My So Charmed Life

So Charmed

My Reconstructed Life

11.16.13

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As the weather turns cold, I seem to turn to textiles as my preferred art form. Pictured above and below, a recent construction. The beautifully embroidered top was found as-is, been trying to find a way to work with it for YEARS. Ancient tattered and be-sequined black tulle/lace affixed. Worn as an apron (ties in back) over a very vintage cream slip. I love the way my bones necklace looks with it and will probably wear this all together.

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Made this a little while ago, a fairly simple deconstruction of a thrifted vintage black wool jacket, with some very pretty very old lace. Beneath it is an Antik Batik dress purchased at a consignment shop in the Marais Distric, Paris. Most divine thing ever.

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Another decon jacket with children’s scissors affixed. Has weird red velvet reverse patches and several men’s ties, one of which hangs down like a long strap from the bottom. For some reason, I’m always narrowing the sleeves down to being very skinny and fitted.

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The back has more of the strange and surreal shapes. I think this one is sort of Schiaparelli inspired.

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Another (and very moody!) shot of two pieces from last year… very tribal 80’s fusion, with neon and animal print and vintage Afghani jewelry for sytling.

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I shall leave you with this, a dress you may have seen many times, The Broken Teacup. I still delight in this piece and am always amazed to see it linked and pinned all over the Internet. You can visit all of these photos in larger sizes over on my flickr.

And now… back to sewing, dears!

About a Doll

03.25.13

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Blythe. Where to start describing the love affair with this plastic doll whose head is 10x too large for her body, whose eyes bulge and boggle, and whose history is one of mass rejection turned crazed global obession? To get the basics of the story hit this wiki link.

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Pictured above is my first Blythe doll, a Veronica Lace, issued by Takara in 2009. I fell in love with her romantic look but once she arrived, I have to admit… I was somewhat terrified of her. I named her Sophronia, took just a few photos (one of them below) and put her away in a vintage trunk. For four years.

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During a recent time of particular sadness (and maybe it is always during such times that grown women turn to dolls), I fell in love with Sophie again. And this time, it was different. Although she was still the intimidatingly expensive, freakily proportioned, strange little toy from Japan, I lost all fear of engaging with her. Suddenly I had to dress and photograph her in environments I carefully handcrafted and curated toward some particular vision or another.

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She had to be a Factory Girl, hanging out with Miss Sedgwick…

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She became a gypsy perched upon a tiny handmade ottoman of the finest silk sari trim from India…

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She absolutely needed a set of papier mache rabbit ears, Day of the Dead style…

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And she needed a friend (recent Takara doll release called Simply Lilac). She might well require more company before all is said and done, as well as rooms and things and shoes… and, oh my. Blythe!

You may be looking at these dolls and thinking… what the heck?!Or maybe, like me, you’ll be drawn into their crazy allure, feel repelled, be drawn in again. Be warned, once you are hooked… it’s bad. Real bad!

As a Blythe addict you may spend the grocery money irresponsibly but also you are lucky. There are people way more obsessed than you ALL OVER THE WORLD! You will hang out on flickr and “meet” them. You’ll troll etsy for the best handmade clothing, accessories and furnishings, learning quickly that there are trends, and sub-sub-cultures, all about a doll named Blythe.

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You might even begin to dream about a customized Blythe… with crazy curly hair (!), a lovely matte face with special gothy make up, and an outfit you could only dream of wearing. And while you are having all of this fun, you might just begin to think about this doll from a social or intellectual perspective: What is it about her that has gangs of smart, creative girls and women enthusiastically collecting, making, photographing, and connecting with one another through blogs and Web sites? That’s another post for another time.

WIP: Tassels, Not Hassles

02.08.13

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The completed necklace above is fashioned from an Afghani artifact, a heavily beaded tassel, probably used to decorate a camel. This is unlisted due to my complete inability to part with it.

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Here then, is another gorgeous tassel I’ve been trying to work with, this one is African and made of leather. The colors are amazing, both dirty and brilliant in perfect combination. The beaded ring is my addition but I can’t seem to properly finish this WIP.

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Above is the most recent tassel experiment, made from an upcycled plastic Winchester rifle bullet casing that is insanely rusted and distressed, then gilded (of course). I have a batch of these in the most wonderful desert-faded colors. This is all very unfinished, just playing right now with materials and thought you’d enjoy seeing the influences leading to the design.

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I know I will be using these Indonesian blue glass beads; amazing color against the red.

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And the Indian sari silk fiber is working for me. I love how all of these tassely objects are related to one another, coming from arid deserts and plains, the recycling and repurposing, how in some cultures even the animals are adorned to the hilt… but the humans too. I don’t know what I’m saying, I’m just…. all jazzed up about… tassels.

These pics are over on flickr in case you want to ogle them larger.

Lastly, I am planning to donate a portion of proceeds from any/all jewelry that utilizes bullet casings to a US gun control organization, so if you want to recommend one, please comment or email me.

WIP: Rocking Out

02.01.13

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Suddenly. In. Love. With. ROCKS!!!!!! Pictured above, from the top: fluorite, blue calcite, citrine (but suspiciously looks like calcite and am contacting dealer about this), raw garnets (!), amazonite and quartz points. Gemstones are MUCH cheaper by the strand, and ebay is a good bet for locating best pricing.

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Big batch of Rocking Rings made yesterday, now being varnished to protect the gold leafing and patina work. As soon as they’re dry I’ll start listing. They are really and truly beautiful, if I do say so, and although chunky, very wearable. Earrings are coming next, can’t wait to play with these stones in that context. As always, larger photos up on flickr for your viewing pleasure.

WIP: Gilded Age

01.27.13

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Have discovered gold metal leaf.

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Am in the process of gilding pretty much everything in site, including this amazing piece of Russian military surplus, a small metal tube that will become a necklace focal. I’ve got a batch of these babies to play with.

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And this simple pair of vintage brass findings… I love how the metal leaf clings to and shows the fine detail of the… metal leaf(s).

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A big-ass ancient glass chandelier crystal gets the gilding treatment, creating a weird world-within-a-world effect as you can see the inside of the other side through the front side. Yeah.

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Here’s a finished piece, a ring holding 2 raw crystals, citrine and amethyst. Then goldified, oxidized, and totally effed up. In a good way. I hope. Ring section coming soon over at So Charmed. Lots of these beauties will be for sale at rock bottom prices. harhar.

Bigger pics for better examination of the (charmingly) rustic and pathetically unskilled job of gold leafing of which I am capable: flickr.

A great gold leafing video, watch and learn and then go make your own mess!

WIP: Odd Pairings

01.22.13

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I like to fool myself into thinking that anyone could possibly be interested in my creative process, the inner workings of my designing mind at the earliest stages of making things. Hence, WIP (work in progress). Everything here represents an idea in formulation, not remotely finished.

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This is how it begins with earrings. Vast supplies in my studio. Many little things scattered on every available surface. One day the things… they start making their way toward one another as if by some poetic pull. At the top of the post, an Afghani coin finding with brilliant emerald glass, a gear with verdigris patina, an ancient crystal bead and a piece of industrial trash. Above, a newer finding paired with a Mexican milagro.

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More Kuchi coins above (these are used in traditional costume including belly dance) with lovely glass rubies, being riveted to a pair of seriously rusted bottle caps scavenged from some American desert. Fiber may be added at some point.

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How do these tiny objects — a old discarded button, an African Vaseline trade bead, a bumpy middle Eastern bead, a tiny verdigris sparrow — come together? Some ways might be: color, form, content, texture, juxtoposition of cultures and histories. Things that resonate as similar or opposite, or both. The rule of chance encounters. The joy for me is that I don’t think much about any of this.

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Part of it is the trained eye, the practiced hand, designing for years, decades, a lifetime. Part of it might be something inaccessible; dreams, associations. Above, an ancient glass button, possibly 1920’s, likely European, paired with a Mexican heart milagro charm. A tiny visual poem begun, beauty, an adornment.

Making Pretty Pictures

01.06.13

Making (and attempting to sell) wearable art is an incredibly multi-faceted endeavor. From the creative aspects of designing work that meets my vision to the artful execution of that work, to techy stuff like digital photography and building web pages, the skill-set required would seem daunting if I weren’t just smack in the midst of it daily.

Clothing is challenging to shoot and if there’s one thing to share with you, it’s this: Clothing photos are most effective when brought to life. I’m so lucky to have a beautiful muse living under my very roof.

Even in close-up to show detail, clothing is best photographed on a living being. The photo above was repinned quite a bit over on Pinterest.

I tend to prefer jewelry photos on a white seamless (just a large “press sheet” from my graphic design day job taped to the wall and draped down across a small table). Props can be an asset (or a terrible distraction); I choose mine pretty carefully. Just forget trying to photograph jewelry against black unless you have mad skills and a sophisticated set-up.

Vertical images can be a problem on Web sites, but occasionally it’s useful and fun to provide a wider context.

Once you’ve made something gorgeous and have set up a little photo area, remember that lighting really is everything. I shoot mostly in natural light, no flash, and unless I just can’t wait, in the morning when the sun is not shining into the studio and casting harsh, warm shadows. Correction (both lighting and color) is still always necessary in Photoshop. I prefer bright, cool whites and under the best circumstances in my decidedly unprofessional studio, I must color correct to minimize the warm yellow/red tones and I always must brighten and beef up contrast to get closer to the reality of the goods as they will be depicted onscreen. And it’s true what they say, monitors vary. Greatly. Mine is high end and callibrated but I actually have no idea what YOU are seeing.

Here is a very old thrifted hardback of A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote. A most beautiful story. When I saw this image in PhotoShop I decided I had to title the earrings Yonderways. Happy accident.

With necklaces and longer earrings, the challenge is to show the entire piece but also to capture some of the amazing work in the details. Nothing wrong with a little bead porn.

Then there’s textiles. Sigh. The Snow Dress is a LARGE object to show in very small Web images, so a range of shots is best, as above detailing the vintage lace and neon ribbon, and below in the glamourous model shot.

Photography is such a delight for me. Despite a lot of time studying the subject in college (pre digital, darkroom work, etc.), I still made/make a LOT of very bad photos in order to get to the better ones. The bottom line is this: I don’t believe you need a high-end camera (I use a relatively cheap, old Canon Powershot), nor is a fancy lighting booth required. You do need Photoshop and some basic skills there, so maybe that’s the stumbling block for so many people. Don’t fear the PhotoShop!

Thanks for reading this, and if you have any photography questions, please feel free to comment; I’ll try my best to help! I’ve thought about teaching a little seminar in my studio… maybe one day. Images by yours truly, model: Molly Bess, everything copyrighted but feel free to Pin!

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