Life's Getting Busy and a Trip to LA

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

After a long absence, I figured it's high time to write another blog post...

Life has been getting quite busy for me lately.  I have been working on a project with a colleague of mine for Kaiser Permanente.  Kaiser has several Educational Theatre Programs all across the United States.  The one that I'm working for is based in Southern California.

They are developing a show to fit into their roster of several different shows for different age groups.  I'm making Puppeteer costumes for the actors that will be handling different puppets and performing for kids all across this region.  One of my former students, Shirley Pierson, contacted me to help her with the construction of her designs, and it's going quite well.  They're stretch denim sailor jumpsuits for a production of "J & Z and the Zig Zag Sea."  It's still in workshops right now, but I'm very excited about it!  Who knew Kaiser Permanente, the health insurance magnate, had a series of touring children's shows??

It's been keeping me busy.  I've been up to LA a couple times for fittings, and things have progressed nicely.  They're really good people, and are seriously dedicated to making quality art for kids that's interactive and educational as well as entertaining.

But after our fittings, Shirley and I went to the Los Angeles Fabric District.  Okay, talk about visual overload...  The prices are phenomenal, the variety is astounding, and I've been drooling every time I walk by a store!  It's rather like Tijuana for fabric...  The stores line up some of their stock on the outside and you simply walk by.  If something catches your eye, you walk in and ask for a price.  They tell you, and depending on how much your buying, you might be able to "haggle" a lower price...  Shirley is great at haggling.  She's been doing it for years--and she knows how low she can go without being insulting.  It's been a great experience watching and listening to her as she explains why it's not quite right or that she's only willing to pay "x-amount" for the yardage.  Sometimes they come down by a dollar or two a yard, sometimes they have to stick to their orgininal price.  But it's amazing how cheap, in general, the fabric is...  Going to a local fabric store can be daunting sometimes, but I'm learning that going up to LA is worth the effort.

There are blocks and blocks of fabric stores, flower stores, crafting stores, trim stores, button stores...  And that's not counting the Garment District that is just a couple blocks away where there are even more blocks of stores that sell specific garments...  Shirley picked up some petticoats for a show she's working on that were $10 in LA but would have been $35-40 locally.

There is so very very much in the Fabric Distric that it's tough not to feel creative.  It's tough not to feel that you could make almost anything when there are so many materials splayed out before you.  It's invigorating to wander around and just soak in the possibilities and let your mind go wild.  It can also be incredibly daunting...  Visual overload sets in quickly, and unless you approach the area with a specific list of items or goals in mind, it's easy to get terribly distracted and spend way more money than you had intended.  It's like walking through a mine field--there's always one more temptation to taunt you into spending everything in your pocket.  It's dangerous if you are not careful.

It's exhilirating.  I've come home each time emotionally strung out and yet invigorated and creatively stimulated to the point of paralysis.

The pictures I've included here are simply the outside of the stores... There are millions of bolts of fabric in this tiny area of LA.  Each storefront that you see beckons the shopper inside, to witness hundreds and hundreds of more bolts within the stores themselves.  Some vendors have things others don't , sometimes you can find a better deal at another location, but ultimately one realizes that it's not what's available that informs your design choices because almost everything is on hand...  You have to design what you want, and you can certainly find what you need to create it eventually.  It simply takes time and patience to dig through the fabric options.

I'm looking forward to spending more time in LA's Fabric District.  We'll see if it can contribute to my future projects.  : )

Until next time, Live Life with Relish!

2 comments:

jane p said...

I'm drooling over the fabric stores and I'm not even there! In S'pore we have Arab street where every shop sells either fabric or beads and trims. You have to ask for the price and bargaining is acceptable. But I've overpaid many times as I'm rather timid!

Relished Artistry said...

I am absolutely timid as well, but Shirley isn't! She's a bargaining queen! LOL! Someday you'll have to take pics of Arab Street--I'd love to see what your area is like, too! I'd imagine that you get all kinds of really cool and interesting stuff in Singapore that we can't get out here. You probably have an entirely different pool of materials to choose from that can inform your creativity in a completely different way... : )

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