Fashion Focus: Couture for a Cause

October 25, 2009 at 1:05 am (Fashion Focus)

What do you get when you have sixteen designers, three judges, and a challenge to create an outfit that best captures the essence of a local charity? No, this isn’t Project Runway. This is ME3’s first annual Couture for a Cause fashion show.

Jenny Le with Model Blakeley Pritchard

Jenny Le with Model Blakeley Pritchard

Sixteen designers were paired with sixteen Wake County nonprofits. The designers had to create an outfit  that embodied the missions of each organization. North Carolina State Student Jenny Le was assigned to Artspace. Two weeks ago, Jenny visited Artspace and took photographs for her Artspace inspired design. Not knowing what the dress looked like, I offered to loan Jenny the Artspace talisman I designed last year. The end result worn by model Blakeley Pritchard was inspired creative energy.

Blakely Pritchard wearing the Artspace talisman

Blakely Pritchard wearing the Artspace talisman

The designs were judged by Banana Republic’s Tara Konya, Handbag Designer Holly Aiken, and ME3 President Amber Smith. The winning designer, Tyger Alexis, who was paired with the Interfaith Food Shuttle, won $250.

Model Meredith Morrison wearing Tyger Alexis' winning design

Model Meredith Morrison wearing Tyger Alexis' winning design

But it wasn’t all about the clothes. The purpose of the event was to  showcase local nonprofits, raise awareness about ME3,  and raise funds to support ME3’s ongoing efforts to promote volunteerism in Wake County. “Our goal is to help create a permanent culture of caring and community involvement in North Carolina and beyond.”

Jessica Domino's design for The American Diabetes Association

Jessica Domino's design for The American Diabetes Association

Designer Kat Schamens with her design for Adopt-A-School

Designer Kat Schamens with her design for Adopt-A-School

Lauren Boynton's design for Literacy Council of Wake County

Lauren Boynton's design for Literacy Council of Wake County

 

Cherihan Lusk's design for Trees Across Raleigh

Cherihan Lusk's design for Trees Across Raleigh Keely Cansler's design for the Neuse River Foundation

 

Keely Cansler's design for the Neuse River Foundation

Keely Cansler's design for the Neuse River Foundation

Laura Maruzzella's design for Boys & Girls Club

Laura Maruzzella's design for Boys & Girls Club

Jamella Murray's design for the Guatemalan Student Support Group

Jamella Murray's design for the Guatemalan Student Support Group

Karen Huskins design for Strike for Survival

Karen Huskins design for Strike for Survival

 

Shelley Wei's design for International Free Computer Training & Charitable Center

Shelley Wei's design for International Free Computer Training & Charitable Center

 

Jenny Le's design for Artspace

Jenny Le's design for Artspace

 

I have received so much positive feedback from this post, especially from the nonprofit agencies involved, that  I wanted to include links to all of the nonprofits represented during this event.

[ I would like to welcome Funky Finds’ visitors. This Wednesday Funky Finds is featuring my jewelry and giving away a pair of luggage label earrings to a lucky reader. Good luck, and thanks for visiting.]

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Art Unravelled: The September Issue

October 18, 2009 at 4:26 pm (Art Unravelled, Fashion Focus)

“Don’t you know that you are working at the place that published some of the greatest artists of the century? Halston, Lagerfeld, de la Renta. And what they did, what they created was greater than art because you live your life in it… You think this is just a magazine, hmm? You have no idea how many legends have walked these halls. And what’s worse, you don’t care. Because this place, where so many people would die to work you only deign to work.” [“The Devil Wears Prada”, 20th Century Fox, 2006]

I am interested in fashion (although you would never know that to look at the way I dress). I admit that when I travel, I usually have a bevy of fashion mags in my carry-on. In the supermarket line, I have been known to sneak a peek at Elle or In Style. And in Barnes and Noble, I have even flipped through the pages of Lucky

septemberissueAnd while I’m confessing, I also loved the movie The Devil Wears Prada, mostly because of Meryl Streep’s portrayal of fashion high priestess Miranda Priestly. So, when I saw that the movie  The September Issue was being billed as “the real ‘Devil Wears Prada'”, I high tailed it over to the Galaxy to get acquainted with Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue.

The September 2007 issue of Vogue magazine weighed nearly five pounds, and was the single largest issue of a magazine ever published. With unprecedented access, filmmaker R.J. Cutler tells the story of legendary Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour and her larger-than-life team of editors, including Vogue’s Creative Director Grace Coddington and American Editor-at-Large Andre Leon Talley.

The biggest surprise of the documentary for me was not the unprecedented access to Wintour, but the artistry of Coddington.

“At the eye of this annual fashion hurricane is the two decade relationship between Wintour and Grace Coddington, incomparable creative director and fashion genius. They are perectly matched for the age-old conflict between creator and curator.” [The September Issue, official movie website]

Coddington’s collaboration with Vogue photographers results in visionary photographs, which taken outside the context of the magazine stand alone as works of art. [Click here to view Coddington’s 1920’s inspired spread featured in the movie] By the end of the film it becomes clear that while Wintour often appears to have no heart, Coddington is the beating heart of the magazine.

While probably better suited for A&E Television or The Biography Channel (the movie ran a little long), The September Issue was the perfect guilty pleasure for a rainy, Monday afternoon.

Readers in Raleigh will have to wait for “The September Issue” to come out on video next February.  To view Grace Coddington’s 1920’s inspired photos (featured in the movie), visit famespy.com.

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The Price of Design

October 12, 2009 at 11:39 pm (Artist Musings)

About a week and a half ago, Artspace hosted a luncheon and tour for members of the Downtown Raleigh Business Alliance. A few artists were asked to participate in the tour and demo. I did a demonstration of my “gin and sin” image transfer technique and answered questions. One of the questions asked was, “how many pieces can I produce a month?” To be honest, at first I was confused by the question because I don’t know any artist who counts how many pieces they can produce a month. When I spoke to some other artists about this, they said that the question really being asked of me was not “how many pieces can I produce a month” but “how much money do I make.”

When I first started my business, another artist friend and mentor, Irene Semanchuk Dean, gave me a formula for pricing my work. I have used this formula to price every piece I have made since 2004. I actually time how many hours each piece takes to make and calculate hourly wage, materials cost, overhead, and profit margin, which gives me the wholesale price of the piece. From the wholesale price, I calculate the retail price (advice that Irene gave me very early on and a mistake that in my opinion many new artists make when pricing their work).

Trapeziste

Trapeziste

While this formula gives me a valuable tool for pricing my work, it doesn’t take into account the cost of design. Design time is unquantifiable because the design process is never ending. For me, the initial design process starts with a vision. I am not worried about execution, just the overall look of the piece. Typically, at this point in the process, I do not sketch, although I do have a mental snapshot of what I want the piece will look like. For the Trapeziste necklace for example, I knew that I wanted the trapeze artist to be “flying” across the neckline. For me, that is where the design process starts.

The next part of my design process is figuring out how to execute the piece. This is usually the part of the process where I need to sketch. For the Trapeziste necklace, I collaborated with Artspace artist Catherine Thornton, who sculpted the trapeze artist and created a mold for me. The inspiration for trapeze artist was a French circus poster. I knew I was going to cast the mold inolymer clay and paint it to mimic the original French label, however, I wasn’t sure which paint to use or even which clay to use for that matter. So, I started experimenting with acrylic paint, oil paint, and different brands of polymer clay. Four trapeze artists later, I had a finished pendant. The experimentation process, for me, is akin to a rough draft. I use this part of the process to work out the kinks.

The final part of my design process is figuring out how to put the whole piece together. For the Trapeziste necklace, I knew that there wasn’t going to be a clasp and that I wanted it to wrap around the neck like a scarf. I had to figure out how long the piece needed to be to wrap around the neck and how to weigh the piece down at the bottom so it wouldn’t slip and slide off the body. I also had to figure out how to suspend the trapeze artist across the necklace so that it wouldn’t flip over.

The actual execution of the piece, making the twenty something circus label image transfer beads, creating the final version of the finished trapeze artist, and weaving and twining the piece together, took ten hours start to finish. Design time, on the other hand, took about two weeks. The end result (in my opinion) is priceless.

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From Studio 109A: In Living Color

October 7, 2009 at 3:11 am (From Studio 109A)

For those of you who are familiar with my work, you know that I work in ecru, white, and sometimes gray. The truth is that most color image transfers look best on neutral color clay. I use the Premo brand of polymer clay in my work, and although my color palette is limited to three or four colors, the Premo clay comes in thirty-three colors and can be mixed (like paint) to create custom colors.

So last month, I started to experiment with color image transfers on different colors of clay. Inspired by the Pantone Color FPA060349orecast for Fall 2009, I started by creating custom colors by blending gold polymer clay with fuschia, violet, and green clay.

Next, I started transferring the images to the colored clay (with mixed results), forming the clay into beads and cabochons, sanding (also with mixed results) and buffing. I then strung the finished beads onto an asymetrical necklace (also a trend for fall/winter 2009). Someone asked me today how I get the beads so uniform in shape and size. I had to chuckle because the handful of beads that made it onto the necklace only represent a fraction of the number of beads I made and discarded.

For now, I will continue playing with color, canes, and found objects and who knows what you may find next month in Studio 109A.

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