My art show has brought me great happiness. You can still see my art dresses Friday and Saturday of this week, and Tuesday through Friday of next week. Gallery hours are from 1-5. I take my show back next Saturday. audreydresses has been quiet this past two months because I was finishing up my jobs and stitching on my show. You understand. One time I strolled down to the corner Border's, in my jammies even, and LO and BEHOLD-the great Oprah herself, heavily guarded, was speaking to a small and spontaneous audience. When she finally stopped sermonizing and asked for questions-a man about my age appealed to her, with great sincerity, to honestly explain how to "live the life you choose" and how to "just be happy"--and she had the audacity to say "When I was like you . . . " and then offer no advice whatsoever. I thought about all of the things she might have said, and this one stuck with me--how about thanking the multitude of people who work everyday to make your dream life possible? And so that is what I would like to do before I figure out what I will tackle next in my artistic life. I would like to THANK YOU --my friends who have listened to my ideas, donated fabric, and gone to see my show--the fine people of the William T. Colville foundation who had great faith in me as an artist and urged me to "pull out all the stops" --the women at the gallery who are kind and patient--teachers who have worked with me and inspired me to listen to stories long buried--and most of all, my beloved children who stand by me through everything and make every good thing in my life worthwhile and possible. Without them I would have no reason to thread a needle. Stand by for more news about audreydresses in the coming weeks. I have to gather donations, artistic inspiration, and fabric before I begin again. Viva la Vida and of course and most importantly, LOVE ALWAYS!
There is something so eternally enduring and endearing to me about the artists, writers, and musicians living during the Beat period in time. I love them. I love their bravery. I feel at home with them, and accepted into their circle. And so I was watching the movie "Howl" and it flooded my senses with everything I remembered about the smoky colors and cagey music, the struggles for artistic understanding, the jazzbop fight for poetic expression . . . just everything, actually. The movie and the court trial set against animations and jazz worked their way into my just go ahead and look the other way and pretend to be normal why do I feel the need to fit in with anything around me soul and HOWL THE DRESS took shape. I knew it had to be only for my beloved daughter who encourages me in everything, walks with me down sharp crooked paths of creativity, and holds the mirror of cracked brilliance up for me to peer into when I would just as soon give up entirely. Yeah. You can say she is my muse. Hand-lettered on pewter dupioni from an enthusiastic SILK BARON down south, every single word from Ginsberg is here. The footnote to HOWL is on the somewhat offbeat rose on the back. Only for my daughter's birthday. Only for Ginsberg. Only for HOWL. Oh and a big P.S. The only thing for it was to create the world's most glorious GREEN silk petticoat with miles of ruffles and black tulle to go underneath in order to effect the best party profile. HAPPY BIRTHDAY INGRID!!
I was supposed to be sick and working on back taxes (yes me. in the entire bankrupt state of California. they are holding me responsible for a pathetic amount of back taxes. no doubt I am the cause of this entire mayhem) but somehow the lure of fairy garb talked me into ignoring responsibilities great and small and doing what I do best . . . translating all of my worries and problems into tiny glass beads, bits of ribbon and tulle, and endless yards of pieced cottons, satins, magic cloth, and freehand stitching. And giraffes? Oh my goodness-I would never eat a giraffe!! I will never eat another animal!! Considering a line of radical, militant stop eating animals dresses ala "Wicked". Could be the fever. OK. A fairy party dress and details. The giraffe dress modeled by Bridget Bardot.
There is a specific beauty to these little girls . . . a world away from me and yet, as I sit in my California bungalow and boot up their pictures again and again, it somehow feels as though they are right here with me. Again, many thanks to Dr. Rolfe and Hope for enthusiastically taking my dresses to these girls. Aren't they so beautiful? I believe in what I do, creating garments out of fabric and thread, but seeing them come to life on these little beauties makes all sorts of personal challenges vanish like smoke. Don't you agree?
There are three remarkable, wonderful, perfect experiences in my life that I hold on to tightly no matter what other nonsense is crashing, recessing, decaying, or just plain annoying me: the birth and growing up of my children, walking through the streets of Paris, and receiving these photos of little girls in Afghanistan holding up my audreydresses. And now after a few weeks of working nonstop and tucking away an extra month of summer rent, I am anxious to begin again. What better way to kick off another several months of audreydresses than with this photograph from a world away? Looking at these girls and listening to Dr. Rolfe tell their stories was a wonderful gift to me . . . the fabrics that I bought and were donated, the hours I spent stitching backstage and in the early mornings before dog walking, and the intense desire I have to be part of something larger than being comfortable and buying things was all worth it and answered by the look in their huge dark eyes. My very grateful thanks to Dr. Rolfe and Hope for making this human connection a reality.
This little skirt is bound for Afghanistan as well, and with the construction and delivery of "Marie was a little girl once too", I have found myself in a wonderful but somewhat unfamiliar place. I am strapped running like the white rabbit himself between openings and runnings of plays--and that has a lot to do with paying rent--but also, I am taking a little time in the midst of long theatre hours to look back on a few months very, very well spent . . . designing, stitching, and MOST OF ALL--CONNECTING. I have wallowed in websites, emailed many strangers who have become contacts, listened to stories heart rending and inspiring, and received many kindnesses, donations, and words of wisdom along the way. So where now Audreydresses? My wish is to continue creating beautiful dresses and skirts for girls of need, to ever widen my circle of artist friends, and to keep on keeping on constructing a life of meaning and purpose through my art and stitching . . . with the help of many dogs of course. Love always!
You already know that one of the most important reasons I make my dresses is to maintain a sense of connection, and to feel like I have a place in the world. A local dentist has dedicated his life to a self-contained, state of the art dental clinic which he flies to Afghanistan. His dream is so grand, and everything has been collected and made by him in order to help the people of Afghanistan maintain their smiles and healthy teeth. I am beyond proud to send my little messengers of satin, tulle, beads, donated fabric (thanks Linda and Sharlene!!), and even a happy chameleon to Afghanistan with Dr. Jim Rolfe. My sincere hope is that in some small way they can bridge the many miles and make at least three little girls feel so, so beautiful and appreciated. Oh! And I would never eat a chameleon! Dash calls them the Corgis of the Lizard world.
Just in case you were wondering . . . an artist's life never runs like clockwork. Unless the clock in mention is the one from the Tea Party which was full of butter and crumbs. And yesterday, after the Auction Dress, I hit the wall. Throwing caution to the wind and four dogs in my little car, we all went on a fabric buying trip down south, stopping at every beach and park along the way. A Grand Explore for sure. And we were rewarded for our journey with a storm which hung right off the coast, never quite hitting full on. The beaches were blessedly empty of people and rival dogs and my four reveled in gale force winds, huge crashing surf, gulls who never needed to flap their wings sailing overhead, and umm . . .lots of wet sand. Here is Fox, my co-pilot, begging for an after beach Pringle and guarding my new purple fabric destined for a dress traveling to Afghanistan. Can you see it in my bag? The glorious Auction Dress which was in my life for much too short a time. And yes. I do feel better. Thanks.
STAND BACK!! This new skirt makes me happy for so many reasons. The easiest to explain is that I used a technique from the PARTY DRESS queen, Mary Adams. Her book explains how to use bias strips which I cut to make the leaves of the tree. A little more challenging to explain is why I used "Family of Trees" . . . ah--challenging but sweet for sure. It is a song that I really like, and it ties in so beautifully to a cafe story my manager without equal daughter told me about the powerful love of connected family. Hand painted birds of course. A circle skirt which encompasses everything.
I know, I know, what is with all of the PARTY DRESSES? Well, a lot of it has to do with Mary Adams and practicing ideas from her PARTY DRESS book, and even more of it has to do with the feeling I get when I think about small children and their ability to make every moment a party, and even, even more has to do with the KINDNESS OF PEOPLE . . . women who have taken the time to go through their fabric and send me some precious scraps. These are not only 3 Party style Audreydresses, they are also SCRAP DRESSES!! Made completely from donated fabric-THANKS to Del, Linda, and Shelia. SEW IT FORWARD in a big way. Love makes all things possible!
Here is a minor . . . well, OK--MAJOR miracle in my sewing life: a BRAND NEW electronic machine! I researched like crazy for a new machine that could make buttonholes, and launch me into the world of more machine sewing and less handwork, but I was old school in regards to machines. Buying local was dear to my heart so a trip to ART AND JENNY'S SEWING MACHINE CENTER in Ventura seemed like the place to try a new machine. Little did I know that I would have a GREAT EXPERIENCE with their top salesman and knowledgeable son, Brian, a whiz kid who looks like a rock and roller and knows literally everything about a sewing machine you would ever want to know. Their wonderful store is like a sewing machine museum with every make and year of machine imaginable sitting on counters and lining the walls--an entire history of our beloved art! So here is my DREAM MACHINE, made possible by my GRANT and the kind and generous people at Art and Jenny's Sewing Machine Center! JANOME RULES! Thanks so much Brian!
Such happiness! A friend of a friend creates fabulous PARTY DRESSES in New York. She is as talented and successful as we all wish we could be, and I have her book-"The Party Dress Book"-and it inspired me beyond words and this TINY PINK EXPLOSION is the result! Thanks to Mary Adams and her color filled pages and generous creative secrets which she shares so eloquently!! I am not sure when or where I will send this dress. Looking at it makes me so happy. See the Mary Adams inspired ruffle? Hand finished throughout. Tulle overlay and bodice of satin roses. Size 3! And yes! I can start posting pictures again because the world's finest photographer--Toby--sent my little camera back home to me!! Yaay!!
Somewhere in Oregon, or so I am told, lives a brilliantly blond little girl who adores purple. She has purple shoes which she insists upon wearing pretty much all the time. I heard she even tries to wear them to bed. The story of that girl makes me very happy. A little girl with such a passion for color, a color!--purple!--and when her mother contacted me, I knew a fancy purple dress had to come into being. So little purple rose of Oregon, I hope this dress lives up to your expectations! (Made just for Katelyn)
People wonder how I come up with ideas for my designs. That is an interesting wondering. Sometimes a particular film or character in a novel begs to be dressed. Sometimes I copy a design from someone very, very famous and dead. A beautiful piece of lace presents itself as worthy of an entire dress. An irresistable piece of silk, a fabulous shade of satin . . . a picture in a magazine, or an image or splashing of color from nature--a sunset or the way the light reflects off clouds or the sea. Most of the time my best, very best ideas come from thinking about my granddaughter. Not thinking in the usual way. More like daydreaming. I dream think about her and there it is . . .the peacock dress. An unbelievable shade of peacock blue taffeta underneath a heaven-like gold with scrolled embroidery and a bodice of gilded roses. Nothing is too much for my beloved granddaughter, and I believe she should wear silk everyday. The rest of my very, very best ideas usually come from my uber talented daughter who not only inspires me every single moment with her heart stopping paintings, but also with book tips--great book tips like the Patti Smith book that inspired the Little Emerald Bird dress. Read it and you will know why I had to immortalize part of Patti Smith's sweet poem.
Growing up in the 50's and 60's was the best and worst of times. Great junk food, overcooked everything. Fabulous rock and roll, crooners, punk, Motown, all of it started, yes I think so, back in those days. And all selective memory processes in place, a PRINCESS was definitely what we all longed to be, dreamed of becoming, and would have traded everything to embody. The satin and silk, lace and ruffles . . . and the PINK, Oh my goodness! How we loved LOVED pink! And then we grew up. The life of a princess was more often than not traded for twinkies and Wonder bread, creekbeds and cornfields, mosquitoes and fireflies. But somehow, through some amazing twist of fate, the most glorious little PRINCESS walks into my life and she is not afraid of anything . . . dreams, wants, wishes, and especially not pink. In her eyes, all is beauty.
It has been so cold here in Southern California and we are not used to such treatment. There has been no cure for me but to stitch up more dresses, so yes, here they are: one for PEARL. One for XANTHE, and one for the window of our best sewing store, in honor of the coolest woman I know--Linda . . . my friend who sews quilts. She is amazing beyond words, an excellent seamstress, and an even more excellent person and she gives me her scraps. Audreydresses always keep me warm. No. Really. I am not kidding.
Audreydresses did it! Two fabulous sisters in North Carolina received their dresses and oh those little girls are SO CUTE. Cute is the only word for them. Thank you, thank you, thank you Amanda for letting me be part of your lives! I am so glad your girls were the first for my company!