Monday, December 10, 2012

Drape the 4th: 1500s

Here is the fourth drape in the 'speed drape' series. One more to go! This particular one is based on a fairly stylistic rendering. Based on my research I tagged it as 16th century with a few stylistic and modern twists. Looking at this drape, I would like to have the bodice be a bit more straight and flat instead of curved to the form...this can be helped with proper period undergarments. The corset that I used is more from the 18th century, but was the best I could find. Ah well! Other notes, I gathered the skirt in the front, which is what the rendering indicated, but which is not really period. In period skirts, the front seems to remain pretty flat and smooth. This particular rendering had a very full and gathered-looking skirt. With more time I think tiny knife pleats would be really nice here.

Final Sculpt -- Bird Mask

Here is the finalized sculpt of the bird mask:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mold-making, Casting and Masks!

In preparation for Mask-making next semester, I am taking a course on mold-making and casting. Awesome! We first learned how to use a simple two part putty mold-making medium. This is used a lot in jewelry making -- that's where I've encountered it before. It's a great way to make a simple mold. All you have to do is mix equal amounts of each part of the mold medium (part A and part B) and then press whatever it is you want to make a mold of into the product. You let it sit together for about 20 minutes and then it's set! You can get a surprising amount of detail. I think this is especially nice for buttons and brooches. We then used this mold to make a resin cast. In jewelry making we would often use this type of mold to pour wax into and then cast obviously, a lot of uses and ways to use this type of mold making.

The next mold that we made was a silicone one. Again, you mix equal parts of part A and part B of the product and simply pour it into your mold box, onto whatever it is you wish to create a mold of. I made a mold of a key. The detail for this one was fantastic. I also really liked the silicone -- it is flexible and easy to use as a mold. We also poured resin to make the cast for this one as well.

Next was life casting with alginate. This was a ton of fun! You make the alginate mold for the face with the person sitting up, in order to capture an accurate face mold. You mix the alginate with water and the just start glopping it onto the persons face. They are wearing a bald cap to keep hair safe and away. The also have a tiny bit of Vaseline on their eyebrows and lashes. The alginate mixture starts out like thick chowder or oatmeal in consistency. You continue to pour the alginate over the face and constantly pushing it back up against gravity. You really need to make sure to cover everywhere and get the air bubbles out! We also kept the nostrils clear (important for breathing! ). One the alginate starts to set up it gets easier to keep it on the face. When it stops being moveable you put a layer of gauze onto the alginate to create a link between it and the plaster mother-mold that you will be applying next. Once that is all settled you begin applying plaster bandages on the alginate. It is really important to get the plaster right close to the alginate contours in order to create a stable mold. You continue applying bandages until it is several layers thick. Careful to mind the chin! When it was being done to me, I could definitely feel the alginate wanting to fall off my mouth and chin area. Anyway, then you let t takes about 20 minutes or so. This whole time it's very important to keep in contact with the person under the plaster -- make sure at least one person is keeping  a hand on their shoulder so that they are assured you are nearby! It's a bit scary being under there, completely cut off from light and a bit from sound, with a bunch of heavy plaster all over your face! After it has completely set, the person simply wiggles their face a bit and it pops off pretty easily!

Next step is to pour plaster into the mold you've just created in order to create a positive of your face. We used ultra-cal plaster -- super hard and strong once set. Before pouring you must seal off the nose hole with clay. You can also fix air bubbles and anything else with the clay too. You have to be careful not to futz with it too much -- the alginate can get great detail, including pores, wrinkles, etc. The more you rub it with water and clay, they more you will lose this detail.

So at any rate, my mold turned out nicely. It's not perfect -- you can see where the alginate was falling off my cheek, upper lip, and chin -- but in general, it worked out great for a first attempt! We were working in a group of 3 people by the way, taking turns.

 We will now use this face cast to create masks! Our first assignment is to use plastiline (oil based) clay to sculpt a mask over the face. It has to be bird themed. We will then create a two part plaster mold. Next semester we will use that mold to cast a latex mask.

Here is my bird mask sculpt so far -- it still needs to be smoothed and refined.

The plastiline clay is interesting to work with -- I've done a lot of work with water based clay, but not oil based. It is very plastic! Heat makes it much easier to work with!

Draping! Continued...

1930's Drape:

Continuing with some 'speed' draping, here is my 1930's drape, based off of a Sears catalog illustration. I started by taping the form and indicating the main style lines. I then did some research and decided how best to approach everything. I had a hard time finding other examples, but I worked with my draping books and figured it out as best I could! I started with the skirt -- straight of grain is at the center front. I worked my way around the waist, letting the skirt flare out as needed and indicated by the illustration. There are no waist darts, or darts in the bodice as there is just some fullness to it all. The belt/side tie acts to pull everything closer to the waist. The bodice overlaps and ties at the side. There is a nice circle-cut trim along the edge of the collar, which is so neat! I always love how circles can be applied to so many things and work so beautifully! There is also some double collar over-lap action going down, though it's hard to see in the photo.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


I spent the first half of my semester working through flat patterning exercises and really learning how to easily manipulate flat patterns, and in turn really learning how to combine flat pattern and draping. Now that it is the second half of the semester we've moved to some 'speed' draping -- basically getting a new rendering or photo each week and having to drape it (in half)...preferably in about 3 -6 hours. The goal is really to just get the shape -- you are handed a rendering and you need to figure out the basic silhouette in three dimensions to show a designer. You also get to do a bit of research to help you along the way. This has been super fun so far! It's great to get back into some draping and starting to really apply all that I have learned to new and different projects. It really all comes down to the same's just manipulating those basic ideas in order to get the result that you need!

At any rate, so far I have done a drape based on a 1790s fashion illustration and a drape based off of a 1913 walking suit photo. Next week is a dress from 1932 out of a Sears catalog.

1790s Gown

 For this first drape, we were given everything in class -- rendering and research -- and just got started right away....this is what I came up with! I'm happy with how it turned out -- I think proportionally the 'waist' could be pushed up a bit this time it was really pushed right up under the bust. This is when there is a disadvantage to dress forms...they're just not squishy like people! The back waistline too could be a bit higher.

Next is 1913!

Original Garment

 Again, I'm happy with how this one turned out. It was a good challenge! I drafted the bodice pattern (kimono sleeve!) and draped the rest. I think that once again the waist could be just a smidgen higher up...hard to tell because of the size difference in the original and the dress form I am using...but in class we decided that this would help the proportions. I think that the skirt I did too should be a tiny bit narrower...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

18th Century Gown

Working from the undergarments up, the Julia dress was finally finished! My first 18th century English Robe. I was happy with how everything turned out -- this has definitely been the most challenging project I've had so far! There were lots of things to learn along the way and I know where I would change things next time. As per usual there are always choices to be made and pros and cons for all these choices. It all depends on what you want, your experience, and trial and error.

I chose to put my opening in the front of the bodice. On the plus side, this is more period. It let the back of the garment be completely smooth and free of interruption. At first we thought that the fichu would be covering a lot of the reality, it ended up covering more of the back than the front...but so it goes! On the negative, there was slight gaping in the front -- all of the tension of the bodice was pulling at the hooks in the center front. For a front closure like this, with all the pressure of a tight fitting bodice, I should have constructed it with an under-closure -- something that held all the tension -- so that the outer layer could lie smoothly over it with no tension. It could also have used a stronger flat lining fabric and possibly some more boning, sort of stomacher-like. All this is of course hard to tell from the get-go, especially for a beginner like me...Would the corset be enough to stabilize everything or does it need more? Different body shapes effect this differently as well...but for a first attempt, I think it was pretty good! :) And like I said, I definitely learned a ton!

I cut the skirt in gores which gave it incredible fullness.  At this time skirts were pretty much rectangular in shape, giving a different look than what I achieved. Theatrically however, the skirt was full and had incredible presence. However, it did not have quite the correct shape for the period. Doing the pleating with the gores was also challenging. Again, it all depends on what the garment needs to do, what the designer wants, what it needs to look like on many factors!

So, to the actual construction. The bodice is flat-lined to cotton backed satin and boned at the seams, center back, and center front. It is piped along the neckline and waistline and along the center back seams. The seams are finished with lace. The actual garment fabric is a green and red silk dupioni -- it looked fabulous under the stage lights! The sleeves are flat-lined with cotton batiste. The skirt is flatlined with silk organza to give is a bit more structure. The over-skirt and underskirt are on the same waistband (which is covered) and open in the back. The hem is serged and cross stitched up.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

18th Century Underthings!

School started off with a bang going into full production for the play, "The Rivals." I created the costume for the character Julia, from the undergarments up -- Petticoat, stays, and bumroll. I can't emphasize how much I learned on this project. I was very happy with how everything turned out and I know where I would change things next time. I'm looking forward to implementing these new found insights in my next project!

I patterned the corset based off of a stays pattern from Corsets and Crinolines. The corset is made of two layers of coutil and 1/4" steel bones. The petticoat is silk taffeta. I patterned the bumroll based on various examples and the shape I was aiming for based on the rendering. The bumroll is made of muslin and stuffed tightly with polyfill. It is attached to the interior of the petticoat undrneath a later of gathered netting to smooth out the transition from bumroll to petticoat...and to give it a little extra poof! The bumroll is attached to the petticoat in an attempt to keep everything together and in the right placement for the actress.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mokuhanga Workshop with Takeda Sensei

The past three days I participated in a Mokuhanga and Mokulito printmaking workshop at Pratt Art Center in Seattle, WA...and it was absolutely fantastic! Takeda Sensei is an amazing artist from Oaxaca, Mexico. He is originally from Japan but has lived in Mexico making and teaching art for the past 50 years! He has recently been implementing a new technique called Mokulito -- a sort of combination of Mokuhanga and Lithography.

Starting from the beginning: Mokuhanga is traditional Japanese woodblock printing. You use many different blocks, each with a different color, to build up an image. We spent the first couple days of the workshop developing 2 - 3 plates in order to practice this technique. We started by printing the base color -- just a solid rectangle of color to act as the first layer. We used guache mixed with a little bit of nori paste (rice glue) and water. The goal was to get a nice transparent color that captures the wood grain and texture of the plate itself.

Mokulito is a process that involves using lithography on wood instead of stone or metal. It's pretty much the same process as in traditional lithography except that it is on wood and thus involves some different chemical mixtures. Master Takeda uses this process as the last step on his mokuhanga prints. It's like being able to add a final drawing to a print...the possibilities are mind boggling!

Mokulito test plate.
 I ended up with 8 larger prints and a few small ones that I was just playing around with. I really love mokuhanga -- the process is very sculptural and very fun to do! It's so challenging to think about the layers and really integrating colors effectively...I can see spending a life time exploring the depths of this process!

Master Takeda and group working on Mokulito.

Mokulito test prints.

My mokulito test prints
I am so very thankful that I was able to take part in this workshop! I met some amazing and wonderful artists and got to learn a very rare print making technique with a most wonderful, kind and knowledgeable teacher! ...and I got to practice a little Japanese too! :D

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Friday, May 25, 2012

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tailoring -- Suit Coat


This was the focus of Tailoring II -- creating a men's suit coat. We started by following the recipe for a pattern called "Young Man's Sac Coat." I drafted my pattern with Matt's measurements. Once I had the patter drafted, I created a canvas mock-up of the jacket and we had the first fitting. Everything went really smoothly -- not many changed to be made. We adjusted the balance of where the jacket falls by opening up the shoulder seam and letting it out a little. Then the collar needed to be lengthened a bit to compensate for that alteration. The sleeves needed to be made narrower. I moved the side dart to the front and we moved the buttons a bit closer together. After all the alterations were made in the pattern, it was time to start creating the actual suit coat. We started with the canvas that goes in the front of the jacket. Basically, you create carefully shaped padding to make that smooth look from the shoulder down. It consists of canvas, felt, and french canvas with a hearty helping of pad stitching (which I find incredibly enjoyable to do!). After the canvas front is constructed you place it with the wool front and baste the two pieces together. These basting stitches do not come out until you are completely done. As you can see on the photos above, all the basting stitches are still there. I didn't quite finish putting the button holes in yet. Anyway, in brief, because this could go on for a while -- The lapels are pad-stitched and taped (with tailor's tape) which helps to create a nice smooth line once you cover everything in the wool. You create the under-collar from felt and collar canvas. These are pad-stitched together in order to create the collar shape. I custom made the shoulder pads -- these are inserted under the wool layer of the jacket but on top of the lining. The back of the jacket has canvas and a single vent. The whole coat is lined. Again, this is a quick, very brief explanation of things, but at least it is the gist of it!