Sunday, January 27, 2008

Deft Movements

This is an entry I wrote weeks ago, while I was in Mexico, but didn’t have the opportunity to post until now:

I’m sitting on top of my parents house in Mexico, looking out over the lagoon where several dump trucks and other big machines are tearing up part of the lagoon to make a walkway. One roof over a little boy of about 6 is sitting on a bucket watching the work – he seems to be there most of the time, completely absorbed. Yesterday a friend came up and sat and watched with him for a little while.
I’ve been watching the bricklayers who are reconstructing a wall, thinking about movement. The motions of their work are so precise and efficient, the way they apply the mortar, scrape the excess off, and reapply it. There is a point when the execution of common tasks becomes graceful with the sureness and ---it’s not automatic, -- maybe an unconscious confidence in the way things are best done. I love this. Watching the deft movements of anyone at work is a pleasure to me, as is developing them myself. At NC Inc, there are a couple people with a kind of unconscious grace in specific movements that’s so beautiful to me. I was watching Isabella cut out a pattern a few days ago – cutting that has to be perfect to the 16th? 32nd? of an inch – with no rough spots and no nicks. She was slicing along with a nonchalance at a speed that at first startled me, until I realized how effortless it was to her. And when Nicholas comes to check my draping, he has a way of unpinning and repinning that is so quick, but so precise in how it lets the fabric fall in the way that it should.
Most of the time, I feel incredibly awkward in my movements at work, but the other day I got to sew up a sample – one of our sample sewers was on vacation for a bit, and the sewing was piling up. Sitting down at the sewing machine felt so good, a big burly machine, in need of a little love, somewhere between the Phaff monstrosities at Beckel Canvas and the fancy fancy Jukis at Queen Bee. It felt good, all the little motions I’ve done so many times, taking out the bobbin, reloading it, changing thread colors, testing the tension, adjusting the bobbin casing. It was a little boost of confidence in a sea of still uncertain techniques and processes.
If anyone has bought the February issue of Vogue, two of our main designers –Thakoon and Proenza Schouler - are featured in the article and photo spread with Kate Bosworth. My very talented co-worker Isabel made the Proenza Schouler ensemble that Kate is wearing. Both Thakoon and Jack and Lazaro come by the NC Inc. studio often, especially as Fashion Week approaches, and they are all three very sweet and charming and don’t seem to fit the high-maintenance fashion-designer stereotype at all. Which is a relief.

Latest update from NYC

I haven’t been posting because my anonymous neighbors, whose internet I was piggybacking off of, decided to put a password on their wifi service. Alas, I’m much much too busy to actually take my computer to an internet cafĂ© to connect with the world…but last night as I was leaving work, Nicolas told me he didn’t need me to come in tomorrow. Really???? With Fashion Week only two weeks away, and incredible amounts of sequined organza to sew picot trim onto, I had been planning on spending my whole Saturday at the studio. Now I have an entire free day ahead of me!
I have a couple bits of exciting news. The first and most thrilling is that I have found a dream apartment in Brooklyn. To list a few of the reasons that I am completely in love: intricately patterned hardwood floors, three levels with lots of ground floor space for bicycles, staircases in both the front and back of the place, a huge stained glass skylight over the main staircase, cut glass sconces in various places, a glittering gold tiled fireplace, built-ins, exclusive roof access, a back deck off of a big kitchen, chandeliers, a clawfoot tub, three bathrooms, and tons of dramatic huge windows. It’s on “Doctor-Preacher Row” close to the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Library, and Botanical Gardens, and only a block away from two subway trains. I sense the quality of my life improving greatly, with the length of my commute cut to a third of what it is now, and my lovely friend Lillian – also a patternmaker/designer - as a roommate. Anyone who wants to come to visit is completely welcome. Lillian just found an 80’s blue street bike for anyone who visits to pal around with us on.
Also, a new home means shared wifi, so I will be posting again regularly in a week or so.
Second bit of exciting news: I get to work backstage at the Peter Som show during Fashion Week! Three of our clients who show in the US – Thakoon, Peter Som and Proenza Schouler, all have their shows the some day, Monday, February 4th. I get to help because this creates too much work for Nicolas and Isabel backstage, where they have to be in case of fitting emergencies, and to help dress the models (sometimes it’s not apparent which way is up or front and back, and since we created the clothes, we help get the girls into them). Last season at Thakoon it was discovered half an hour before the show that all the buttons had been placed wrong, and had to be re-sewn, which is why it’s very important that someone from Nicolas Caito Inc be backstage. I’m excited to see the workings of a full scale fashion show, and to meet Peter Som, the only one of our clients I haven’t met yet. Actually I haven’t met Carolina Herrera yet either, but she doesn’t design anymore, I’m told she just waves at the end of the show and the rest is done by a team of designers headed by a friend of Nicolas’.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What I'd give for an industrial.

My curiosity was peaked about four years ago when I ran across a beautiful old White brand sewing machine at a thrift store. It was that lovely mid-century metallic turquoise-blue color.  At that point I hadn't seen a sewing machine in years (much less a metal one) and didn't know much on the subject.  But it was so charming in it's little foldaway cabinet, that I brought it home.  I hauled it into our little one bedroom apartment and plunked it down in the middle of the living room.  I cleaned it up, plugged it in, and figured out how to thread it.  And then I got bored.  After all, it only went forwards and backwards! Much less, I had nothing to sew. So, it sat around for awhile and was eventually returned to it's home, the thrift store.  

I had forgotten all about it until recently.  And why should I remember it now?  Because now I DO have something to sew, and all I want is that damn machine back (well, and an industrial).  Having had the opportunity to work on industrials, it has occurred to me that despite what I always thought to be true, I am actually exiting the dark side.  I know that there is a bright future ahead where I may own 25 machines that each serve a single function very well. Sure, my home machine does all the fancy tricks like buttonholes, zigzags, and blind hems, but very poorly. At any rate, it's just not doing the trick. When I  attempt to sew something rigid, the presser bar flies around causing the stitch length and the tension to vary, and sometimes the needle to break. This simply cannot be stood for! So what did I do? I bought another thrift store machine just like the one I foolishly got rid of. It goes forward and it goes backward.  Oh, and it winds my bobbin for me while I sew. It's the closest to an industrial I can get, so I love it.  Not only is it beautiful like a '56 Chevy, but it probably weighs as much too.                                                                                    

Monday, January 21, 2008

Grand New Adventures

Last week I got offered a job at the industrial design firm Terrazign. Once again Susanna has been incredibly kind to me. She recommended me to her boss Bill and talked him into interviewing me. He in turn has been very flexible with my starting dates in order to help me ease out of my commitment to Beckel with minimum hassle for them. I feel really bad about having to leave Beckle. Kathy was nice enough to give me my job back plus some when things didn't work out at Langlitz. I in turn told her I could stay till I went to school. Alas Terrazign's offer has made a lire of me. It is so exactly what I want to be doing. I will have a hand in the actual sewing and patterning of their projects as well as some training in the programs they use. Both of these things will be invaluable to me later, not to mention incredibly fun now. I will be working with just Bill and Susanna. I don't know Bill very well yet but I like him so far and Susanna is obviously about as sweet as they get. It was an offer I couldn't refuse.
In order to celebrate Jason and I went to the coast last weekend. The recent storms have scoured the beaches. Which gave a more stark and awesome feel to the already stark and gray Oregon winter beaches. Cape lookout state park had part of its embankment wash away leaving plumbing sticking out of the hillside and cement walkways that ended abruptly in cliffs. The beach itself had incredible formations where the sand had actually be flushed from the underlying surface. There were sandstone wrinkles raised up out of the water. It was a huge expanse of these spiny, rock laden, fingers of sandstone with the waves crashing between them. Unfortunately I left my camera in the car. The wood that had washed up was strange water logged roots that looked like they had been at sea for eons. There was also a whole chunk of beach that had washed away to expose a whole grove of tree roots below the waterline.

I did get some pictures from our drive up the coast.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

This is it, for real

Here are the wonderful pictures that Susanna and Brent helped me with. It is the complete and official portfolio.

This is my first real tailoring project. A wool coat for Jake.

A wool shirt, pendelton-esque, made for Jason.

This was one one of my first sucesses, a canvas, wool lined coat. Note: I don't recommend lining coats with wool.

I love this skirt but I used a found fabric for the lining. I also didn't heat test it so the lining got charred. Oops.

I made this dress for my college graduation party

This is a design by Susanna who employed me to make it for her wedding rehearsal. It was also her beautiful choice of fabric. Its a subtly metalic silk.

This was my halloween costume a couple years ago. I was a Beckle canvas product.

This is a beautiful chocolate silk with antique lace. Its too light for a dress and too heavy for a slip so I mostly wear it around the house on hot nights.

Made from washers and satin ribbon

I made these for Hannah as a present. The white one is a bull head, not a bikini.

Knit mittens, obviously. Both are "Lamb's pride" worsted. I love that stuff.

These are slippers I made for my dad for christmas. They're a little heavy on the Crafting-For-Men thing but I like them. The soles are made from goat skin scraps from Langlitz leathers.

Re-useable grocery bags, also christmas presents.

Beckel Purses.

This was one of the first things I designed for Beckle.

Modular origami rules!

These are made from folded muslin.

I made this quilt for Becca's son Gus, who was still unborn at the time.

This quilt was made by dying scraps in the same dye bath to create uniformity. I made it for my mother.

And you know, this is what I do at work.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Where's Hannah?

We here on the west coast got a lovely taste of Hannah yesterday. She came through town for a special one-day only appearance. Becca was kind enough to host an open house and the parade of admirers came to show their respects. Silly descriptions aside it was very nice to see her. It was just enough of a taste to wet my appetite and not nearly enough to dry it back out again. I wish her the best with all the traveling and dealing with the fast paced big city. The truth is that as much as I miss her I love living vicariously through her new education.