labricoleuse: (mee)
In Bill Brewer's designs for Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, her second look has a very specific stripe to it. He'd found a swatch of fabric at a New York vendor which he loved, but there were two problems: the vendor sold out of the fabric before the swatches were approved, and in order to match the fabric up the center front in this inverse chevron, one half of the skirt would have had to be cut inverted, which creates a visual anomaly in textiles with satin weaves.

Concept slide and design rendering by Bill Brewer

Image of silk yardage - the fabric we couldn't buy

In order to achieve this look, my assistant and first-year grad student Erin Torkelson took the above research image of the fabric Bill liked, rendered the stripe as a TIFF, and uploaded it to Spoonflower. We ordered sample swatches of it in a couple different substrate fabrics and Bill chose the fabric he liked best (the poly satin). He also elected to change the stripe to feature more whitespace. Then, because the stripe design is not a balanced mirror of itself, we had two versions of the stripe printed so that the skirt could be cut with that matching chevron up the front with the directional nap accommodated for.

Lovett Stripe
Lovett Stripe Reversed

Pretty cool, eh?
labricoleuse: (mee)
Last week, i had the good fortune to attend the book release party for The Spoonflower Handbook: A DIY Guide to Designing Fabric, Wallpaper, and Gift Wrap, by Stephen Fraser, Judi Ketteler, and Becka Rain.

A sitting area in the Spoonflower facility, love the upholstery!

I bought the book (as one does at such things) and have since been poring over it with the intent to write about it here, and i suppose that i should begin with a few disclosures, as i am hardly an impartial reviewer.

Spoonflower is a local company with offices literally just up the street from my house. I count more than one friend (and one alumna of our graduate program) among their employees, and have been a customer and designer of theirs for years.That said, i don't have any affiliation with this book and its authors beyond being a fan of the text.

So, what's the book like?

One could argue that it is a book-length infomercial for Spoonflower, which i suppose is technically true, in that there's a lot of information about how specifically one can use the company to produce textile designs, wallpaper, and gift wrap (the three products they print). But on a general level, there's an enormous amount of useful information about the basics of print designs--everything from how to use both analog and digital tools to create your designs, to how one might create a seamless repeat in a range of different configurations. The book does touch on some of the more "pro" programs for digital design, but also illustrates techiques and methods that are decidedly low-tech and non-intimdating for those who have no proficiency with, say, Photoshop.

The first section is a sort of overview of textiles and design--discussions of everything from types of fabrics one can print on (knits/wovens, fiber contents) to the definition of digital design terms like raster and vector based image files, hex codes, dpi, and so forth.

The structure of the second half of the book is project-based, with specific how-to craft projects, each of which addresses a different technique or medium. So, an example of a simple project for working with a digital photograph is the Doppelganger Dog Pillow (which involves printing a photo of your pet and making a pillow out of it), whereas a project addressing working with text involves creating a repeat for the Typographic Wrapping Paper.

Overall, it's an excellent book for demystifying digitally-printed textiles (and papers), which will appeal to hobby crafters, fashion designers, costumers, prop artisans, interior decorators, scrapbookers, and sewing enthusiasts. In terms of its specific appeal to theatre professionals, it's a good book to have in your arsenal, though it covers little new ground not already addressed by Kimberly Kight's Field Guide to Fabric Design.
labricoleuse: (CAD)
My current gig is to serve as the costume shop manager for the Summer Youth Conservatory at Playmakers Repertory (the company for which i serve as the crafts artisan throughout the regular theatre season). The conservatory is our summer program for middle school and high school students, a five-week program during which we rehearse, open, and run a show with the full support of the theatre's resources--costume stock, Equity stage managers, the scene shop, etc.

This summer we're doing Hairspray with a cast of 30 kids, and I'm running the costume shop with a staff of four students in the Theatre Tech section of the conservatory (these students staff our shops and run the show itself as their conservatory experience). In the first week of the production process, one of the things we did was to take a tour of the locally-based, internationally-known custom fabric printing company, Spoonflower--they generously donated some fabric that we're using for some of our costumes and classes. I've taken our graduate students on tours there in the past, but not since they've moved to their new, expanded location, and i've got some great photos to share from our tour!

Read more... )

Our theatre tech students really loved seeing how they run things at Spoonflower, not only the print rooms but also the heat-setting rooms, the cutting stations, the pack-and-ship department. I couldn't take photographs in those places though because of copyright ownership issues with the fabric prints in those parts of the factory. But, Spoonflower is happy to book tours of their facility if you find yourself in the area!
labricoleuse: (CAD)
So, i've been working on a pretty exciting extracurricular project lately, for my friend and colleague, costume designer Jennifer Caprio. I've worked on several shows for Playmakers with Jen, including the currently-running Private Lives, for which we painted that fantastic Schiaparelli-inspired silk crepe.

But, clearly as a successful and nationally-known costume designer, Jen works on multiple shows for a variety of venues, all in different stages of development at any given time. So when she asked me if i'd be interested in a freelance gig doing a series of digital textile prints for the titular costume in the upcoming national tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, i jumped at the chance!

Jen's design concept for the Dreamcoat is inspired by the famous series of twelve stained-glass windows which Marc Chagall created for the Abbell Synagogue at the Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem. Created in the 1960s, each of Chagall's windows represent one of the twelve tribes of Israel. In Jen's vision of the Dreamcoat, it's an ankle-length frock coat, the skirt of which is cut in twelve gores, each corresponding to one of Chagall's windows.

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (history)
One of the capstone projects of the third year in our graduate program is the historical reproductions. Students choose a garment from our historical clothing archive, CoStar, which they meticulously examine, research its provenance, and reproduce as accurately as possible. They write a paper on their findings, digitize the pattern, and make it available on the archive.

Third-year Candy McClernan had her reproduction and the original garment displayed on dress forms in the shop this afternoon, and i took this opportunity to take a photo:

Left: Reproduction bodice by Candy McClernan
Right: Antique printed silk bodice from the CoStar archive

Candy began by digitally reproducing the print of the fabric, which she uploaded to Spoonflower and had printed in their cotton-silk blend. You can read about her process here, and a scale version of her pattern can be accessed here, should you wish to make your own version of this piece as well!
labricoleuse: (CAD)
Recently, i interviewed Eric Abele, the Director of Design and Production at the Lexington Children's Theatre, about an inspired digital printing process that their costume shop pursued for a new play, The Paper Bag Princess.

The play calls for a dress made out of paper bags, for which they had fabric printed at Spoonflower to mimic the look of grocery bags. What i found most fascinating about the process was that they didn't make up a fake grocery store logo for their paper bag dress--instead, they reached out to the grocery chain, Whole Foods, to become a corporate sponsor.

Here's our conversation on how that process worked out well for all involved.
Read more... )
labricoleuse: (silk painting)
My dye class has presented another project, and the topic this time around is print repeat techniques--creating multiple iterations of an image on fabric or on garments. We talk about all the different ways in which this can happen, from stenciling to block printing to screen printing to heat transfers to digital textile design. We discuss the pros and cons of all these methods, and what types of supplies and media you need to deploy them. Then the students choose two methods and create projects with them.

Today i've got a block print and several screen print examples to share.

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (vintage hair)
In our ongoing look at my co-crafts artisan Candy McClernan's surface design work for Cabaret, today we depart from the realm of digitally printed Deutschmarks and dirigibles to focus on screenprinting.

See, we needed for this project to be able to put a pattern on milliskin, which is super stretchy and not a fabric available from a place like Spoonflower. Spoonflower does a cotton jersey, but that wasn't going to work for the design in question (pictured below). Granted, we did look into the possibility of consulting with [TC]2 on an engineered print project, and also at places that do digitally printed stretch products like Agon Swimwear. Ultimately though, when all the factors of cost vs. time vs. labor were taken into consideration, we decided that doing it the old-fashioned way was going to be the best choice.

Read more... )

Now, there's a lot more that has to happen before these screenprints become costumes, but that's where we're at!
labricoleuse: (CAD)
I mentioned in my last post that we're now working on the final show of the season at Playmakers Repertory Company, Kander and Ebb's Cabaret. Today's post is the second in a series about the surface-design projects being headed up by my co-crafts artisan, second-year graduate student Candy McClernan. Candy has a particular interest in computer-aided design and the application of digital technologies to costume production, and this show has provided her with quite a few projects in that area.

This post concerns the creation of a custom Deutschmark-print fabric for the Kit Kat Klub's show costumes for the "Money" number.

Read more... )

If you like this fabric, much like the zeppelins, you can find it on Spoonflower here!

And, don't forget, you have until 6pm on Sunday to get yourself into the drawing for a free copy of the Resurrection Engines anthology featuring my story, "Tidewrack Medusa."
labricoleuse: (CAD)
We're hard at work on the final show of the season at Playmakers Repertory Company, Kander and Ebb's Cabaret, and even though the show's only been in rehearsal for a week, in the costume shop we've been at it for a month already.

There are so many crafts projects in this show that i have a co-crafts artisan, second-year graduate student Candy McClernan. Candy has a particular interest in computer-aided design and the application of digital technologies to costume production, and this show has provided us with quite a few projects in that area for Candy to troubleshoot. This post is about the first of several, the creation of a custom zeppelin-print fabric for the character of Sally Bowles.

Read more... )

Want to make your own zeppelin dress? Candy's fabric is available on Spoonflower here!
labricoleuse: (CAD)
If you follow what's going on in the technical theatre industry at conferences such as USITT, and via blogs like this one and other media, you've seen a growing number of examples of the use of digital fabric printing. From Disney's sublimation printing department, to fabric yardage pre-printed with age for regional theatre, to reproducing historical folding fans by digitally printing the designs onto silk, i've covered ever more of this type of work of late.

It's clear that theatrical costume designers and crafts artisans need to develop a familiarity with the processes of digital textile design and printing [1]. I've begun to encourage my students to take on projects that involve elements of digital textile print design, like this fan leaf design by first year grad student Leah Pelz

But it does beg the question: how does one learn how to go about such things? Obviously digital fabric design classes are out there, offered through a college of textiles, but that's not an option for most of us working in the field.

I received two books for Christmas which might be of help, if you're hoping to get some grounding in textile design to actualize the kinds of projects that present themselves in the course of costume production. Neither are ideal for theatre artists, but then again, we're not exactly a huge demographic. Both are useful in different ways, and laid out in such a way that you can pick and choose what you need from them to get done what you need doing.

The first is A Field Guide to Fabric Design by Kimberly Kight. Kim is the author of the blog TrueUp, which also hosts a fabric design forum for discussion of relevant topics. The book purports to deal with designing fabric "for quilting, home dec, & apparel," and it's a pretty succinct overview.

I will admit an aesthetic bias, before i even get to the content: I love the way this book is laid out, organized, and graphically designed. The images are great, the paper quality is nice, the font families are easy to read, and it's full of all kinds of useful info for the novice who wants to learn all about textile print design, from basic nomenclature to various method tutorials (both digital and analog). She also addresses things like copyright and licensing issues, which are of more pressing relevance to those designing fabrics for sale, but are useful to know from a costume design perspective as well.

In terms of digital design, Kight's book has a few tutorials on working with both Photoshop and Illustrator (versions CS3 or later), and she has some excellent insights into how to create stuff like a cohesive color palette for a design, or making a decent-looking scatter-print using spot-repeat grids.

The other book is Digital Textile Design, by Melanie Bowles and Ceri Isaac. Let me start by saying, if i had an aesthetic bias in favor of Kight's, i've the opposite with this text. Plainly put, i found this book hard to look at. From the font choices to the non-intuitive layout, to the (IMO) hideous and already-dated-looking images/designs, it was not easy on the eyes for me. Even the size and paper used kind of turned me off, because it felt like a low-rent workbook. Then again, it does seem to be aimed at a fashion-school textbook-buyer's market in some ways, so maybe that's to be expected. It's got some of the same basic information to be found in Kight's book, but is less comprehensive in terms of related chapters on things like color theory and fabric types and even some of the terminology.

The good thing about the book is that it's got a ton of actual step-by-step digital fabric design tutorials. Mind you, they aren't very clearly written, and i wound up using them more as vague signposts on a road of progress--a couple of them resulted in some cool exercises that helped me understand new ways of working with images and design programs, and some of them were essentially useless without liberal use of the Adobe Help site. Again, if the text is taken as a workbook meant to be used in tandem with an in-class instructor, maybe its vagueness in places is not a problem in that context? I'd think you'd want it as "idiot-proof" as possible, myself. Figuring it out on your own, it's hit or miss.

I think though, after reading both of them and working through their respective tutorials and guidelines, if i had to recommend a course of action for the average theatre craftsperson or costume designer who wanted to begin working with digital textile designs, i'd recommend buying the Kight text. If you suck at Photoshop and Illustrator, her book will get you going conceptually, and Adobe's support pages have so many really good instructional videos that you can hunt through them for the specifics on how to do something like "select just this part of the image" or "paste this but mirrored" or whatever.

After reading both these books and doing some tutorials, i put my learning to the test, and spent a day off futzing around with Photoshop and Illustrator to see what i could come up with in the realm of random textile design (meaning, not with some specific stage need like the Parchman Hour prison stripes.

A while back I had scanned all these funny old 19th century ads and cartoons that have to do with historical millinery/hatmaking, and decided to see what sorts of fabric prints i could make with them as jumping-off points. I've begun grouping them on Spoonflower in a collection called Vive les Chapeaux!. So far i've got two hatters' ad prints for making hat linings and such, and a hilarious border print that i'm thinking about using for cafe curtains in my millinery studio. Fun!

[1] No, i don't believe that digital printing and design will ever entirely supplant the artistry of surface design techniques, from batik to screenprinting. This post is not about that debate. This post is about the rise of digital design and printing as one more tool in the toolbox, as it were.
labricoleuse: (Default)
A few posts ago, I made an update about the show opening tonight for which i have designed costumes, a world premiere of a new script by playwright and director Mike Wiley. The play, The Parchman Hour, takes place partly in Mississippi's notorious Parchman Farm prison.

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

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

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

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

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

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

ETA: If you also need yardage of pre-aged prison striped fabric, you can buy this design from Spoonflower at this link right here!
labricoleuse: (design)
I've completed a third experiment in the ongoing project of custom-printed fan leaves, this time using the cotton-silk blend fabric offered by Spoonflower. Each time i do this, i learn a little bit more about the process, which i'm aggregating in posts here using the fans tag. At least one of my students is going to be doing a project in this same vein as well, so hopefully this is going to be a sufficient amount of R&D to make it a viable project for others to take on as well, should the need arise.

My third set of fan leaf designs includes two leaves based on the rose window patterns of famous cathedrals, Amiens and Leon, rendered in two different colorways. To test this design, i ordered it in the cotton-silk, which turns out to be basically a charmeuse with a cotton warp and silk traveling threads, it seems.

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (Default)
In my windows of "hurry up and wait" this tech weekend, i've been working on further explorations of custom printed fabric fan leaves by Spoonflower. Recall my earlier post on reproducing a fan design from 1885, which was my first foray; today's post addresses my second experiment: cotton voile.

The first fan i did was in silk crepe de chine, a fairly common fabric for a fan leaf, which needs to be something thin enough to fold up between the sticks of a fan frame but substantial enough to create a good breeze when the fan is used. I wanted to test some of Spoonflower's other fabrics for this purpose, so my second shot was their beautifully light cotton voile.

For this project, i also wanted to experiment with generating fan art from scratch, rather than working from an existing historical fan leaf painting. (Wow, proofreading this just now I realized this is a COMPLETELY different meaning of the phrase "fan art" than it usually connotes.)

The fan leaf is a fascinating conundrum from a design perspective, as the artwork needs to be something that works in a weirdly compromised semicircular shape. I spent a few days looking at all kinds of round things--mandalas, rose windows, radial patterns--until i finally decided upon a clock face as a design motif. This fan design is an aged and cropped photo i took of the clock on my fireplace mantelpiece at home! The final thing wound up looking kind of Steampunk to me, hence the design name on Spoonflower of Steampunk Clock Fan.

In the course of manipulating the image in Photoshop, I also realized that I could rotate my art and get TWO fans onto a fat quarter, which is so much more efficient use of fabric. I decided to treat these like a cut-and-sew textile panel design so i included some useful instructional text right on the leaf design as well. I ordered the test print in cotton voile, and began to assemble my fan.

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (design)
I've said it before and i'll say it again. One of the things i really love about the teaching component of a Teaching Artist job is, the cycle of my classes forces me to revisit specific topics on a regular basis, remind myself what i know about them and do more research into both historical methods and new technologies. It's not that i didn't love my previous jobs of being a non-teaching artist, but in those jobs my opportunities for doing research and development were attached to the requirements of the theatres and designers for which i worked.

The class i teach this semester is called Decorative Arts, which is to say that it encompasses all the crafts artisanship topics which aren't covered by Millinery/Wigs, Dyeing/Surface Design, or Masks/Armor. So, for example, right now my students are well into the first project, gloves. I'll have images of their work to share next week when they present, but i'm a step ahead and am focusing on the next project.

In previous years, i've taught a jewelry unit. It focused on jewelry production and rigging for stage and we covered topics like soldering, types of frequently-used stageworthy hardware like split rings or magnetic clasps, and media like polymer clay and silicone molds/resin casting. I've never really been satisfied with the fairly narrow scope of that project/unit though, and this year i've decided to switch it out for a new project focus, which i'm calling Small Hand Props for the Crafts Artisan.

Since Decorative Arts is the class in which we address parasol production (which IME often falls to the craftsperson because the parasols usually match the dresses and are designed by the costume designer rather than the scenic designer), I thought, why not do a unit on the OTHER things that are technically props, but which costume production artists are often asked to create for similar reasons? Namely, reticules and other period purses, chatelaines and other functional-but-worn jewelry items, and fans.

Fans! What fun! As someone who carries a fan in her purse all summer, you could say i'm a fan. Hur.

Anyhow, I've made quite a few fans to match gowns, and even written a blog post on the topic with a ton of useful links. Today's post is similar, but involves the services of the excellent digital fabric printer Spoonflower.

When thinking about this project and what sorts of options my students might wish to consider, i figured, clearly you can take a fabulous fine fabric and make a fan with it, but the more i researched period fan designs and read about historical fan production and the incredible popularity of fan painting as an art, the more i thought, I have to do a sample fan to show them which incorporates that element.

I found all kinds of wonderful images of elaborate fan leaf designs (even some by famous artists like Gaugin and Degas), but i decided upon an image from 1885, painted by Jean Beraud, depicting a crowded city street cluttered with bowler-hatted men sheltering bustle-dressed ladies with large umbrellas from a rain-goddess storming upon them. I found a great image of it in The Fan: Fashion and Femininity Unfolded by Valerie Steele, which is a wonderful resource book for such things.

I scanned the Beraud fan painting at a high resolution and then fiddled with it in Photoshop until i got it to be the proper size and scale for the fan frame. The original is very painterly and precious in its brush-strokes, so i tossed a couple of filters on it as well to sharpen some lines and contrast and "age" the image a bit to make it look better from a distance when mounted on a fan frame. Then I uploaded it to Spoonflower and ordered it centered on a fat quarter of silk crepe de chine. Five days later, I had my beautifully-printed silk Beraud fan leaf! Thanks, Spoonflower!

But, rewind. Another thing i wanted to address in my sample project was the sturdiness and operation of the fan monture (that's the proper term for the frame structure of a fan).

When you're making a decorative fan, or even a delicate fan for a "regular person," the action of the mechanism is not always the primary concern. If a fan is going to hang on a wall, or if someone wants to carry it around at their wedding, it may be the case that the look of the monture is more important than that it withstand violent snaps open and shut.

Actors are a whole different ballgame. If you give an actress a fan, it will become an essential part of her creation of character--she will open it violently to get someone's attention, snap it shut in frustration, even smack someone with the closed fan. I've worked on two productions of The Mikado where fan choreography was employed for an entire chorus, two dozen actors snapping and popping and cracking their fans open and shut on cue over and over and over. You HAVE to work with a monture that can go the distance.

In my experience, the best fans to cannibalize montures from for "ornate looking" designs for stage purposes are these inexpensive plastic-stave fans which you can usually find for around $5 apiece. The sticks are resilient and the hinges are strong enough not to drop apart with dramatic use, but not so stiff you can't firmly snap them open and shut with the flick of a wrist. The leaves (a "leaf" is the term for the fabric portion of the fan) are typically easily peeled free from the frame intact and can be used as a pattern for your replacement fabric. They come in a range of colors and while the gold detailing looks cheesy up close, it actually looks great onstage. If you plan to use the fan in a close-range situation (strolling performers or a house where the audience is very close to the action), you can tone down the metallic ornamentation with a rub-off treatment using some FEV or enamel paint for plastic.

The rest of this is best illustrated in a series of photographs. Read more... )
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: (Default)
Well, my grand plans for writing up more of the sessions I attended at US ITT certainly fell by the wayside, in favor of some exciting real-life developments! I have all the notes and flyers, and I will eventually get to writing up my thoughts on the conference, but instead, I got involved in some exciting research and development courtesy of the folks at Tech Shop RDU.

If you're not familiar with the idea of a Tech Shop, they are basically like a gym for people who like to make things. You buy a membership for a month, or six months, or a year or more, and the membership allows you access to their facility. The facility is equipped with all manner of industrial equipment, the like of which you probably can't afford to have in your basement workshop–welding stations, CDC routers, shop bots, plasma cutters, screenprinting equipment, laser cutters, industrial sewing machines, rapid prototype machines, and a computer lab full of all kinds of design software. In order to use a piece of equipment, you have to take a training class first; once you are on record as having taken the training, you may book time on the equipment and use it for whatever project you need it for.

I initially became interested in getting involved with our local Tech Shop because I knew they had a computerized embroidery machine, something we do not have access to at work, but something I can imagine we might need–not often, not often enough to invest in one of our own, but worth having access to. Then, I learned a bit more about some of their other equipment which I could envision being similarly useful. We can screen print on a small scale for a small run on site in my dye facility, but knowing I could head over there and use their dedicated screenprinting rig for a job that required dozens of multiples, that's pretty excellent. And, they have a vacuum forming machine, and we'v got armor class coming up in the spring. I could envision millinery projects in which the laser cutter/etcher could be used to create ornaments, and the shop bot to create hat blocks.

Over the past three weeks I have taken several of their training classes, in the course of which, I've met dozens of creative people in my community whose interests and artisanship pursuits mesh well with my own. The brainstorming alone of crossover project potential has been so inspiring, that I will be buying a membership in August and chronicling some of the projects that result in here as well.

From its beginnings in Menlo Park, California, in 2006, Tech Shop is turning into a franchise. There are locations springing up all over the country–three in California, the one here in Raleigh, Detroit, Portland, Brooklyn. All either operational or opening soon. Pretty exciting! You can see some pictures of the equipment at the Menlo Park location on this blog post, though it seems they have a few more things and much more space than the one here in Raleigh.

Before I can begin working on any of my Tech Shop project concepts though, I'll be spending a month in Scotland, Edinburgh to be exact. I'll be doing quite a bit of academic work and research, but that which is topical to this blog, I'll hopefully have time to post about. I'll be visiting some costume collections, some Scottish milliners and costume makers and university programs similar to ours at UNC-Chapel Hill. I will be taking lots of pictures, you can count on that!

December 2016

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