Saturday, September 5, 2020

Fashion Unraveled Symposium... A mountain of things I haven't told you... second post

In October of 2018 I wrote this...

She started quietly, and very slowly, describing her visit to a seemingly completely normal place, and being directed towards a small, simple, and quite unremarkable white dresser.  Inside its drawers, she explained, long protected from dust and light, were the impeccably folded clothing items which had belonged to, and were sewn by Frida Kalho.


Frida Kalho


Michelle McVicker presented "The Traces of Use, A Case Study of Appearances Can be Deceiving: The Dresses of Frida Kalho and the Potentiality of Visibly Worn Dress" See more about this here...

I was in.  Every word she spoke was fascinating to me, as she explained how signs of use and wear give garments a history, that pristine, unworn, or excessively "restored" garments cannot convey.  She talked about the word "patina", a concept usually reserved for durable antique items, but rarely used for signs of wear on clothing.

Now, in September of 2020, while I am no Frida Kahlo, I get it.

Cancer hit me like a cannonball.  Chemo, chemo-radiation, surgery, recovery... body changes.




I discovered a great use of my own skill.  Sewing for my own body changes and challenges.  Asymmetry, new needs...

I got this.


Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Mask making missive

So. 

I've made lots of masks, gradually improving and rethinking over time. I now make double-stranded crocheted ear-loops for comfort. They are naturally elastic, and can be tightened by pulling through  grommets and tightening at the wearer's own comfort level.






I've made lots of them now.


For friends and family.



My awl and grommet press have gotten a workout.

To launder: I keep a glass mask bowl on the kitchen counter, and we drop our used mask in when we come in the door.  I boil water in the tea kettle, add a few drops of dish liquid and to submerge.  Later, when the water has cooled, I rinse and squeeze the masks, and hang to dry for the next use. Easier than always having to throw in the laundry.

People have asked about buying them, but I don't feel comfortable charging friends and family for these. If I were to charge for the amount of labor and supplies these take, they would be on the expensive side.  So... here's what I'll do.  You have three choices you can make if you want. to support my mask-making.

You can "support the cause" (simply contribute funds because you want to), buy a mask I've already made (because supplies are limited, and I may not always have the time or inclination to make them), or request a mask if you are a friend, associate, family or someone in need, and I will use the "support" funds to offset the cost. 

I'll make payment buttons and relevant details for each request, and you can let me know if you rare interested.









Tuesday, July 7, 2020

On privacy, anonymity, scarcity, and exclusivity

"The Garment Worker" by Judith Heller

Reposting from 10/1/16
Reposting again from 7/10/18
Now I need to add to it.

I've been particularly interested in unasked questions lately.  You know... those nagging issues that pop up in our heads, spawn interesting dinner conversation, and make us wonder how to even begin researching the answer(s), that is... assuming we can properly articulate the question.

This is an aside, but trust me... it helps me explain my point here. 

A friend of a friend has a Twitter account.  I didn't know this friend-once-removed well at all, and she didn't directly share her Twitter account info with me, but she told me a story that referenced a celebrity and the response she got to a tweet she'd made, which I later looked at, and then casually explored her other tweets.  I had no particular feeling about this person, not knowing her at all, but, after looking at the shrine to self absorption and profanity her Twitter account revealed, I now have a somewhat negative opinion of her.  Before I explored her Twitter account, this alter-ego would have been anonymous.  But now, she has a name, and a face. 

But she also has the right to semi-anonymously express herself, right?

In the USA, I can say with confidence that we all pretty much assume we have a general right to privacy.  But, do we also have a right to anonymity? If not, should we?

Sure we do, in my opinion, but... what is this anonymity spawning?

Anonymity creates new and imagined "people" with other agendas, lives, needs and ideas.  It takes the "human being" right out of humanness. That Twitter persona you create?  Is it you?  Is it uncensored you? Is it just a character?  Does it matter?

So here's where it all comes full circle.  Last week, a family member said to me, "Oh, I bought this great sweatshirt at Old Navy.  It was kinda pricey, you know, for Old Navy"  She pulled it from the bag and showed me  the pricey sweatshirt.  It was a good-looking sweatshirt, but I too, was surprised by the price.  "Where was that made?" I asked her.  "Hmmm... I dunno..." she said.  "Look at the tag," I pointed to it. "It will say." 

"Hmmm... Don't see it..."

"Hand it to me."

"Ok.  (tiny print) Cambodia."

She rolls her eyes, knowing what I am about to say.

"That's okay," I said. "You don't have to care who made your clothes, much like no one cared that your enslaved great-grandfather picked their cotton, or that your grandmother..."

Her hand goes up to me, protesting my objection.  

"Listen, I care.  But you don't have to. I can make a choice not to buy that sweatshirt.  I can also make a sweatshirt... but the reason you don't care, is that you don't know those people, those conditions, the situation that led you to buy THAT shirt. Who knows?  Maybe it was made by a Cambodian who is doing just fine, living well, and enjoying life! Or... Maybe I'm completely wrong, and that person is in tears... right now, wondering how long they can keep this up... right now."

Conversation done.  Now, that sweatshirt hangs, unworn, in her closet. I think I made my point. Am I being overly dramatic?  I don't think so.

But there are endless layers to this type of problem.  The biggest, and most important, is that we just DON'T know what we DON'T know.  Where does my fabric come from?  How was it dyed? And if I expand this line of questioning to ask where my handbag came from/Where did my dinner come from?/Where/How for most things I own... There are layers and layers of anonymous labor and resources.  We can cherry-pick causes until we're blue in the face... and to what end?

In the current media environment, everyone has an opinion.  Often with a profit motive. Some people scream their thoughts.  Loudly. Offensively. Mean-spirited thoughts people feel compelled to share. To that, I say, feel free to broadcast whatever you want to say, but you absolutely MUST OWN IT.  Show us who you are. Our activism is backward.  We need to work on the things that give voices to the voiceless. 

If you ask me, oppressors have no right to oppress anonymously. If asked who is making the clothes, specific answers should be required. Do I mean that people should be allowed to wander up to your doorstep and confront you?  Peer in your windows? 

Absolutely not.  That would be about privacy. But there should be space for everyone to express their thoughts, without being stifled... as well as a firmly protected right to publicly disagree with you.  

"Where was that shirt made?" Like it or not, this question has an answer. "Who made that shirt?" definitely has an answer.  Remember when you could open a package of underwear and see na inspector's number tag enclosed?

Frankly, I don't have time to make my whole wardrobe.  Nor do I have the time to make yours. Nor do I want to. Nor do I have time to research every step my clothing has taken before arriving at the store where I buy it.  The vast majority of us don't.

So what do we do about that?

Personally, for now, I plan to let my heart lead the way.  I'm gonna continue to seek the stories of the long established fabric shops in the district - places where the vendors have been deeply involved in the business in a very organic and true way, for a long time. I'll share those stories. I'll let you  know what I find.