Thursday, February 4, 2016

Wear Pajamas Everywhere

Pajamas and nightcap (+ hand-me-down bathrobe) 
Photo: Robert Lucy, 2016
Early in the morning at the local café am wearing flannel pajama pants with a band of trim at the cuff, a linen nightgown cut in the style of an 18th century shift under a hand-me-down plaid bathrobe from my father. The fleece nightcap is indispensable on frozen winter nights (or in this case, mornings). Robert Lucy came along to photograph. The usually indifferent gal behind the counter was very attentive. Was it the presence of a photographer? The steam heat and the espresso machine's hissing output cause heavy condensation to form and glisten on the café's large paned windows. On a frigid morning we are like hothouse flowers. It could hardly be more inviting.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Digital and Analog: Making a Website and a Tee

Wool Fedora, Cotton Ribbed Tee,
Stretch Wool Leggings, Fleece Scarf
Photo: Robert Lucy, 2016
Have been building a website to encompass the entirety of this project. (View it here.) Working on the website took me away from sewing for awhile. Returning to the sewing machine recently to make a tee shirt brought such a harmonious, buoyant feeling.

The left brain/right brain dichotomy is a useful way to consider the pleasure of making. If the right hemisphere of the brain pertains to creativity and the left to logic, the process of making--sewing, carpentry, etc.--engages both hemispheres. No amount of writing, collecting and organizing photos to build a website activates the psyche as sewing does.

Making is nourishing.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Looking at Belts: A New Video!

What materials are used to make a belt? Consider how your hands can learn to distinguish between types of materials. Here's a new video in the Conscientious Consumer series:

Friday, November 13, 2015

We Evolve

Linen Nightgown,
Handmade Bedding.
 Photo: Robert Lucy, 2015
Throughout the summer I had the dreary sensation of being dressed at odds with who I am or am becoming. We evolve. It was demoralizing to wear clothing from the past. As a snake grows it sheds its skin. So do we sometimes shed the familiar as we evolve.

In late August I designed a pair of wide leg pants and a sleeveless top. Rather than draft a pattern or use a dress form, I draped the top directly upon my body. The way the back and front of the top meet at the shoulders and the pants wrap around the waist subtly break with convention. All summer long I'd thought "If you were to look at me in these clothes you'd not be seeing me." Now the reflection in the mirror was gratifying. This ensemble was authentically me and reinvigorating.

A few articles of clothing have retained their appeal. A green camouflage jacket purchased long, long ago has softened through years of wear. As beloved as a child's teddy bear it’s as right as ever. A nightgown, one of the first garments I sewed, made out of sumptuously smooth, crisp white cotton poplin, became something I loved to put on at the end of a day. Eventually it frayed at the seams perhaps more from laundering than wear. (Drat spindle washing machines.) It was ready to be retired. 

Would make another! Using a linen sheet too lovely to discard but worn thin in the center, cut the front, back, sleeves and yoke pieces. Echoing the original this one may be even better. Linen almost hovers over the skin like a cocoon. It is perfectly tranquil for bedtime. Always want to linger in this nightgown when morning comes. Wondered about throwing on a coat without changing into daytime clothing to walk to the newsstand… Let’s be honest. Have done it. Early one recent very chilly morning met a friend for tea before work. I confessed to having put a sweater on over my pajama top to meet her. She laughed. She had zipped a jacket over hers!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Made By the Light of the Sun

Multi-Tiered Dress for the 4th of July, 2015
Photo: Robert Lucy
When engaged in a project full of invention and discovery I continue to work as evening falls, until the studio darkens and neither lamplight nor overhead lighting are sufficient. (None rival daylight.) Then put the project respectfully aside eager for sunlight's return bringing with it the opportunity to recommence the process.

Have had to coax myself from the studio on many occasions like a parent reasoning with a child who is still romping about on the playground at dusk. The child wants to linger. "We can come back tomorrow," the parent reassures her. Frequently I've tidied up the studio at night with the same promise to myself: you can come back tomorrow!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Super Power

On a train traveling from the Hudson Valley to Grand Central station today Superman came on board in the form of an 8 year old boy. He was wearing a red Superman cape made of silk-like material, light enough to ripple behind him. It shimmered. Beneath the cape his blue tee with the Superman insignia left no doubt as to his identity. His eyeglass frames were vivid Superman-blue, his face deep brown. He looked terrific. Superman boarded the train with his mother.

Having found a seat on the train I kept thinking about Superman. I walked back to where he was seated. With upraised eyebrows I checked for his mother’s consent.  Receiving it I directed my attention to the boy, “I really like how you’re dressed. May I ask you something? Are you dressed like Superman for a special occasion? Or do you sometimes wear Superman clothes?”

His manner was gentle. Looking directly at me he explained, some days he dresses like Superman. Sometimes he dresses like Michael Jackson. He gave the impression there were other costumes. I wanted to know more. But since he was glancing at a game on the electronic tablet in his hands I left it at that. 

Turning to head back to my seat I noticed the pink tee shirt his mother was wearing. It was emblazoned with an “S” Superman insignia/shield on the front. “You’re wearing a Superman shirt too!” I observed.

She pointed to the baby carriage in the aisle by her side where her daughter lay sleeping. “She was too. Before she got spaghetti on it. The whole family.”

Today I met Superman and his family.

Have been thinking a lot about dressing as a form of empowerment. This was kismet.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Looking at Hats--A New Video!

What goes into making a hat? What do the details reveal about its quality? A lot!
Here's new video in the Conscientious Consumer series. (Such a delight to make these.)

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Slow Style Retrospective

From Hats to Underwear, An Artist Makes Everything She Wears

On June 27th I spoke before an audience about my slow style project. It was an opportunity to discuss the motivations behind the endeavor, the materials and methods, influences and aspirations and some of the discoveries made along the way.

Mid-summer, mid-rainstorm I was geared up to welcome an audience of five people. It was standing room only--a happy surprise!

(Note: Items on the shelves are works by other artists, part of the gallery's exhibit.)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Slow Fashion Presentation on Saturday, June 27th

Slow Fashion from UNDERWEAR to HATS:
Making Everything I Wear for Seven Years

For seven years Brooklyn artist and designer Sarah Kate Beaumont has been designing and making her entire wardrobe, from underwear to hats. On Saturday, June 27 from 4.30--6.30 p.m. Beaumont will present a retrospective of this project illustrated with examples from her personal wardrobe. Beaumont will discuss her process, inspiration and the zeitgeist of maker-ism. The event is free. 

Saturday, June 27
from 4.30 to 6.30 p.m.

Proteus Gowanus
543 Union Street (at Nevins St.)
Brooklyn, NY
(Directions here.)

Monday, June 15, 2015

There's A Señorita

Señorita Dress (in process), 2015
Took this photo midway through draping a dress to wear to an art benefit. (Contributed a hat to the benefit.) The dress is ankle length with three tiers of fabric. The sleeves end in wide stretch lace cuffs. I replaced the grey silk rose seen in the photo with a smaller version I made with the shimmery black dress fabric. Had to design and complete the dress rather quickly. After wearing the dress to the benefit (photo below) spent two days finishing details on the interior and reinforcing the handstitched seams!

Then on a warm summer evening last week, when the sun had set so gradually that at 9 pm there was still faint light in the sky, I was again wearing the dress, walking along the neighborhood’s thoroughfare. A little girl playing with her sister on the sidewalk giddily exclaimed as I approached, “There’s a señorita!!”

“Is it my hat?" I asked, "Or the dress with all these layers?” I had paired the dress with black hat I'd made which has a distinctly Seville shape--a wide horizontal brim, straight-sided crown and flat top.

With 4 year’s old exuberance--arms raised, bouncing on her feet she explained: she and her sister (the relatively rooted companion standing next to her) were playing a game... "There was a señorita..."

It was difficult to gather the exact details from the excitedly and choppily told story. The girls' father, overseeing and enjoying their activity remarked that the timing was serendipitous. How much fun to enter the scene becoming "a señorita" in her imagination!

At the benefit a stylish woman chose the hat I'd made. I was so happy she chose it. May it bring her pleasure.
Photo: Miska Draskoczy