Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The lesson of lilies and lilacs

     As a child, I squatted in the grass in amazement as evening primroses opened before my wide eyes, revealing their beauty only once the harsh sun had set. I played kickball and tag on the rolling expanses of lawn, imagined stories of pirates and adventurers with toys boats on the pond, and built empires in the sandbox. I hid in the open arms of the maple tree and sneaked raspberries before my mom could pick them.
     As I grew older, the garden worked itself into all aspects of my life. It taught me hard work and joy.  When I wanted to be a writer, I wrote prose and poetry about the miniature world full of tulips, evergreens, bees, and wind chimes. When I wanted to be a photographer, I took countless pictures of the carved stone and wood figures, the roses, the thorns, the silhouettes of the trees, the pond, in every stage of life - in beauty and in starkness. When I wanted to paint, I painted the luscious red lilies and the enchanting ochre sunflowers half melting into the shadows, half dappled by the sunlight. When I wanted to perform, I contact juggled and spun poi and danced on the grass, among birds singing and daffodils busily blooming.
     The garden nourished my body as well as my soul. What little bit of sun touched my skin, did it in the garden. I made jam from the fruits of the garden. I ate cherries and mulberries from the boughs of the trees. I partied there, posed for prom pictures there, relaxed and rejuvenated all in the comfort and mystery of the garden. More sacred than a stone and mortar chapel, closer to the divine in its daily living and breathing and growing than silent statues, the garden is a touchstone in my spiritual journey.  This is a journey that may have no destination, but the garden teaches me that it is still worthwhile to grow and bloom and revel in the sunlight day after day, and that perhaps it is exactly that day to day act of living that is the purpose.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I've been neglecting sewing lately, in favor of planning for ZenFest 2012.  I'll give you some sneak preview tidbits of what we have planned, after the prep meeting this Saturday.  I personally have tons of ideas and lots of hope for positive changes.  Once we get all these creative minds stewing together, oh my god the potential for things to explode this year!

Also, Corey White and David Cantor of the Vulcan Crew from California are in KC and staying with us this weekend.  Spin time, yes!  They'll be doing workshops this Saturday on contact staff, partner poi, and poi flowers and hybrids.  I hope I don't get called in to work...

Now, if I can just resist the pull of Lego Pirates of the Caribbean on the Xbox, and get to work...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

HOW is that skirt staying on?

I've fallen into the bad habit of uninspired, straightforward sketches of new clothing ideas and concepts, more like technical blueprints, with no character or concept behind them.  I'm trying to break this habit...here are a couple of sketches:

Sexy warrior-woman!  Totally impractical, also totally hot.

More based in reality.  I am actually going to make this one for sure!

I still have a ways to go, but it feels really nice to be doing this again.  I think that was one downside of getting so busy with school - I resorted to simply the fastest, easiest way to get get the idea down on paper, so I could move on.

These bring up an interesting point... I find that a lot of my designs, specifically those for women, get labeled as "risque" or "slutty."  That isn't the point, and it's kind of sad that if a woman shows off her beauty or shows her stomach or something, she's looked down on.  I think female bodies are beautiful!  And while I do intend for the outfits to be seductive, in a sense, that seduction should come more from the woman's feeling of empowerment and confidence from wearing that outfit, rather than how much skin the outfit is or is not showing. I want women to step into the clothing and feel like a Goddess. No matter her body size or body type, when she wears this piece it helps her stand taller, lift her chin, and know - not just think, but KNOW - that she is sexy and strong and capable. That she can conquer the world. And I know, from years in theatre, that the donning of a costume or outfit really can change a person's demeanor. As a costumer, there have been so many times when I have seen an actor only get partway into a role, until they don that costume - and then suddenly they are this character, and they FEEL like that character. They are no longer just acting like they feel it.

And anyways...personally, I hate having my stomach covered. It's just uncomfortable.  When I wear tops that don't cover my midriff, it's actually more about being comfortable in my clothes, and not about trying to draw any sort of attention.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Turtle Invasion!

I totally can't complain about all the commission work that I've been getting (which you can see on my portfolio website), but there are times that I really get tired of sewing for 12 hours a day and need to step away for a minute.  And I've discovered a great way to handle feeling idea-blocked - graffiti my own walls!

We recently moved into a rehab house, which, thanks to all the b.s. that slammed us right after we bought it, we haven't yet been able to fix up like we were planning.  The good news about that is, I don't feel bad about painting on the walls, floor, whatever - because it's all going to get covered up or repainted anyways! It ends up being a great satisfaction of doing exactly what my mother always told me not to do when I was a kid!

This has meant an invasion of mini-turtles...

these make me smile every time I sit down to sew
Turtles lead the path through the kitchen!

I justify these because I eventually want the kitchen to be accented in blue-greens.  I'm just color-testing, see?

Oh yes, and the dream catcher based print I developed for stenciling onto clothing.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Cyricx the Ranger

I finished Cyricx's new RenFaire outfit! We are quite happy with it.  The material is a pretty heavy-duty cotton, with several layers in key spots, so hopefully it will stand up to his intense use.  I stayed pretty true to the original design (the concept sketch is in my previous post), since Cyricx and I worked several layers of meaning and intention into the details.  We also had strict requirements for the fit of the outfit, because of the range of movement he needs for spinning.  While we both loved the last pair of pants I made for him that were based on Japanese hakama pants, we soon discovered that the wide legs were a major disadvantage when trying to spin staff, poi, puppyhammer....well, just about anything!

On the right leg: The runes Wunjo, Sowlio, Kenaz, Raidho.
On the left leg: "Tricks of the Light," the name of our performance duo.

 The sleeves have a pleated section to allow for extra elbow space and arm movement.  The folded-over cuff is intended to stand up to the heat from Cyricx's nunchucks. 
The sleeves zip off!  (Shhhh! No one can see the zipper.  Lace-on sleeves would be more appropriate, but have you ever tried to lace something on or off in the 30 seconds in between pieces while onstage?  Not doable!)

Oh yeah....and the hood zips off too!
I love how this picture shows off his nice hair... *happy sigh*
 And the adjustable waistband, since our weight fluctuates so much between Faire season and off-season.

I'm still hoping to add beads and shiny things, but when I say shiny I don't be mean bright - I'm imagining earthy copper and bronze.  Just enough to add that metallic glint.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I've been a sewing fiend lately..

 I've been working  mostly on commission projects lately, so I haven't had much time to work on developing ElementalWear.  But the commission work is definitely helping me get practice in, as well as helping me develop the style that ElementalWear will start out as.  Here is the costume I made for Aither.  I unfortunately don't have pics of the other commissions yet, but I will post as soon as do.

This last week, my major focus has been on new RenFaire costumes for Cyricx and I to perform in for Tricks of the Light shows.
Concept Sketches:
Cyricx's concept was a bit more set and definite from the get-go.  I wasn't so positive on what I wanted mine to be, mostly because I have had so many problems with costumes. The last top that I wore, which was based on bellydance-style bra, worked really well until I began fire hooping and playing with a long-string levitation stick.  The hoop broke off all the beads and decorations that were attached, and the long-string levitation stick got caught up and tangled around the few decorations that were left.  So in designing a new top, I want it to be able to look good and finished without tons of decorative bits.  And while I love the feminine look of a swishy skirt, anything long and flowing is problematic while spinning.  Hence the pants with swooshy ruffles only along the very bottom.  The ruffle belt is to replace a tribal belt, since tribal belts that use tassels are HIGHLY flammable.

Concept art for my costume
  Some process pics of Cyricx's vest:

Sleeve and hood pieces
The base layer and lining of the vest.
The sleeve (brown) mostly assembled, with the assembled lining (green).
The outer shell of the vest, assembled with applique and trim.  You can see the zippers that will be hiding under the shoulder flaps, as well as inside the collar, for zip-on sleeves and hood.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

With that off my mind....here is what I've been up to!

Cyricx successfully built me a fire hoop!  And I have been (more or less) successfully spinning it!  I have gotten more burns this last weekend alone than I ever have from the last 4 years of fire spinning combined, but the hoop is awesome so it's worth it! It's like Cyricx says...it's when you play with the stupid amounts of fire that you get burned.  And yeah, the hoop is a stupid amount of fire! (I say that with all the happiness possible though!)
Photo by Kimberly Pugh.
 Photo by Noelle Cash Konsbruck.

Cyricx and I have also turned "Duile Teine: The Dancing Flames" into "Tricks of the Light."  Our current show set focuses on our amusing but passionate relationship.  At our last First Friday show in KC, Pseudography Image Forge once again proved his talent and skill with the camera by capturing the essence of the show:
Photo by Pseudography Image Forge.  

Introducing the characters....I am Viollca, sexy warrior woman!

Photo by Pseudography Image Forge.

Cyricx is the wielder of the Trinity Staff.
Photo by Pseudography Image Forge.
And we lead a pretty interesting life!  Our relationship is a lot of Cyricx being mischievous and getting himself in trouble, while I roll my eyes and prove myself to be his equal, both in wit and with fire.
Photo by Pseudography Image Forge.

But everything doesn't always go so well...sometimes there are difficult moments.  Our newest piece, to Shinedown's "Call Me," is more intricate and emotional than anything we've written before.  It tells the story of two people who have tried and tried to make the relationship work, but just can't do it anymore.  It was our challenge to ourselves, as a perfectly happy married couple, to write a breakup piece!
Photo by Pseudography Image Forge.

But how does the story end?  You'll just have to see the show to find out...

The Wheel of Fortune. The Magician. The World.

The Wheel of Fortune
There is so much past here, so much that has come before, so many unspoken thoughts and feelings. Chance and Fate have intervened to change my course drastically yet again.  I have grown in the last 4 years beyond what I ever imagined was possible, and I think beyond what others imagined possible of me as well.  Perhaps it has made them uncomfortable.  It has made me feel caged in their expectations and beliefs, unable to be what I know I can be. 

The Magician
I am a powerful woman now - the strength I need is within, not without.  I am not afraid of this change, and I am fully capable of handling what is to come.

The World
I have changed my circumstances, I have shed what is dragging me down and I have embraced my own abilities.  I have created my own happiness, despite all the difficulties I have encountered.  No one else has the power to make me unhappy.  I see clearly what I desire, and I acknowledge what is and is not a part of that world.

And with this contemplation, I include this mantra...

"With these cards and with this spell,
I summon powers of resilience and renewal.
I summon powers from within,
    and powers from without.
I summon the power to help me face the world as it is,
    and as it must of necessity be in the future.
I summon the power to help me make my own happiness
     in spite of a new and difficult situation.
There is peace.
There is healing.
There is new understanding.
This do I will!
So will it be!"
~"Tarot Spells" by Janina Renee

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Practice Journal!

Practice Journal, Days 1 and 2
  • Basic stretch routine
  • 15 regular crunches
  • 30 alternating-knee crunches
  • 10 push-ups
Yesterday I worked on hooping, staff, and long-string flow wand.  I can almost shimmy the hoop up and down my body both clockwise and counter-clockwise now, and I practiced a few more jumps in and out of the hoop.  We are hoping to have the fire hoop made my Friday, so that I can debut it at the KCRF Media Party.  I worked a bit with contact staff, focusing on fishtails, which I have decently in reverse with my right hand, but not so much with my left.  Forwards is for another day!  I am really loving the long-string flow wand, though I do still get tangled up in it more than I would like.  The mechanics of the long-string flow wand are completely different than any other tool I've learned, so it is exciting but challenging. I do have a video of one of my progress so far with the long-string flow wand up on youtube

Today is a sewing day.  I am working on another reversible vest for Rhythmic Flames.  Hopefully I will have it done in a few hours and can put up pictures!

Monday, April 18, 2011

While reading a text on Hinduism and Buddhism (it contains selections from the Vedas and Upanishads, but there is more as well), I came across a section "On Truth in the Religions; Insanity: My Religion Alone is True."  This selection from the text says in perfect words the belief that my work is based on.

"The entire world is being driven insane by this single phrase: "My religion alone is true."  O Mother, you have shown me that no clock is entirely accurate.  Only the transcendent sun of knowledge remains on time.  Who can make a system from Divine Mystery?  But if any sincere practitioner, within whatever culture or religion, prays and meditates with great devotion and commitment to Truth alone, Your Grace will flood his mind and heart, O Mother.  His particular sacred tradition will be opened and illuminated.  He will reach the one goal of spiritual evolution."

I will have to have this quote there with me at the Thesis Exhibition on May 4th.  The myths that are being told as part of the show are based on this idea.  They are from no religion, and every religion.  Duality...now there is something interesting.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Seer's speech

It will storm tonight.  Raw power sizzles and cackles through the air, making my hair stand on end and making me shiver with anticipation and desire.  Tonight, I touch the sky with my fingertips and feel the Mother's kiss on my face. 

 Give me energy if you have it to spare, give me strength to persevere and accomplish, if you see fit.  The Scorpio thirsts tonight.

The Scorpio dances in me and as the thunder rages, I think maybe the storm and the power are actually inside of me. Tonight, it storms.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Working on my senior thesis exhibition for the Kansas City Art Institute has been taking up all of my time lately! 
Here are some sneak preview process shots of what I've been working on for the show...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

You must give more, always more

It is not enough to put in long hard hours behind the scenes; no one sees those hours. 
It is not enough to put a labor of love into your work; for others it is just a commodity. 
It is not enough to sacrifice all you have until you're tearing yourself to shreds; what do people care about another's sacrifice?  To each of us, no one else's problems are ever as dire as our own, no one else's life so desperate as our own struggling existence.

There is no work accomplished until there is a result, and there is no accomplishment until there is a reward.  The struggle comes in finding our own reward, because the reward from others will never be what we were hoping.
No one understands that you have given everything. You must give more.  ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

Friday, February 11, 2011

Threads of Rain and Grass

I'm finally weaving again!  I'm using fine wools in rich jewel tones.  These deep, beautiful colors I keep returning to remind me of my family's garden after a rain.  That's when the light brown tree trunks darken to a near-black, the grass is an unmatchable green, and all the flowers darken a little from the water, before they brighten in the sun.

The colors in the warp (the vertical threads that the weft - the horizontal threads - get woven into) blend from blues to purples to greens, with a touch of yellow as a highlight.

Bad news is, I'd forgotten just how long it takes to set up the loom!  Each strand of yarn goes first through the reed (essentially a really long comb) in front, which you can see in the picture above, and then through an individual heddle, which you can see in the picture below.  That's what the loom looks like when you're hunched over the back of it and pulling each individual strand through.  I have less than 200 of the 840 strands threaded through the loom so far!  Luckily, this is a rather meditative process, and I zone out to music.
I'll be keeping track of my progress - hopefully by next posting I will have the first bit of fabric woven!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Story Begins

    I am the vessel that carries the Otherworld into this world.  My creations were conceived in another time, another place, but born in this world as prophets.  Each piece carries the essence of an aspect of spirituality, without also carrying the established meaning of any specific religion.  The warm glow of fire in darkness, chanting and music, ritualistic motions, processions and journeys, script and symbols - detached from proselytizing, these things carry individual meaning to us all.
    My materials are intimately connected to the world that they are a part of.  Leather, stone, wood, bone, and linen are children of the earth, and are reminders of the grass beneath your feet, the bark under your hands.  Silk, glass, mirrors, and shimmer are children of the sky, and are reminders of the wind in your hair, the feeling of raindrops on your skin. 
    A costume is not complete until it is worn, a mask is not complete without the face concealed behind it.  Empty of the bearer, the costume is still and silent like a relic in a museum.  Someone once wore it, someone once knew its meaning, but its life is lived, its history condensed to a few short phrases tacked on the wall beside it.  Time does not leave anything untouched, and its passage is recorded in accumulation and decay.  Time binds us all together.