Thursday, September 14, 2017

Trip to Los Angeles/Fullerton

Earlier this year, I received an email about a great opportunity to train under Jane Smith. If you are not as big of a hat nut as I am then Jane Smith might not be known to you, but her work should. She has been on the top of the studio list for hat makers for most of the films we love: The Duchess, Howard's End, Sherlock, Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter movies, etc. She has her own work circuit like a lot of studio people, London then New York then Hollywood then back to London. I did back-flips (metaphorically) when Nicolas said under no words would I turn this opportunity down. After organizing the trip, I would join nine others in a studio in Fullerton near Disneyland outside of LA for a month..but I was not a studio/theater company that this would be my office season so a month in LA was not an option. So they allowed me to be there to work on 17th - 18th century hats. That meant tricorns & bicorns - I was going to LA to make pirate hats! Fun!

That was the main focus of this trip but with the added joy of getting to see our new niece, Stella. We worked in a little site seeing plus visiting of friends & families. Our first day there was our Third Anniversary. I'm embarrassed that our first trip was downtown to the Garment District supply shopping at the California Millinery Supply, but that's how wonderful my hubby is. The California Millinery Supply is historic, not up on the latest styles but full with vintage hat making supplies.
We went there in hopes of buy some new hat blocks for my collection & for my classes. They didn't have any of that but quite a large selection of Swiss braid, if that's your thing. I have found that you can use it for interest in couture pieces. Irene warmed up to me so we had a good talk about the business then & now with all of her words of encouragement. Thank you Irene!

I have to omit, I was hoping to find some imported Japanese fashion on this too. So we walked around Tokyo Town for several hours. Ofcourse everything was in a size zero so I came away with zero clothes. We did our share of yummy Japanese pastries.
I always seem to take pictures of Nicolas eating.
Next was our obligatory urban art viewing. I LOVE outdoor urban art, so we go to the hidden neighborhoods that usually have these gems. This trip, Watts Towers. It was a very long drive through Compton & it wasn't because we were driving through some of the worse neighborhoods in LA. Honestly, they're becoming gentrified. No Starbucks but upperclass bodegas. The drive time meant that we made it to the towers after closing but they are outdoors so no biggie. I wonder about the future of urban art with the governments interest in halting immigration. Most urban art is made by immigrants with the skills they learned in the old country. Watts Towers was made by an Italian mason with just welded steel & mosaics. Beautiful.
Evidence that we did go on this trip together.

That evening we took a long walk on Venice Beach hoping to find a nice restaurant. After tons of t-shirt & paraphernalia shops, we turned around to have dinner at a nice restaurant with a modern gypsy violinist.

Next day, off to work. The rest of the week was packed with hat making & sucking in as much knowledge I could get from the master Jane Smith. Being the one out of two milliners in a group of professional costumers, it was intimidating at first. This lady worked for CBS, that one Disney on Ice, the other one from Broadway, etc I was filled in a room of years of experience. Then Jane made some wonderful compliments on my work & we all became friends...and the stories they told about behind the scenes where quite amusing. 
Blocks in the studio waiting for the craftswomen.

First hats to make- Tricorns. Jane not only makes tricorns for movies but also for the British Parliment. She knows practically everything about the dos & don'ts to the different styles of tricorns. We were each given prints from paintings or images from museums of different styles of tricorns to recreate. I was given the 'big hat' from a dandy in the French Royal court.

A snap of my reference piece.

I was hoping for an easy all-in-one block but Jane wanted us to do a crown separate from the brim. Fullerton was so warm that we were able to speed up the process by leaving the hats to dry in the loading dock. She called Fullerton the 'outdoor drying box.'
She complimented my technique saying I'm 'a strong blocker.'

One of my new friends was given a Gainsborough & was sweet to model her work for me. (Note: we never stopped working except for lunch & tea.)
I was able to bring the big hat home with me & had Torell Madsen model it for me.
Photo by Susan Bailey
 Then we moved onto bicorns. I adore the Aubrey & Maturine books so how could I not love Jane's work in the movie version of Master & Commander. Jane was so gracious that she showed me how to do the movie version of the British Navy bicorn that she fondly calls the 'Biscuit Bicorn.'
Jane showing the proportions.
Jane also carves a lot of her own hat blocks just like me *squeel* The Death Eaters block from Harry Potter is too large & is currently a hat rack in her studio. So she brought one of the blocks that she carved for making bicorns.
She let me take measurements & photos so I could carve one of my own.
The one that I made in studio had to be done traditionally. A lot of work but my textural junkie came out when they brought in the roll of imported silk plush that is used in Parliamentary garb. This is not something you can get at JoAnns. Silk Plush! That's velvet made out of silk. Delicious to the touch, working with it is like looking into a black hole.
Model: Ray Petersen, Photo: Susan Bailey
At lunch one of the days Nicolas & I were invited to the Studio Mistress's, Mela, personal studio. I would like to thank her for telling Nicolas that I don't have too many hat blocks (not like he complained) & that she splurges twice a year to import new, custom-made blocks from Guy Morse of London.
Mela's studio that is evidence that mine does not have enough blocks or cluttered.
After hours were spent meeting our new niece. Stella is such a dear. She's truely going to be a joy in our lives.
Nicolas & Stella do their first fist bump:)
The flight home was filled with me using the Delta Airlines wifi to order the special supplies that I learned about in the studio. I think that I am a better milliner after this trip. I made some new friends that were honestly said that I had to go. If what they say is true, I'll be invited to come back again. Fingers crossed!

Application for Colorado Anime Fest 2018

This portion of my blog is dedicated to my submission to the 2018 Colorado Anime Fest. If you would like to see my work more in depth, please feel free to visit my Etsy shop or my Instagram page
Variety of Ear Fascinators 
Fantasy picnic with models wearing Victoria Regina's hats.
Tricorn based on French Royal outfit from the 17th Century.
Red Wizard hat also compliments Renaissance garb.
Headdresses made with embroidered organza & french silk guipere lace.
Serpentine visors.
Lovely butterfly hats and masks.

Steampunk inspired Victorian Riding Hat.
1950s style reenactment cocktail hats.
Lolita style berets.
1920s style cloche made from fur felt.

Burlesque style corset heart fascinators.
Fantasy toppers - Aquarium top hat.

Dr. Suess inspired tiara.
Miniature Tricorns!

Example of Victoria Regina's booth display in an indoor setting.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Iron Pour

Before the flowers are cut back for the season and we all start to carve pumpkins, there is another annual tradition- pouring iron.  Artist and friend, Jerry Simpson, has be talking to me for years about going to one of our fellow artist's iron pours. Nicolas and I had evening free so we decided to trek out to the Curtis Art Center to the baseball out back to create tiles to have iron poured into by the students of the University of Colorado. 

A simple synopsis, the sculpture students need to do an X amount of pours to pass the course. So with funding & $10 per bonded sand mold, the public can come and grab a nail to create a low-relief iron cast, watch the students work the cupolas, do a little performance art than pour the iron into the casts.

Words won't do justice to the experience. So here are pictures.
Nicolas with his finished tile.

 We came without any set design, so I went Picasso with my cast.

They coat the casts with a liquid graphite then torch them. The poor young lady had just accidentally lit her hair on fire.

Students working the cupola..I wish you could see the teacher with Loki horned blast mask.

Students transfer some iron to a boom.

The performance or spinning iron!

The students pour the casts.
My finish piece on display for our Spook-i-tea. It still needs to shave off the edges.

Nicolas's tile came out so AWESOME!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The View of Autumn

Beautiful isn't it? I love the colours that aspen trees give us when the Fall comes around. It is so brief though. At this point, all of the leaves up North have already turned and gone. I was lucky to be down South where this is delayed. The rustle of leaves was so dramatic as we climbed the hill to the family crypt. It was time to put Itchy's urn in its final resting place. Yes, there were tears. I'm still out of comfort without her.

The rest of the day was spent taking down the tent for the season. That's when you really notice the wind. We are over with the tarp burrito we put everything in for the Winter. So we will continue to drive up here until we are done with the shed. I wanted the shed to be done by now but genius here decided to use her knowledge in timber-framing. I used my Japanese saw & chisel to make a large, weather-treated skids. By-hand = time consuming.

I'm super excited about my other project that I completed this month. My niece's third birthday was one that I have been waiting for with great anticipation. The third birthday was the milestone that she would be ready for her first dollhouse. I made a three-year old appropriate, two story, townhouse doll house. If you know me personally you know that I can go above & beyond, I have a hard time restraining myself & get carried away.  This is for a three year-old so I made it pretty simplistic. Maybe I did learn something from architecture school? Function = Form. I sure am glad that still had my miter box so that I could do all those 45 degree cuts and little trims.
We brought it into the house & my sister had placed a little red table next to the window for it. It came with a bunny family named the Bunningtons. My mother found a what-not display on the free-table at her building. It had all these little cubbies filled with doll house toys. I took those apart, cleaned them up to go with the house...and that was the last we heard of her. When she wasn't swinging on her swing or playing with her soccer ball, she was quietly engrossed in her house. My brother-in-law gave me the thumbs up.

Miss you more than wallpaper mucus & The Ultimate glue for doll houses - V

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fall Equinox - The first day of Fall

What a beautiful day it is. Instead of my usual Thursday spent working on a friend's tiny house, today I'm busy around the house preparing for a new season.  I think that too much press is given to Spring Cleaning, why don't we hear more about Fall Cleaning. Without it you end up with a huge mess in the Spring.

Fall cleaning for me involves uprooting the summer plant crop & storing away the pots. Finishing outdoor building projects. Taking down the wall tent in the mountains. Rearranging the house & organizing the garage just so we can get the Halloween decorations when the time comes. Getting the Winter/Spring class schedule out. Then make the Winter hat collection.

This is right on the heels of finishing all of my half-completed hat collection for the Nan Desu Kan convention. I'm glad that I did it but it was a Hat-A-Day Challenge. So I documented it on Facebook, all 49 of them. It all paid off because September 2-4th at the convention, with the excellent salesmanship of Nicolas, 69 of them sold. My Etsy store looks almost vacant now!
I think the funniest day before the convention was the photoshoot. Remember, I was bringing 99 items with me to the convention & most of my images where product shots Nicolas took. The shoot was a multitude of theatrical pieces, therefore we decided not to try to bring outfits to match, the idea was naked except the hat. It came out marvelously.
Ray wearing the Blood Orange tilt hat with class.
Now to flip everything on its ear..or horn. Yup, I'm teaching the soft-sculptured horns workshop after the Denver Post did an article on my technique over a decade ago. I haven't changed my email since then so I still get emails yearly asking if I will teach the class again. It will be on October 22nd at the Art Students League of Denver.  

As my supplies get delivered I've been spending steamy afternoons infront of the hat steamer making felt hats. I met a dear lady that was selling her 92 year-old mother's hat block collection. I now have eleven MEN'S hat blocks. Some of them are for gi-normous head sizes so I'm searching for larger crown blocks. My evenings though are spent infront of a hot-glue gun making kanzashi (Japanese fabric flowers).

I hope to share all the new creations with you soon.  Cheers, Victoria


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Atleast its not a heart, lungs or liver..

Olin my mechanic told me over the phone this morning with the diagnosis of my truck.  My latest trip to the shop was last night. While driving home, right when I passed one of the houses I would be tearing down this summer, my truck overheated.  I have never been in a vehicle that overheated before so it was a major shock. Yes, it does steam. When I lifted the hood, whoa the coolant was gone. So I walked a block for more coolant. When I started the refreshed truck, a drizzle started from behind the radiator.  If you know vehicles, the water pump had a crack which meant the petroleum had degraded the timing belt. The water pump crack wasn't the only crack, the radiator also had a crack. So that also needs to be replaced with all the tubes.

A lot of work right? If that was only the work that I had done. Nope, this is the fourth time I took it into the shop this month.  It started with my clutch slipping so that needed to be retooled. Then I decided to get the belts replaced, the clutch cylinder & slave cylinder was another trip.  Two days I brought it back because it was difficult to start & found the clutch switch was wobbly. I was told not to worry because it is a 20 year old truck & like Olin said, its just parts- not a heart.

I suspect this is connected to eggs. The chicken kind. Nicolas brought home a dozen eggs. He likes to remove the broken ones & replace them with unbroken from other crates.  So there were three larger eggs in the box. Last thursday I cracked open those three for breakfast. All of the eggs had double yokes! At the sametime- Prince died.  Coincidence or just a newly ovulating hen?

The superstition behind double-yolks are both good & bad. Some say that it is a good luck sign, others a sign of death.  I agree that it is both. Prince died in the morning, in the afternoon I passed another board exam.  I received a handsome paycheck, my truck goes sour.  That's two eggs down. Now for the third egg- I just got the results that I failed last weeks board exam, please let the good luck egg rain down NOW!

I'm using all of my will-power to remain calm..Its supposed to snow again today, so I'll stand outside underneath the cherry blossoms for a moment of Zen until the first flake drops.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Count your blessings...

because I have so many this past week.  I was immobilized with stress. What if I don't pass the FIRST of my board exams? Will I be able to take the other exams or will I be saturated with doubt? Will I get my work done in time for my deadline when there is not enough information to complete it? Will I ever be contacted by the construction company I interned for about being rehired?
  • I did pass my first board exam, the Programming, Practice & Planning (otherwise called the PPP). It took me until 10:30pm to look at the results because of fear that my depression would bring on a languor that would prevent anything getting done that day. That's the positive, the negative is that I have TWO exams in April. Yeesh!
  • I got part of my work done. The ALTA survey didn't have enough information bordering on two counties so it went back to the surveyor. I sent off my first invoice, soo happy!
  • I did get contacted by the construction company & will be signing my new hire paperwork later this week. I'm blessed. I want to work part-time because of my very full life. They wanted to work on a part-time schedule with me. My first day will be Monday.
We had time this week to actually DO something.  That something was Dink, Denver Independent Comic & Art Expo.  It was the first year at the Sherman Center, a very beautiful location, & it was packed with artists. Wonderful! Nicolas & I wished we had brought a lot more money because we would of bought comics from all of the artists.  We picked up a lot of cards & I will definitely buy the art of Heather Mahler.
All have online comics so I will keep up with them there.

What else happened this week? Eostre or Easter happened to whichever you prefer. Our attempt at creating a new tradition was shattered by the weather. We had a blizzard this week so we didn't go to the mountains to set up our homestead tent for the season & have a grand barbecue. The lunar cycle had this Easter practically a month early. So while I had a confusing memory that last Easter was pleasant, I did recognize that Easter is the Sunday AFTER the Spring Solstice- which was early this year darn it.  Instead I was going to make an egg braid just the way my Mum did as a child using the eggs my niece dyed. I was very excited to do this since it would be the first thing we baked in our new oven. I didn't put much thought into this. The yeast was too old & the dough didn't rise. So we bought bread & had the eggs on the side.
Uncle Nic loves his egg.
Our friend Brighid came over & while Nicolas braided her hair for a date, I made blueberry mead.  Simply the best day all week.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

How I made it through last week...

I do not know.  I thought I might break the couch from sitting in it for so long reading. Then I lost two pounds even why I was sitting there because food took time out of my study schedule.  After all that I don't think I did well on my board exam. 

The trip to Prometrics was terrifying. I told Nicolas that if I was there after 8:45 I wouldn't be allowed to sit for the exam. He thought I had to be there by 9. So we burnt rubber & I got there by 8:40. I blew my nose & lost my nose ring. Gone! Then while I was getting wanded a woman was ejected for cheating.  I was not in a good mind when I sat down at my testing station.  Then the NCARB puts out an accurate break down of what is going to be on the exams by percentages. I studied a month to those percentages, what was supposed to be 29% contract documents & construction cost estimating turned out to be 85%. I was so pissed off while I was taking the exam. Each time I answered a question and the next one popped up my mind exploded "another one!!"  Luckily I caught a flaw in my vignette 2 minutes before the timer ran out. 

After the exam all I wanted to do was go to a bar & drink green beer on St. Patty's Day.  So Nicolas took me to my in laws.  Oh well, they're lovely people & helped us move the new oven up the stairs.  NEW OVEN! The old one has been broken since last March. Finally I found the one that I wanted at the ReStore, a nice Frigidaire.

The next day we went to the first day of the Robots Revolution exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. First day & the tech was repairing some of the robots.  It was all interactive but if you want to test an exhibit will hold up, put it infront of a pack of 6 year olds.  Luckily we went before the kids came in so we could have the robots to ourselves. 
Nicolas working the stair climbing robot.
We looked like astronauts in our big boots and ski pants. Colorado is the only state that I've lived in that you will be in shorts one day & then parkas the next.  Nicolas topped off his space suit with a helmet.
After that we picked up Lauri Lynnxe Murphy & headed over to the Denver Home Show to see the highlight of the show- the Tiny House Village.  It was like a terrible gauntlet of vinyl windows & asphalt shingles to get to the village but man, were there a lot of tiny homes.  Ohm Sweet Home, Simblissity, Tiny Homes by Darla...Lauri has written all about it on her blog.

The next day was back to the studying. I met up with my fellow testers of the ARE ASAP Challenge for our next TWO exams we are going to be taking this month.  The CDS: Construction Documents and Services (which I was tested on this last exam!!) and the Schematic Design.  The Schematic Design is the longest exam, 6 hours, with no studying.  Its the one exam that you prove you can do a design, which is in fact just space planning of an interior office & then a two story building.  I woke up last night sleeping with the Kaplan book so I'm going to go back to the library so that won't happen again.

Sunday was the best day in a long time.  I got to decorate Easter eggs with my niece.  My sister prepped my dining room table like we were going to field dress a deer just to be ready for a 2 1/2 year with dyes.  We tried to get her to let the eggs soak in one colour, but that was not happening. She held the wire holder with the egg with determination & dipped it around every dye. You know what? They came out great! We described them her dinosaur eggs. Then to keep her occupied while the eggs dried I dumped a zen garden that my mother-in-law gave me into two bowls & she played the afternoon away in my living room sandbox talking to Keylow about lipbalm.  Now I know that Keylow loves the taste of lipbalm.

Back to studying.  Miss you more than chill time & Nexflix- V