Sunday, June 26, 2011

Some Pretty Things

After my last post (and the complete downer I've been on for a while) I thought I'd share some of the stuff that I've been working on lately in an effort to bring something pretty into the world.  There's enough ugliness, you know?  Enough angst.  I think there needs to be a tad more levity and whimsy to counterbalance to atrocities in our world.

So in that vein, lemme show ya the stuff I'm excited about!  : )

You know, I don't really like real circuses very much--I'm much more attracted to contemporary no-animal circuses.  Cirque du Soleil is a fun one--I've seen some of their shows and lemme tell ya those costumes are to. die. for!   Really, really original and attractive.  The definition of dramatic!  I've been trying to inject some of that sensibility into my own creations.

But I still like the whole vintage, nostalgic aspect of contemporary assemblage art.  The meshing together of different materials from a variety of sources really flicks my switch.  There's something about the rustic, basic-ness of it that just gets me.  And the idea of looking at the beauty in something that isn't new, that isn't fresh off the assembly line...  There's something about appreciating things of the past that I love.

So I've made these pieces to hearken back to yesteryear, with that sense of frivolity and lightness that I think is sometimes absent in our worry-prone world.

The first piece I'm calling "Circus Rose".  It's actually a piece of striped sheer polyester chiffon that I've gathered up and mounted on a piece of vintage gimp trim.   The edges of the trim are gently frayed, giving it a kind of antique feel.  I love how the striped fabric is kind of see-through.  There's a fragility that comes with translucent fabric like sheers.  A kind of gentleness.

I put one of my aunt's hand painted porcelain china cabochons in the middle.  It's one of the pieces that she sent to me from her collection of left over projects...  She's quite an accomplished china painter, a skill she picked up from her grandmother (my great grandmother).  The look and feel of those pieces is what is commonly known as an "American" style, and developed quite rapidly during the depression and through the 1970's, eventually falling out of vogue.  Being crafty and artistic just wasn't fashionable, I guess.  Perhaps hand-painted porcelain jewelry was just too expensive to get involved in for a beginner.  My great grandmother's kiln (which she kept on her back porch) was huge, expensive and ancient.  My younger sister has it now.  It takes a day to heat up, and a day to cool down!  My aunt uses a much better one now.

This second piece is called "Relished Onyx".  It's another half-ruff, and I used some left over fabric from the oriental brocade frock coat I assembled.  It's not as full as a regular ruff (i.e. it doesn't go all the way around the neck) but I think that's actually a pro rather than a con.  It's certainly abstract, and has a certain quality that seems contemporary and antique at the same time...  I've never really seen anything like it, and I suppose it would appeal to a "specific kind" of wearer, but then again isn't that what all this stuff is like?  I think this has got more appeal to a "goth" kind of crowd than anyone else, but that's just great!

My third piece I've made is a variation of the first, using the same material.   The difference, though, is that I've done quite a bit of fabric treatment to the sheers.  I've used two layers and pinked both the edges.  I then sponged on gold and brown fabric paint to make it look a little aged, and spritzed it with gold fabric glitter.  Finally, I splattered it with two different colors of fabric paint to add texture and grit.  I used vintage fabric trim that was given to me from my aunt that has imbedded rhinestones in it and then mounted the whole thing on an organdy ribbon with pearls at each end.  I think I like it.  It's certainly unique, I think.  I'm calling it "Circus Princess".

My last piece that I've recently completed is a more traditional ruff.  It's made of the same striped sheer polyester chiffon, and then mounted on organdy ribbon.  I sprayed it down with some glitter fabric spray, so it has tiny sparkles in the right light.  I think of this piece more as a "costume" piece, because honestly who is going to wear this out shopping?!?  It's a "showcase" piece for those looking for a focal point for an outfit--maybe a nice sheath dress or a peasant blouse.  I guess I'm becoming less concerned about how people might use these things because I simply have no idea...  I think that's part of the magic of styling--you get to assemble and coordinate whatever you want from a world of possibilities...  Isn't that fun??  

These are all going in my Etsy shop eventually, but I've heard that posting something new everyday is wiser than posting everything all at once.  So it'll take a bit to get them all up there.

Right now I'm working on some special outfits for a charity group I've worked with in the past, and listening to some audiobooks while I stitch.  The days are beautiful and sunny, and the nights are cool.

And we haven't had our resident Mockingbird back serenading us for a long, long time! Whew!  I work in my garage that has transitioned into my sewing studio, and sometimes I work late at night, so hearing that bird endlessly rotate through car alarms is my own private nightmare...  I love birds.  I just don't love that particular bird.  Ahem.

Anyway, I've got a stack of doll legs and arms that I need to do something with that I'm a little perplexed about, but I'll share that with you all in the next post.

Until next time, Live Life with Relish!


  1. You have such a cool aunt! I'm waiting for a friend to teach me how to bead around a cabochon. The cabochon I buy from shops look really um, cheap and not much to look at. I'm rather fascinated by vintage fabric and I spend hours looking at images of vintage collection from a museum.

  2. I am having a hard time finding "settings" for the cabochons without buying them in bulk... I really don't need a gross of filigree settings!! Haha!! I'm a big fan of "grab bags", so if I could find a bag full of a variety of them, I'd be one happy boy.

    My sister works at the Missouri Historic Costume and Textile Collection. She gifted me with a whole bunch of vintage fabrics that they had no room to store anymore, and were considered lesser value than it cost to keep them... So my swallowtail vests were all made out of that fabric... It's mostly from the 1970s, but it's still beautiful! I know EXACTLY what you mean about loving those aged materials--they're just cool!! : )

  3. Hey Corey, as I was reading thru and enjoying your post I was thinking about and wondering what your workspace/studio was like and there toward the end you shared that! as if you heard me asking, how cool! and I sure know what a pain one little mockingbird can be!
    I love your neck pieces so much, working on things this lovely will surely help keep you calm and centered ... have a fun & creative week!

  4. Your blog looks awesome! And I totally agree with liking non-animal circuses. I prefer Cirque du soleil big time!

  5. Susan, I've actually posted some pics of my studio space a long time ago when I was just starting the blog. Here are the links:

    Perhaps I should actually do a post about that, huh? :)

  6. Karla--thanks so much!! Welcome!! A fellow San Diegan! Whee!! And I'm going to dive into your blog, too--such neat things to find!! : )

  7. Hi! I'm following you from the SD County Etsy team. I really like all of your explanations about each piece. Here's my blog if you want to follow back:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...