31 December 2008

the process of a custom wedding from start to finish

at the dawn of my eleventh wedding season i have been puzzling over the internal conflict i have been having about doing weddings. my dilemma i had best spelled out to my painter friend after someone asked me how i made my wedding work sustainable. in fact weddings feel like the least sustainable thing i do. i asked him, "what if you were commissioned to make a large several thousand dollar painting that took you six months or more to complete, and the couple put it behind them at their wedding ceremony, hung it over their table at their reception, took all of their wedding party photos in front of it, and then crated it and stored it in the attic. not hung this work in their home, but crated it and stored it in the attic?"

the bride usually comes to me at the beginning. she has an engagement ring on her finger, a date, and maybe a venue booked out. this might be a year before the wedding date itself. she will have in hand a stack of magazines, and her best friend or mother in tow. they will look in wonder at my messy studio. i will have some fabric sample books and paper to take notes. i will ask the date, the time of day the wedding will occur, and what she is looking for. i will ask me how she found me (to determine whether she was familiar with my work). i will ask as many questions as i can to determine what sort of dress she will wear, and whether i am the one to make it for her. i will do my best to focus on her if her friend tries to do all of the talking. i will make sketches, and make suggestions of types of fabrics to use for that particular style. i will ask her what parts of her body she likes and wants to accentuate, and what she doesn't like, and wants the eye drawn away from. i will ask her what she wants to wear under her dress. i remind her that i can do any sort of line she wants that will look flattering to her figure, because i am cutting the dress from scratch. i will pull out my calculator and come up with an estimated cost with different options for different fabrics, and amounts of embellishment. this takes about two hours, more or less. i tell her to mull it over, and give me a call. sometimes i will never hear from her again.

in a day or a week, there will be a phone call or an email. another appointment is made. this time she usually comes alone. there are final decisions made about design, fabric and embellishments. we agree on a price and a payment plan. a contract is signed, and money changes hands. fabric is ordered, or a shopping trip is planned. i take her measurements. we come up with a loose timeline for when particular things will be done; muslin, first fitting, embellishment, hemming and closing, accessories, hand off. maybe i am given a list of bridesmaids who will be contacting me. i hand her swatches and encourage her to start looking for her shoes. we part, i will call her when the fabric arrives or when i am ready to fit her muslin.

i will write myself several reminders in my calendar to begin the muslin. a muslin is a plain cotton mock up of the dress that can be modified until it fits that the dress is then cut from. this involves me drafting a pattern from scratch, or lately modifying something that i already had designed to fit. i will sit in the kitchen at my studio and eat lunch with a piece of paper, a pencil, her measurements and a calculator. i will check and double check. i will draw and cut out the muslin after lunch. i will put the muslin together, and wonder why i thought it would take so long; it usually goes pretty quickly, but i have to fret over it for a few days first.

another appointment is made to fit the muslin. i remind her to bring her underpinnings to the fitting. this is important for the neckline to make sure that her bra or corset doesn't show. if the muslin fits, we discuss the neckline. if it doesn't i mark with a pen and pin the parts that need to be modified. if it is minor, she will sit and wait while i make the alterations, if it is complicated, we reschedule for a few days later.

once the muslin is fit to satisfaction, i will carefully pick the good half of it apart to cut out the dress itself. hopefully, i have all the fabric, lining, thread, zipper and everything i will need by now. i will cut out the dress, and put it together. if i am running behind, i will schedule the fitting before i do this to make sure i finish it to make sure i meet our timeline. if i am on schedule, i will call after i finish this part.

this first fitting usually takes about an hour. i ask how things are going. usually, the caterer has been chosen, the invitations have been sent out, the flowers have been decided on, but she is still looking for shoes and wedding party gifts. we discuss the embellishments. we can both have a better idea now that the dress is on and in front of us. the lines are clear. where the hem falls with the shoes on. if it is floor length, the hem is exactly 1/4" off the floor in shoes so there is no tripping over the hem, and no need to lift up the skirt to walk. the bustle is marked to see how the embellishments will look with the train down and bustled. or if the hem is shorter, pinned so that it will hit in the most flattering spot on the leg. how her necklace looks with the neckline. a double check to make sure that no straps are showing underneath, no weird lines. if there are bridesmaids, we discuss the progress. when will the out of towners be arriving? i remind her to wear her shoes around the house so they are broken in.

then i am left to make the embellishments to pin on the dress. maybe it is a simple obvious placement, or it might be more complicated, and need rearranging. the bride may come in and stand several feet away to judge what they look like from a distance. i pin and unpin until everything is balanced. the dress is carefully tried on. maybe i have to make a little adjustment. i try not to stab her with pins. she will tell me about the inevitable conflict with mother/bridesmaid/aunt who insists that she should do x a certain way. i keep a bottle of whiskey in my desk drawer for these occasions. i continue to work on the last bits and she waits. we talk about hair accessories (i usually make these with the dress embellishment), and who will be bustling her dress after the ceremony. i am very close to being done. just a few more days.

i spend the next while carefully sewing down the embellishments, blind-stitching the lining closed, and sewing on the last finishings: hooks and eyes, snaps etc. i review everything to make sure that each piece is finished: dress, bridesmaids dresses, flower brooches, hairpins, head piece, pocket squares, garters. everything neatly pressed, all threads clipped. usually the night before our last meeting before i go home from the studio.

the final fitting is usually (hopefully) two weeks or so before the wedding. the whole thing is tried on complete with lingerie and shoes. and with promises of later photos, the whole thing is taken away.

i am not sure how many of these i have done; all or a part. more than i can remember, which is difficult to admit sometimes, as i spend so much time with some of these brides. some are friends now, some i haven't seen since the day i handed them their dresses at that final fitting. i have been to many of their weddings. when i started doing this, i never thought i would be making wedding dresses, but there is not much demand for couture gowns in ordinary life outside of weddings. it kind of bums me out to know that i spend this much time on a piece only to be worn once. in victorian times, a bride would wear her wedding dress to every social engagement (to parties and to church on sunday) for a year after her wedding. in my perfect world, one would like to invest that much time and money in something that would be worn and loved over a long time, not just worn once, dry cleaned, shrink wrapped and packed in a box to be stored in the attic. every year i go back and forth about weddings; i don't think that i will ever stop doing them entirely, but i do sometimes fret about spending so much time on something that will be used only once.

(photo by chi essary of my friends dulcinea and jared's wedding june 2001)

30 December 2008

wedding randomness part three

this is the wedding of the longstockings who got married on leap day. i went to high school with the bride. we spent years together in french class. her dress is a modified version of my a-line dress (see photo below) with a higher neckline, lower hemline and is decorated with roses.

29 December 2008

wedding randomness part two

this is a reconstruction project i did this past spring/summer. i got a call from a lady who had seen one of my skirts on someone at the grocery store. she brought me her mother's wedding dress to restyle:

it was covered in rust stains, and wasn't the most flattering fit on her. we decided to take the sleeves off, change the neckline, lower the hem, add triangle gussets to the sides for a slightly fuller skirt and add surface decorations to cover the rust stains. i used a piece of the sleeve cuff for the headpiece (not pictured). we chose some tulle, vintage net, organza and hanah silk ribbon in whites and creams to make flowers that would give interest, but also blend into the surface as a whole.

the most difficult part of a custom project is trying to relate to my client how the finished product is going to look. at the beginning of a project i can come up with a concept, but the surface decoration doesn't entirely reveal itself until i am actually doing it. balance is important. the placement of the flowers serves to draw the eye up. the challenge is knowing when to stop. i worked with the client to pin the surface up over a couple of days until it achieved the correct balance, and then sewed everything down by hand.

27 December 2008

wedding randomness part one

now that it is almost the end of the year, i am going to post all the random custom projects that i have been meaning to put up. there will be a few more in the coming days.

this is a wedding project that i did with my friend nancy davis. she did most of the work, but employed me to make the felt appliques that are studded with swarovski crystals. i did the tux jacket and the birds on the skirt of the dress, she made the bride's dress. this was for a december wedding at a roadside attraction in joshua tree. a little outside of the realm of what i normally do, but once in a while, i like to push myself beyond my comfort zone.

23 December 2008

fixing an old friend

many years ago i discovered quilting. i think that if i could make my living this way, i would be a quilter. it is a secret madness, quilting. the constant eye out and collecting of calico (the printed cotton fabric used for traditional quilting) with every trip to the fabric store, and the hoarding of scraps of fabric in plastic bins. i have several unfinished quilts that i work on every now and then resting in a neatly folded pile at the foot of my bed.

about 10 years ago i made the quilt that covers my bed. it is made out of 1930's reproduction prints in bubblegum colours. a very simple design of plain 5" squares. this quilt has seen a lot. it has moved with me through several different houses, it has come camping with me, housesitting with me, it has a little of piper's blood on it from when she had her dreadful tail accident. in short it has been the security blanket of my adult life. it even came with me on my foray into the desert this past summer. it has been a symbol of comfort and home to me over the years.

about two years ago, it started to get holes. just little tiny wear holes in the top, and the binding was worn through at the edges. i decided that it was worth fixing. it all started with 7 red hearts that i sewed over the worn holes, and a binding repair. now it has graduated to 200+ hearts and counting. i sew on new hearts as needed. pretty soon it will be all hearts.

01 December 2008

flying iron

earlier this fall, i received a request to make a costume for a performance my friend lisa degrace was working on. i met lisa while making the costumes from last year's production of cocoon bird. she told me it would involve a giant skirt to be fitted over a metal frame. sounded intriguing. we met up a few days later to talk about it in person. the performance involved her crawling into and buckling herself into this skirt that she was to be trapped in until she had to fall out and get back in. she had been looking into ordering a 30' parachute to be somehow fitted to this metal frame that another friend of ours, richard cawley was building. i contemplated how to make this happen. at first we considered a long row of snap tape with a couple of separating zippers and several buckles, but after testing this, it proved to be too complicated for the actual reality of the performance. in the end, we eventually came up with a circle skirt design with a really long separating zipper to attach to the bottom of the skirt and the parachute with a few buckles for added interest.

i made the skirt part ahead of time, and on the appointed day, lisa came with the parachute and the metal frame to fit her and the parachute and the metal frame together into one piece. it was quite the wrestling match to get the parachute through the sewing machine, but we did most of it in an afternoon through trial and error.

photo: brent wear

me: what inspired you to want to be trapped in a gigantic skirt?

lisa: the image comes from two places: one was some work i was doing with my friend meshi chavez on a piece called cocoon bird. i'm not trained as a dancer, so you have to speak in story and image to get my mind around a kind of movement. in trying to get me to weight down my lower body, he told me to envision myself in an iron skirt. i just couldn't shake that image.

the rest is based on images from dreams and my inner life. it's an expression of the feeling of being alone, even when surrounded by people. i wanted my clown's universe to be sort of tiny and vast all at once, and to feel specifically alone.... like no one had ever been there, or at least had wanted to stay. but i had to look kind of glamorous too.... like a very strange fashion model or something.

photo: brent wear

me: this costume is almost the set for this piece. when considering the costume for a performance where the costume is so integral to the piece, what do you take in to consideration about the logistics of your vision, and how much do you depend on your costume makers to help in the actual function of the costume?

lisa: i am very very lucky to live in portland and know imaginiative and creative people like you and richard cawley (who built the metal portion of the skirt). so, honestly, i counted on the fact that you would know all the right questions to ask and things to do if i just told you the concept. and it worked! you had all the right ideas- like connecting the pieces of the skirt together with a sleeping bag zipper (i would have never thought of that one). i had a whole laundry list of obscure things... about how it should sound, how heavy it should be, and, most significantly, that it has to fit as checked luggage on a plane. both you and richard seemd to take each problem as a design challenge, rather than a road block. that was great.

photo: nathan gwirtz

me: you spent some time rehearsing without the skirt and just the metal frame; what changed once you had the skirt to wear and drape over the frame?

lisa: in one sense, nothing really changed... it all just intensified and clarified. the first time i got into the whole shebang....parachute skirt and iron skirt and all, i became almost immediately nauseous! because it was such a literal manifestation of a more figuartive feeling of being separated from the world. so, while it wasn't planned this way, the first thing i worked on the was the end of the piece where (SPOILER ALERT) i free myself of the iron skirt... while taking the entire fabric skirt with me. once I knew i could leave, it didn't make me as sick to be in there.

having it all together DID show me new worlds of possibility... "oh! i can do this! oh! i look like this." i didn't actually get to see what the whole thing looks like in motion until after i performed it for the first time (a friend recorded it). and i have to say.... it looks pretty amazing. i guess when i had thought about the look of it, i had thought about it more in still frames. in motion, it is really pretty trippy and beautiful.

photo: nathan gwirtz

flying iron opens in portland, oregon this weekend:

is self inflicted loneliness a blessing or a curse?

the audience sees someone "trapped by choice" in a very small world, an iron hoop skirt contained within a 30‐foot diameter dress. the piece explores the solitude of being alone, even when surrounded by people, utilizing music, movement, costume, text, and clowning.

the show is conceived of and performed by lisa deGrace, with direction from choreographer meshi chavez, massachusetts based director sheila siragusa, and master clown sue morrison. thhe costume was built by kirsten a. moore of piper ewan and metal sculptor richard cawley.

come see FLYING IRON
5 – 7 december and 12 – 14 december at 8pm
performance works northwest
4625 se 67th ave (between se foster and se holgate).
tickets are $10 ‐ $15, and can be purchased at
or by contacting lisa at
reservations are requested!

recommended for adults primarily, and children ages 12 and up. FLYING IRON is funded in part by the regional arts & culture council.

quite possible the best non-cranky bio i have written in awhile

kirsten moore is mostly known for making zillions of flowers out of ribbon, but secretly she is a costume designer. when given the opportunity she dresses people they way they really want to look; maybe how we imagined we looked when we played dress up as children, but in clothes that actually fit. by day she is the proprietor of piper ewan, an independent fashion design company in portland, or.

02 October 2008

fox fur collar

sometimes i get fixated on a particular thing, that i must make or find. for the last while, i have been searching for a vintage fox fur collar. i finally found what i was looking for from an etsy seller in canada, zaama. the box finally arrived over the weekend. it is a very plush creamy colour with chocolate tipped guard hairs. after decorating it with flowers and sewing on a new hook and eye, i have been wearing it ever since. it is what i am designing my fall wardrobe around. worn on the shoulders, it goes with anything; sweaters, blazers, winter coat, camisole, lingerie. i feel a little conflicted about fur, so my compromise is vintage. there is something glamourous and comforting about having this around my shoulders. and best of all it is cheering me up.

so much of my life and my business is looking together. being put together carefully. polished. fancy. it has become an art, my art. if you see me on any given day, what i am wearing serves two purposes for me; one is to look professional (since i am in the business of dressing people, how would it look if my dress didn't reflect that?) and the other is to make me feel good. things can't possibly go well if i am wearing the wrong colour or the wrong shoes. i craft my wardrobe to support the idea of my professional life and the ideal me.

there is nothing like hearing people complain all of the time; airing their personal train-wrecks. my pendulum swings the other way. i've been accused of being too stoic; when i have my own financial crisis going on i do my best not to show it, but i definitely am one to fight with myself over self-sabotage. not always knowing when to ask for help, stubbornly waiting for my receipts to come in rather than aggressively collecting them (which makes everything come in slower). everything always works out, right? there is nothing that turns me off as much as seeing people begging for money. i keep going. even when things are really discouraging, through starving, through so many months of getting by the skin of my teeth. there has been so many good things mixed in. i tend to do everything in my power to be positive or at least appear so. i find that having the appearance of being upbeat and successful does me much better than complaining and playing the 'poor me' game. there is no middle ground between being perfect or a total trainwreck/sad sack, and while i am really hesitant to discuss my down days at the risk of not appearing perfect or together, i think that it is too much pressure and a misrepresentation for me to act like everything is perfect in my little world. to be sure, i am not sure about how i have made it for so long, and this month (hopefully) will be no exception, but things are carved so close. but wearing my best clothes on a bad day makes such a difference, and everyone should have their own equivalent of my fox fur collar; whether it is a garment, a piece of jewelry or a favourite pair of shoes.

(this post was inspired by sewphisticate a fellow etsy seller in a forum discussion about how do you combat self doubt? photo by me)

21 August 2008

leaving my 'pet' crow

back in the beginning of may i had to stop eating wheat. we had to break up because it just wasn't working for me anymore. in a fit of housecleaning, i pulled all of my open containers of wheat based products: crackers, granola, pretzels, cookies, cereal and emptied them into a brown paper grocery bag with the intention of dumping it in the compost bin. but then i felt a pang of guilt. while a good portion of this food was completely inedible (stale and old) i felt a pang of guilt about throwing it away. the bag was filled 6 inches deep. i went back and forth with myself in my head over whether it would be a good idea to feed it to the birds and squirrels that came to my turret roof to eat the birdseed that i scattered there, and i made my decision. for a couple of days, i threw hands full of this on the roof, but then one morning i just cut the top of the bag off and set the whole thing out on the roof.

a few timid sparrows were the first to visit. then came the squirrels. about a week or two in came the crows. a noisy murder of crows cawing and the choked squawks of the young crowlets drifted in through my kitchen window at promptly 8a every morning. they would fly away quickly if they saw me in the window. then they would perch on the telephone wire and caw reproachfully at me for interrupting their breakfast.

after a month and a half the animals had managed to decimate the pile. i was able to put actual birdseed out again (with a few pretzels for good measure; the crows love pretzels). and i noticed without noticing that the same crow has been coming for the summer. he was a young crowlet. you can tell the babies by their croaky voice. he comes by and is brave enough to approach the window, and leerily peek inside. he is still timid, but he will hang out on the wire outside my window, and we will look at each other for a little while every morning.

now i am about to leave for a week, and my cat is taken care of, but what about my crow. i have grown very fond of this crow, and i would be sad if he didn't return to my roof for pretzels and corn kernels anymore.

(sorry i have no photo, but maybe brent will take one for me when we get back.)

25 June 2008

putting myself out there

there is more out there in the world than the little bubble i seem to live in. today out of the blue i received an invitation from a lady in paris to join a french social networking site:

now i have sworn off of joining any new internet things, except that i get suckered into so many things under the guise of 'business.' but then why not? the more things to come up when people who are looking for me who didn't know that they were looking for me. lately i have gotten at least one inquiry email from random people who have been keeping tabs on me, which is always a pleasant surprise. i am so in my own little world here in my studio, and i forget about the rest of everything beyond. last week was a lady from switzerland. who knew?

that artist that you like? drop them a line and tell them so, we get lonely stuck in our studios staring at our work all day.

this piece sold last month on etsy, but i am considering making another just because it is such an amazing photo (by my friend amy parker www.kaizennw,com )

02 May 2008

written up

my friend, brent pointed out to me that getting written up when you are an independent v. employed are two very different things. my housemates and i, (when i had a job back in my 20's) would put our write ups for being late (or in my case wearing a too-short skirt) on the refrigerator. these days i have been getting written up, as in publicity, which is welcome and exciting v. the attempts to shut me down and control me that my former employers tried to push on me by shaming me for not conforming.

here is the latest: www.

come see me tonight! i almost never have sales, and they will become rarer as i can barely keep up these days (see previous post).


30 April 2008

piper ewan's tenth anniversary in the suspended garden of disbelief

it is almost may, which brings my tenth year to a close. i have come a long way from making custom weddings out of my studio apartment. i have gone through 3 miles of ribbon, survived ten wedding seasons, put on 15 holiday sales, made over 1200 garters and i don't want to know how many flowers! please help me celebrate my tenth anniversary by coming by to say hello this month. the official date is 18 may, but i will be offering 10% off my accessories line and 30% off regular price ready to wear clothing (excluding sale and custom items) for the month of may. bring me some champagne, and i may be persuaded to make a better deal, no promises...

which brings us to:
First Friday May 2nd

the egg

534 se oak street (at grand & 6th)

Featuring LIVE MUSIC at around 10 pm by The Rostropobitches, an all-womens side project of the Portland Cello Project, sets by DJ NEALIE NEAL, DJ B.HILL, MR. ROMO and a special secret live music guest!

AND UPSTAIRS: more paintings by brent wear, fashions by piper ewan, faith jennings and a FANCY MAMMAL SUPER SALE

“For this group of paintings I have abandoned my usual practice of putting characters in my work, and allowed myself to explore the subtle abstract imagery that is present in many of my paintings, but not always noticeable. For me it is a return to the true nature of painting, to stream of conscience over composition and representation. The resulting images reflect not only complex dreamscapes, but also organic and machine like structures.

The idea for me is to create images that encourage the viewer to spend time in meditation, as if visiting a sublime, lush garden, and that the viewer will have their own emotional experience with the paintings.” ~Brent Wear

come see me first friday or by appointment. looking forward to seeing you!


kirsten a. moore

29 April 2008

in the well worn path between where i sleep and where i work

there are a few efficient ways for me to walk to work in that diagonal nearly straight line of the mile between where i sleep and where i work. the walk is by no means monotonous. there are the neighborhood cats and chickens, the birds (i know where more than a few good nests are), the giant papier mache chicken timer on someone's porch. lately i have made two discoveries that have me torn in which direction i take on the way there.

the first is the vacant lot surrounded by a cyclone fence where grass and weeds has grown up where a building once stood. in there is this family of killdeer. at first you see nothing but weeds and garbage, but you can hear their call. if you look carefully, you can see them; they blend perfectly into the landscape. i have been watching this particular family for weeks now. there is a pair of adults and four chicks. they have long stilt legs, and their bodies glide along when they move about in their search for insects. when the mother sees me she cries out in this panicked call, and all four chicks scurry about in circles and eventually disappear underneath her. her mate is nearby. he lays down in the grass; extending his tail feathers moving them so that they look like they are fluttering in the breeze, or extends a wing to appear injured. 'come eat me.' he pops up occasionally to see if i am still there, and then resumes his charade to protect his family.

the other is another filled in hole where a building once stood. now it is a field of blue flowers. that doesn't sound all that exciting, but when is the last time you stood in a field surrounded by blue flowers?

i puzzled over these choices this morning as i sat on the end of my bed sewing flowers. the sporadic weather forces me to try and time my walk to work, so i don't get drenched. i genuinely believe that the sun wants to shine. it has been this way for the past several days. the weather people keep predicting rain. i felt torn between the killdeer and the blue flowers, but today i opted for the former. as an added bonus there were a pair of canada geese. and when i was one block away from the egg the first raindrops fell, as the sky turned dark for the impending downpour, for once i had timed it just right.

photo stolen from brent wear

25 April 2008

biding my time

this is what a week's worth of work has looked like lately, give or take. all the special orders have been made and shipped, and etsy's replenished stock is hidden away in its plastic box lest it be confused with the rest of the menagerie. this has been my best month by far on etsy, and i have replenished my ribbon stock, and i even have added a few new colours to the mix. big porange flowers with feathers will be ready for next first friday. the ribbon that i make the garters has just offered new colours for the first time in nine years. i finally got that turquoise and red combination that i have been wanting to make since 2001, and i have lilac now too.

but this week of making garters and garters and garters has made me feel like i was biding my time. the accessories line has been taking off, and that is what i will be focusing most heavily on (russian birdcage veiling here i come!). no big announcement here, it's just what people are buying now. it's not like i can sell big couture gowns in portland, oregon during the big recession. after so many months of struggling, i have gotten to a place where i can start to feel like myself; which is an entirely foreign feeling. i am so used to being under constant duress, that i don't always know what to do with myself when the biggest thing i am obsessing over this week is whether or not to take the loan i have been offered to do that last big ribbon order.

at the cusp of my tenth anniversary, this isn't where i pictured myself. i am not complaining (i seem to be saying this a lot to myself lately). i am not sure where i thought i would be. i am not entirely out of the woods yet, but not struggling is a good place to start.

27 March 2008


today i returned to one of my longest running neglected lovers, after a 8 year long hiatus sprinkled with intermittent encounters that has left me depressed and longing and completely unable to let go. i needed the time away; my heart was broken by the rest of my circumstances, and things just sort of slowly faded away into nothing. i needed to leave the obsession and dependence of my early twenties behind me in order to be able to build a more healthy relationship that was not dependent on what others thought, on money, on self-righteousness, on expectation. my poor soul, how lost i was without you, but you were there sitting under my chair for months on end waiting for me to get over the heartbreak that i held onto like a badge, of proof of another distant life i used to lead. i am tired of talking about it. i keep my music degree tucked away in my filing cabinet.

i acquired my flute, an old powell circa 1950 back in 1992. i had no idea what "an original powell with a three digit serial number" meant when i was trying instruments from my flute broker on the search for an instrument that was better suited to the demands of a college level music student on into my professional beginnings, but a little voice in my head said one thing when i heard it, "mine." and when i first held it in my hands; before i blew my first note, i felt it, "mine." it felt like mine. i can't say that about too many things, and it is really strange to say about an inanimate object. it is a difficult quirky instrument that requires some coaxing to get it to play in tune, but has a most gorgeous velvety meaty tone when i play it. i was never for the light and airy pretty sound of some, i prefer a darker grungier sound with many nuances to be discovered as i evolved as a player. i certainly have my own sound, and this is my voice. i am not a singer.

the damage wasn't too bad. i still have a good lung capacity and breath control. the bad news is that my tone isn't what is once was, and my fingers are very clunky. it will take at least a year to get back to where i was, and the longer i wait, the longer it will take to regain proficiency. i want to say this time will be different. i am stubborn in my self-deprivation. i don't do the things i need to do in order to feed myself in stubborn defiance, and a refusal to take care of myself. that should be someone else's responsibility. except that it isn't. i am completely on my own, and everything is up to me. i know it sounds silly, and i could know it intellectually, but what good is the knowledge when i kept hedging my bets, secretly wishing for someone else to drag me there kicking and screaming. i just didn't have the wherewithall to do it myself. and now there is really no other option.

24 February 2008

the big O

more publicity! i have been talking a lot lately about trying to market my stuff overseas while the dollar is weak.

barometers and crisis panties

because my brain cannot be counted on to be a very good judge of my own situation, i tend to rely on barometers to tell me what sort of state of crisis i may or may not be in. lately it has been my body. severe sugar cravings are a sure sign of depression, and puking my guts out is severe duress. i am not sure where my wit's end is. i may be at it, or have passed it up a long time ago. true a part of me is dying, but i have been wanting to kill her off for a long time. she is a bad ally. she contributes to my odd insecurities, self-destructive tendencies, self-doubt, and worst of all apathy. but i am so used to hiding behind her (and her keeping me hidden), i am not so sure what happens without her.

lately i have been on the slippery slope of gathering momentum of success, and it scares the hell out of me. i don't quite know what to do with myself. it is everything i have worked so hard for over the past ten years, and absolutely so unexpected, i don't know how to handle it. being the centre of attention may be fun at parties, but it is a whole another story when it is real live legitimate publicity. i know it isn't out of nowhere. i have been cultivating this image of my business that suited the facade of my ego, but that ego is leaving me as i fight to pull her out sinew by sinew with every last drop of bile that gets purged into the toilet in the middle of the night. i still make the same sort of things, live in the same house, work in the same studio, talk to the same people, but everything is different, raw, unfamiliar and slightly disconcerting. i am turning into the person i am in my dreams, but the waking world isn't quite as accommodating. and my tolerance for disingenuous interactions is no longer waning, it is gone. this should be really interesting.

above is a photo of my first ever pair of panties. i have been thinking about it for long enough. i haven't tried them on yet, but this begins the long design process of a possible new line; provided that i can find time for development in between accessories orders (thank goddess for etsy!) i am NOT going to call them crisis panties, btw. look for more lingerie and more accessories in the near future.

30 January 2008

piper ewan is a featured seller on etsy!

i am really excited and a little nervous. you can see the interview here:

if you live in portland, come see me on first friday at the egg.
534 se oak street, pdx 6p - 12a all ages
it is the love show. for more info on that see


24 January 2008


i learned a new word a few weeks ago on etsy. the word is 'fascinator.' a fascinator is kind of like a hat; it is a larger piece made of flowers and/or feathers worn on one's head attached to combs or a clip or a headband. hmmm, i make those! i never knew what that was called! i ran back to my listings and retagged the appropriate pieces. i love a new word! and this one was a good one.

about two years ago, my friend cate handed me her grandmother's pincushion to decorate. it has been sitting in front of me forever atop its spool of chosen ribbon; just waiting for me to make it that special cocarde flower. yesterday was a kind of nothing day, where i had to tie up some loose ends after being out sick for a week. i caught up on my flower and garter inventory, and cleaned off my desk with an hour to go before my client was to show up. what to do? the pin cushion! this pin cushion was a tomato shape, and i made a pointy petaled flower whose petals curved around the pin cushion (sorry, no photo). maybe the flower is too big, but what if i made the same flower in larger ribbon to fit over someone's head? definitely not a brooch (i gave up and started making all of my flowers on brooches so that they could be worn on things as well as in hair), definitely for the head.

here is the first one. i am not sure what i will be sewing to the back. probably a comb.

08 January 2008

the end of the longest week of the year

24 dec - 5 dec 2007 can be legitimately combined into one week. it was december 24th when i stopped moving, and decided to hold still for a moment after another grueling holiday season. i did my best to prepare for it this year; i knew what was coming, but in the end it was still two months straight of work without many breaks. and of course, a goodly amount of introspection on the fly. like it or not the solstice and the end of the year, and the time leading up to it is a time of transition. i am not one to make new year's resolutions, but december always brings about an awareness in me of what changes i need to make in my own life. in retrospect, i cannot say that 2007 was a bad year for me, but it was difficult. at the same time it was all about laying down the ground work for what is to come, as i strengthen my resolve to live on my own terms, and as i enter into year 10 of my business.

i won't bore you with the details of the longest week. there were many significant events that were profound, but there is no way for me to describe them in any significant way. what i do want to give an account of is the first friday show. if you missed it, you weren't meant to be there; that is understood. but it is a reminder to me to not blow everything off, and to be open to the opportunities and live experiences that present themselves to me.

we put on an art opening at the egg every first friday of the month, you know that, you are probably on the email list. this month's show happens to feature yvonne, a more recent member of the egg, and the show features a bunch of electric lamps. lamps weren't the entire show, but a good proportion of the show, and this is significant.

i arrived tot he egg around noon, and the whole egg was full of people preparing for the show all afternoon. as brent and i were preparing the upstairs, the lights flickered. he looked at me, and i confirmed that, yes, he saw what he saw. there was a big wind storm outside that i was barely noticing, because of the amount of activity going on inside. at five the show was coming together, but not ready (the doors would open at six). no matter, things always come together in the end. at 5:45p the power went out, and we were in complete darkness. not just a flicker, but out entirely. non-plused, we all set about looking for and lighting candles. john found his car battery bass rig, and we all cheered as 3 clip lamps were lit to continue setting up the show. the caterer was given a headlamp, phone calls were made, a generator was on the way! and the rest of us watched and waited. the food was set on the tables, the bar was open. kenneth came upstairs to let us know that we couldn't use any of the plumbing, as our system required the sump pump that worked on electricity. so no running water either.

six o'clock came and went. how lovely the space was lit by candlelight. how ironic that there was no power for a lamp show. but the show must go on. there was no way to cancel, the internet was down too. the generator arrived. a flurry of activity went on surrounding the arrival of the generator. it sputtered a bit, and died, then it started again. the lights were unplugged and replugged, and part by part the lamps lit. it was like some moment from the past, a bizarre solstice ritual, like new year's eve. the lights dimmed and brightened with the generator's inconsistent hum. we all stood around watching and cheering as each section of the gallery's lights came on. an abbreviated version of the original, but still amazingly beautiful. a shining example of community, of the egg, our egg.

with so much that could have gone wrong, and did, no one panicked. everyone pulled together and did what they could to make it all happen. and a truly memorable night at that. it was almost disappointing when the power came back on. there is something about florescent lighting that dissolves magic. but the rest of the evening was lovely too. i am sorry if you missed it, but maybe you just weren't meant to be there.