Thursday, October 26, 2017

Fall in the MidWest

There is no other season I enjoy more than the Fall. It seems like the beginning of a big nap. The Summer festivals are over, the studio is cleaned out, the neighborhood kids are back in school and I have time to start over again. Just yesterday I was walking Keylow past my community commons where a group of boys under the age of 11 paying a game of football. Just as I walked past, I hear one of the boys say,"Ok guys, I Need A Cigarette." I stopped in my tracks to see which little boy was a chain smoker. It was the QB, and as he repeated the phrase again, I realized that it was the call for the play. When I came back around the commons after I picked up the mail they were onto another play, "Not Your Mother." It was amusing to me & the kids but goes to elaborate on the people that live in my neighborhood.
Charlotte waits patiently as Uncle Nic sets up her swing set.

Charlotte turned 4 this Fall. She's such an enjoyable niece. We spent the evening eating cake and swinging on her new swing set. I couple write volumes about her but I will move onto the subject of this blog - the MidWest.
This Fall meant traveling to the MidWest for Nicolas's cousin's wedding in Michigan. Neither one of us had ever been there so it was going to be an adventure...and trust me, speeding & trying to navigate with a Garmin is a horrible adventure. So don't ever ask me to be a co-pilot, I might go into shock. You know what else is shocking? Going to the Michigan in a heat wave. It was 92F with 99% humidity. Why Nicolas napped in the hotel room the first night, I went to Walmart to salvage whatever summer clothes they had left on the clearance rack. So I will minimize the pictures in this post. With only a few items of clothing, it looks like we went everywhere in a few days.
We had loads of fun otherwise. There are two Michigans, Detroit & the rest of Michigan. We only had enough time to go around the Detroit area. A must is the Henry Ford Museum. The Museum itself is nice, especially the glass gallery, but I would of rather spent the entire day at the Greenfield Village. The inn served a filling meal based on the 19th century then we walked around to see the historic buildings relocated to this village by Henry Ford.

They have a milliners shop! The docent & I had quite the discussion about methods from the era. Mrs. Cohen was a semi-model milliner. Meaning that she bought the hats already made & decorated them.
Next we had to make a stop to the Cass Corridor. We heard that Jack White had set up a record making shop there...and that they had a recording booth. My father had told me about a little toy he had when he was a teen that had blank wax records & you could record your own record. It was popular in the 30s through the 40s to send recorded postcards...and we were going to make our own. The booth was about the size of an old telephone both and your got Two minutes- that's it, no B Side. The staff was the nicest people ever, and let us use another booth they had that made yellow and black Polaroids to go with our record. One sweetie photographed us making our record.
We won't list to this record until our birthdays.
After Aaron & Lindsay's lovely wedding reception we hit the road to Canada. I have spent plenty of time in Canada (see the older blogs), but Nicolas never has so we decided to go to Vancouver. We had the trip all planned then decided what the hell, lets go to see Niagara Falls. I was the idiot the decided to go on the back roads for a bit & it really made the drive long. By the time we got there we just wanted to jump into the Falls.
Don't do it Nicolas! I'll turn off the Garmin & use a paper map.
Vancouver was nice. Another big city with lots of history. We went to some of the local highlights, the Distillery District, Casa Loma, Fort York & The Beach. The highlight for me was Airbnbing and not staying in a hotel, going to the Vancouver store of Mokuba, getting a tour of WildHagen's millinery studio and eating Poutine with Nicolas for the first time.
Casa Loma has had so many films made in it that the entire basement is dedicated to them.

The Colonial era is one of my favorite parts of history to study. We had to rush through the officer quarters since they were setting up the Archery competition for the Invictus Games.
Most people need to do their family vacations based on their kids school schedule. Since we're flexible with our schedule we've really started to enjoy Fall vacations. By the end of September, the crowds are gone and the leaves are turning. Most tourist spots give you a personlized tour or let you stay after hours. In the future, if our busy schedule permits, we'll avoid Detroit entirely & drive up the 22 through the Tunnel of Trees in the Fall.
Miss you more than maple-cream-filled cookies-V

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