The Land of Warhol

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The 1960s were a simple time.  A man could staple tin foil to the walls of an abandoned tenement in Chelsea and become an overnight sensation.  After the vigorous scrubbing of 1950s mainstream culture, I suppose people wanted some dirt, some depravity, and a whole lot of drugs.  Kind of like the grunge scene if all the musicians hadn’t been smoking pot since they were twelve.

What would a factory party be without photos?  Undocumented squatting?  A rave populated by 30 and 40 year olds?  You decide.

 

 

 

It’s like Andy shoved the entire cast of ‘Mad Men’ into a pan of Jiffy Pop.  Thank god for that one fan.  People could be getting contact highs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The now cliche phrase “I’ll have what she’s having” comes to mind as I gaze at this giddy Edie Sedgwick.  Hint: that’s not vodka in her glass, it’s liquid LSD.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is good guys, but I don’t think its quite gay enough.  Can you make the pose more gay?  By “gay” I mean “homosexual” and by “homosexual” I mean “I better get to lay the hottie in the white suit for taking this picture of Andy Warhol holding a camera.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is actually an awesome image of the poster for ‘Chelsea Girls.’  OK, maybe Andy knew something after all.  From the concept to the girl’s facial expression, this is one amazing piece of photography/collage work.  This will definitely serve as inspiration for me the next time I get stuck on a project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured Image:  Candy Darling, aka James Slattery, circa 1960-something.  She was killed before age 30 by illegal and unsafe hormone treatments she administered to herself,.  No legal treatment for transgendered people was available in the US at that time.  A tragic reminder that although authorities will always deem certain behavior ‘unnatural,’, society can not sanction an individual’s honest experience in the world.  In other words:  accept people for who they are, and more importantly, who they want to be.

My Top Five Crafty Pet Peeves

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As a devotee to the modern craft movement, I see a lot of handmade items.  Most of my day is spent researching what’s out there, writing about it, or making my own.  Over time I have developed biases, and those have evolved into pet peeves.  Get your mushy tomatoes and vuvuzelas ready.

1.  The Screen Printed Onesie – Ok, time to start hurling your mushy, three-week-old organic tomatoes at me.  Sorry, I said it, its out there:  I absolutely hate the white, flimsy, cotton onesies sporting a novelty ‘baby’ graphic.  I use the word ‘baby’ here as a style, not an actual child.  The fact that ‘baby’ is an established marketing tool generating major cash instead of a noun which refers to a newly born human being annoys me.  The Crafster Onesie is merely an itchy boil on the chicken-pox covered leg of a culture where spending has become downright obligatory.  Point of contention number two is on the grounds of impracticality.  Call me crazy, but isn’t this essentially a disposable item?  How many times can the stains be Oxy-Cleaned out of this garment before a baby outgrows it?  If you find a cute one for five bucks, go crazy.  But when you find yourself at the changing table in the Whole Foods restroom struggling to get that adorable Che Guevara suit off your tortured infant, don’t say Fash reMash didn’t warn you.

2.  Scrabble Tile Pendants – Be it good or bad, we live in a time of chemicals.  Man made polymers and plastics surround us 24 hours a day.  This is a serious bummer in every aspect of life except one:  glue.  The range of adhesives available to the average craftster is mind boggling.  For the most part, anything can be effectively glued to anything else and sealed for a lasting finish.  So why would I even consider purchasing an image glued to a tiny, 1″x1″ game piece that is sealed in resin, one of the most caustic substances known to the human eye, nose and throat?  Unless it came from the solid gold (literally) Scrabble collection, I can use Elmer’s to put a picture onto a Boggle dye and save $20.

3.  Metal Stamped with Words – I am a huge fan of metalwork, in general.  The offender I am mentioning here is a very specific yet ubiquitous style of jewelry which features a handful of small, usually round, metal charms stamped with things like “LOVE” and “PEACE” and strung on silver chain.  These are the candy hearts of the craft world.  No one talks about making these generic treasures with their friends or will ever find them in a trendy boutique.  Yet the sales are through the roof.  Those charming little buggers are everywhere, yet no one particularly loves the taste.  I guess this is a case of winning through what something is not: this look isn’t quite cheesy enough to garner an immediate eye-roll or original enough to shock the senses of a relative stranger for which an obligatory gift is required (see ‘baby’ in item 1).  As an artist myself, I must admit that when I see the typical cutesy messages on the plainest flavor of all metals, sterling silver, I die a little inside.  Now if I spotted a charm done in aged copper that said “DIE” on it that’s a different story.

4.  Hot-Fix Crystals – The label may say Swarovski, but it’s all Bedazzling to me.  Minimalism is a wonderful thing, and doesn’t require flat-back, glue-on rhinestones; a win-win situation for all craft lovers over age six.

5.  The Book Purse – Fabulous to make, tragic to buy.  My issue lies in construction.  Although it may look fab, the very best hardcover-book purse offers little durability.  Reliable, highly-rated patterns use little more than an old book, scrap fabric, glue, and a set of clunky plastic purse handles from Jo-Anne Fabrics.  Ok, maybe someone has a display of these in their booth at the street fair with clever, novelty covers, like Nancy Drew or 1950s cookbooks that would draw me in like a moth to flame.  The Book Purse can be done well.  In my opinion, however, this is a craft that falls into the category “for best results, do-it-yourself.”  It will take an afternoon at the most, and you’ll have the bonus of owning the spare glue, fabric and embellishments for when the originals fall apart. Because a bag made from cardboard, fabric and glue will fall apart.  Sadly not even technological breakthroughs in cold fusion can give long lifespan to the Book Purse.  Not for those looking for a low-maintenance accessory.

 

Buying Handmade: Go Local

renegade craft fair
Boise's Church of Craft - See Link Below

We’ve all learned the importance of buying local produce.  It is more nutritious, benefits the community we live in, and eliminates waste and pollution.  Paying for locally grown food is win-win-win.  So why are you shopping for quirky, artsy pieces at Anthropologie?

When people grow up in a small to mid sized city, myths abound.  Myth #1:  there are no good artists in your area.  Myth #2:  it is too hard to find merchandise by artists in your area.

Myth #1 is never true.  Repeat this to yourself one hundred times each day if you have to:  there are always good artists anywhere there are people.  You live in your city or town because it ISN’T New York or Chicago or Los Angeles, so why are you buying into the myth that all good art comes from these three cities?  You chose your place of residence for a reason, so stand up for it!  The truth is, most of what is available in large metro areas may be designed in the US but is actually manufactured in China.  That’s the price designers pay for mass produced merchandise.  I’m not pointing the finger here, but know that the bigger the name the more likely it is that the actual making of the designs is outsourced.

Myth #2 has been rendered obsolete by the internet.  You can find local artists on Etsy.com.  In fact, you don’t even have to buy from them through the site.  Why not contact the artist yourself?  Email is a wonderful thing.  It’s quick and easy, and if the artist snubs your interest just delete and move on.  The good ones, however, won’t (or if they do, shame on them).  Don’t dismiss someone who takes a while to get back to you.  It’s making contact that really counts.

Then, there is the retail option.  Everyone should frequent their locally owned retail shops as much as is reasonable (emphasis on “reasonable”).  At the very least go see what they have to offer.  It is completely appropriate to ask the clerk at a local shop if any of the merchandise is made locally.  The owner will certainly know, but employees may not.  If you are a persistent type, you can always ask if there is an email address or time the owner will be in so you can ask him or her personally.

Why go to all this trouble, you may ask.  Truthfully, buying local art is relationship building.  The best way to purchase an authentic, one of a kind, handmade item is to make contact with an artist directly.  Maybe you have purchased an item in a local shop that is branded but not signed by the artist (I am guilty of this one).  There is a 99.9% chance that any artist selling in a store will be easy to find online, or by word of mouth in your community.  If you have purchased something you love, reach out to the artist and extend the compliment.  They will love you for it, and you will have made a valuable connection.  Asking an artist to sign or authenticate something you have purchased is a great way to break the ice.

If you have any remaining doubt that this is worth the trouble, think about the program ‘Antiques Roadshow.’  An item that was commonplace in one time becomes a precious object when the exact person, place, and date it was created can be verified.  While trends come and go, a handcrafted item remains priceless.  In a society of disposable goods, I can only see this becoming more important in the future.  So the next time you want to buy a new piece of jewelry, art, or pottery, why not take those extra steps to find something that is truly special?  Why just own stuff when you can have treasure?

Gazing upon, wearing, or holding something I know is truly unique in the world makes me smile even on the worst day.  Art is a reminder of who we are:  singular, special, and irreplaceable.

Check out these websites for more info on the featured images:

www.churchofcraft.org

www.renegadecraft.com or

www.renegadehandmade.com

Building Your Wardrobe: the Black Suit System

Illustration by Ariand Duncan

We’ve all seen the ‘instant makeover’ shows on television and heard the advice of the stylists.  Most of us will not have thousands of dollars and a vacation to NYC simply to shop.  Even the select few women who get this frequently hate the experience.  Sure, they walk away with great clothes, but the ‘rules’ just don’t translate back to our everyday lives.

The reality of shopping is more like a minefield than a visit to the spa.  Today’s stores are jammed with merchandise, run by staff who are trained to read a script instead of actually help you, and the whole frenetic milieu is set to blaring music pumping from the store speakers.  Basically, the entire store is meant to drive you to make impulse purchases.  Just like the aisle of the supermarket with cards, magazines, gum, and chocolate tempting you while you wait, a modern retail store is designed to grab your attention any time you pause to look at something, make a decision, or just re-orient yourself amongst the racks and racks of clothes.  Taking a moment to pause and really look at items, however, is one of the keys to finding what you want.

I believe that with a few tips and tricks, owning a stylish wardrobe is more achievable than ever for all women.  Incredible deals are lurking in that three ring circus they dare call “the mall” and with something to focus on you can find them without killing someone in the process.  Which brings me to the fundamental starting place for the ‘black suit’ shopping system.  This is a way to block out distractions, find what you actually want and will wear, and avoid coming home with a bag full of DOA clothes.

Every stylish wardrobe is built on two items:  a black blazer and a black dress skirt.

In order to build a wardrobe from the ground up, you must own a basic black suit.  The pieces do not need to be purchased as a matching suit.  Both items simply need to be basic black, the correct size and fit, and in a contemporary cut.

The Blazer:  A modern cut blazer is less power-suit and more flexible.  Look for a fitted, single-breasted  jacket with a little stretch, no major shoulder padding (if you can grab a handful of shoulder pad while wearing, its too much), and no embellishments (aka puffed sleeves, fancy buttons, ruffles, etc).  Purchase either a snug fit or your true size.  In either case, when you button the jacket, there should be no extra fabric around your waist.  A shrunken jacket may pull a little when buttoned, as long as the shoulders allow you to put your arms down without popping the seams.  If you are under forty and ANY size, my advice is to err on the side of slightly too small vs. too large.  If you are over forty you can pull off either style so the choice is yours.

The Skirt:  This is an easy one.  There are only three rules to buying the perfect skirt:  it must fit comfortably (sitting and standing), fall about to the knee, and be black.  This is a skirt that can be worn with practically anything.  The cut is not important as long as the skirt isn’t embellished.  A-line or straight both work wonderfully.  Make sure it is in a dress fabric and not knit.  Get the plainest, most flattering skirt you can find that is long enough to wear to a wedding but not so long that you can’t wear it outside of a cemetery.

It is fundamental to this system that you don’t call a ‘mulligan’ on these two items.  Both must be items you can and would wear today.  If you own a black suit that fits but looks like it just came out of a 1983 time capsule, that doesn’t count.  If you own a black suit in the wrong size for your body today, that does not count.  You may have either the skirt or the blazer and simply need to purchase the other.  The blacks do not need to match and these two items don’t need to function as a traditional suit.  Each piece must separately look great on you.

As you make your first purchases using this system always ask yourself,  “Can I wear this with my black blazer or skirt?”  If the answer is yes, buy it.  If the answer is no, put it back for now.  Not everything you own has to match these two pieces forever;  this is a simple prompt to use when in doubt.  As you expand your personal style, items will enter that have nothing to do with the blazer or the skirt,  but you can always deflect to this method in times of shopping stress.

Note:  Some people prefer brown to black.  I do understand this, but I simply think the standard of fashion is built on black.  It is easier to buy a wardrobe of varying colors if you work around black as a basic vs.  brown.  Bottom line: ask yourself if you would honestly feel stylish wearing head-to-toe brown.   An all back outfit, on the other hand, does pass as stylish, assuming the items were not purchased at Hot Topic.  Trust me, regardless of what you were told back in the day, everyone CAN wear black.  Does the person who advised in your formative years that you “shouldn’t wear black” now sport campy ‘blue’ hair which she has set at the salon every Tuesday?  You wouldn’t be caught at your own funeral sporting that look, and you would be DEAD.  Times have changed.

My Predictions for 2011

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Here is my ‘short list’ for what to wear and what to avoid in 2011.  In the interest of time, detail is minimal.  Look for more posts in coming weeks on specific styles, and as always comments are welcome.

CLOTHING: WEAR IT

The Look:  20th Century Recon with Emphasis on 1990s, 1960s, 1930s.

One Bold or Voluminous garment, worn with simple, complimentary items.  When choosing basics, look for natural fabric and classic shapes.  This is less about balance and more about showcasing one stand-out piece.

Knits all Year Round will be huge in 2011, and probably onward.

Contrasting Colors and Textures are key.  Minimalist styles are not monochromatic this year.  Bohemian styles work best when chunky textures ground airy fabrics.

Curvier Styles with More Emphasis on the Waist, likely from more pronounced waistbands and belts.  Clingy knits are the remnants of ‘Mad Men’ style.  Not likely to see tailored pieces everywhere, but moving towards an hourglass shape.

CLOTHING: HIDE IT

Steer clear of Extremes:  Harsh Lines and Billowy Layers Need to be Subdued

1980s and 1920s inspired looks, which rely on straight lines and severe colors.  The drop or undefined waist is on the way out, as is the bubble skirt and monochromatic mini-dress.

Ankle or calf-length structured pants are a no.  Short pants in lighter material, with cargo or military details will be in for summer.  Just avoid any fabric stiff enough to hold a fit and flare cut without grazing the foot.

Metal Detailing on Clothes/Shoes is replaced with metal jewelry that uses fabric.  Sorry, garments.

COLORS: WEAR IT

The Look:  Any shade found in nature, with an emphasis on Secondary Colors.

Gray is still the go-to neutral this year.

Blue and Navy with hints of slate make good alternatives.

Orange is the go-to bright color this year.  It’s the go-to color, period.

Khaki makes a great alternative to overly heavy browns and grays.  Just don’t choose a cut that looks like a uniform at a wilderness preserve.

Olive will be hot, as part of the military-inspired trend.

Teal is a tricky one, but 2011 will bring back popularity of a saturated, blue-heavy teal.  Look for jewel-tones instead of sea-foam shades.  Go with the closest shade to true blue that has a hint of green.

COLORS:  HIDE IT

Any Color With Harsh Blue Undertones and Muddy Browns.

Pink, and all pastels, should be worn to suit your complexion, not as a style statement.  Easter egg colors in Spring are a no-no this year, unless you are under age twelve.

Chocolate Brown is OK for leather, but not a suit.  Avoid brown knits paired with fur, and brown tweeds.

Neon Yellow is not the bright of choice anymore.  Like pink, replace it with orange.

Bright White isn’t even trendy for brides anymore.  Unless you have a very dark complexion, skip this one.

ACCESSORIES: WEAR IT

The Look:  Embrace Extremes with Restraint

Square Bags will be an emerging trend for at least the early part of the decade.  Look for bags that maintain a cube shape throughout, instead of narrowing at the top.  Go for one that is structured (but no frames, please) and small to medium sized.  The look should be unfussy and modern.

-Chunky but Feminine Shoes are the hallmark of the return of practicality this year.  Well, as much as can be expected.  Go for thicker soles, chunkier heels, and wedge shapes in classic colors.

Mixed Metals are going to be a huge trend this year, with metal being the material of choice for jewelry.  Go big or go home:  mixing all shades together is perfectly acceptable if done in equal quantities (don’t wear a stack of silver with one gold chain, for example).

Sculptural/Irregular Beads are likely to be the only beads seen this year.  Think rugged or unfinished shapes used sparingly instead of strands.  Seed beads and tribal styles are out, Ke$ha.  Wait, did I just type that….

Natural Materials are the thread joining together the eclectic range of bold jewelry that’s popular right now.  Unique elements like fabric or ribbon look much better if all natural.  Synthetics show.

ACCESSORIES:  HIDE IT

Big pieces made with small, uniform beads, and anything in moderation.  Either chose stark simplicity or over-the-top mixed media pieces.

Round Baubles and Beads if strung in a traditional or expected style are out.

Cascading Styles with layered strands falling over the chest are out, even chains.  Choose a metal bib instead, with one strand around the neck and others arranged only in front.

Plastics are just bad.  Really, really bad.

A small mention for beauty trends in 2011:  Try neutral eyes and rust lips, dewey skin, and unfussy hair.  Avoid pale or super-glossy lips, and bright eye shadow paired with graphic  liquid black liner.  Even dramatic looks should be soft and lines smudged.