Thursday, February 25, 2010

"Oh, they're ART."

This post is dedicated to Anders, a snowboarding dad who co-chaperones our kids’ downhill program with me at Ascutney Mountain. We’ve been spending the past five Fridays there with several other parents and lots of kids. Our children are in the same class and are friends.

Anders and I were getting to know one another and as I told him about my work (”I make aprons and skirts and etc, etc,…blah, blah…”) he seemed attentive so I continued “I use new designer fabrics but I like to combine them with vintage and recycled fabrics that I get from local thrift stores…”) and he jumped right to the core of it by interjecting in a lightbulb-just-went-on-over-his-head manner “Oh, they’re Art.”

And I instantly felt so grateful to him for his perception and I don’t know if I said “Thank You,” but I certainly felt it. I know I went on to confirm his statement by telling him everything I make is one of a kind. It’s important to me to make functional items that people will touch and wear and find useful in their everyday lives but I am not mindlessly cranking out multiple look-alikes of any certain product. Though I want you to wear it in your kitchen and wipe your hands on it, it is not “just an apron.” It is special. Like you. There are sometimes groups of sisters but there are no two exactly alike.

When I see vintage aprons they are always very interesting and unique. I think this is because they were all made, not bought. For the most part, vintage aprons were made individually, as a creative outlet, with the wearer in mind. It is this kind of special one of a kind item I am trying to make available for those of us who don’t sew our own.

Though I am constantly striving to make the construction process more time-efficient, the process of hunting down and selecting interesting materials and composing them together is a very thoughtful and inspired one. And it builds in an exciting way for me. First I pick individual fabrics that I like. Then I decide what they are appropriate for. There are piles in my workroom labeled “aprons,” “sashes,” “skirts” etc., plus five or six big trays of collars and cuffs arranged by color.

The next step is more exciting: pairing 2 fabrics in a not altogether obvious matchy-matchy way to be the basis for each piece. Lots of cutting, sewing, and other mysterious processes ensue until I have a pile ready for the next, most exciting step of all: finding just the right collar or pair of cuffs to trim each piece and stir it up. That third element changes all and brings the piece to another, higher level of interest. And then marrying the three with the finishing sewing steps and seeing the results is very satisfying.

I am not much taller than these 6th grade novice shredders and their skier friends. That's me on the far left.

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