What in the world have I been up to? What has taken me away from you, my beloved friends here in our wonderful sewing community?
Finally, I completed my Master's degree! The last year has been spent planning and writing my thesis and designing and curating my Master's project. You know exactly what I mean. Between work and college, my life was not my own. The days melted together, I'm not sure if I ever slept, but I'm sure I lost my mind somewhere in the middle. By the end, when there was nothing more to do than be DONE, it felt surreal. I had been running at full-speed (I'm sure I'd surpassed the speed limit a long time ago) for so long that when I COULD stop, it took a while for my engines to cool. Too revved up for too long.
And then, I slept for a week. Hard.
I have a lot to share with you! Projects, museum visits, etc., etc., it's all there! Let me give you a quick pictorial tour for now - a tease. In future posts, I'll share more project photos and go into greater detail.
Master's Project - "Fall of the American Dressmaker"
|~Gallery exhibit announcement card~|
Experiencing history is far more impactful than simply reading about history. While I did write about the history of the American dressmaker and milliner and the circumstances behind their professional decline, who would care to know, and why does it matter in the grand scheme of American history? I wanted people to care and I wanted people to know; I wanted to garner public interest in women's labor history and bridge the gap between the public and academia. I created and curated an exhibit featuring seven reproduction historical gowns from 1880-1920, each gown representing a pivotal change in women's fashion, each gown a discernible indicator of shifting social attitudes towards female emancipation and visibility.
Originally, I had eight gowns planned, but I only had a ten-week window to create them. I decided to construct the most historically significant gowns first, then work on the rest as time permitted. I finished six of the eight; the seventh was borrowed from my completed collection of historical garments, one that you've seen and I've blogged about. Keep in mind, I had to construct most of the structural undergarments (bustles, hoops, corsets) to accompany the gowns.
|~Undergarments on dummies, stored in the attic as I complete their gowns~|
|~Organizing the dummies and their gowns on the gallery floor~|
After the gowns were completed (I gave myself a December 8th deadline), I began work on the exhibit labels. I had to create 32 these, all backed and mounted. I had three weeks to get them designed and printed - everything had to be installed the first week in January.
|~Printer's proof for the 10 x 18 inch labels~|
|~Printer's proof for the 24 x36 in labels~|
In between all of the designing, draping, sewing, and graphics work, there were press releases to approve, press interviews to give, photographers to meet, a reception to plan, etc., etc...
|~Photographer Sydney Denlinger working her photo magic~|
|~Beverage table set for the reception~|
...and NONE of it would have been possible without the help of friends and family, who provided their time and labor, and industry professionals who rock at their jobs (like the Operational Manager at Office Depot, Jo, who personally printed my exhibit labels then delivered them to me at the gallery so I could make my installation deadline)!
Wright State History Symposium
I had the privilege in mid-April to present at the Eighth Annual History Symposium at Wright State University...
Several of my gowns from the exhibit in January are on display through September 2019 at the Patterson Homestead here in Dayton. Dayton History's collections manager, Gwen Haney, and living history specialist, Rachel Zimmerman, contacted me in October 2018 about including the gowns as part of the homestead's spring opening in May 2019. The gowns were installed May 1, including a reproduction NCR women's factory uniform I created for the homestead's NCR Room. This past Saturday for the spring opening, I was invited to speak about the history and transition of American women's clothing from 1870-1920. I had a wonderful experience and I hope to be invited back.
|~Me, getting my bearing straight before the presentation~|
|~Two of the gowns on display in homestead's great hall~|
There is so much to share, and this is just a snippet! It is so good to be back - how I've missed you!