Sunday, April 06, 2008

Like It Came From the Grave!!!!! or My First Foray into Costume Design

The building where my studio is also is home to a wonderful theater:  The Earl Hamner Theater (  This past fall, they put on a play called Poe and All That Jazz.  It was a story of Edgar Allen Poe and all the women in his life.  It starred one man and one woman.  The man played the character of Poe and the woman had the unenviable task of playing many women (although, if you are an actress, it probably would be pretty fun).  The theater folks asked me if I would like to make the dress for the play.  As being a costume designer has been my dream job for a very long time, I jumped at the chance.  The requirement was that it be historically accurate to 1805 and that it look like it was from a walking dead person.  Sort of like someone who came back from the dead.  Gosh, easy enough, right?  So, I bought a pattern online from a company that makes historically accurate patterns, and I made the dress.  It was pretty fun, and I think it turned out well:

(I hadn't added the buttons to the back when this photo was taken)

Then to make it look all creepy, I attacked the entire dress with a box cutter.  I sliced and ripped it to shreds.  I had a lot of friends suggest that it must have been sad to destroy my work, but I was kind of sick of the dress by then.  It actually felt kind of good.

Then to creep it to a new level, I painted the dress on all three layers (the top was a diaphanous type of polyester, the middle layer was a crepe polyester-- not terribly historically accurate, but cheap!-- and the bottom layer was cotton muslin) with watered down clay and acrylic paint.  It worked like a charm!  I went with this, on two artist friends suggestion, because polyester fabric will resist dying.  So this was really painting.  After the clay dried, I had to actually vacuum the dress, because the cast was choking on the dust during rehearsal!

I enjoyed that experience, and I certainly wouldn't mind doing something like that again.  


Threads of Inspiration said...

Reading about the experience brought a lot of chuckles, as I was remembering the dust stories myself.

Vania Root said...

What a cool experience! The costume looks great.

Clothmatters said...

Having done many theatre costumes over the years, I commend you on how well your costume turned out. Excellent work!

Dandelion Factory said...

Thanks so much! Susan