It started out in High School (summer between 9th and 10th grade) when I was a Counselor-in-training at the Camp Fire Girls camp. We had to change our names to a “Camp Name”, so the Bluebirds (2nd graders) could spend the week trying to figure out what our real names were. I was reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach at the time and really connected to the Fletcher character. So that became my camp name for the summer.
At about that same time, I was thinking about career paths and college and of course “Art” was a front runner. There was a jewelry designer and painter that lived near my Grandmother down on the Rogue River in the scenic waterway portion….in the middle of the Siskiyou National Forest named June Parks. June took me aside one day when I was down visiting Grandma and explained that there was still sexism in the Art field. Men still got paid more for their work than women. Her advice was to pick an androgynous name that no one would immediately know my gender, thereby getting a jump on the gender-bias aspect of art.
Funny enough, I had a camp name that I’d just used the entire summer before. I could use that. So, I spent my Junior and Senior years at school signing everything with “Fletcher”. While other girls might be practicing signing their names as though they were married to their latest crush, I was signing mine like I was Monet. 🙂
I signed all my fashion illustrations with, ”Fletcher” through college. I bought a car and put it on my personalized plate. And then when I decided to start my business, well…..that’ how it happened.
I haven’t read Jonathan since Junior High and I’m a little worried if I did, would I still relate. Might lose my path in life or have some bad existential experience about living a lie for most my life. 😀
So now ya know.
I set the offending skirts aside. I decided to let my subconscious work on it for a while. I had a month before the show so there was still time, maybe. I set out to complete the final ensemble of the four-ensemble show when I discovered the “inconvenience”. As I laid out the tunic pattern on the flower print silk seersucker, I saw bird manure streaked down the $35 a yard fabric. The day I bought the silk, I felt I had made an extravagant purchase by getting at least a yard more than I really needed. Fortunate for me, I had been carried away by its cheerful demeanor when I bought the rest of the bolt. I simply moved over one more repeat and proceeded.
This final ensemble had some challenges of its own, but I will address them at another time. Once it was finished, it was time to take on the bird-damaged skirts. Watermelon Sorbet” was the piece to tackle first. The tail of the shirt that went with it would cover the bleached spot regardless, but putting NFS on the piece was disheartening. So in the back of my mind I had been playing with the idea of covering it up with a patch pocket. Unfortunately on closer inspection I saw that the bleached area was too far to the center back and too low on the bum to put a pocket. Besides, I didn’t have enough remaining fabric to make a patch pocket. I had enough to make a pocket if I combined the scraps left over from the top of the skirt (dupioni) and the bottom of the skirt (organza). I made the joining seam on the diagonal, but covered the seam up with a 3rd fabric that had been used as waistband trim. I backed the 3rd fabric (a silk/rayon jacquard) with interfacing and cut from it a bird silhouette. I satin stitched the bird to the pocket and then attached the pocket to the back of the skirt. The wing of the bird extended beyond the edges of the pocket and over the bleach spot, covering it completely.
“Summer Rust” still waited and I had a week left. I never like the way the lower skirt, made of silk chiffon flounce and silk rip stop flounce lining attached to the upper skirt even before the birds put an end to the chiffon flounce. And because I didn’t like it, I had cropped the advertising photo so that it didn’t show. It occurred to me that in a worst-case scenario, the skirt could be a short skirt, removing the lower half of the skirt (chiffon flounce and rip stop lining) altogether. The proportions wouldn’t be what I wanted. Still…
To that end, I put some lace around the bottom of the main body of the skirt. It perfectly matched the dupioni upper skirt and enforced the theme of “Grandma’s attic meets Dad’s Garage”. This piece had lots of metal jump rings but no lace. Now it did. But I had extra lace and attached it to the silk rip stop flounce lining, that gave the lower lining enough stability to hold snaps! So I sewed 49 snaps in place to attach the dupioni upper skirt with the silk rip stop lower skirt, making a convertible skirt with a better joining.
It was a photo finish for show time, but I ended with a better product and a great story to boot!
Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.
I’ve looked up definitions and quotes for “creativity”. And none quite explains what goes on. I had the opportunity to challenge and access my creative powers recently. Donnatella Versace says that, “Creativity comes from a conflict of ideas”, but lately I think it may just come from conflict.
I had been working on my current show for about 5 months straight with little time off. I had made my first deadline at a month before opening night by getting the photo shoot completed for the artwork for the advertising postcard. I was leaving the next morning for a week in SE Alaska with my mother. The show clothes were left to hang from hooks on the back of the fitting room doors.
What I hadn’t planned on was the arrival of 7 swallow fledglings into the studio while I was away. I knew something was wrong when I returned from Alaska and found black streaks across the walls and ceiling of my studio and bird crap on the floor. The baby birds flew down the chimney, through the damper and pinged around the place with their soot covered bodies, pooping on everything in sight before all dying rather horrible deaths. The rotting carcasses attracted all matter of vermin (okay, mostly ants) to cart off the remains. It was a horrific discovery.
Of the four ensembles, I had two serious casualties and one inconvenience. The casualties were long skirts (“Summer Rust” and “Watermelon Sorbet”). Both were made of fragile vegetable dyed silks that were unique and of limited quantities. I had no extra fabric left to re-make the damaged pieces. I took apart the skirts and delivered the damaged portions to the dry cleaners with express instructions
about what the damage was and to be as gentle as possible when cleaning. What was returned to me was even worse than what I dropped off. It looked like the garments had been treated with bleach and a scouring pad. What had been slight discolorations in the shape of bird splat, became large ovals of bleached fabric. On the up side, I knew that the fabrics no longer held any disease containing bird do. It was the most sterile silk possible.
But how to fix it?
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
– Scott Adams