Margot and I always look forward to the first weekend in August. It's a lot of work, but the reward surpasses the energy expended. We get to teach eager costumers, feast our eyes on all manner of expertly sewn costumes, exchange ideas with other skilled artisans, and plain get inspired. This year's Costume College was no exception.
After loading the car (upper left), setting up the booth (upper right), eating "the lobster roll" at the host hotel (a Marriott) I had been dreaming about all year long (bottom left), and basking in the glory of a job well and speedily done (bottom right), we freshened up and got ready to sell our wares.
This year we decided to try a new type of class to teach. Usually, we introduce our students to the craft by showing them how to paint a pair of shoes, or a handbag, from start to finish. This crowd is so advanced they already know how to do that.
The January before the show, I talked Margot into a techniques class instead. "It'll be easy," I said, "We only have to discuss certain techniques rather than a start-to-finish kind of thing. We have everything already." She agreed and stuck me in the driver's seat.
As they say, the devil is in the details, so I picked four techniques I thought this crowd could actually use: Antiquing with paint, Margot's faux spectator shoes, faux embroidery on suede, and tips for mixing custom colors. To accomplish this, four mini kits with specialty supplies needed to be prepared for 20 students. If you do the math it looks roughly like 4 different kits x (3 or 4 items in each kit) x 20 students = Don't let Destiny have any more bright ideas. I'm joking, mostly. It was a lot of prep time, but this crowd is TOTALLY worth it.
I was more nervous about how it would be received. I had never taught anything but a how-to class aimed at beginners. And up until then, I had only been Margot's assistant. I thought for sure I was gonna bomb my first lead performance. Like most other milestones in my life, my nerves were unfounded. The group was great. The class went smoothly. And we got to impart some intermediate-level shoe knowledge.
One of our students, Pamela, from Seattle showed us the AMAZING shoes she created to go with one of her costumes (photos above on the left). She made them on the way to Costume College. Let me say that again, she made them ON THE WAY TO COSTUME COLLEGE. They are completely mind-blowing. Not only did she make fabulous shoes and marvelous costumes, but created the most epic hat I saw all weekend. (It was also the biggest hat at the event!) She said it is in six parts and has to be assembled. STELLAR!
Margot and I also introduced two new products at Costume College this year.
The Sassy Feet! Mixable-Colors Kit of Neopaque Paints contains the 5 basic shades you need to mix any color, a visual mixing guide with recipes for mixing 18 different colors, including neutrals, PLUS advice on how to mix custom colors, and a 2 oz. bottle of clear acrylic sealer for adding extra protection and bringing a bright shine to the surface of your painted areas. The more coats, the shinier your finish will be. Over the BLACK paint, 3-4 coats will make your shoes or bag look exactly like patent leather!
The Sassy Feet! Fabri-Kit includes two tutorials on two different techniques for covering shoes with fabric, a bottle of the clear-drying flexible glue we recommend for attaching fabric to shoes of leather, man-made leather or fabric, a mini silicone gluing and craft mat, six mini-clamps for holding fabric in place while the glue sets up, and tailor's chalk for marking the fabric before you cut.
Both kits were very well received!
We had a fabulous time doing color consulting …
… getting hands-on and dirty in class …
… coveting some Alexander Henry fabric …
… and hanging out with some real jokers! (The comic book effect in the photo above is intentional!)
Now that my sore muscles have stopped aching, my energy has returned, and life is back to normal, I cannot wait to see you all again next year!