What I love about costuming is how some things have stayed the same for decade; while other things are constantly changing. For instance, this spring while I was working on Wizard of Oz I was introduced to the concept of printing pattern pieces directly onto plain white fabric.
With some basic photoshop skills and a great imagination one could create anything from one flowing dress with a glorious seascape, to a legion of flying monkeys. The possibilities are only hampered by your own imagination and kind of fabric you choose.
For Oz one of our visiting artists suggested printing the pieces for flying monkey vests and the winkie helmets on satin to create the illusion of a metal finish. The result was lovely on stage and gave the desired effect.
What was interesting was that each vest pattern piece was scaled to fit the actor wearing it. One only had to follow the seam allowance printed around the pattern piece and sew. Also, with the help of photoshop, shading can be placed to create the illusion of layers. Trims are also a cinch since they are already printed directly onto the garment.
The drawback of this system of creating costume pieces is, if you tear, miscut, or ruin a piece, there isn't a way to quickly cut a new one. This system also wouldn't work for every show. It should be for a focal piece, or a slew of pieces that would take eons to complete if done another way.
I am starting a journey towards graduate school. I have made lists, contacted references, made more lists, and started my personal statement. I have never been stellar at selling myself on paper. I enjoyed my English classes and love writing articles and some research papers, but when it comes to telling others why they should pick me I tense up.
I find the task even more daunting because of my chosen career path. I work with so many different creative and unique people in theatre. How do you out unique the unique?
After talking with my mother about this problem (briefly), I sat down to write this Monday blog. This weekly article writing has helped me think through things and rework things I was previously stuck on. The title of this article may be misleading. This is not a "how to", but a "how?".
I do not have the fashion background that many costumers start with. I was actually going to school for theatre education. The program was canned, so I opted for a more rounded degree in theatre studies since I loved acting as well. I still loved education and became a teaching artist intern, education management intern, and teaching assistant in undergrad. Throughout my studies I also worked in the costume shop. I could sew well and most of our projects came naturally to me early on. I enjoyed costumes but was not considering it a career path. It wasn't until the end of my senior year (after a semester of not costuming) that I realized I missed costumes. By that point I was all set to graduate with my studies major and no job (not for lack of trying). In the end it has worked out for me. I am now working at a theatre in my home town and about to go on a tour. I am able to create every day. The opportunities I have had since graduation have allowed me to learn more about the field I reluctantly started in, but have come to savor. My previous post "How my love of history made me a costumer" also vaguely explains why costuming has created a home in my heart. And what graduate applicant can say they have made three wearable pieces of historical costume out of soda cans that have been shown in an art show? (reference the photo on my resume page) I have had small, interesting experiences throughout my education, but is it enough?
There are many reasons I chose costuming as a career, but history and m love of it is one of the biggest reasons. I have loved history, learning about societies in the past, events, rituals, etc. since I was little.
I devoured the American Girl series and did further research on each era (On a side note I would like to say how disappointed I am currently with the AG company. They need to bring back Samantha and Felicity. More could be said but this is neither the time nor the place). In high school I took AP history courses in which mu teacher connected events in history with artwork of the time. This opened my mind to the links between history and the arts. While in undergrad I took history courses as my "for fun" classes. I got strange looks from my classmates when I revealed my major was theatre. I have always loved history and learning about it. I believe through this love I found my other love, costuming.
The two disciplines really go hand in hand. Most costume research is based in history, even if the play or movie is fiction or futuristic. The costumer pulls research from eras with similar traits There is no "history" for most fantasy settings, but there is history of the play, of the time it was written, what was thought of the world. These pieces of information help the costumer better realistically create a world for the characters to live in.
I believe I may have also gotten into costuming as an excuse to do more historical research and analysis. "Then why didn't you become a historian?" you ask. I am a type of historian. I may not be an obvious one, but in theatre one must wear many hats. My history hat is one of my favorites.