labricoleuse: (Default)
First up, i want to quickly mention that today, August 18th, beginning at noon EST, is Spoonflower's Free Swatch Day! You can get one free 8" swatch in any of their fabrics for the following 24 hours, so it's a perfect time to test a print you like or check out a fabric you want to feel the hand of in a larger piece than their small swatch booklet.

If you're a graphic or textile designer, it can be fun to keep an eye on their weekly design contests, as well. You can win $100 in free fabric, plus commissions from your own sales.

Consider this foreshadowing, too, for a forthcoming post during the first half of this theatre season about how we're using Spoonflower to create a costume effect for one of our shows...

Today is the last day to vote in the Stephen Jones millinery contest on Talenthouse. As this contest closes, i noticed a couple more coming up that might be of interest to the La Bricoleuse readership, and which exemplify why it may be professionally sound to maintain a presence on Talenthouse.

There's currently two months' lead time to work on a submission for a textile print design for Issa London. Wouldn't it be a kick to see your design as part of their collection?

And, in a completely different realm (literally), there's just under a month to work up an armor design for a character in the video game Deep Realms by Playdom! How timely, since i'm teaching Masks and Armor in the spring...

Thanks for your support of millinery in general this week, as the Jones contest has been running. It's been a great week for hats!
labricoleuse: (milliner)
Wow, i only posted four times in January, and not at all this month so far. (Things have been really, really busy.)

I haven't been too busy to read, though, and i wanted to mention a book i came across serendipitously, which may be of interest to La Bricoleuse readers: Kristen M. Burke's Going Hollywood, which is basically a handbook on how to move to LA and make it in the film and television industry. Burke has designed costumes for over forty motion pictures, and really knows her stuff.

First, let me say that i found the book by way of, Kristin's blog about costume design for film. I slowly surfed my way back through the archive of it, through the myriad excellent posts on specific films she's worked on, interviews with other costume designers, behind-the-scenes info on exhibits and galas and LA-based fashion boutiques, all great stuff! Check it out!

I moved to LA to freelance for a year in 2004, the year this book came out, so unfortunately i could not have benefited from the advice therein without a time machine. However, man, do i wish i had had this book when i did so. There's so much great advice and info about working in the film and television industries, the logistics of LA and the movie biz, contacts for resources, and much of it stuff that you can't find in more "textbooky" cinematic costuming resources, such as Richard Lamotte's Costume Design 101, or Kristin's other book, Costuming for Film, co-authored with Holly Cole. (Both of which are also excellent books--Lamotte's saved my butt when i designed the costumes for Long Distance, a feature film starring Monica Keena.)

In addition to the above Amazon link, you can also get the book direct from its publisher, iUniverse, in print or download format.
labricoleuse: (Default)
Sorry for the radio silence--i've got a lot of irons in the fire right now, but am not sanctioned to write about any of them...yet! I promise i'll have some cool process posts soon. But academia, that's always fair game to write about. Millinery class is underway and i have a few short notes of interest on that subject.

First up, Parisian milliners Estelle Ramousse and Fabienne Gambrelle have a new book out, called Studio Secrets: Millinery. This is admittedly not the best book at first glance. It's a project book, with step-by-step instructions on how to make different styles of hats, and the hats themselves are not particularly jawdropping.

However! I'm glad i bought it for our library, if only because Ramousse does a blocked cloche project with toile gomme, a millinery material that you can't find in the US (to my knowledge...i'd love to be proven wrong by someone with a link to a stateside source). Toile gomme is like a cross between buckram and burlap--it's loosely woven from jute yarns, impregnated with a starchy adhesive. I loved seeing how she works with it, and her methodology on that project is quality stuff. The book's only $20, so that's money well spent, IMO.

I've collected a few interesting links on the hat topic as well. Enjoy!

We're doing buckram projects in my class right now--the students are working away on fascinators and pillboxes while learning to use the material--so hopefully there will be some great project photos to share soon!
labricoleuse: (frippery)
There's an excellent article in the current issue of Piecework magazine (Jan/Feb 2010) by Elizabeth Cobbe entitled, "Knitting for the Stage," on everything from knitted cord "chainmail" to quick-rigging knitwear closures, including a brief mention of my crocheted 1970s vest for last season's Well! It even includes a pattern for a knitted "chainmail" cowl. The whole issue is of interest, really, as their 4th Historical Knitting issue, with articles on everything from Victorian knitted lace pattern explications to recreations of period garments like 19th century stockings and Medieval mittens. I got my copy from the local Barnes & Noble.

In terms of online reading material, there's a great photoessay post behind-the-scenes at the Broadway costume atelier Barbara Matera Ltd., by Jodi Kendall. Kendall is quite fond of variable font sizes and colors in her blogging and is writing from a layman's perspective (so she gets some details wrong[1]), but the images are excellent to check out! Reminds me of that episode of Threadbanger featuring Parsons Meares...

[1] Such as the claim that Matera's makes all of each of the cited musicals. Just off the top of my head, i know that Parsons-Meares has some Lion King contracts (Rafiki's costme and Scar's tail rig, for example) and Wicked contracts (flying monkeys), and Tricorne does a lot of Emerald City for Wicked, and that John Kristiansen's Inc. has a chunk of the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey contracts (elephant riders, stiltwalkers IIRC). But, i wouldn't expect the average person to really grok how shows that size get split up among the shops, so i mean no criticism of Ms. Kendall in pointing this out.
labricoleuse: (frippery)
The second part of my two-parter on the [ profile] nicknickleby blog is up, about the wire-frame hat worn by Miss LaCreevey, which is now finished and ready-to-wear. (The first part is here, if you missed it.)

And, i'll finally have the go-ahead on that Fosshape bonnet that i sculpted the blue foam block for soon, so hopefully i'll be able to write that up in here next week. But we're about to go into three weeks of tech/previews, so no promises, since who knows how that'll go!
labricoleuse: (Default)
Costume Director Judy Adamson's period patterning class presented their next round of 19th century projects--1830s gowns--which is quite timely, given our next show on deck, Nicholas Nickleby!

photos )

I also have another interesting blog to plug, for costume history and reproduction enthusiasts! Trying on History is the blog of the Vassar College Costume Collection, tracing their historical reproduction projects utilizing garments in their clothing archive. Thusfar, the blog covers mostly their first such project, a 1910-era gown from the Franklin Simon 5th Avenue store in NYC. The collection has received an internal grant funding the reproduction program, and it looks like it's shaping up to be a really cool educational feature--i'm looking forward to following future projects-yet-to-come. Check it out!
labricoleuse: (supershakespeare)
Today, i'm not the source, i'm just the conduit. Links on a variety of topics of potential interest to follow.

Topical Links for Decorative Arts Class

I'll have images of glove projects to share on Tuesday, but for now, illustrates for us in this post some answers to the question, "When is a glove more than a glove?"

And, because we can't get our respirator fit-testing dates scheduled until the end of the month, I'm postponing our shoe unit and we're moving on to parasols next. In that spirit, check out Elena Corchero's solar parasol, which turns into a chandelier after dark. I may have to experiment with this idea myself! Corchero also does a lovely folding fan/flashlight design in the same vein, and some cool reflective lace for trimming delicately frilly sportswear.

Speaking of shoes, here's a cool how-to on for bricolaging a power-generating shoe modification!

Health and Safety

Many of us who make a career out of costume production develop a repetitive stress injury (RSI) at some point. Vigilance and care of your muscles and joints is the key to maintaining a long, successful career without damaging your body beyond repair. I'm big on learning about a range of ways to minimize or avoid RSIs, from technological advances in ergonomics (simple example: spring-action scissors, compression gloves) to physical therapy exercises. On that tip, i was thrilled to run across's "Yoga for Crafters" series. So far they've got targeted posts aimed at jewelers, stitchers (they say "seamstresses," but in my industry, i've worked with my fair share of male stitchers, too), & interloopers ("knitters & crocheters", but i think the post applies to all yarn artists, including tatters, nalebinders, macrameurs--wow, i just got really pedantic, there, sorry).

Blogs of Note is a great wearable-art/couture/technology blog exploring the intersection of science, technology, fashion, and attire. I set up a LiveJournal feed for it at [ profile] fashioningtech, if you're an LJ blogger and want to follow it on your flist. Some of these links above (parasol, shoes) are swiped from there.

Fashion Creation Without Fabric Waste Creation is a patterning-centric blog written by Australian PhD candidate Timo Rissanen, whose passion is garment design utilizing patterns with zero fabric waste (with occasional birdwatching). He's got some great open-source info on his own pattern creations, such as this no-waste hoodie pattern and these no-waste codpieced leggings. I love this concept, not only for its ecological implications, but also because it holds the same appeal as creative writing within a rigid structure, like writing poetry in sonnets, villanelles, pantoums, etc. but in a clothing design paradigm. I also made him a feed on LJ, at [ profile] 0wastefashion.

On a similar note, if you want a fascinating pattern-theory read (and really, who doesn't?), check out the Julian and Sophie School of Pattern Cutting site, which is the result of a residency at the Royal College of Art. It's mindbending, the way they completely freaktastically puree everything you know about pattern-drafting into these crazily draped garments. One caveat: the photographs of the garments produced are really poor and unilluminating. You can tell from the text that they probably produce visually-intriguing garments, but it's probably something that's going to require practical experimentation to visualize it from a "page to stage" perspective.

Aight, that's me, then. I'm going to wind this up so i can go run around in this lovely autumn sunshine a bit. Have a great weekend, folks!
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: (shoes!)
More Blogs

I always get excited to find other people blogging about topics related to my field, and I've got three to share today which are super.

First Pullover is a footwear design and industry blog(!), written by Richard Kuchinsky, a footwear industry professional and shoe designer. His work is largely athletic shoes, but much of his content is of interest to footwear creators (or enthusiasts) in general, and wow, what a great niche blog. Here are some highlight posts:

Garment industry guru Kathleen Fasanella writes the blog Fashion Incubator (LJ feed: [ profile] fashionincub8r), which is jam-packed with excellent information on garment production from an industrial factory-line perspective. She's got a TON of great tutorials on a wide range of subjects, from putting in zippers to an excellent crotch-seam-fit-discussion series entitled "Anatomy of a Camel Toe" (seriously). Of interest to historians is her series of vintage pattern reproduction posts in which she reinvents a Vionnet pattern. LJ feed for this: [ profile] fashionincub8r

The Art and Business of Costume Designing (LJ feed: [ profile] costumedesignbl) is a blog written by Costume Designer Jessica Risser-Milne about...well, the title pretty much says it all. She's got a lot of great posts, but here are some i bookmarked to share, because they offer a great alternate perspective from a designer's POV on several of the topics i've covered in my series of FAQ posts:

Upcoming Conferences

September 3-5, 2009, the USITT Southeastern Regional Conference will be held in Greensboro, NC. In addition to the Design/Tech Expo competition, there will be Master Classes on a range of relevant topics, including PatternMaker software and puppetry.

October 8-10, 2009, the UNCSA Southeastern Regional Entertainment Technology Conference, presented by Cirque du Soleil Resident Shows Division, will be held in Winston-Salem, NC. This conference has tracks for all tech disciplines (sound, lights/projections, automation, sets/rigging, production and stage management, and costumes/wigs/makeup), and will feature behind-the-scenes education on how Cirque's regional and touring shows are run. The conference is limited to 175 participants, and the registration deadline is September 30th.
labricoleuse: (shoes!)
In this blog, I've often mentioned the CoStar collection, an archive of antique and vintage clothing housed here at UNC-Chapel Hill (hosted by our graduate program, curated by program head Judy Adamson, and jointly utilized as a research tool by the Department of Dramatic Art and PlayMakers). CoStar has a continually-expanding online presence in the form of a searchable web archive of the collection of largely 19th and 20th century women's couture, which can be accessed by anyone with a browser. If you've used the site in the past, you'll notice that CoStar has undergone a design overhaul, to a more user-friendly browsable structure than its previous layout.

Each garment in the collection depicted online is accompanied by specific information about its construction, history and provenance if known, and some even have scalable patterns, images of graduate thesis reproductions, and attached research papers, such as this striped silk taffeta bodice worn by Mrs. Edgar Grout for her wedding on June 30, 1897, featuring a scaled pattern and analysis by Emily VanDervort (MFA '08), or this bodice also in striped silk taffeta from the same era (of unknown providence) which includes an analysis and photos of a reproduction by Jade Bettin (MFA '06). The online archive will only continue to grow as present and future research assistants slowly make their way through the documentation process--what's currently shown is perhaps 10-15% of the entire collection, which itself is continually expanding through the generosity of donors.

But, the real point of this post is not to focus on CoStar, which is probably a familiar topic to long-time readers. It's to announce something exciting and new!

In addition to the CoStar resource (which is primarily Western women's clothing of the past couple centuries), an entirely new archive site has gone live, NowesArk, an online catalogue of our non-Western clothing collection! NowesArk is curated by Professor Bobbi Owen, whose collection forms the bulk of its pieces.

The site is super-brand-new (to the point where the "about" section isn't up yet, and the splash page has a couple of typos), but already features 74 items to look through--primarily Japanese and Chinese garments and accessories, though also a few Vietnamese, Tibetan, and Middle Eastern pieces. Graduate research assistant Amanda Phillips (MFA '09) spent her final semester of graduate school supervising a team of several undergrad work-study students on this project, all of whom devoted many hours to documenting these pieces and getting this web resource up and running. Bravo, y'all!

With both of these archives, in the course of researching you can assemble a collection of "favorites" in a scrollable sidebar window (titled "My Stars"), by clicking on the little star/plus graphic next to a garment's title on its description page. So, suppose you are looking at the CoStar collection for bodices in the 1895-1900 window--you could add the two bodices linked above to your My Stars section, keep looking for more bodices that fit your specs and then later go back to read through the particulars or print out the extra info for all the bodices you find. If you are perusing the NowesArk collection for furisode examples, again, the star/plus graphic allows you to quickly weed through the garments and collect up specific furisode links to easily navigate between later. "My Stars" spans both archives, so if you add a bustle dress from CoStar and a haori from NowesArk, you'll see both no matter which archive you are perusing.

You can read detailed info on browsing and searching the collections here, and learn more about the consolidated archive project in general here.

Because we are clearly totally committed to creatively-relevant acronymous naming conventions, both of these archives are collectively known as the Cloaks Archives, accessible by a central clearinghouse page linking to both archives' sites. I'm looking forward to seeing how these collections continue to grow and develop in the future! (For example, i cannot wait til the archivists get to this one box i've seen in the storage area marked "1920 beaded gowns.")

Happy researching!

BTW, please do drop a comment and let us know how the sites are useful to your research or could be improved, and definitely share your experience should you use one of the scalable patterns to make your own reproduction, or as a starting place for your own "take" on one of our pieces!

ETA: I'd love to see someone make up this 1893 day dress, or this 1886 riding habit, or this intricate 1902 velvet bolero from the provided patterns. Also, i'm feeling a little bit of regret i didn't title or subtitle this post "ZOMG FREE PRD PATTERNS BBQ," since i know a common complaint is that there are really only so many period patterns out there commercially available or scalable in references like Janet Arnold's books.

If your university or institute has its own online archive of a similar or related collection, please comment with a link. And, if you have pieces you wish to donate to either collection, email me at < costume -at- unc -dot- edu > and i'll put you in touch with our Acquisitions Coordinator.
labricoleuse: (Default)
It's another week at the helm of [ profile] nicknickleby for me, so check out my piece on the Victorian dual-trade of milliner-prostitute. (I'm glad those skills are no longer linked to one another!)

I've spent the day working on an article i'm co-authoring for the USITT newsletter Sightlines on the recent symposium, and i thought it'd be a good time to mention some of the other resources sponsored by the USITT Costume Commission, in addition to the annual symposium. Some of these resources are open to anyone, and some are restricted to USITT members only.

The USITT Costume Locator Service is a Yahoo!Group with a costume rental focus. Subscribers can post about particular costumes they are seeking ("Does anyone have the Chrysler Building dress from The Producers for a show going up this spring?"), or promote their rental services. It's maintained and moderated by Kevin McClusky of Mary Washington College, and is for USITT members only.

Dickenson College Costume Storage Solutions Database is a visual archive of storage facilities all over the world. (Link goes to a previous post on the subject, in which i discuss how to navigate the database.) It's recently received funding from the Costume Commission, but can be viewed by anyone with a web browser. And, anyone with a costume storage facility is encouraged to photograph areas of it and submit them! It is maintained by Sherry Harper McCombs.

CoPA, the Commercial Pattern Archive contains over 50,000 scanned images (garments & pattern schematics) from 42,000 commercially produced patterns, dating from 1868 to 1979 and is growing daily. You can purchase the database as a CD set or subscribe to it online. CoPA is housed at the University of Rhode Island and maintained by Project Director Joy Emery; researchers can visit the collection in person, as well (you do not have to be a member of USITT to conduct in-person research, or to subscribe).

The Survey of Costume Design and Technology Programs is a database compiled and maintained by our own Costume Director at UNC-CH, Judy Adamson. I've mentioned it quite a bit on here before, particularly in my FAQ posts about applying to graduate school, but it bears mention again. It contains information on all university programs offering undergraduate and graduate education in costume design and/or technology, sorted by geographical region and alphabetically. Currently, there isn't an option for searching on other variables, such as a particular professor's name, or a particular area of focus, but you could do a restricted google search to look site-specifically, by typing in something like " tailoring" to find all the programs that specifically mention tailoring as a topic they teach. Another caveat: the Survey is updated in the fall (i.e., an update is coming soon), so all the information in there right now is accurate only as of Fall 2008. Anyone may use the Survey site, not just USITT members.

The Costume Plot Database is another free-to-the-public resource sponsored in part by the Costume Commission. Users can search for existing costume plots on there, or add new ones for the benefit of future costumers. It is maintained by Kristina Tollefson of the University of Central Florida.

Kristina also moderates the Costume Info Listserv, a general-discussion Yahoo!Group for USITT members. It's an all-purpose forum for anything related to costuming for performance--technique questions, academic questions, safety queries, job postings. The only taboo topic is rental requests or ads, which should be directed to the USITT Costume Locator Service group.

The International Organization of Scenographers, Architects and Technicians (OISTAT) maintains a website for their Costume Working Group, which features a number of international resources available to USITT members. Anyone may look at the site with a standard web browser.

It's not a Costume Commission sponsored site, but another useful database is Inside Leg, a subscription database of actors' measurements. Any shop manager or designer may subscribe, though the database is only as useful as its participants make it, which is why we ask for a release form from any actor that is cast in our shows and contribute her/his measurements, if they are not already available on there!
labricoleuse: (top hats!)
Long-time readers of this blog will recognize the name Randy Handley, a student whose work has been frequently featured in the posts of class projects over the past two years. (Randy is entering his third year of the program this fall.)

I'm particularly excited to announce that Randy has recently joined the growing ranks of industry bloggers, at [ profile] handyhatter! He's also set up an Etsy shop for selling some of his millinery creations. Check them out!
labricoleuse: (macropuppets!)
I have to say, one of the great boons of having established the North Carolina piedmont as my artistic "home base," is the truly diverse range of other artists to be found here, and the ways and means in which we all overlap and interact and collaborate.

A couple weeks ago, i attended a stilt-making and -walking workshop co-hosted by the Hillsborough Arts Council of Hillsborough, NC, and the grassroots/activist puppetry collective, Paperhand Puppet Intervention. The workshop was held at the historic Moorefields house, an estate in rural Orange County built in 1785. Its final owner, Edward Draper-Savage, left the property to be used for the advancement of the arts, and a couple dozen of us met on the grounds for this workshop, which is apparently a recurring yearly event.

The workshop was led by Donovan Zimmerman of Paperhand (whose shows have often incorporated stiltwalking characters) assisted by Mark Donley from the HAC. They had set up some tables and sawhorses on the Moorefields grounds with tools and supplies, and we worked outdoors beneath shade trees. As best i could determine from informal conversation, the participants ranged from middle-schoolers to grandmothers, from experienced carpenters to folks who'd never used a power-tool. We began at 11am and were walking by 3pm (with a quick lunch break on the fly)!

The stilts we made were essentially the same as the ones for which you can download plans at The Stilt Man's site, here--peg stilts that are braced at the wearer's knee.

The workshop went pretty fast and furious, so i don't have step-by-step images, but really, the Stilt Man's plans are sufficient if you want to build your own, far moreso than any post i'd make. I did document some of the action in photos though, behind the cut! Read more... )

As i said, they do this every year, so if you're within easy travel of Hillsborough and are interested in such a workshop, get in touch with the folks at the Hillsborough Arts Council about future dates. And, if you aren't nearby, i honestly believe stilts are one of those things that seem more daunting in theory than in practice--with some pals, some tools, and the Stilt Man's plans, you could probably hold your own impromptu workshop.

Unrelated, here's a cool link to a Guardian slideshow of Swimsuits through the Ages!
labricoleuse: (silk painting)
Okay, there's a bad Dior pun in the title. Sorry.

This June will mark three years since i first began writing La Bricoleuse, and i have to say, i am really quite proud of what it's grown into.

I originally conceived of it as a forum for process-tracking and illumination of behind-the-scenes info on a fine arts career the very existence of which was (at the time, basically still is) largely overlooked or unknown: costume crafts artisanship.

In the past three years, the focus expanded to include all kinds of related info--reviews of exhibits and books and productions, spotlights on other artisans, info on pursuing higher education in the field, and the fluidly-defined "Ask LaBricoleuse," which functions somewhere between an agony-aunt column, letters to the editor, and a general FAQ.

I have a lot of nebulous ideas of what i'd like to do to mark three years of blogging here, but the first is already in place: a new custom layout and graphic signature!

If you read the posts through a feed or aggregate or LiveJournal friends-list, you won't have noticed (hence, the link), but a large amount of traffic is from search engines and click-through links to specific past posts; i wanted to establish a blog-specific look that was a bit more unique-looking than the standard style templates.

In order to give credit where credit is due, the new template was coded by [ profile] grrliz with supporting graphics by [ profile] gossymer. I made the header graphic myself, using a production photo of Mrs. Gardiner's parasol in the recent production of Pride & Prejudice.

And in related news, when i started [ profile] labricoleuse, i was hard-pressed to find another blog covering any of the topics i wanted to read about--millinery, dyeing, mask-making, etc. Now though, there's a proliferation of them; every time i surf around i find a few more!

  • Chapeau du Jour is the blog of Armando y Montez, and features amazingly creative blocked hat designs as well as illustrative photoessays on creating excellent millinery trims and garnitures.

  • Denishe Hats is written by Denise Shea, a Massachusetts milliner who does custom commissions in straw and felt.

  • Many Hatty Returns is a blog after my own heart, taking its cues from a basic focus on the history of millinery/hatmaking and headwear. MHR is written by Darla Sycamore, a hat history enthusiast whose nom du chapeau is "Alice Dickens." MHR also maintains a CafePress storefront selling notecards featuring 19th-century hat photography.

  • Church Hats--the name says it all! This blog is maintained by Lola, a Chicago-based milliner with 40-plus years' experience designing and creating one-of-a-kind church hats.
labricoleuse: (milliner)
I'm so excited to have found some new blogs written by milliners! Check these out:

Hat Chat is written by Norma Shephard of the Mobile Millinery Museum and costume archive. It's super-new, but looks like the aim is to feature photos of and info about vintage millinery! Fun!

aMuse is the blog of travelling milliner and educator Jan Wutkowski. She's got some great "reports from the field" from the recent International Millinery Forum in Wagga Wagga, Australia.

The Starry-Eyed Milliner is written by Laura Del Vellagio of Austin, TX. Ms. Del Vellagio is the designer behind Milli Starr millinery and also leads a series of millinery classes at The Stitch Lab.

Speaking of blogs, woodworker Mark De Cou has just posted about my Rounding Jack to his blog on

And speaking of hats, TLD Design Center has issued a call for entries for their forthcoming exhibit, Hats 2009! Details on how to submit your millinery designs are here.
labricoleuse: (milliner)
TheatreFace is a new networking site for professional, educational, and community theatre, sponsored by Stage Directions Magazine. It's got all the usual social networking features like a blog section, a profile page, a "friends list," etc., and the option to join and create communities and groups.

Stagecraft Exchange, launched by UNC graduate Kalen Larson, positions itself as a "craigslist for the theatre industry." It's brand-new so there's not much up there yet, but spread the word and add it to your list of venues to publicize things like job listings and equipment sales/rentals.

The Dye Dept. is an exciting website run by a collective of dyers and textile artists working in the Vancouver film industry. They have some great galleries to surf through as well as some excellent images of their studio setup. I always like to see what other workspaces look like.

The New York City Ballet has a great "online exhibit" of some highlights of their costume collection, entitled Bedecked, Bedazzled, and Bejeweled, with tons of great close-up shots of embellishments and construction details!

I also have an event announcement of possible interest to locals, hosted by our graduate department:

PORTFOLIO 101 for Costume Production Professionals! It's aimed toward UNC undergraduates, but others are welcome, from highschool costumers to area professionals and students at other universities, potential applicants both undergrad and grad, you name it.

This workshop connects you with professionals in the field who will share with you how to effectively prepare a technical or costume portfolio (both for designers and technicians), as well as some of their professional experiences. Please bring your portfolio or resume in whatever shape you have it so that you can get personalized information!

Thursday April 16 (4-6pm): Costume Production Resume Review/Portfolio Critique
**Room 105, Center for Dramatic Art, UNC Campus, Chapel Hill**

with Amanda Phillips and Randy Handley (PlayMakers/graduate students of Dramatic Art)
Jade Bettin and Judy Adamson (PlayMakers/Dept. of Dramatic Art)

Amanda Phillips is a third-year MFA candidate with experience working as a first hand at Ballet West and Tricorne NYC on Broadway productions such as Wicked, Young Frankenstein, and Shrek: The Musical.

Randy Handley is a second-year MFA candidate, former Assistant Manager at the Utah Shakespearean Festival and Wardrobe Supervisor for Cirque de Soleil's Corteo.

Jade Bettin is one of our Costume History faculty and a graduate of our MFA program, with past experience working with historical costume archives such as the collection at Kent State.

Judy Adamson is our Costume Director; she worked for Barbara Matera Ltd. in New York for 14 years. She has worked with such designers as Irene Sharaff, Miles White, Theoni Aldredge, Florence Klotz, Willa Kim, Pat Zipprodt, William Ivey Long and Bob Mackie. She has also worked extensively in dance with American Ballet Theatre, Paul Taylor and Elliot Feld.
labricoleuse: (supershakespeare)
Happy new year, y'all!

Things are in full swing around these parts, as we're rolling toward opening two shows in repertory at work, Tennessee Williams' Glass Menagerie and Lisa Kron's Well, plus our spring semester begins next week at UNC--my course this time around is dyeing, surface design, and ageing/distressing, so there'll be i'm sure a bunch of posts on those topics for the next few months, as well as some exciting hats on the docket with our season closer, Pride & Prejudice.

A brief post then, as i take a breather in the rep production calendar, to highlight a petition on an issue close to my heart and livelihood.

Back in November, musician and record producer Quincy Jones announced his intention to call upon President-elect Obama to create a new post, the Secretary of the Arts, to nurture, support, and safeguard the position of the arts in the US. Musician Jaime Austria, who plays the bass for the New York City Opera and the American Ballet Theatre Orchestra, took Mr. Jones' call to heart and created a petition for registering your support.

As of right now, the petition has 46,082 signatures and counting (when i signed it yesterday, it was around 41,000). So, you know, if you are so inclined, I encourage you to sign it as well. Ask anyone who works in the arts--endowments may be down and crumbling, and donors have less and less wealth to share, but actual patronage of theatre, concerts, dance, poetry readings, cultural performances, and so forth is rising. In times of trouble, people turn to the arts for comfort, escapism, catharsis, for a rallying of spirits, an excuse to crumble and cry, and a reason to throw back their heads in laughter.

(Well, they also turn to other things, like family, or God, or booze and crack rocks, but i'm just sayin.)
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: (macropuppets!)
First, the good news:

The New Zealand Hat and Hair Awards were just held on November 29th! The article has a photo of the winning entry, and the event's website has a lot of photos of the past two years' worth. What with this and the World of Wearable Art awards, NZ is certainly the place to be for wearable artwork! Amazing stuff.

...but, there's bad news, too.

I feel i'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the economic casualties in the American regional theatre community of the past few days.

  • California: San Jose's American Musical Theatre closing and declaring bankruptcy.
    The final decision to cease operations was made at a board meeting last week, and the employees were notified Wednesday. [You're reading that correctly: the AMT laid off their staff on the day before Thanksgiving. Personally, i'd have at least waited til Monday after, on principle.]

  • West Virginia: Theatre West Virginia to close, an announcement that came just three days after their 2009 season programming announcement.
    [General Manager Gayle] Bowling said Tuesday the board of directors has given her two weeks to decide how to dispose of the company's assets, its offices in Mabscott and an amphitheater at Grandview Park. She expects total shutdown within a month.

  • South Carolina: Charleston Stage cuts staff, salaries.
    Charleston Stage, the city’s largest theater company, announced today that it cut three full-time staffers from its payroll and issued a 6 percent pay cut for everybody else, including Julian Wiles, the company’s founder and director.

  • Wisconsin: Madison Repertory Theatre to lay off half its staff.
    Positions they decided to cut: managing director, production manager, development officer, graphic designer, scenic painter, and props master.

My heartfelt sympathy goes out to all these folks, not only for the loss of their jobs at a particularly unfortunate time (midwinter/holidays), but in two cases for the dissolution of their theatres altogether as well. When a theatre goes under, it leaves a hole in the community that it serves.

They say things are going to get worse, in general, before they get better--i wonder how many more regional theatres will go under before it's all over?
labricoleuse: (manga avatar)
This weekend, i attended the annual exhibition of quilts by the local Durham-Orange Quilters' Guild, held at the American Tobacco Historic District in downtown Durham, NC.

I wish i had known in advance that the show also featured free workshops on topics like sunprinting, free-motion quilting, and wool felting! As it was, i missed those, though i did get there in time to sit in on the presentation by the African American Quilt Circle, which included some displays of more of their work that wasn't hanging in the show, including a quilt made of super-cool mudcloth blocks and a great one that had tiny processions of African ladies with dimensional headwraps. Next year, i'm definitely going earlier!

tons of photographs of fiber art and a rundown of the show )

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