Monday, May 19, 2014

Mundane Monday's Costumer Spotlight - Laura U

Our second Costumer Spotlight is Laura U.

How did you get started in costuming? What was your first costume? Do you have any pictures?

I actually started making costumes in high school. I have a lot of family members who quilt and sew and making Halloween costumes was a very big thing. (My aunt made an epic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle outfit for my sister once!) The first one I made completely by myself was a Raggedy Ann costume. Sadly there are no photos remaining, but I was very proud of myself for creating striped tights by taping off nylons and spray painting them! Then I got married at 21, had my first child at 23 and suddenly I was making their costumes too. I didn't start making any for a living or even for a hobby till 2003 or so when a friend was making a Professor McGonagal hat and asked me if I would make the cloak. After that it was all wigs and costumes and make-up, oh my!
This is the oldest photo I have of me in a costume I made. It is a nun costume that I made of bed-sheets that I wore to a costume contest in the Army. I also made the pope costume.
Laura made both of these costumes. We covered the gentleman's face for privacy reasons since we can't ask his permission first.
Many of us are not fond of our first few costumes, but can you tell me a couple things that you did like about yours? What about those few inspired you to continue and make more?

I have always liked the costumes I made, even the older ones. I've always been particular about using nice looking fabrics and trims, and I've always tried very hard to have outfits fit the shape of the person they were meant for. Poor fit and bad fabric can make an outfit look way more sloppy than it is. Because I got better with each outfit and tried more and more things each time, it gave me the encouragement to keep going. There was always something more to learn.

I first met you at Costume College 2009 when you were wearing your Camo Elizabethen. For someone who had just discovered historical costuming, you blew my mind by combining genres. Can you share with us, why you chose to undertake that dress?

I do love my Camo Elizabethan costume. I chose to make it because my costuming group at the time was going to dress in costume for the "Day of Wrong" at Bristol Renaissance Faire. We decided to do "historical silhouettes" in wrong fabric. Because I had been in the army, it seemed a no-brainer to do it in camo. I re-used some army uniform pieces that belonged to me and bought and repurposed the rest. I am particularly proud of the partlett I made of the old BDU t-shirts. I wound up wearing it at Costume College because it was literally one of the only outfits I had done (or mostly done as I sewed some of it in the hotel room) in time for CosCol! It was a great ice breaker because it was so wacky. I also discovered at that point that I really love turning genres upside-down. Straight-up historical isn't always my bag, although I have made things that I love that are very historical in structure.

Being a sailor myself, I'm not sure who I should root for.
This is my favorite photo of me in the Camo outfit. It is me (as Army) fighting the Navy guys at the MN Renaissance Festival, lol.

What inspires you most when choosing what costumes you want to make?

 Anything can inspire me. Sometimes I see two things next to each other and think, "That would be fun!" Or I see a vintage poster, or find a piece of jewelry that gives me an idea. I get a lot of ideas brainstorming with my friends. Fabric is a big motivator, though.

What is your favorite costume of all that you've made and why? 

I don't really have one favorite costume that I love. I learned a lot making the Steampunk Clown and Eleonora, but I equally love the Jedi I made for my 6 month old nephew and costumes I have made for my daughters. My favorite costume is usually the one I am currently working on!

Cuteness overload!
What costume did you learn the most or progress the most as a costumer and why/what did you learn?

The one I learned the most on was actually a group - when I did the Six Wives of Henry VIII. I learned a lot about research and historical fit, I learned to make hats (sad hats, but still they were hats!), jewelry, corsetry, cod pieces, tights, etc. I learned how to shop for fabric and how to recreate a portrait. And how to manage a group of people in costume. It was the single greatest learning experience of my life from costuming. It has affected everything I have done since. And I hope to do a better job when I do it again next year....

Are there any fields in costuming that you think are interesting, intimidating or that you just haven’t gotten to yet, that you still want to learn? What about that specific part of costuming makes you want to learn it?

There are various genres and historical eras that I haven't gotten to. I used to say never about some things and then had to bite my tongue when I decided to create something, so I have learned to be open to everything. I am not particularly interested in recreating different sorts of corsets. I admire the work and talent that goes into making them, but I just find undergarments to be tedious to make. I want to get to the fitting and the trim! I am all about the trimmings. I would like to learn more about hat-making. I will likely never make shoes. I have such particular feet that it is better for me to buy modern shoes and modify them. I would very much like to make a Medieval costume at some point. The hats are so amazing.

Any big projects planned for the future that we can look forward to following and /or its big reveal?

 I am planning on recreating the Lady MacBeth dress as worn by Ellen Terry in the UK that was featured in the Singer Sargent portrait. There is a lot of knitting and crocheting in that gown along with metal-work that is new to me, so I figure it will take awhile. I also am working on a wearable art sort of historically inspired coat outfit for a Queen Titania costume for next year. Lots of quilting, 3-D flowers and some leatherwork. I also will be learning how to make my own wig which both excites and terrifies me. And I am creating a Game of Thrones costume, just like everyone else, lol. My daughter has a Daenerys costume, so I am making a Rhaella costume since Rhaella is her mother. I may just make a habit of making the Mom costumes to my daughter's costumes since there are a lot of fun options out there! Although I really can't imagine what Ms. Frizzle's Mother (from the Magic School Bus) would look like!

And in true Mundane Monday fashion please share a couple links to blogs, pics, tutorials, WHATEVER that you found interesting or inspiring this week. 

1.  Have to give a shout-out to Shear Madness, because I started it so that people who love all different kinds of costuming would have a space to gather. The blog and the FB group

2. Pinterest. LOVE Pinterest. I see more inspiring things and tutorials on there everyday. 

3. Game of Thrones costuming group on FB - really great folks who are supportive of each other and do amazing work!  

4. There are so many really great blogs and groups out there. Jennifer Rosburgh, Loren Dearborn, Your Wardrobe Unlock'd, LiveJournal, etc., etc. Just so much great information from bloggers out there. I could spend all day (and have!) just reading their sites.

You can follow Laura on her blog, Rocking the Frock. She is the Mistress of the Madness over at the Shear Madness group, also.

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