of a season with no aid from a staff crafts artisan. I am posting a brief overview of what i touched on in a four-part series:

Setting up a Dye Shop/Wet Room
Cobbling, Leatherworking, and Distressing Equipment and Supplies
Millinery Equipment and Supplies
Specialized Crafts from Parasols and Purses to Plaster Molds

This post is the fourth and final one. I want to touch on a variety of areas, not all of which will be applicable to all shops. A manager may just as easily find herself or himself working at a Shakespeare Festival shop (where armor is of great import), as at a LORT theatre that only produces shows in 19th or 20th century settings (not so much armor, perhaps, but potentially lots of parasols or jewelry). This is the "everything else" post, stuff that didn't fit under one of the other three topics but is nonetheless important to consider!


Jewelry--Whether you think your shop will actually custom-make jewelry in-house, your crafts artisan is guaranteed to have to repair it or alter it on occasion. Supplies include:

Findings--clasps (lever and magnetic), jump rings, split rings, chain
Ornaments--Bulk beads and pendants
Soldering iron/solder/flux
Polyclay & push-molds (useful to make your own cabuchons and the like)

If you think your crafts artisan(s) may be manufacturing high-end jewelry in-house, you might want to look into investing in some precious metal clay (PMC) and a mini-kiln, and perusing the catalogues of an industry supplier such as Rio Grande.


Craft-props, a.k.a. "Propstumes"--These items often fall to the crafts artisan's responsibility to make, since even though they are technically props, the costume designer is usually responsible for designing them. Potential supplies needed:

Purse frames
Parasol frames
Pocketwatch fobs and findings

It can be hard to find quality modern supplies in this area. For example, nearly all modern long-handled parasol frames have a six-paneled dome. What if your designer has created one with a ten-paneled dome? Sure, you can work out a way to alter the frame, but it's easier if you have an acceptable frame to start with. And what about unusual purse frames, like accordion-hinged reticule closures? I regularly check local "junk shops" and eBay for these items.


Masks, Moldmaking/Casting, SFX makeup--Masks may come around once in a while for your crafts artisan, but chances are, a craftsperson who can cast things will save your butt (and budget!) many times over, particularly if you need something like 40 large ornamental medallions or buttons or similar. Buy one or two and have her/him cast as many as you need. And, I always argue that production should hire a specialist when SFX makeup is required--prosthetics or extreme gore effects. However, all too often in theatre no one wants to budget for that and it often falls to the crafts department to come up with SFX appliances for stage use. These are some of the materials that may help out with these projects.

Alginate
Plaster
Gauze
Latex
Silicone
Oak tanned/kip leather (tip: bellies are often cheapest)
Phlex Glue
Thermoplastic sheeting and mesh
Casting rubbers, plastics, and foams
Mold release products

Be aware that many casting products have a definite shelf-life. It does no use to keep things on hand if they will be useless by the time you need them. Ordering these kinds of supplies needs to happen as projects come up, unless you are heading up the kind of shop that you know you will have several casting projects per season.


Bigheads, Walkarounds, Macropuppets, etc.--these are some supplies useful for creating extreme-shape frameworks in-house.

Skirt hooping
Steel slatting
Aluminum armature wire
Body-mount options such as snare drum marching mounts and backpacking frames
Head-mount options such as bike or hockey helmets
Acrylic rods/bamboo/dowels/etc.


Armor--these are some supplies useful to have if you plan on manufacturing stage armor in-house.

Industrial felt
Sculpt or Coat
Shellac
Backer rod (ethafoam tube)
Glover’s needles
“Apoxie” (2-part epoxy clay)

...Or, if you need to purchase-and-alter armor, check out the vacu-formed shapes sold by vendors like Costume Armor, and the metal helmets and pieces made by Windlass Steelcrafts (sold by a number of vendors).



Note that these lists are to be treated as suggestions, a jumping-off point. Also be aware that if the dimensions and ventilation of your craft space are limited, you may wish to avoid all products that would require the use of respirators. If you do use casting media, solder, and adhesives that require respirators, be aware that OSHA requires you to have a training program in place for all employees that will need to use respirators. When ordering these products, make sure you always ask for the MSDS. You need to have them on file, and they have a lot of good information that will help make decisions like what types of protective gloves and respirator filters to purchase.

And, that concludes my series on setting up a crafts studio! Hope it was of some use or perhaps at least interesting to read about in parts. Or, if you hated it, rejoice! It's over!

Now we can get on to all the exciting topics that Spring has in store, namely tons of hats and shoes, which i don't know about you, but hats and shoes are two of my very favorite things in the world, and i'm super exciting to be teaching seminars on both this spring. We've got some cool stuff coming up on our mainstage, too, so i suspect there will be more posts on distressing and painting/dyeing in that realm, as well.

Happy 2007, y'all!
labricoleuse: (hats!)
Here's the (long-awaited, i know) third part of my four-part studio setup series!

Let me first man up and acknowledge that yes, i know i haven't gotten the backstage-sneak-peek of The Lion King up yet--i'm still embroiled in legalese because i don't want to get sued for violating any nondisclosure agreements or illegal photo usage. Disney is big on that. I promise, as soon as i get it straightened it out, it's coming! (I did eventually come through on Cirque de Soleil, did i not?)

For those who haven't been following this series, Part One is here, which addresses the equipment and inventory needs of a typical dyeshop or "wet room," and Part Two is here, which focuses on specific equipment and inventory utilized in leatherworking, distressing, and shoe-related areas.

As for why i first sat down to develop these lists, some background:

The MFA program where i teach allows the students to focus in a range of non-design areas of professional costuming: draping, tailoring, craftwork, or costume shop management. This semester's management seminar topic is "Sourcing and Supplies"--this is not just how and where to find everything from a spoon busk to an industrial shoe-patching machine, but also strategies for addressing shop supply inventories, storage, etc.

Earlier in the semester I gave a guest-lecture on the appurtenancing of a crafts space. The thrust of the matter was, what if a managerial candidate was hired and coming into a space where s/he had to either set up a crafts shop from scratch, or analyze the existing inventory of a crafts area and do supply ordering for the beginning of a season with no aid from a staff crafts artisan. I am posting a brief overview of what i touched on in a four-part series:

Setting up a Dye Shop/Wet Room
Cobbling, Leatherworking, and Distressing Equipment and Supplies
Millinery Equipment and Supplies
Specialized Crafts from Parasols and Purses to Plaster Molds

This post is the third in the series.

Bear in mind that not all craftspeople do millinery; as with the Dyer/Painter, sometimes the Milliner is a separate position within the shop. Many crafts artisans do find themselves responsible for millinery, though, and it is a good skill to hone regardless--often the principles of construction you learn in millinery can help in any number of other area of costuming, whether it be constructing underproppers for ruffs or wire-frames for headdresses or patterning of "propstumes" such as parasol covers and muffs and the like.

The first thing to address is equipment. If you intend to accomodate in-house millinery projects, you will likely need the following:

Head forms/"dolly heads"
Hat steamer
Hat stretcher (manual and/or electric)
Sleeve-arm domestic sewing machine with a zigzag stitch
Crown blocks
Brim blocks
Wire cutters
Needlenose pliers
Pinking shears

You can do without the brim blocks if you don't intend to make felt hats "from scratch"--you can always buy untrimmed plain felt hat shapes from dealers such as Manny's Millinery Supply in NYC. You will still probably want at least a couple of the plain domed wooden crown blocks for stretching buckram or shaping Fosshape on and the like.

You can also use a regular clothing steamer or fiddle around with a steam iron if need be, rather than invest in a hat steamer, but they do make hat steaming far more convenient and easy. Dolly heads are as necessary to hatmaking as dress forms are to draping, and skimping by substituting styrofoam headforms can be disastrous, as some of the chemicals and heat-processes used in millinery can melt styrofoam! I like to have a sleeve-arm domestic with zigzag accessible because it allows you to do some of your construction by machine (particularly edging brims with wire). Traditional milliners would probably have a heart attack over that, but in theatre sometimes you have to sacrifice handwork for speed.

In terms of inventory of "consumables," things that are depleted and replenished as hat projects come through the shop, here is a master list to get started with:

Buckram and double-buckram
Baby flannel/domette
Icewool
Low-loft quilt batt
Milliner's wire: white/black, light/medium/heavy weight
Tie-wire or joiners for milliner's wire
Bias tapes
Millinery & curved needles
Premade linings (dyeable!)
Milliner's grosgrain (100% cotton)
Various trims (flowers/ribbons/feathers)
Combs/horsehair/toupee clips
T-pins
Milliner’s glue (Solvent-based, "MagnaTac" is one brand)
Felt and straw
Sizing
Fosshape/thermoformable felt

Most of these items can be purchased from online suppliers. I feed my inventory orders for icewool and domette into my shop's yearly master order from Whalley's in the UK, but that's certainly not mandatory practice.

Note that this list is to be treated as suggestions, a jumping-off point. Also be aware that if the dimensions and ventilation of your craft space are limited, you may wish to avoid all products that would require the use of respirators. If you do use solvent-based sizing and adhesives that require respirators, be aware that OSHA requires you to have a training program in place for all employees that will need to use respirators. When ordering sizing and adhesives, make sure you always ask for the MSDS. You need to have them on file, and they have a lot of good information that will help make decisions like what types of protective gloves and respirator filters to purchase.

Keep your eyes open for the final installment in this series, coming soon! It'll cover a wide catch-all range of topics, everything from jewelry supplies to purse-frames!
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 Studio...wow. 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!
labricoleuse: (dye vat)
The MFA program where i teach allows the students to focus in a range of non-design areas of professional costuming: draping, tailoring, craftwork, or costume shop management. This semester's management seminar topic is "Sourcing and Supplies"--this is not just how and where to find everything from a spoon busk to an industrial shoe-patching machine, but also strategies for addressing shop supply inventories, storage, etc.

I recently gave a guest-lecture on the appurtenancing of a crafts space. The thrust of the matter was, what if a managerial candidate was hired and coming into a space where s/he had to either set up a crafts shop from scratch, or analyze the existing inventory of a crafts area and do supply ordering for the beginning of a season with no aid from a staff crafts artisan. I won't replicate the entire lecture here, but i thought i'd post a brief overview of what i touched on in a four-part series:

Setting up a Dye Shop/Wet Room
Cobbling, Leatherworking, and Distressing Equipment and Supplies
Millinery Equipment and Supplies
Specialized Crafts from Parasols and Purses to Plaster Molds


Clearly the manager must evaluate the scope of the theatre's productions, the general per-show budget, etc., in order to determine to what extent crafts will be a component of the company's costuming. A huge, well-funded ballet company that builds several new pieces in-house each season will have entirely different crafts needs than a small theatre company that premieres small-cast modern plays. Shakespeare companies and children's theatre will often have larger crafts shops than regional serious-drama companies.

Assuming that one's company does have enough of a crafts demand to warrant the existance of a dedicated crafts space, the absolute bare minimum requirement is a separate "wet room" space for the use of dyes, paints, and adhesives--"hand" craftwork could be done on a cutting table in the main shop if need be.

These are the primary safety concerns of a dedicated wet room:

There must be adequate ventilation (size of room, windows, vent hood, fans?).
Food/drink must be prohibited in the space.
There must be adequate PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment) and dedicated PPE storage.
There must be safe flammables storage.

In addition, it's a good idea to have a crafts-specific dedicated washer/dryer, that only dye projects and other crafts laundry goes into. If there's space and money for an industrial steam-jacketed dye vat, awesome, but if not and your shop will have any amount of custom-dyeing needs, it should have at least a tabletop double burner and large (think like 20-gal) pot.


Dye Shop Equipment and Supply "Shopping List":

Dyestuff:
bulk Rit or other brand of union dyes
color remover
synthetic-fiber dyes
fiber-reactive dyes
thiourea dioxide
mordants/fixatives (soda ash, urea, etc)
bulk salt, bleach, white vinegar

Safety equipment/PPEs: check your dyes' MSDSs for requirements
aprons
gloves
goggles
respirators

"Hardware" equipment:
Gram scale
General measuring equipment (cups, spoons)
Binder clips
Clothespins

Note that this list is to be treated as suggestions, a jumping-off point. For example, some dyers don't like to work with union dyes at all, while other shops only stock them and nothing else. Also be aware that if the dimensions and ventilation of your wet room space are limited, you may wish to avoid all products that would require the use of respirators. If you do use dyes and chemicals that require respirators, be aware that OSHA requires you to have a training program in place for all employees that will need to use respirators.

You can get most of the hardware stuff at lab supply and restaurant supply distributors. There's a huge number of dye suppliers online, from small companies that sell only their line of dyestuff to huge clearinghouse type vendors that sell a wide range.

When ordering dyes and chemicals, make sure you always ask for the MSDS. You need to have them on file, and they have a lot of good information that will help make decisions like what types of protective gloves and respirator filters to purchase.

Keep an eye peeled--shoes and such will be the next in this series!

December 2016

S M T W T F S
    123
45678 910
11121314151617
18 19 20 21222324
25262728293031

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 23rd, 2017 02:31 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios