Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Cabbage Rose Class Project, No Summer School, and Other Ramblings

Summer School Ends  Thursday, a week ago, my evening millinery class was buzzing with activity and chatter.  You see, it was the last night of class before summer vacation.  Not only was it the last night, but for the first time since I have been taking millinery classes, over a quarter of a century on and off, there would be no summer school because California budget cuts caused LAUSD  to ax our millinery classes, as well as some other summer classes.  Back when I started taking classes, summer school was a time when we would cram everything in--flower, glove, purse, and jewelry making, including shoe covering and sewing, and hat making, of course!  Oh, how I long for those summers of creativity!  These classes serve adult learners, including seniors, and high school students needing to take additional classes, usually for graduation.

Cabbage Rose Project  What was all the chatter and urgency about?  Well everyone was excited about the cabbage rose Mrs. Eloise King, our millinery teacher, was demonstrating to make on this last night.  Several of the students had made the rose earlier to trim their hat, and it was so beautiful that everyone in class wanted to make it.  This was not the only rose being taught this night, but this was the one that really peaked my interest.  Unlike the cabbage roses I had made in the past using strips of folded fabric, this rose, although it looked very similar, was constructed in a unique manner.  It was this construction technique that intrigued me.  This rose was constructed using 12 squares of fabric of varying sizes.  Each tier of the rose was a pod that fit into the pod below it, and none of the tiers were attached to the other--they floated inside each other like a flower in water.  I made a very large red flower from thin suede, not to be used as trim, but as a hat.  The suede yielded a heavier flower than I liked, but I was fascinated by the results.  Mrs.  King suggested that I turn the edges down, and the result was spectacular!
Why All Those Millinery Classes  You're probably asking, why is she still taking millinery classes.  Well, my calligraphy classes only lasted eight years...and then there was the paper making, the jewelry making, elementary and high school (of course these are out in order), college, college, additional technical classes, etc., etc.  To make a long story short, I'll never stop learning, and it's something I can fit into the rest of my life, for the rest of my life.  

Sharing  When my kids were small, I made hats for extra income while working my regular job.  I actually dreaded making another hat then--the deadlines, etc.  After a while, I started making hats only when I wanted to and gave them away to family and friends; boy, did I love this.  Plus, sharing was and still is a great way for me to give back.  Now retired, I love it even more.  The research and experimentation never ends!  

For those that email me and are surprised that I share so much, I ask, what is there not to share?  I know how you feel because I've seen how some act if they are asked a millinery question.  In my millinery classes we pass hat patterns around as if we were passing around tea cakes.  For years no one even thought about "copying."  Even back in the day when many of the women had millinery businesses, they never felt threatened and always shared.  Today occasionally someone will come through that will take but not give back, but that has only been within the last few years, and they don't stay very long because "they're on a mission," excluding those that stop in to further their careers.  Not everyone has the time to just hang out.  There is a difference.

I've been told that people will not respect me if I just "give it away;" people will just use me up; people will just sell the information.  To that I say, this is about me and what I enjoy doing; there are still good, honest people in the world.  I'll leave the respect to those that really know me, and I will not stop doing what I enjoy doing because of others' issues and insecurities.  Somewhere in the world someone, especially in these times, will need a little extra cash that learning millinery will bring them; someone will need a hobby that they can enjoy without spending a fortune to pursue; someone, because of their location will not have access to millinery classes or expensive millinery supplies; but many will have Web access.  It will not replace formal instruction in many cases, but it will help to a certain point, and big time if hard work goes into learning.  

Kicked Off Yahoo Answer  This leads me to another issue.  Recently I signed up for Yahoo Answer where you ask and/or answer questions on various subjects.  Of course, I searched out millinery and hat making questions and answered them when I could.  Shortly afterwards I was reported for inappropriate language and kicked off--the same language I use here on my blog.  After several emails back and forth to Yahoo (one of those everybody-gets-the-same-email, emails), it was clear that they were not going to investigate.  So, it appears that there is a problem with sharing.  The next time someone is bashing someone on the Web, ask yourself why.  I've learned so much in the last year and a half about how evil some people can be.  What a miserable waste of life.

What do you think?   What is the issue with sharing techniques that have been documents in books down through the years?  We are not talking about the Coca Cola formula here.  Unlike hatting (making men hats), millinery is not a trade that is passed down from family to family--its secrets.  Plus today, there are those that make exquisite men hats without all those guarded secrets.  This does not involve someone's line or technique they have created.  So, I'm I that much out of touch? I would really appreciate your thoughts.

Please note that there was a typo on the County Fair millinery flyer.  The delivery date is July 16, 2011 and the delivery time is from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Monday, June 20, 2011

French Couture Hand Rolled Silk Organza Flowers

Please note that there was a typo on the County Fair millinery flyer.  The delivery date is July 16, 2011 and the delivery time is from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

OK ladies and gentlemen, I couldn't resist this one.  I just had to use Ms. E' as my flower model for this post.  She is just the cutest little thing--almost four months old now.  I'm having so much fun babysitting her each day.  I missed all the cute little things my kids did, like their first steps, etc., because I was busy working everyday.  You're lucky that I can't paint a mural of her on your living room walls just so your hearts could  smile as much as mine when you see her.

Ms. E' is modeling one of three silk organza hand rolled flowers I recently made.  When I first learned how to make these hand rolled flowers a couple of decades ago, we would spit roll the petals.  "Did she just say spit roll, as in saliva!"  Yes, I did.  Well, I don't do that anymore.  I don't think the world was as health conscious as it is today, and now I don't even want to think about it.  Today, I roll the flowers with diluted fabric stiffener or diluted white glue, using the same original pattern.  I make slight modifications to the pattern, depending on the effect I want to achieve, or I'll just make another pattern in some cases.

The top and bottom flower petals in the image to your right were cut from the same size pattern.  The petals of the flower on the top were given a very slight roll at intervals, while the petals of the bottom flower were entirely rolled going around the petal, except its bottom.  The flower in the middle is a slight variation of the other flowers; here I used less petals--same pattern.  For the center, I cut small pieces of fabric and dipped them into dye, the petals were painted with a paint brush.  I'll put together a tutorial for the top flower when I get a chance.  Oh, you'll also notice a red fascinator in the slideshow below.  The flower was both hand rolled and tooled using an electric flower iron.  I'm still greiving over the fact that I gave this hat to one of my friends.  That red rose was the most beautiful flower I ever made.  I couldn't get the camera to capture its beauty. I hope you enjoy the slideshow; I had fun making it.

Please check out my other posts on making your own flower stamens and how to make leather and suede flowers.

Please Note!!! There is a bug (error) in the image viewer. The images for this post should show flowers and a cute baby. If you see the fashion show images from the last post, please display this post by itself by accessing it through the sidebarSorry for any inconvenience. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Essie Edwards: A Phenomenal Milliner, Seamstress, Instructor, and Fashionista

I am totally amazed by this lady.  She's a graduate of Pepperdine University, she has been a milliner for over 60 years (yes over 60 years!), she has been an instructor for the Los Angeles Unified School District for almost 40 years, she is a mother, a source of great support for her students, she is a fashionista, and she is a lovely woman both inside and out.  Mrs. Edwards is a walking example of a phenomenal instructor.  When she walks into the classroom she wears what she has made--suites, purses, hats, belts, etc.  All perfectly made by her loving and guiding hands. As you can see from the image on the left, she is one cute lady, and she really looks sassy in the sporty black BMW she drives.  You Go Girl!

But what I really love about Mrs. Edwards is that she encourages me to be me.  She never insists that I do something the same way and in a particular manner.  In her words, "There is more than one way to do something."  For a person like myself who loves to experiment with different millinery techniques, her words are like music to my ears.  A student has to grow under an instructor with this attitude.  She is patient with her students, and they always praise her for this.

Mrs. Edwards only teach day classes, and I waited seven years to take her class, begging her not to retire.  When I retired,  I could finally attend her class.  Then, I was blessed with Ms. E, my granddaughter.  So once again, I'm without my Mrs. Edwards because I lovingly babysit Ms. E during the day.  I still take an evening millinery classes from my other millinery instructor, Mrs. Eloise King (off and on for 26 years), but I also miss my day class with Mrs. Edwards. 

On May 21 Mrs. Edward held her annual fashion show at the Watts Senior Center and Rose Garden.  I really love attending classes at the Rose Garden; it's lovely, quiet, and peaceful.  Dorothy Sampson is the gardener and caretaker for the garden and center.  She is an extraordinary lady who keeps the grounds and the roses beautifully groomed, even using her own resources at times allowing the roses to maintain their award winning status.  I just have to mention Recreation Facility Director Toni Hester (image to the upper right) because Mrs. Edwards constantly praises her for going beyond the call of her job duties, especially when it comes to her sensitivity to the needs of the seniors, as well as Mrs. Edwards'.

I'll get to the images in a moment, but I wanted to mention how wonderful it is to have a place to go where people are sincerely genuine and supportive and enjoy each others' company.  Below are some images from the fashion show.  These ladies, and the gentleman helping the ladies to the walkway, all make beautiful things in Mrs. Edwards' class.  When I was editing the images, I was thinking how blessed I would be to be able to drive to classes and socialize with people as wonderful as these are 25 years from now, as these ladies are doing today.  Thanks to Mrs. Edwards and all for being such an inspiration.