Co-crafts artisan Candy McClernan and I have been hard at work on Cabaret
--tech starts in a week! I've written quite a bit about all the cool projects she's been heading up, such as her screenprinted spandex map fabric
and her digital textile prints of zeppelins
, but I've not talked about any of my own projects.
When Candy and I looked at the crafts on this show and discussed how to divide up the workload, we had to take a lot of different factors into consideration: the time we had to produce things, where each of our strengths and interests lie, and how many things we knew would have to be made in-house. Because of the highly specific aesthetic nature of the designs, our made-to-order crafts list is pretty long on this one, and full of tons of really cool and exciting projects.
Whenever i share a crafts workload on equal footing with a graduate student (this happens when they are in their second or third year, and usually when they intend to pursue a crafts-centric career), I try as much as possible to give the student "first dibs." What areas and projects are they particularly drawn to? After all, part of this whole thing is to educate the students in a practical production environment, to give them opportunities to produce professional work that appears onstage in a regionally-staged production. And, besides, this is my job. I will always have more cool crafts to make, while they're in grad school for only three years.
Since Candy has a particular interest in the applications of digital technologies to the field of costume production, when i saw how many digital fabric prints and other related projects this show afforded us, I suspected she'd want to be in charge of those, and i was right! As you've seen from the prior posts, she's been doing a great job, too.
And, i'll own up to the fact that the project i'm going to talk about today, i was really wanting to do, so i'm glad we didn't have to jump into Thunderdome over it--that's the leatherwork! I love working with leather in applications like these, and really, i think if i had to pick an area of crafts to specialize in, it would be a hard decision but leatherwork would be one of the top contenders.
I first really learned a lot about leatherwork when i was living in Boston and working at the American Repertory Theatre at Harvard. My contract was one of those "swiss cheese contracts," where you wind up on for a month, off for a month, and it can be hard to pick up gainful employment sometimes in and around that sort of gig. I freelanced all over the place and had a couple of other jobs, but my absolute favorite was doing patternmaking and production work at a custom retail leather shop. Most of the shop's clients were of the "leather daddy"/fetish variety, and much of what we made consisted of custom-fit leather pants, chaps, vests, and a variety of things made of straps. We also got commissions for things like leather corsets, hats, and even adding cavalier-bells to the tops of boots. (This was before Disney made pirates popular enough for those things to exist off-the-rack.)
I learned four methods for making straps from leather, each suited to a different aesthetic or functional application, and i learned invaluable skills like laying out patterns on hides, estimating square footage of leather by hide or by project, and how sewing with leather differs from fabric. It remains the absolute best non-theatre job i've had in my life, and i try to pass on at least some of the knowledge i gained there to my students. The place is defunct, long out of business at this point, or else i'd give them a link here.
Anyway, when i saw the leather elements Cabaret
's costumes would require, i did a little dance, because i could not wait to get my hands on some beautiful hides and start work!
The major project of this sort is a part of the look for the Emcee and the Kit Kat Girls for the "Money" number, in which the costumes are a sort of fetishy-burlesque take-off on dirndls and lederhosen. Recall from the post about making our Deutschmark fabric, that designer Jen Caprio
's renderings looked thus:( Read more... )