Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Final Stages: Gresham Doublet

Got a few days to get back to working on Gresham, which will need to be completed, delivered, and inspected within the month.

So I've been working on the skirting:

And the collar:

And just when I thought I was ready to throw it all together.. OOPS! Forgot about the epaulettes! So I did those too.

So it's not actually all together yet but here's what it's sort of looking like:

High Ho High Ho! Off to sleep I go!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Revolutionary Weekend!

Holy insert-favorite-explitive-here!!

The last 4 days have been completely mind-blowing! In so many ways.

First: Confession.
I have been struggling emotionally with the changes I've brought about to my life lately (as one friend puts it: after I've burned the boat ((see ancient Greek notions of no-turning-back))). Some of these changes have brought me face to face with some facts I'm not too excited to acknowledge about myself and way too much time by myself to face them.

This confrontation has been making me think awfully hard. Now that I've got some of the "what I'm doing with my life" lined up and sorted out I realize I have a LOT of work to do on the "what I'm doing with my heart, soul, relationships, humanity" part. These thoughts have been culminating for a couple months and primed me for some big thoughts which happened in the last couple days.

Mind-Blowing Thing One: I've started praying/meditating/contemplating again. I'm not going to go into the spiritual details of what praying is for me because it's just not my place to throw unwanted religious-talk your way (and I very much don't like it when others do this either). But basically the practice helps me become more comfortable with me and helps me feel centered.

Mind-Blowing Thing Two: I realized that I have to ditch this self-sufficient, my life is roses, I don't need soft feelings, I'm not like most girls, I don't do emotional stuff, invincible, invulnerable bullsheiss attitude I've been fronting for a while. If you want to know what brought me to this conclusion watch this video: TED Talk: Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability. Or listen to this song: Everybody. So I've been experimenting with vulnerability. I'm trying to stop thinking so hard about what I think people will think about what I say and just say and ask what I want and mean! Life, and I mean the emotional kind, doesn't happen when you're watching every word, every move, every gesture you make and trying to be appear completely self-assured and all-knowing. So I'm trying to let go of that. This terrifies me. But I challenged myself this weekend to do something I would never have done before (sorry I won't share the details) but it terrified me to even consider what I was about ask, but I did it. I let myself be seriously vulnerable and asked for a connection in response to that vulnerability. And I got it. The reward was not earth-shattering. The result was not ecstasy-provoking. The effect was so small, but such a big step for me.

Mind-Blowing Thing Three: I got to play Douglas Howard, Lady Sheffield, Baroness Sheffield with the Queen's Court at The Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire. I got to a see a show that was vastly different, vastly similar, and all-together eye-opening after not having played at a faire since I started my whole new life. On top of the above-mentioned real-life struggles, I discovered just how astronomically I need to grow as a faire performer. I had a terrible amount of fun and got to play with the cast in lots of fun, stimulating ways. But what made me uneasy was how many times I knowingly neglected the audience and how many times I wanted to engage the audience and felt incredibly awkwardly unable to do so. I found myself striving for belonging and approval from my adopting cast and simultaneously wanting to grow as a Street presence that the audience could connect with. Those two desires battled all weekend long and my vanity drove me to secure the former at the expense of the latter. Maybe achieving both was too much to hope for after more than 6 months away from performing and at a completely new venue where I literally had no clue where I was and playing a character I had little time to research and prepare. But the fact remains that I was again faced with my weaknesses and found myself yearning for growth.
The fact that I was paparazzi-ed like a movie star by photographers and even sketched by a Disney (yes we're talking Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, Little Mermaid Disney) animator/artist did serve to pump up my ego quite a bit. That was an amazing experience as well with evidence of my being there trickling in as photographers tweak their work and share it on the book of faces.
Here are some that I've found:
Photo by Mike McCauley
Photo by Christian Fredette
Photo by Joe Foley
Photo by Danny Rutherford
I do have to thank the cast and everyone at RPFS for welcoming me and playing. The show is really fantastic!

Got to enjoy an evening of listening to this guy: Mark Lewis. An amazing story-teller and bringer-together of people.
Got to enjoy the musical messing-arounds on guitar of a friend. Sure not so mind-blowing, but I'm remarkably musically untalented and love love love hearing guitar played live in a small room. It always makes the bad things seem to melt away or at least not seem so bad. (Note: when I'm rich I will hire someone to wake me up every morning with classical guitar - may be a live-in position...)
Got complimented and flattered by some people I highly respect.

Okay, back to..
Mind-Blowing Thing Four:

Two words: Easy Street. Ann-Elizabeth Shapera's brilliant book about performing and playing with the audience at Renaissance Faires. Oh yeah, if you don't know, Ann-Elizabeth is also known as Jane the Phoole. This woman
Photo by Chase Wirth
is a genius. I cannot extol the virtues of her book enough. So many of the things I struggled with this weekend were addressed in her book and I now feel like I have a map to inspiring my characters and finding that growth in my faire performances I was yearning. Even if you don't think you're a Street performer, you need to know what she has to share with you. Reading this book really blew my mind and I'm allowing it to catapult me into a new era of personal, emotional, professional, human-being-being growth. I could go on and on about this book but it's really best for one to read, listen, and discover for oneself why this book should be required reading for EVERY faire performer.

Ok. So there's the basics of my weekend. How was yours?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Machines, Equipment, and Tools, OH MY!

I've been flying, trying to clean the apartment, shopping for car insurance, fixing up and gathering up my grey dress, all while fighting a glorious (albeit losing) battle with a cold this week so I've only been able to get little bits done for Gresham.

The best news of recent: I managed to swing a whole Saturday and Sunday in May off to go play with my friends at The Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Irwindale, CA! I've been wanting to visit Bristol's cousin on the west coast for several years now and thanks to my new job I will finally get there! SoCal has a phenomenal Queen's Court that I've been itching to see for myself! First faire of the 2012 season, here I come! 

That's why I've been tending to Grey-clyffe!

And here's what I've done for Gresham: Tab making!

I know, exciting, right?

Yeah, so that's not so exciting and because I don't have anything new to show I thought I'd give y'all a run down of my weapons-- err, tools! Yeah, tools and equipment of choice.

In no particular order...

Serger: White Speedylock Differential 1600. Kind of a hand-me-down/my mom still reminds me it's hers. But it's been on loan to me for almost 4 years.. so yeah... she reads this blog sometimes so I'm gonna stick with it's my mom's! Never had any major problems, other than the usual maniacal, sadistic tension tendencies of all sergers.

 My Iron/Steamer of choice: Rowenta Pressure Iron and Steamer. Provides great steam and takes tap water, takes a little while to get heated up so turn it on before you start working and don't forget to switch it off at the end of the day!

Dressform: Uniquely You Dressform. Aka the "Squishy Form" This type of form is really good for corseting projects because, as you guessed, it squishes to whatever shape you need it to! I think the sizing goes a bit big so I'd suggest getting a smaller one than you think you need. You can always pad out areas to be larger. Unlike most other dress forms it also has a realistic bust happening... also may scare kids if you leave the cover off... Think DD Madonna...

My cutting table: Sew Essentials Cutting Table, found at Joanns, but I've glued down cork so I can lay out fabric and patterns and just push-pin them down! Also helps fabric from slipping off. Collapses down to get out of the way when needed (but seriously you never fold it down because it always ends up as the place you put down anything and everything so it becomes totally full of stuff... yeah, you know what I'm talking about..)

My brain center: A cork board for stabbing up renderings, receipts, random things, inspirations, etc. And a whiteboard for to-do lists, jotting down measurements, sketching out schematics, and posting rules that only you will see or care about (like no color-matching after 5pm because the lighting in the room is whack) or reminders like W.W.(Initials of your role model here).D.

Iron board, sleeve board, and point presser/clapper. (And a broom, absolute necessity). If you don't have a point presser/clapper, I highly recommend one. It's one of those tools that makes the difference between clean, crisp pressed seams and corners and fuzzy, lumpy, thick ones.

And of course everyone needs a fabric closet! With bins and a rack for maximum fabric and costume stowage.

The little things: Left to Right Top to Bottom: 6x24in clear ruler, 2x18 clear ruler, hem curve, armscye/hip curve, Fasturn Tube Turners, measuring tape, beeswax, jean-a-ma-jig, marking chalk, marking wax, measuring gauge, tracing wheel, chaco-liner marking chalk, rubber thimble (aka rubber page turners), pins and magnetic pin cushion, bodkins, razor blade seam ripper, seam ripper, embroidery snips, craft and paper scissors, pinking sheers, Ghinger dressmaker sheers, back-up sheers.

And of course last, and in no way least... The Pfaff Select 4.0 atop a sewing table that I believe used to be sold at Jo-ann for at least $100 bucks that I found at Goodwill for $13.

That's pretty much the most of it! I've had lots of success with these items and I hope you do to! The better and more the tools, the easier, and often faster, the work. Yay!