27 December 2006

wedding bell blues

no, this is not a statement about my personal life. as we teeter on the edge of january, i get to try and predict what i can book myself out for the following year. i am working on my official look book and catalogue for the year, and i am trying to guess how much time i will have for custom projects; which for the most part, consist of weddings.

i have been evolving my wedding policies from the get go, in a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants/learn-as-i-go sort of way. it has been these countless dresses made from scratch that have honed my design and dress making skills to their pursnickety, precise, perfect, insanity that they have become today. they could be satisfying: i've worked in partnership with someone to start from a few pictures torn from magazines, little sketches and swatches of fabric to create some true masterpieces. i have developed some close friendships, and attended some beautiful weddings. but then, there have also been the nightmares: the indecisive, the micromanagement, the person who turns on me, because i just happen to be there. there are the insane deadlines, and the last minute fittings for the out of towners, and then there is the tight schedule. i have had many summers where i had not one day off; i watched wistfully as my friends all took the day off to go to the river in the summer heat. not me. i could not miss the deadline.

two summers ago, i swore i would never do another wedding. i swore up and down that i would do no more custom work. the end of august 2005 found me ill, completely broke, and i hadn't designed or made anything for my wholesale line for a full six months. i was done. and then last winter, i took on a few custom projects. they were suprisingly easy, once i decided that i could say no to them. my friends reaction to me taking these projects was, "oh, so you needed the money." actually, it wasn't. i like my clients and their projects were interesting.

i took them on with no trepidation, because i made a few things clear to myself, and in turn to my prospective clients:

1. that the project is something that i want to do. i can do almost anything, but if i don't want to do something, it takes so much more energy to do than i could ever be worth any amount of money. i have taken on way too many things that i have no desire to do (please do not ever ask me to do alterations!). look at my website, or come in and look at my collection. does it resonate with what you want?

2. can you trust me? i have a pretty specific design aesthetic, and a knack for talking to someone, and knowing what to make for them. i have been doing this successfully for years. i listen to you, i take clues from our conversation as to who you are and what i can make for you. when i hire someone to do something for me, i choose them carefully, so that i can tell them what i want, and then let them do their job. if you want "that exact dress" that is listed for $10,000. for $500., i am not the person to talk to. if you want something inspired by this picture or that other idea, then let's talk.

3. i have to charge for my time. i've learned the hard way, that a custom dress isn't just the time spent cutting and sewing, but also drawing, drafting, sourcing (finding and procuring all of your materials; getting your fabric wholesale, zippers, lining, interfacing, thread, hooks and eyes, beads ribbon, etc.), fitting, fitting and fitting. i know how long this takes me. i am proficient in what i do, but i need to take all of this into account. i don't get to charge for the nightmares, i haven't figured out a pay scale for that yet.

4. i need to know that we can work together. this is most important. i will talk to anyone about their project, and this first consultation is always free. it is an opportunity to feel to feel them out, what the timeline is, their budget, and what their project will entail. but most of all it lets me know whether working with them is feasible. can we get along? most weddings are 6-9 months with the last couple of weeks spent fitting and putting the last finishing details. even a simple custom project can last 2 weeks to a couple of months.

i am not quite sure how much of my time i will be able to dedicate to custom projects in the coming year, but feel free to call me for a consultation. now is the time.

and! i don't just make wedding dresses. i actually like to make fun fancy dresses, skirts and corsets too, which you can wear more than once. just wait until you see the sun dress designs i will have once i have time to make what's dancing around in my head. spring is sooner than you think.

24 December 2006

my inability to be monogamous to one art form

i am not so fond of new year's resolutions nor making promises that i can't keep. i have been sinking due to old habits. there are the barriers that we put up that once protected us, but now are a detriment to my survival and especially to my ability to thrive. i have trained myself prioritize that which i thought would give me the best gain in the short term, and in the long run it has led to apathy and stagnation. once upon a time i would have an idea in my head, and then i would have to create it right away. my excitement would keep me singularly focused until i finished it; be it an outfit, an art project, a letter, musical piece or choreography. this has given way to finishing contracts and preparing for shows, making the things that i have made time and time again that are guaranteed to sell, which has led me to the assumption that i don't have time to do anything else. i have been hiding at home, avoiding my studio, because i can't make another garter, another flower. i have been hiding at home wondering whether i should just give up: on my business, my work, my life.

it was pointed out to me by dear friends that i just wasn't myself anymore. hard for me to hear, but i was so grateful to hear it once the initial hurt wore off. the worst part is how innocently these things begun and then how they just snowballed into a desperate situation. it is easy to make excuses: i'm too busy, the holidays are depressing, these things that i really want to do are frivolous, that i have to be a grown up (whatever that means), that earth life sucks, that i can't make a difference, and i am truly very tired. why am i tired? because, playing a part takes a lot out of me. it is amazing how much time i can spend resisting something. i waste entire days resisting. resisting going to work, resisting washing the dishes, resisting filling orders, resisting getting ready for shows, resisting being alive. i don't have much to show for that part except that i am overweight, exhausted uncomfortable in my own skin and miserable.

my main challenge here is not to run away. this is how i have dealt with things in the past. this doesn't solve any of my existential dilemmas, but postpones them so that they build up to bursting at the seams, only to burst forth knocking me flat on my ass. my challenge here is to stay put, and change my habits one by one starting today.

i am giving myself until the end of the year off from work. not a huge amount of time, but enough time for me to establish a few good habits that involve trusting my gut. against all odds, every time i am proven over and over again that this is always right. in the times i have trusted myself and gone a different way, or when i have talked myself out of something or into something only to find that was the most absolutely wrong way to go. this means:

1. giving myself what i want when i want it.
2. making time to do the things i think i don't have time for such as but not limited to: playing music, dance, drawing, knitting, play with my friends, reading books, looking up words in the dictionary, wandering around and looking at things, following my distractions. i all but decided that none of these things were possible for me, because i didn't have time for them, but they are what inspires me creatively, and enables me to make my creative living. i have spent a lot of time hating what i am doing, which does not help me pay my bills either.
3. saying what i think out loud to those close to me, before deciding for them how they will react; whether an expression of affection, or a notice of self-destructive behavior.
4. movement. some sort of movement everyday, both physical and emotional.
5. time to myself. i am a solitary creature, and i need to be left to my own devices to allow me to separate my own individual voice from the rest of the world.
6. quality time with friends.

and last

7. letting go. letting go of the people i love the most. this is the most difficult challenge. my best intentions lead me to hold on and to hold on tight, but i cannot heal anyone's soul for them, nor take away their pain. if i can let them go, and trust that they are capable of healing themselves in their own way, i can honour them as an equal in how i wish to be treated. i hope i can be courageous enough to realize in my heart of hearts that this is the only way to keep anyone near me, and i know this because i feel the urge to flee when i feel anyone grabbing at me.

the most important part of the process is self-realization. only then do i have the opportunity to heal what has come up. i have come a long way in the past several months, but the teetering on the edge of "almost there" can be discouraging, which has lead to the rise of complacency and apathy.

in talking to my friends, i have found that there are quite a few people in my position; directly related to me, and we affect each other. what i do and what you do and what everyone does adds that ripple effect to the entire community. we can either feed each others' disfunction by not saying or acting upon that which we observe in each other and in ourselves. we settle in to our complacency, because it seems easy. i have been shown time and time again that this way which seems easy is the most difficult. i have made some major changes in the past several months, and then i slowed down to a trickle. why? because things were going well, and making a daily conscious effort seems like something that is temporary, because the effort is made during times of adversity, and once the adversity passes, then it is easy to lose momentum, because things are okay. and okay is usually functional, but not completely resolved. i have chosen the path i have chosen, and i manage to move along on it, but i have not mastered it by any means, nor have i been able to keep a steady pace. but with each step forward, i am making progress. my lesson here is to be patient AND keep moving forward. moving forward following my instincts, my whims and my heart. sounds easy, yes? surprisingly, it is easy compared to the alternative.

i just tend to think too much, overanalyze, and talk myself in and out of things, instead of just doing or saying; which gets me into trouble. this over-thinking, having conversations with people in my head, preemptively judging how they may or may not react, deciding for them how they feel, or what they might want, or not want, has seriously compromised me and my relationships. everyone is where they are, and by no consequence of what i say or do. my best contribution to any relationship is my personal integrity (which i am still figuring out), not to conform to my preconceived notions of how they might want me to be. i have been that pleaser for too long, and it has not served me well at all. and what i keep coming upon, is that most people don't really like her very much anyway. why is it so hard for me to just be myself? some days i hardly know who i am. i am watching myself from the outside, completely appalled by what is falling out of my mouth. this is where i need to keep that constant consciousness, because i close down and become that false version that has been hard wired to be my default version. i know no one likes her very much, i don't like her either. she is controlling and diminutive, she judges to the minutia, and will do anything to make you like her (mostly to her detriment), which makes you dislike her even more. i have to pull her out wire by wire, sinew by sinew.

29 November 2006

muddling through the holidays

i've always had mixed feelings about the holidays. having spent a good chunk of my life working in retail, with my immediate family working in retail as well, christmas was always a much needed day off in between the frenzy of catering to holiday shoppers. one year out of frustration for the impersonalness and obligation of gift giving, i vowed i would make all of my gifts myself. i have mostly stuck to this notion for over a decade. this led the way to me hosting holiday bazaars and doing trunk shows with special holiday-only products that cater to the holiday crowd. and what the heck? if they don't sell, i have less work to do for my friends and family's gifts.

here is the short list of where i will be for the first part of december:

1 december 2006 5-8p artists' reception and trunk show
2 december 2006 11a-6p trunk show
johnny sole
815 sw alder
portland, or 97205

1 december 2006 6p-12a
first friday at the egg (my studio)
534 se oak street
portland, or 97214

7 december 2006 5p-7p
the city hall winter craft bizarre
1221 SW 4th avenue (right next to portlandia)

9 December 12p-6p
the secret society ballroom sale
116 ne russell street (near mlk blvd, next to the wonder ballroom)

12 October 2006

i hate artists' statements

i really hate artists' statements. it's that essay test that i was never prepared to write. yes, in high school i stayed up too late reading the entire 'east of eden' the night before the test until i passed out in exhaustion, and i couldn't tell the story in the book from my dreams about it the next day. the lines get blurry around 3a. but i digress. i hate artists' statements. i can't cram my life into an essay very well, nor can i hire out for someone to do it for me. with anything else, i can look at other writings for an example. most artists' statements seem plagued with self-conscious stiffness and obvious omissions, or are too flowery and glossy to be taken seriously. occasionally, there is the tongue in cheek entirely made up one that mocks the establishment, but today none of these will do. i need to convey something specific, and the way to convey it "properly" eludes me. i am generally not this fake in real life.

what i am supposed to say:

kirsten a. moore is a fashion designer whose company piper ewan has been in business for over 8 years. she combines traditional couture sewing techniques with modern style. each piece is hand finished and embellished with fine detail. her designs are other-worldly and timeless with one foot in the early twentieth century and one foot in the present. blah blah blah

i hate talking in the third person.

the truth or how would i really describe myself:

yesterday i made flowers flowers flowers. i spent way too much time on the computer this morning before i make flowers flowers flowers again today. i stayed up until 3a last night for no good reason again. this has been going on for about three weeks now. i am in my pajamas at home still well after noon, and i can't seem to get in to work at a reasonable hour to save my life. i keep thinking about how i want to make corsets, how i need to order more fabric, but i am waiting for some checks to arrive that are late, which makes my bills late or in some cases, i hold my breath in hopes that checks don't bounce. and now today, i am sitting at home (and have to stay at home), because my cat is sick, and i have to write stupid artists' statements and press releases which are due in two days. some days i like to make flowers. what i really like is the satisfaction of having one in every colour combination. this takes forever, is truly unrealistic, and makes me feel insane.

everything i make takes forever. it begins by me getting an idea, and i have to make it. i dig through my pile of fabric for the right one. i draft the pattern in my size, and then i put it together as quickly as possible so i can wear it. that is the first step, and ideally that is what happens first. what prevents me form making that first step: i have to be able to reproduce it. i have to be able to reproduce it in any size. i have to be able to reproduce it in comparable fabric. i have to be able to put down what needs to be done (orders and things that pay immediate cash) to do it. this is when ideas swell in my head forever. the good news is that i am usually ahead with the ideas, so i can wait on making them. it is about 4-6 years before i have made something, worn it been asked for it, produced it, not sold it and gotten bored of it and given up on it when it makes its way into the main stream. this is first.

then there are the things that sell. do i dislike making then? no, but i get tired of production. i have made 1001 garters so far. i just placed an order for more ribbon yesterday. a nearly $300. order (and boring like buying new tires for your car or taking the cat to the vet; necessary, but not very satisfying) to make more garter bands, so that i may continue. i don't know how many wedding dresses i have made, how many skirts, corsets, etc. i especially don't want to know how many flowers i have made. i know, i need to hire someone. i have managed to let go of many aspects of the business, but now i have to find that right person it will take to train how to make what is supposedly my signature.

now, my signature. these damn flowers. i don't know if you know this about me, but i don't consider the flowers to be my signature. they are part of it. if i truly had to say, i would say that my main objective is to create functional art. it doesn't satisfy me to make something whose sole purpose is to hang on a wall. form AND function. now i have nothing against fine art. it is not frivolous to be surrounded by pretty things. i have several paintings on my wall that i love. creating fine art just doesn't interest me; which brings me to my next point: i am also fascinated by taking something that already exists, and making it better. and by better, i mean making it in a way that suits me. for example, i like corsets, but i also like comfort and breathing. by designing and producing a corset that fits to one's body rather than having one's body conform to it, is more reasonable to me. this sensibility carries into all of my designs. i like embellishment, because i like colour, but i don't just focus on embellishment. i also like simple well fitted designs that work for every day wear. i feel better when i am wearing nice clothes. i can be in a bad mood all day if i am wearing the wrong thing. such as: having to pull my tights up and my shirt down all day, or having the wrong colour on, or if i forgot my ring. i hate all these things, and they really bother me.

the thing i must return to is the forever part. it takes forever for me to make anything. it's all in the details and the details are killing me. those slip-dresses you like so much; you know, the one's with the roses around the bottom? they retail for $550. i was pleased i could get the price so LOW. there are many steps in the process of me making any garment. even if i had it manufactured by slave children in china. but it is not made in china, it is made here, and made by me. my craftsmanship is perfect. why? because if you are going to spend that amount of money on a garment, it should last. you should be able to wear it every day. i wear my zillion dollar dresses to work in my warehouse studio, to the grocery store, i crawl on the floor with my cat in them, play with my friend's baby in them. if i did a crappy job, they wouldn't be much less expensive, and i wouldn't be in business for long. bad craftsmanship is a cardinal sin, and too common. so common in fact that people seem to take it for granted in this town (which effects me too, and irritates me to no end).

that brings me back to the flowers. the flowers sell. they are the irresistible eye candy that is your consolation prize when you can't afford the garment. or worse, you can afford the garment, (you tried it on, and it looked fabulous), but "i don't know if i can pull this off." i'm tired. i can't convince you. i don't want to try. this excuse is frustrating beyond all others. why? because you don't get it. i am beyond tired of the empty promises that you are going to get something someday. (and for those of you who are just saving up, waiting for that windfall or the right thing, i know the difference between you and those i am referring to). it is discouraging to hear the empty promise, because you aren't fooling anyone. i know the difference, and i know when i am being lied to. it is not a compliment. it is a false hope, and it is just plain irritating. go shop at ross or target, and don't waste my time. for the rest who love what i do, please keep coming. i don't care if you ever buy anything. i like your company. i will continue to dress you up, and have a good time letting you try everything on. you are the ones who bring your friends, who spread the word. you are the ones who are my champions, and you are the ones who i will cut a good deal to when that perfect piece comes along that i didn't even know i made for you.

03 October 2006

trunk show crazy and the age old tale of procrastination

we have been trying to schedule this trunk show in bend for months. we finally settled on 6 october, but then we never heard back. i suggested to melissa (my sales rep), that we just keep the day open, and not bother trying to contact them anymore. we have other things to do. of course the next day they contact us with the final confirmation. great! my last wedding of the season was 30 september. so then i get a call to do first thursday 5 october. the show is corporate sponsored in a prime location with free radio advertising! and even better, it's not a fashion show. i am already stockpiling for holiday.

of course that last wedding took longer than i thought. last week was spent by me alternately feeling calm and out and out panic. deadlines have always been a necessary part of my life; or at least i assumed that. how many papers was i finishing at 2a the morning before class? or am i still blind stitching the lining in as my client is walking up the stairs to their appointment? i have gotten better. i have my book of lists so i don't forget everything, and normally as a rule, i finish everything i need to finish for a client at least one day before i see them. but old habits die hard. my house and studio always are in dire need of being spotless during a big crunch. i can never seem to leave my house on time. today i am on my computer. i should have left hours ago.

it's alright, i am multi-tasking right now. i am eating breakfast. i think i reached my breaking point last week, because i haven't been panicking. yesterday, i calmly cut out many corsets, camisoles, dresses, ruffles. hopefully i will have your size, if not i can get it to you by the end of the month. at least it isn't the same old things i am tired of already that no one has even seen yet. come and see!

THURSDAY 5 October 2006 in Portland, OR 6p-9p
urbaca salon, 120 nw 9th suite 101

94/7fm invites you to the first ever "Alternative Gala" featuring local artists, benefitting pear. p:ear ( is a non-profit organization working to build positive relationships with transitional and homeless kids through education, art, and recreation to establish confidence and create healthier lives.

Kick back to the smooth tones from Area 54, nosh on Urban Fondue treats, and sip Widmer beverages not to mention enjoy art from local artists, Jay Moody, Eden Dawn (, Piper Ewan (, Sondra Sinay, and OF COURSE artwork from p:ear! Kick back to the smooth tones from Area 54, nosh on Urban Fondue treats, and sip Widmer beverages. The 94/7fm Alternative Gala....Food...Drinks...Art Delights......... for more information go to keyword "gala."

FRIDAY 6 October 2006 in Bend, OR 6p-9p
Edman Fine Furniture
1020 NW Wall Street

featuring: piper ewan everyday couture and accessories, sha montana's exotic skin bags and accessories, flare by faith jennings and brunet jewelry!

16 September 2006

to clarify

it didn't begin here. this series of writings has it's origins in personal correspondence and then on tribe where i started writing about my creative process and posting pictures of what i made that day. and for those of you that don't subscribe to those awful member sites, here you go. a glimpse into my business world. this is my making up for not updating my website as regularly as i would like to. i always meant to write regular open lettres on the front page of my website, but i never got around to it. i think i am lazy, but the reality is that i am too busy. i have current photos i haven't posted. i have new designs all the time. i make custom projects that few people ever see. i keep getting in trouble for not keeping a record. aren't memories enough? i don't have much interest in living in the past.

where is the line drawn between personal and business? if we were keeping track of time, i spend more time in my studio than i do at home. and when i am out i have to hand out at least one card. shameless self-promotion has become a habit. i am still not so convinced that my life is all that glamourous, others tend to disagree. this is for you to decide.