OK, so I know this is super nerdy, but I couldn’t help myself… I got myself a new (to me) macbook over Christmas and I love it to death. Problem was that I didn’t have a case for it. WELL, I simply couldn’t run out and buy one! (I have this complex where I can’t buy things that I know I can make) Instead I rummaged through all of my fabric (which I realize every day that I have waaaayyy too much of) and pulled out alot of random fabrics and whipped this up! Some of it is made from scraps of IKEA curtains that I saved when some friends moved into their apartment. It’s got a middle layer of batting so it’s padded, which it needed. The design is based straight off of an envelope, so it was a super simple pattern. and now my beautiful laptop is protected in style!
till I go to England!
sooo, for Christmas my sister Ava found the most amazing fabric in the world… shirtless firemen posing with their trucks and dalmatians. Well, of course it HAD to be made into a dress. Here, for your viewing pleasure, is my half-naked fireman dress. Now if only there was a place I could wear this where it could be deemed appropriate…
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.
Ever since I got my mac, and realized what it was like to be able to carry around a laptop that didn’t weigh as much as a brick, I’ve had this problem… I don’t know what to carry it in. The purse that I always use is way too small, and (call me picky) but I didn’t just want to walk around with a canvas bag. On top of it, I’m going to England in three weeks and I needed a big carry-on bag that could hold everything.
WELL, me being me, I decided that I was going to make my OWN bag that was big enough to hold my laptop and other things, along with looking pretty. So I looked at some photos, made a pattern and got to work. I didn’t spend a penny on this bag… I have a massive stash of fabric held in multiple Rubbermaid containers all over my apartment, so I just pulled from there and this is what happened! It helped that I had a spare ugly purse lying around (about to go to the thrift shop) so I took the straps and random tan accessories from it and put them on my bag.
and VOILA! Pretty good for a first try, eh?
I think this is just beautiful…
It’s a fact: when I get bored I apply for things.
This snow has me going crazy, as it’s impossible to get around or really do anything at all. So today, in an effort to stave off boredom I’ve started researching the Fulbright Program. I’d vaguely considered applying in past years, but it never really occurred to me that it would be a real possibility. Now that I’m nearly positive that I won’t be accepted into any graduate programs I’m looking into other life options, and the Fulbright sounds pretty perfect.
I’ve been concocting a plan in my head to do a year long study in Iceland and now I know just what I’ll do. I’ve set up a meeting with a Fulbright adviser and I’m starting to figure out exactly what my proposal will be. Of course, this is one of the largest and most prestigious awards in the country, so there’s no way that I’d expect to actually get it, but it’s always worth a shot, right?! The application is pretty standard as far as applications go, so I’m not too worried about it. It’s also not due till October so now is the perfect time to get going with everything so that I can have the perfect proposal by the time the deadline rolls around. Excitement!
I have hair ADD. I’ve come to realize that I’m never really satisfied with my hair so I change it alllll the time. Maybe it’s because for SO many years I didn’t cut it or style it at all. so today, out of boredom, I cut myself some bangs. Voila!
I will not lie. I am in a creative rut. Perhaps it’s my lack of inspiration from the Sculpture Department. Perhaps it’s this interminable snow that continues to fall. Perhaps it’s my awareness that my college career is nearly at a close and I have no plans of what will happen with my life after August. Whatever it is, I am at a standstill and I don’t quite know how to handle it.
With that being said, I think it’s essential that I recognize things that do get my artistic blood pumping, so I’ll post a little about something that’s serving as some nice creative fodder. I recently stumbled up the television show Pushing Daisies and immediately fell in love. Unfortunately it was cancelled after its second season, but the two seasons that do exist are pure art.
The basic premise of the show runs like this: The main character, Ned, discovered at an early age that he is capable of bringing dead things back to life with a touch of his finger. There are two catches to this rule; if he touches the thing again, it dies forever, and if he doesn’t touch is after one minute another thing must die in its place. With this being said, Ned hooks up with a murder detective and the two of them touch murder victims, bring them back to life and ask them who killed them. The premise is simple until Ned brings his first love, Charlotte Charles (nickname: Chuck) back to life and decides that he can’t live without her. The two fall completely in love but are never allowed to touch, lest Chuck be killed forever.
What is spectacular about the show, aside from the novel idea that it’s based upon, is the aesthetic of the entire show. It is full of whimsy and color, mixing computer animation with real life action to create a realm that is far from reality. More than anything, what I love is Chuck’s wardrobe. It is full of vintage, 50’s inspired dresses that she wears with endless panache. Every episode I find myself drooling over her wardrobe, yearning to re-create the outfits she’s wearing. So, below I have included a vast array of pictures from her wardrobe. Maybe this will kick-start my waning creative drive…
this was a project for my Distance studio class. The assignment was to introduce ourselves to our teacher, who lives in Brookyln, and send our introduction in the mail. I decided to let my apartment do the talking for me while I exercised my photo skillz. The final version was bound in a book. fun times.
so Anne and I had our photoshoot today for our Undergraduate Research Grant. Overall it was pretty hilarious, because we’re so both ridiculous in front of a camera. I’ll post more later, but here’s a taste of the shoot…
our project is going really well. It’s under way and we’ve got most of our ideas solidified. I guess my next step is to start making LOTS of patterns. thrilling!
we’re supposed to get a lot of snow in the next few days… I don’t really believe it, as snow rarely sticks here in Richmond, but I guess we’ll find out. Hopefully I’ll be proven wrong just like that blizzard last month!
well HELLO THERE!
it’s been forever and a day since I’ve written, and with very good reason—I have been doing absolutely NOTHING. I know, completely contrary to my personality, no? I had the longest winter break in the history of mankind and I spent the entirety of it doing nothing but relaxing, hanging out at the house and watching tv, as well as communing with the menagerie of animals that roam through our Natural Bridge abode. so why would I blog about absolutely nothing?
but now I am back in Richmond in my FINAL semester at VCU. Can you believe it’s been FOUR years? I can’t. It’s good to be back… back in my amazing apartment, back on my own, back with no internet. It’s got its ups and downs here, but it’s nice to not sit around all day anymore. I love ALL of my classes and I’m really excited to get going on them. Really, they’re all spectacular.
For instance, I’m taking an Art History class on Cult and Midnight movies. Which means I get to watch Rocky Horror for CREDIT. I’m also taking a studio class called “Taxicab Distance.” The whole premise is that our teacher is based out of Brooklyn, so the entire class will be long distance. Meaning we’ll be using the good ol’ postal system to mail back and forth. Fantastic! Another class I’m really excited about is a class called documentary studies, which will involve an in-depth discussion of culture and community and how we document and observe it. Which means I get to stretch my photography skills again! Huzzah!
and my final class that I’m really excited about is my poetry class. I took the same one with the same professor last year, but this time I’ve turned it into a kind of independent study where I’m focusing on creating one cohesive collection of poems based around some sort of theme. I love my professor and he’s full of great ideas, so I can’t wait to get cracking on that.
and FINALLY unrelated to schoolwork, Anne and I are finally getting underway with our Grant project. When I was at the Habitat store in Lexington last week I stumbled onto the most amazing sale on upholstery fabric in the world, and ended up getting tons of amazing fabric. SO we’re all set to go and are already under way getting locations and dates set up. Should be exciting!!
and of course the biggest news is that on 5 March I’m flying over to England for a two week extravaganza in which I hop around visiting all of my camp friends! I simply CAN’T WAIT! I’ve got a countdown going and everything. Oh boy, I am soooo excited!
So there I am, back in the real world and already full-out running around. That’s how it goes. But just figured I’d check in and prove I’ve not disappeared!
we’ve got over a foot and it’s still pouring snow… who knows how long it’ll keep going!
because I ran outside to photograph our first snow!! Apparently Virginia is in an official “state of emergency” because of the massive amount of snow that’s headed our way. I was a little skeptical, as we never EVER get real snow (part of it is that I live on the river, so it’s always warmer here…) but it is DEFINITELY snowing a lot and quickly here. Oh goody!
Last night my parents and I went to get our Christmas tree and ran into my close friend from high school, Paul, and his mom, as well as our family friends the Shybunkos. Party on the Christmas tree lot! Gotta love an impromptu reunion. It was SO great to see them, especially Paul, as I’ve been meaning to catch up with him. We actually ran into him and his parents later at dinner as well, along with an old high school friend Sarah, with her parents. Small town USA, here we are! Tiny town where you see everyone who’s known you since birth whenever you walk down the street. Gotta love it!
So now I’m back at home watching the snow fall. Guess this means I’ve got lots of time to do Christmas stuff, as it doesn’t look like I’ll be going anywhere anytime soon…
there’s usually a mountain at the end of my driveway…
this is what we call a bad idea:
In celebration of finishing my finals I drove up the east cost to spend the weekend with one of my closest friends Isia, who happens to go to Princeton! as a small piece of background, I’ve known Isia since freshman year of high school (which we realized, and balked at, was EIGHT years ago.) Now, I am horrible at keeping in touch with people. Just ask anybody not in my immediate vicinity. Still, somehow Isia and I have stayed in semi-frequent contact over the years, writing back and forth about all of the varying details of our lives. Still, we never EVER get to see each other (case in point, this weekend was the first time we’d seen each other in a year. terrible)
SO after wayyy too much horrible traffic from NOVA to Baltimore, I finally got to Isia’s to start our weekend of awesomeness. I swear, we must have talked the ENTIRE time we were awake because we had so much catching up to do. That night she took me over to Charter, which is her eating club.
[An aside for anyone who knows nothing about Princeton: an “Eating Club” is basically a fraternity, only it’s co-ed, and instead of just being a place to get drunk, they also provide you with all of your meals. So it’s like a non-frat dining hall. Only in a mansion. But it’s still like a frat because you have to bicker to get into a specific one, and each club has it’s own personality and style.]
SO we went to Charter, her eating club, where she showed me a typical Friday. Apparently they’re the only club open on Friday, so the place was PACKED with a massive Christmas party and a taproom full of very loud, very drunk people. It was hilarious, and oh-so college. I loved it.
All of Saturday we spent wandering Princeton, thrifting in some shops and going to JCrew. I got to see my friend Hannah for a brief few minutes in between all of her crazy schedules, so that was great! More or less Isia and I just spent the day talking endlessly, discussing Twilight and shopping. Glorious.
Saturday evening was spectacular because it was Winter Formals (which is one of the reasons I came). We got allllll dressed up and went to Charter, where we had a spectacular dinner and hung out with all of her friends. I have to say, the whole place/scene/experience of Princeton and Charter was phenomenal. Isia’s friends are all hilarious, fun and welcoming, and I never felt left out. In some ways it was very similar to camp, just a bunch of good people all hanging out together…. it just so happened that all of the people we were with were geniuses. But that’s besides the point.
The BEST part of the night was the band, who was AWESOME. They played for hourssssss and we ended up having a massive dance party, singing along with the music and boogying. The best part was that they ended the whole evening playing “Don’t Stop Believing.” Perfect.
Unfortunately I had to leave the next day, and Isia had tons of stuff to do and I had to drive a loooong way home. I said goodbye to her and spent a few hours wandering the town of Princeton, which is truly adorable (if outrageously overpriced). Sadly it was pouring rain, and the heat in my car was being iffy, so I didn’t spend too long wandering around. Instead I spent a long time driving home in pouring rain. but it was TOTALLY worth it!
So it was a really fantastic weekend. It was great to see Isia, meet her friends, and just be in a good place with good people and a great vibe. What a great way to end the semester. and now I’m home in Natural Bridge where I can finally and actually relax! Now to wrap those Christmas presents…
the light in her room was too perfect…
Charter, Isia’s mansio-…. I mean, eating club.
all of us at formals! Isia, me, and the Schoppes. They’re twins, in case you didn’t notice…
I matched the furniture in Charter’s bathroom…
for those who don’t know, Princeton’s mascot is a tiger…
old architecture, modern art. you know how it is…
I used to have a tin roof to listen to the rain.
now I only have an ‘83 Civic.
so instead I stare at the stadium lighting
in a nearly empty parking lot
I can see my breath against the plastic dash.
I used to embrace the dark,
to revel in its silence and vast, empty corners.
now it only invokes palpitations,
worries and knowings that I will return to my apartment
—vast in its peculiar petiteness—
and I will be alone in the middle of my too-big bed.
I have said it was too big since my mom first pulled it
from the street corner
and set it on my ex-boyfriend’s front porch
for safe keeping.
it is still too big
and I find myself afloat amidst my discarded clothing
which traps my arms and legs from wildly swinging
when I am no longer listening to the rain.
I often wonder what people think of me
when they see me.
what do they think of the young girl
huddled inside her blaze orange scarf,
scribbling over a frigid plastic steering wheel
writing words inside her car’s gas log.
sometimes I think I am pretty.
but then I look in the mirror
and I remember.
actually, I guess people do that all the time. so there goes my sense of irony…
ANYWAYS, Anne and I had our first UGRG meeting with our mentor today and we’ve started collecting ideas… one of them was to make a blog where we could post any inspiration we found, as well as any sketches and progress that we make. This collection is going to be quite an undertaking, and I think we’re both bracing ourselves for the full force of the work that we’re about to take on. Still, it should be fun!
If you’re interested in following along, our new grant blog is here. I spent most of the afternoon creating the layout for the blog, which was tons of fun. I’m basically an idiot when it comes to web design, but I have enough mediocre knowledge to make something like that… so stay tuned and you’ll get to see the stuff we come up with!
In other news, finals are nearly DONE, which is great as I’ve nearly been beaten to death by them. I’m exhausted, and I just can’t WAIT to be home home home in my incredibly tiny, incredibly full house with my two dogs, three cats and two great parents. It should be fantastic. Tomorrow is my last exam (film class, which I SHOULD be studying for now instead of blogging about nothing) and then right afterwards I am taking a road trip north to PRINCETON for the weekend!!! One of my best friends Isia goes to school there and it’s their winter formal weekend. SO, I’m taking some fancy clothing, lots of extra layers, and the General (my car) and I are trekking north. It should be a great weekend, I can’t wait! and then finally back to the little house in Natural Bridge Station.
so as I posted a while ago, I applied to the wearable art fashion show in Baton Rouge, LA, Uncommon Threads: Cryptozoology. I’ve been working away on it, and have to send it off very very soon, so I figured I’d show pictures of it’s progress. I’ve painted all of the heads, as well as making some hilarious deer-hoof spats (which I stupidly didn’t take pictures of).
I’m at work right now, eagerly awaiting news from Charleston Fashion Week, who are supposed to announce the semi-finalists of the Emergining Designer’s Competition, which I entered. Guess I’ll find out soon!
needless to say, my studio is a wreck from working on these guys!
It is my pleasure to announce that my close friend Anne Douglas and I have just been awarded a 2010 VCU Undergraduate Research Grant!!! We submitted the proposal a few months ago and the results were announced today. I was sitting in my Physics class when I was inundated by texts telling me the good news! I was so excited that I wanted to scream and jump up and down.
Anne is a Crafts major, working in textile design. She’s absolutely amazing and incredibly talented, and I loooove her bright and colorful aesthetic. I’m really looking forward to working with her because we’re both very similar, and different, in our styles and approaches to art making. I can’t wait for Anne and myself to get started on this project, the ideas are already cranking in my head!
Below is a description of what the project we’re going to execute:
“Eco-Chic: Recycled Fashion In this collaborative project, a Sculpture + Extended Media and a Craft/Material Studies student, marry their love affair with fabric. The central theme of this project will be to take pre-existing fabrics such as curtains, upholstery or sheets from second-hand shops and transform them into new and original fabrics which will then be used to create a collection of one-of-a-kind clothing. The fabric and garment design will be inspired by the aesthetic of antique furniture. Varying dye techniques will be used, as will embellishing with embroidery, beading and buttons. A series of unique garments will be created drawing inspiration from the lines and shapes of intricate furniture.
Grace Johnston, Sculpture + Extended Media
Anne Douglas Shaw, Craft/Material Studies
Faculty Mentor: Susan Iverson, Craft/Material Studies”
Funnily enough, this is the same grant that funded Melanie’s and my trip to New Zealand this past September. I am so honored that I’ve been given this award yet again. THANK YOU VCUarts!!
pardon the horrible pun, but it’s true. I know I haven’t updated in forever, but I’ve been super busy doing tons and tons of things. The most prevalent is schoolwork, writing tons of papers and that sort of nonsense, but that’s no fun! so let me update you on the FUN parts of my life:
1. FarieCon 2009
May, one of my close camp friends (and boss, but that’s besides the point), sells fairy wings as a side business. She makes them for people who go to Renaissance Fairs, or fairy events, or any other number of things. Well, she decided to go to this giant Fairy conference in Baltimore to have a wing-selling booth, and asked if I’d like to come along. Heck yes, of course I would! It sounded like a fabulous excuse to pull out the most ridiculous clothing I own and get super dressed up for no reason. and that’s exactly what I did!
So I spent the whole weekend with May, manning the booth and wandering around in my ridiculous outfits that I’d brought. It was a BLAST! Everyone was dressed up and being silly, which was a nice break from reality. But the strangest part was that I felt like a total celebrity!! Everywhere I went people stopped to take my picture, or take a picture with me—it was crazy! I felt like Cinderella at Disney Land or something. It was rather humbling.
The whole weekend was fabulous, and it was SO great to see May. We got to spend some quality time hanging out and talking about everything from Camp to Twilight to Harry Potter (cut us some slack, we were at a fairy conference). I’ve hung out with May before, but this was the first time I’d spent a solid block of time with her, and it was truly wonderful.
aaaand some pictures:
May and me at her booth:
2. Uncommon Thread
Last year in October I perticipated in a wearable art fashion show in Baton Rouge, LA called Uncommon Thread. I had a great time and ended up winning the show (woo!) So I decided to enter again this year. I’ve had the idea percolating since the end of camp and now I’ve started to realize it. The theme, as they state, is: “Cryptozoology” challenges entrants to construct a wearable, full garment piece of art that animates creatures of myth, both from legend and derived from the artist’s imagination.
I decided to create a Chimera, a three-headed beast that breathes fire. As I’ve progressed into the work, though, I’ve changed the creatures that the Chimera consist of. Originally the Chimera is made of a Lion, Snake, and Goat. The more I work with it, though, the more I see that I am creating my own Chimera, a combination of myself within one beast. So instead, the three creatures are a Lion, Zebra, and Flamingo. It’s way more fun, and very me.
I spent the entire weekend working away on it, and I’ve gotten the foundation dress entirely made. Yesterday was devoted to making the heads that the model will wear. Thanks to my former studio teacher, Michael Jones McKean, I’ve learned how to work with paper mache and I’ve used that to my advantage. All three heads are made purely of cardboard, hot glue and wire mesh, and then covered in paper mache. Once they’re done they’ll be light as a feather and incredibly durable. Once I’ve finished paper mache-ing them I’ll cover them with fur and paint to make them realistic.
The outfit will be done by the end of November so it can go to the show. There’s more I’m going to do, but I’ll leave it as a surprise for later… We’ll see how it goes!
Below are some process shots so you can see how the heck I get from point A to point Z:
Beginning of the lion headpiece, with inspiration at left:
fleshing in details with wire mesh (thank god for screen doors!)
the fellow creatures collar:
the basic dress:
so there’s my life… kinda crazy!
that I can’t help but love. They’re kooky over there, and I love every minute of it. One day I will travel over there to live and make art.
Icelandic Love Corporation:
My friend Anne Douglas suggested that I should enter the Emerging Designer Competition: Southeast, an event sponsored by Charleston Fashion Week. The event sounds like tons of fun and it’s an opportunity for me to showcase my work. I have no idea if I’ll be accepted, but it’s always fun for me to apply for things, so we’ll see how it goes. The application was due today so Mel was kind enough to come over and let me take some photos of her for the thing. I guess I’ll find out in November how it works out!
SO, my mom is in the Roanoke Ballet Theatre, a dance company based down in Roanoke, VA. I’ve been lucky enough to go to a few rehearsals and I’ve been thrilled to get to know her teacher and friend, Liza Deck. Well, Liza and I have been chatting and it ended up happening that I designed seven costumes for their upcoming show this Friday!
It was lots of fun to make these, as Liza is very free spirited and open to other people’s creativity, which I love. I kind of went wild when I made them, creating individual looks and making them completely malleable—you can rearrange and re-tie them, cut them and fold them however you like! and they all have super full skirts so that when you dance in them they really move.
I really enjoyed doing this, hopefully there will be more collaboration down the line!
it appears that I’m all over the University! First I came back from New Zealand to discover this poster all over the campus, advertising for the grant that Melanie and I received that sent us to New Zealand.
THEN this week they released Studio magazine, an annual publication that the University sends out to all faculty, staff, alumni and current students. It gives updates about things that are going on at the school, and my picture is on the cover.
It’s been a rough few weeks since getting back from New Zealand. Jen and Jim, two of my friends from camp, visited that first week, which was spectacular. They have unbelievably positive energy that kept me going even though I was exhausted and jet-lagged. But then they left and my apartment seemed giant and empty, which has been really difficult. It’s been hard ever since, living in such silence without companionship. I’m ready to move on from Richmond. I get to go home on Wednesday because it’s fall break, and I can’t wait to be home for a while. I’m planning on doing a photo essay on my house and town as a way to really get back into my photography. I’ll be posting photos while I’m home.
and I found a poem that I wrote last winter. It sums up my mood right now. I need to start writing more again.
I will not hold anyone in suspense, so I will go ahead and say that we didn’t win anything. and I (we) are perfectly happy with that, because last night we witnessed one of the most spectacular things of all time. All I can say is that I am proud to have been a part of a show of this caliber. It was truly spectacular, and again and again I couldn’t help but say “WOW.”
We spent all of yesterday wandering shops and doing nothing, just counting down the time until we could start getting ready for the show. Eventually we went back to our hotel and got ready for the show, putting on our fancy fancy dresses and our Kay Adams necklaces (shameless plug). Then we walked down the street in our fancy fancy dress and got an amazing hot fudge sundae at a Belgian restaurant of similar style to Can Can.
Then we went over to the show where the spectacular display began. In the lobby performers were mingling with the crowd, dancing among them and talking to everyone. There were men wearing rhinestone covered colonial outfits on stilts that wandered through above everyone. Once inside there were sets of dancers all through the 3,000 seat arena, improv dancing on the chairs and in the aisles along with clowns.
Once the lights went down the spectacular began. I can’t even begin to explain the complexity and the beauty of the show; it is beyond anything that the mind could understand. Mel and I sat there in awe, again and again gasping at how unbelievable everything was. A few highlights:
The men’s section, in which a slew of women came out singing “I need a hero” and then twenty male dancers came out in superman costumes. They pushed out an old mini cooper that was covered to look like a disco ball and then flew the car into the center of the stage and used it as a disco ball while twenty more men in glittery silver cowboy outfits came out and danced in the aisles.
Or the Pacific section in which the entire wall behind the models had a giant projection of a man graffiti-ing it, which got progressively more colorful as the set went on until a set of break-dancers came out on stage and did a huge dance with live drummers. Or the children’s section, in which giant vines literally grew from the ceiling and then a child climbed into a giant bird’s nest and flew through the arena in a makeshift ship.
I could go on and on and on about how incredible it was, but it would take hours. Let it just be said that I was so proud to see our pieces on stage in a show of that caliber. The dragon looked amazing and Mel and I were so proud. My set of tent dresses made me cry, they were so beautiful on stage. Watching the show was so inspiring to me, gave me so many ideas and helped me figure out even more of what I want to do and how I want to execute future garments. In two hours the inspiration was endless.
So bravo to us and everyone who has helped us undertake this year of work. It was so worth it, and I’m sad that everyone couldn’t experience the magic that we witnessed last night.
Now we’re in the coffee shop for our final time, chatting with the barista. We have four hours before we have to catch a taxi to the airport and then do thirty hours of traveling. That bit we are not looking forward to. I am so sad to leave this beautiful, welcoming, extraordinary country. It’s been an amazing, wild ride, and I can’t wait to come back. Soon, I hope.
Love from around the world, from both of us.
Yesterday we spent with all of the international designers, and I have to say that it was the least eventful day that we’ve spent here in the city. Perhaps the suddnely cold and rainy weather put a damper on things, or perhaps we’ve gotten out of the habit of speaking to anyone but each other. Whatever it was, we we’re really in the mood for small talk or all of the events that they had planned for us. There were some moments that were spectacular, but there was so much hurry up and wait that Mel and I got impatient.
We started by getting a tour of the arena where the show is held. They toured us through the front and back of the theater so we got to see where the stored all of the costumes and where all of the models get ready. That was a treat, as they never let anyone backstage who’s not in the show. We even got to walk out onto the stage and see out into the audience.
In the lobby they had a giant blowup of every single piece in the show, so you got to see what everyone else has made. I have to say, that was the moment that I got incredibly nervous. Everthing is so spectacular, there’s not a CHANCE that we could get anything. Still, it was awesome to finally see what everyone else has made. It’s all incredible, that’s for sure. While we were waiting to leave the arena Ingrid Peak, who’s in charge of all of the garments sat down and chatted with us. She was STUNNED and so excited that VCU paid for us to come here and she wants to sit down and talk with us more about how that happened and to see if there’s any way to integrate WOW into the curriculum at VCU. That was an exciting possibility to me, so I’m happy to talk about that more.
Next we went to the botanical gardens, which would have been amazing if it hadn’t been raining. Instead we were stuck inside and lectured about natural fibers for clothing, which would have been interesting… if there has been a good speaker. In the middle of it I got pulled out of the crowd to be interviewed for some big television station or something. It was really great because I got to tell the saga of shipping the dragon, which they LOVED. So that was eventful.
Next we drove around the coast to the WETA cave, which is where they produced ALL of the special effects for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. That was a stunning tour. We actually were allowed to go down into the physical workshop, which apparently they never do. We got to see Gollum, face molds of all of the cast members from LOTR, as well as molds of John Travolta, Brad Pitt, Jack Nicholson and many many others. We also saw the full original set of weaponry made for LOTR and all of the Oscars they’ve won. And that’s only touching the surface. The list of things we saw and the stuff that they told us about was mind blowing. They were saying that they hire young people who can sew one day and then help with welding the next and then miniature model building the next day. That everything at WETA is completely interdisiplinary. and I was like I NEED TO WORK HERE NOW. So there’s my next goal, to work for WETA. hah. hah. Good luck with that.
After that tour they took us back for a cocktail event where several models walked the room and showed off this year’s pieces. We stayed for a bit and mingled, then broke off and went out for dinner at Burger Fuel, another place that Bart mentioned. Delicious! Then we just wandered back to our hotel and watched a movie until we went to sleep. I swear, we are so boring. The latest we’ve been to sleep all night is 9:30. Oh dear…
So today is show day, and tomorrow we leave. SAD. It’s been awesome. We’ll see how the show goes. I’m sure I’ll be biting my nails…
So Tuesday’s hike to the overlook looked like a walk in the city park compared to yesterday’s adventure. It started off pretty simply. We knew we wanted to walk up to the wind turbine, another one of Bart’s suggestions, so we wandered the city and worked our way towards Cuba street, where the path started. We stopped and had lunch at this amazing cafe called Fidel’s. It this tiny little room that branches out into different spaces all through the building, including multiple outdoor cafes. The food was AMAZING. We were wishing that they had places like that back in the US.
From there we started our innocent hike up into the outer residential regions of the city. It was quite a hike up these incredibly steep hills and winding roads, but we just thought about all of the exercise we were getting for our dance class at home… after a looong climb we ended up completely out of the city and into the adjacent town of Brooklyn, which was itty bitty and very reminiscent of Abington, VA. We stopped at an adorable antiques store that FINALLY had decent prices. It was a very amazing shop that was so similar to home.
After that we continued up another incredibly steep hill through a series of houses. And then we walked. and walked. and walked. and gasped at the views as we climbed higher and higher and wound further and further away from the city. I really can’t explain how much we walked and how steep those hills were. We kept winding up into the mountain following the signs for the wind turbine until we finally got to a designated walking path that would take us to it. We thought for sure that we were almost there, but oh no. Another half hour of incredibly steep hills would stand between us and the top.
But god was it worth it. When we got to the top we could see a 360 view of the country. It was breathtaking. We lie in the grass and listened to the thump thump thump of the turbine’s blades and looked out to the Pacific Ocean. Really, I’ve never seen anything so spectacular. But very shortly we were freezing (it was super windy) so we decided to hike back down the “path”. Now, here’s where things get wonky. Suddenly the things around us didn’t look so familiar. But on we trekked down the path, commenting more and more on how we didn’t remember seeing any of this.
Eventually the path ended and dumped us out into a children’s playground, somewhere very very far from where we were supposed to be. Even now we have no idea how we got lost, as the path is a straight line. It is a complete mystery how we could have taken a wrong turn, as there are no turns to take… Anyways, we walked through the subdivisions working our way down the mountain. Finally a very nice woman told us to take the “road” down and then walk down a very steep set of steps. What she actually meant was tumble down the vertical incline and then walk down a ladder. It was SO STEEP.
So after following instructions and giggling about being stupid Americans we emerged in the shadow of a huge valley. and kept walking aimlessly until we finally emerged on a road that was on a map I had. We steadily followed it until we were back in the city we knew. We traipsed the rest of the distance home and collapsed in the hot tub, having had more than our share of adventure for the day. Leave it to us to get lost in the mountains.
and now we’re… in the coffe shop! and in half an hour we’re going for International Designer’s Day where they tour us around the city and show us everything. Exciting! and the show’s tomorrow! OH BOY!
Yesterday was full of adventure! We started by walking down to the Courtenay area of Wellington, which is primarily the food district of the city. We went to Te Papa, the Maori museum down by the water, which was incredible. We wandered for a few hours looking at all of the displays until we got hungry. We got lunch at this great cajun restaurant, which we found amusing because we live closer to New Orleans than any of these people could dream of. But the best part is how we found the restaurant.
I worked at a summer camp this summer and one of my co-counselors, Bart, is from Wellington. As soon as I found out I told him and he ended up writing me a four page front and back guide to the city. I can’t even tell you how helpful this has been! For one, it describes the basics of the city, like details about the four quarters. But it also gives restaurant recommendations and cool things to do in the area.
After lunch we decided to follow Bart’s first recommendation, which was to find the rope swing hidden on the side of this “hill” (read: short mountain). So we started climbing out of the city and up into the surrounding residential areas. It was neat to get out of the heart of everything and see how the normal people live. The place really is a mind trip. It’s got steep steep hills with stacked houses, so it’s this odd mix of San Fransisco and Greece. Every time we turned around and looked down the view of the city got more spectacular.
Eventually we found the rope swing, but someone was swinging on it so we kept hiking up to the peak where there was a 360 degree view of the city. It was spectacular. Words don’t do any sort of justice to how insanely beautiful this place is. We were blown away (literally. it’s a really windy city) by how stunning eveything is. We are so lucky.
On the way down we swang on the swing, which was amazing. Then we trekked on down and stopped at this amazing church that we had passed on the way up. We followed these secret paths that are EVERYWHERE (New Zealand knows how to use its alleys) and ended up getting a great view of the church and eventually another amazing lookout into the bay. Stunning.
Once we were all the way back down we walked on the shore for a bit and put our toes in the sand. Then we went to a grocery store and went to town. For some reaason we both LOVE wandering grocery stores, so going to a foreign one was like an amusement park. We bought stuffs for dinner and then walked back across the city where we spent the rest of the evening eating tacos and watching terrible Disney Channel.
and now here we are again in the cafe. Today I think we’re going to hike all the way up a different mountain and see a giant wind turbine. Sounds like a plan!
where the show is going to be:
standing on New Zealand at Te Papa!
view from the church:
overwhelmed by amazingness at the rope swing:
one of those San Fran/Greecian hills:
random hidden garden:
another hidden overlook?!
Another day in New Zealand! Yesterday was just getting our feet under us in the city. We spent the day wandering the shops through the Lambton Quarter and over into the Cuba quarter. The city is so fun and quaint, though a bit strange. The architecture is truly bizarre. It’s a little bit of everything, from traditional giant skyscrapers to old Victorian style houses to the beach-style houses that line the mountains. Mel and I never pay attention to the architecture, but this city is so bizarre that we’ve started paying attention.
We found an awesome fabric store in the middle of one of the main streets in the city. It was amazing to see sewing still hold a place in society even though it’s a dying are in the US. The selection of fabrics that they had was stunning. Mel and I ran through the stores yelling “Look at this! NO, look at THIS!.” We also noticed that Wellington has a stunning sense of fashion. The clothing that we saw in the stores was phenomenal, and we have no idea how New Zealand hasn’t broken onto the fashion scene. Someone needs to tap the possibilities that this country holds!
We ended up going to a bunch of vintage/thrift shops, which was tons of fun. We each ended up buying several things that are awesome. In fact, we’re wearing them now! The one thing about the city that’s driving us crazy is how EXPENSIVE everything is. Even with the exchange rate, which is in our favor, everything is still double what it is in the states. We can’t figure out why everything is so horrendously expensive, but it’s quite a bummer.
So we spent most of the day shopping and perusing the city. This morning we were up by seven and went to a conference room on the second floor and practiced our dance mid-term that’s due the week we get back. Then we went for a swim in the hotel pool. I have no idea what we have planned today. At some point we want to hike up the mountain that backs the city and see the view. Considering it’s rainy and gross today, maybe we’ll end up going to a museum or something today. Who knows! The possibilities are endless!
fabric store shock:
a small taste of New Zealand fashion:
that’s right, the two dollar store:
the most helpful sign in New Zealand:
see, I’m meant to be here:
these are everywhere:
some of the strange architecture:
We finally made it through the jet-lag phase of international travel. The concierge at the hotel was AMAZING and managed to get our hotel room by eleven thirty in the morning, which was spectacular. So we went up to our room, which is AMAZING. It has an increidlble view of the city, backed by the towering mountains of New Zealand. We both had showers, which were magnificent. In fact, we felt a million times better once we were clean.
Then we went out and wandered the streets of Wellington, looking for a place to eat, which turned out to be incredibly difficult, as it was Sunday and everything was closed. Still, it was good to walk the city. It’s a charming place, and remarkably like a very clean, very QUIET Manhattan. Really, it is so quiet here. The people are quiet, the airports and quiet, and the city is quiet. Needless to say, we stick out like sore thumbs. Also, as Melanie said, “Even the pigeons are skinny here!!!!”
One thing we noticed is that people stare at us, even when we don’t talk (which gives away our accent). It took me a while to figure out that I was wearing New Zealand’s rugy team color (which incidentally happen to be VCU’s colors, black and gold) from head to toe. And there was a GIANT rugby match that afternoon, so everyone else was wearing the same colors. What a funny cultural faux pas!
After wandering we went and got groceries at the store, which happens to be located in the train station (why? I have no idea). Everyone was pouring in to the station to go to the game, so we got to see everyone decked out in their attire, including two guys in black and gold spandex suits. After groceries, which was quite an ordeal because we were so sleep deprived that we couldn’t make any coherent decisions, we went back to the hotel and spent the rest of the afternoon watching terrible tv, just counting down the hours until we could legitimately go to sleep by New Zealand standards. FINALLY at seven thirty I crashed out and slept fo fourteen hours. It was magnificent.
So now we’re over the jet lag and ready to GO! We’re headed down to the Cuba quarter (the Greenwich Village type area) to hit up thrift shops. Watch out New Zealand, HERE WE COME!
we found guacamole in a container, which doesn’t exist at home but something that we’ve ALWAYS desired
It is to my eleation that I can FINALLY say that Melanie and I are sitting in a coffee shop in Wellington, New Zealand. It has been an excruciatingly long journey, that is for sure, but it is unbelievable to finally be sitting here. We have run from security check to security check, removed our shoes, bags, coats, jewelry and numerous other personal items, and spent over twenty hours in the belly of super-sized jets.
We barely slept on the trip from LA to Auckland, as it’s impossible to get comfy on those things and there were screaming children residing an isle over from us. But nevertheless the flight was lovely, with unbelievable amounts of free movies and spectacular meals that they served. My internal clock is all discombobulated; It is completely mind-bending to know that it’s ten a.m. here, but my laptop says that it’s 6:50 p.m. It’s going to take a bit to get used to this.
The country is already sensational. The people are incredibly polite and accomodating, and the country is stunning. I can’t even explain this place, it truly is like we flew into the Lord of the Rings series, or stepped into an alternate universe. All I can say is that as Mel and I sit here we both feel nearly moved to tears by just how grand this has already been. This is…. unreal.
Also, apparently World of Wearable Art is a BIG deal here in the city… The first thing we saw when we stepped off of the plane was a GIANT advertisement for WOW. There are banners covering the airport, giant WOW flags lining every street and a projection of last year’s show on the television set in the lobby of our hotel. We are stunned… we had no idea the show was such a big deal! Still, we refuse to let ourselves get nervous about it, otherwise we’ll be an even bigger wreck than we already were.
So now we’re sipping coffee, waiting for our hotel room to be ready and making sure we don’t snap at each other because we’re so grumpy from lack of sleep. Once we have a room we’re showering (we smell pretty bad) and then getting some lunch (WHAT? It’s almost time for bed at home!) and grocery shopping, before we spend the rest of the day at the hotel pool (hard life, I know.) We can’t possibly exert any more energy by exploring the city today. We’ll save that for tomorrow.
HUGS AND KISSES FROM NEW ZEALAND!
the sunrise was chasing us:
my first view of New Zealand:
New Zealand is very green:
the first thing we saw after getting off the plane:
tired, gross, but very much in NEW ZEALAND!
flawless start to the trip. we made it to Dulles in under two hours because there was no traffic. seamless security check; Melanie’s infamous airport bad luck didn’t get us down, and neither of us got pulled over for a separate screening. and now we’re waiting in the terminal to fly to L.A. thus it begins!
Tomorrow morning Melanie and I drive up to DC to board our plane that will take us to NEW ZEALAND! Right now I’m packing (can’t you tell?) and trying to remember everything I need. It’s taken months and months to get here, with much sewing and arranging and dealing with getting stuffed animals through customs, but we’ve done it! I can’t even explain the excitement I feel about this whole thing. It honestly feels like a dream. It won’t be real until I’m on the plane, or possibly until I’m in the country.
So now I will go back to cramming my bags. But let me say a great THANK YOU to everyone who has been a support through this whole endeavor, from my family and friends to people at my University. It has taken a village to make this project become a reality, and I am so grateful for all of the support that I have received through this whole thing. Now comes the reward.
I should be updating this daily. Stay tuned to see this crazy expedition unfold.
NEW ZEALAND, HERE WE COME!
I made an escape from Richmond on Friday evening because my parents we gracious enough to drive over a pick me up. Since then I’ve been home and it has been spectacular. I get so sick of Richmond these days, what with the noise and the lack of comradery. I miss the intense friendships that I’ve formed and the continual happiness that I felt at camp. But so it goes.
It’s been spectacular to be home. Spending time with my parents has been great, and just being back in my home was much needed, as I haven’t been here since May. Yesterday we went to Roanoke so mom could go to her dance rehearsal. I got to watch and chat with Liza, one of the teachers at the RBT about collaborating with her on making costumes for an upcoming piece of hers.
The most exciting news of the day was that after dance class was over, we went out to Vinton and I bought a car! I’ve been needing one since Amy took her’s back and I’ve been shopping for a while now. I stumbled into this beauty on craigslist and knew I needed it. and now it’s MINE! It’s a 1983 Honda Civic that’s been completely restored. The original owner fixed it up for his daughter as her first car, but she decided she wanted an automatic instead so he sold it. It’s a beauty! I’m excited to have the freedom that I’ve been lacking for a while.
so now I drive my new car back to Richmond to pick up Helen from the airport! She’s staying with me for a week until I go to NEW ZEALAND! I can’t wait! It’s going to be great to have her here, but she’s unfortunately going to get stuck with me while I run around frantically trying to tie up loose ends around RVA. But it’ll be good to have her with me!
My life is crazy, huh?