Run, Samson, Run.

This blog entry is all about the Delilah tiara, which I first mentioned here.  In the show Faust, there’s a part (that’s usually cut!) where a whole bunch of beauties do a sexy ballet and try and seduce Faust. In the version we did here, they were all beauties of french opera- Cleopatra, Helen of Troy, Carmen, and of course, Delilah!
First, the mock up.

Built on a wired buckram base, the mock up was mostly to show the director what kind of beads and findings I would use. Because we don’t really have enough money to buy new things, I had to rummage around in our stock of beads.  Covering the cut out form:
Now wiring the top of the tiara:
Wiring the side princess leia-y bits!
Sewing the beads on and putting it all together!
Fitting time! Not quite done- I had to hold the top ball up for the photo!

Shiny beads!
This is an incredibly detailed tiara I’ve made, and I’m proud of myself, I learned a lot making it. But.  (There’s always a but!) One of the problems of working for such a huge opera company is… well, its a huge company, and a huge stage, so sometimes it’s hard to see your work!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

The life cycle of a hat.

Here is a hat that I made. Below is the mock up, made of buckram and some paper. I don’t have pictures of pulling the buckram, but just know that it looks cool. It’s a hat in 3 pieces- lid, tube, both made of buckram, and brim, made of paper in the mock up and made of leather in the real deal.
So the mock up was taken into the fitting, and once it was determined that the designer liked it, I started to make it into a real hat.  First step, wiring the buckram.
Next step, covering the form with flannel. This makes it nice and smooth, so the wire doesn’t stick out so much. This is important with this hat, because the fabric that’s going to cover it is silk.
Then I pulled the fashion fabric tight over the lid and sewed it down. I seamed the fashion fabric and sewed it around the top of the tube. Until this point, the lid of the hat and the tube are separate bodies. By flipping the tube fabric up, I sewed the lid to it so it was completely invisible. Millinery magic.
Now it’s time for the brim, which is made out of cow skin that I dyed and painted and edged.

Normally sewing on the brim would be something I did on the patcher, an ancient sewing machine that cobblers use to mend boots, among other things. But our patcher machine is broken and the only man in the state of New Mexico who knows how to fix it is MIA. So I did it by hand.
Then I put on the band and the trim, and sewed in the lining.
Notice the official SFO label. Final step- Grossgrain ribbon!
Now the hat is ready to go on stage-
Just in time for the dress rehearsal! A milliner’s work well done.

What do I find then, the next morning?
The actress smooshed it in her hands and then kicked it into a puddle onstage!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments


I went to the town of Chimayo a few weeks ago. There’s a little church in the hills there and I’ve been wanting to go for years.
It was even more scenic than I imagined- I can see why it’s one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in the United States.

Apparently people walk all the way from Albuquerque carrying crosses.
So… the other thing about Chimayo is that the devoted believe the earth from the antechamber of the church sanctuary has magic healing properties. You aren’t allowed to take pictures, which is unfortunate (and sad, because in a way, taking photos is sometimes my method of spiritual devotion) but the last thing I would want to do is be disrespectful of someone’s beliefs. But the room with the dirt is really amazing. It’s a little dug out circular hole, and there’s a plastic solo cup in it so you can take some of the very dusty earth. All around the little room are wooden hand painted signs that say things like “no matter your ailment, in your body or heart, trust in god and in his sanctuary in chimayo and you will be healed by this sacred dirt.”  I took the picture below standing just outside the door.
You can barely just see the sign that says “holy dirt room.”  What you can’t see from this picture is the huge rack of crutches that are hanging there, and wheel chairs, and other sorts of medical accessories that the healed shed. I couldn’t stay long in the church itself, because they were just about to have Mass, but the Alter was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Obviously I couldn’t take a picture, but here’s a photo of the postcard that I bought.
It was very serene and holy seeming, but also quite quirky. There seems to be a certain amount of huckster tourist commercialism that is often incorporated into such places, and I’m such a fan of it.
There’s also a strong strain of Do It Yourself worship that seems to run much deeper, which is also very appealing to me.  And more meaningful. These two different ways, which are sometimes so stark in contrast, seemed really in harmony in Chimayo. I would love to go back, and maybe stay for the Mass.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Week one in Santa Fe

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Back To Work

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 3 Comments