Congratulations, Nan! I hope your daughter will enjoy the lovely set of nail files. To claim the prize, please drop me a line at fsisa [at] thefrontpageonline.com.
Thanks to everyone who participated.
How did you come to conceive and develop your own jewelry collection?
Most of my efforts are invested into the Adorable Mayhem collection. The idea was first conceived during my graduate studies at San Diego State University in the Metalsmithing department. I made a series of interactive, silver toy rings based on my own experience with hamsters. A few years ago, I used to own Roborovski hamsters which are dwarf hamsters. Much to my dismay, their extreme animosity towards each other resulted in the ultimate demise of one of the hamsters. Following this incident, I proceeded to delve more deeply into researching hamsters and discovered that they are in actuality solitary creatures that will exhibit extreme hostility towards each other if housed together.
Based on a recommendation of a friend, I appropriately titled the hamster ring series Adorable Mayhem as they are cute creatures involved in violent activities. This spawned the whole idea for a jewelry line of cute animal characters with flawed personalities. The “Adorable”characters exhibit a range of expressions: sadness, fear, anger, surprise, etc. I find the irony both refreshing and oddly humorous.
How do you typically develop a piece from drawing board to completed work?
I am very much inspired by Japanese popular culture, from anime, toys, packaging, and specific artists such as Takashi Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara. This influence inspires the overall aesthetic of the characters.
Some forms that I see can spark an idea for a new character. Then I determine the personality of the character and what animal might best fit his persona. I create a variety of sketches until I come up with a design that I feel best reflects the essential qualities of that character. I then take the finalized design and will either hand fabricate my originals or cast them in metal.
What philosophy drives your design?
Making well-designed and well-crafted products is very important to me. I love attention to detail and therefore consider all aspects of a particular piece. For my jewelry, I design all the clasps, the name tags, ear wires and pendants and primarily work in sterling silver. In addition, when I do utilize other services, I try to support other small local businesses when I can.
As a one-person operation, I’m involved in all aspects of the business. I create the graphic design for signage, business cards, t-shirts, and tote bags, in addition to the metalwork. Being knowledgeable of a variety of processes is empowering. If one has direct understanding of the materials, one can understand their limitations and possibilities. Expanding my skill set has definitely helped me become a better designer.
And finally, I like to be able to offer people something that brings a little joy to their lives through experiencing the odd, yet charming humor in my work.
In a field that tends to focus on women, you stand out for also offering a men’s collection. What is the story behind “Adonis”?
The “Adonis” is a higher-end, men’s jewelry line that is still in its infancy. All the pieces are one-of-a-kind particularly since I employ uniquely cut semi- precious stones. The jewelry is more substantial because I incorporate large stones and bold, graphic forms in silver. This aesthetic lends itself to a more masculine feel.
The title came from the story of Adonis, who is a strikingly, handsome young man that caught the attention of the gods in Greek mythology.
From retail collection, to art exhibits, your work is getting increased exposure. What are you ambitions for your work and where do you see yourself in five years?
I started my business a year ago and I have been exhibiting at a variety of retail shows in order to find my place in the market. In five years, I would like to have a successful small business. My hope is for that to become a reality.
At that five year mark, I would like to have published a series of comic books for the Adorable Mayhem line. I’ve been in the process of sketching out comic panels involving the various characters. This step seems essential to further enrich the concept of the line. The audience would become more invested in the characters lives and purchase pieces based on characters they could relate to.
I view Adorable Mayhem , primarily, as a retail venture, however, there could be a possibility that I would expand into selling wholesale. On a side note, being featured in glossy magazines couldn’t hurt either!
And lastly, I foresee continuing to teach jewelry courses at the UCSD Crafts Center in conjunction with running my business. It keeps me on my toes by challenging myself to continually learn new technique and ultimately, offer more material to my students. Presenting myself with this challenge has not only benefited me as an instructor, but also as a business owner. Teaching is very fulfilling for me. It’s a good feeling to help people do something that I love doing: making jewelry.
5. How does making your own costume related to your overall sense of fashion and style?Many thanks to Anna for taking the time to discuss her truly wonderful costume.
This is a tough one. I don't think I have a very defined sense of fashion or style, aside from "inexpensive, comfortable, orange". Inexpensive definitely didn't apply. I suppose it could if I ever did it again, now that I know what I'm doing and wouldn't waste so much money on failed attempts. Orange doesn't either, haha.
I guess comfortable relates the best. Even though I was making it primarily for Halloween, I knew I wanted something comfortable. I knew our house gets very hot with so many people in it, even in October, so something light-weight and short sleeve/sleeveless was important. Comfortable shoes were important. Something flexible I could move around in and sit in played a LARGE part in the skirt (hence the squishy stress balls rather than styrofoam like most girls use). Given that Halloween involves drinking and I am naturally flaily and playfully aggressive, I needed to keep objects out of my hands. Also, I hate holding things in general.
I knew I'd probably bring it to Comic Con, after spending so much time on it, so keeping hands free for swag was an important part as well. And being compact enough to navigate the exhibition hall was important.
I guess for general sense of style/fashion is doesn't match much, but for costumes and stuff I'm quite a perfectionist, so I'd rather make something myself than buy it, so I can be sure it meets my standards.
For the hat, I don't know if this counts as style, but I knew it's have to be a normal hat, not any sort of helmet or mask (like the purchasable Dalek voice changer helmets). I don't like breathing recycled air (even scarves in the winter bother me) and if I saw a celebrity and could get a picture, I wanted my face visible.
4. What response did your costume get at Comic-Con?And if you missed the previous questions, click here. The last question will post on Monday.
It went over really well! I knew to expect (and brace myself) for people stopping to ask me for pictures and stuff, but I was not expecting other people in amazing costumes to start screaming in delight over how amazing it was. Especially when I was starting to walk away, to hear them still going on to their friends how awesome it was.
It was also fun to see people get more excited the more details they noticed. The hat is pretty immediate but not that it lights up when I speak. People loved the gloves and several people who noticed the Dalek mutant squid necklace I'd made squealed over that too.
It was especially hilarious for me to be noticed by people who were *not* Doctor Who fans. I had several people come up and ask "What are you dressed as? A Dalek? I don't know what that is, but you look awesome" or "Hey! Awesome steampunk outfit!". It was completely unexpected, haha.
I also wore it two days in a row (Saturday and Sunday). Saturday I was at a few Hall H panels and asked questions, so hearing the entire audience giggle/murmur in delight when I was on screen was overwhelming. Getting the panelists (the director of Resident Evil and the moderator of the Paul panel) to comment on it was particularly stunning. I thought that was awesome enough, but then the next day people recognized me from the costume/panels and approached me to say how awesome my questions were. I was not expecting that, either! Complete surprise side-effect of the costume, haha.
Sunday was the Doctor Who cosplay meet-up, and everyone up there loved it. Other people whose costumes were amazing, that I was like "ohhh, I want a picture with them!" came up to compliment mine and ask for a picture. Mind blowing!
3. How did you make the costumes, and with what materials?Two more questions to go. Stay tuned! And remember the giveaway!
I did a lot of sketches when I first got the idea, just to wrap my head around all the shapes and details that trigger "DALEK!" when you see them. Then I did a lot of sketches incorporating those details onto a dress-shape. In the end I was pretty close to my sketches, but the skirt doesn't flare as much as I'd originally planned.
I actually wasted about 6 yards of muslin on tests, using store-bought patterns for dresses or skirts, or just trying to wing it.
In the end I actually based a lot of it (the entire skirt and 'fender' ruffle) on the actual Dalek build blueprints, from those online groups who build life-size Daleks as a hobby. I downloaded the 2005 series plans and did a LOT of Pythagorean Theorem maths to scale it down to fit me. I still have a HUGE stack of papers covered in notes and calculations and measurements.
Once I had the measurements for all the pieces (the skirt is 11 main panels, and each main panel has 3 fender panels at the bottom... all of which had to be scaled down) I drew them onto pattern paper, which I then cut out.
For that early phase, my most useful tools were a red sharpie, pattern paper, muslin, scissors, a calculator, and Classic Doctor Who episodes, haha.
The top, as I mentioned, was all sorts of fail. I finally found a prom dress pattern that I could use, but it was still a bit baggy. My cousin is a professional seamstress, so I ended up having to get her help fitting it to me properly and helping with the lace-up closure on the back. But aside from that and a bit of soldering help from a friend for the hat, I did everything myself. :3 It really became my baby and I got angry if people offered or tried to help. Almost territorial.. "NOOO DON'T TOUCH! It's my project! I have to make it! All by myself! I don't need help! If you help then it's sort of your project too and I want it to by mine!"
I have the entire dress made out of uber cheap muslin, too, since I did not have enough taffeta to afford a screw up. Basically it was a LOT of trial and error. I make it sound like I did all sorts of planning ahead of time, but a lot of it was making it up as I went along. I don't really have the patience or attention span to sit and think and plan perfectly ahead of time; I'd rather jump right in and see how things work. Which then leads to all sorts of fail, haha, but in the end it comes together.
One detail I didn't mention there is the top part of the dress. The darker bit is the same bronzy fabric, but with four layers of blach mesh over it. The vertical lines and the straps are a sparkley bronze ribbon.
It took a long time. I started in August just after getting back from Con and finished the day of Halloween. And even then, some of it was just "good enough" for Halloween. The gloves you saw at the Con were a more polished version I threw together just before leaving. During all the failed attempts and beginning of the final product, I went through all of series 1-4, The Next Doctor, Planet of the Dead, and a whole slew of Fourth Doctor stories on Netflix. So much of that was tracing patterns, cutting, and so, so much pinning. Never ending hours of pinning fabric together. Most of that was on the muslin version, too. Cutting, pinning and sewing the final dress took less than a week.
2. What challenges did you face in translating a character that appears as a robot-like shell into a practical costume?Question three posts tomorrow.
This was an adventure, haha. One major challenge was that I've never made clothes before. The last time I'd done a true sewing project was in Home Ec class in middle school, over 10 years ago.
My biggest challenge was compromising with myself on screen accuracy vs practicality (of wearing it and creating it). I had to constantly remind myself "okay, this is a fabric dress you will wear. It's not made of metal or even wood. It won't keep its exact shape. Just get the point across."
So I focused on what the biggest defining features were. The dome with lights and eye stalk. That I knew right from the beginning would be a hat, because I was not sacrificing anything there.
I figured out early on how to do the skirt, so aside from being very time consuming, it wasn't too difficult. The top part, though, was so frustrating and problematic that I actually gave up on it for nearly a month. I couldn't just do straight lines, like with the skirt. Trying to get it to properly fit all my curves, without being too baggy or too tight, was a huge challenge.
A lot of things I referred to girls who'd previously done it. I'd look up pictures online to see how they tackled certain elements what what sort of compromises they made. Some of them who were available, I'd ask how they did something or what they used. Everyone is super nice and helpful and encouraging. :)
A minor challenge was finding the supplies to fit my vision. It took me months and several failed attempts to find a proper base for the hat, proper housing for the dome lights, etc. All the tiny details were the hardest to get together.
1. Why a Dalek?Stay tuned for Question Two, posting tomorrow...
Last June (2009) is when my good friend finally dragged me (practically kicking and screaming - he got me when I was trapped at his house waiting for laundry to dry) into Doctor Who. I'd resisted for a long time, as I tend to do with new shows, but I was interested 15 minutes into The Christmas Invasion. By the time the Doctor stepped out of the TARDIS near the end, I was hooked.
I blew through series 1 and 2 in a weekend. 3 and 4 I watched with him (since he hadn't seen them yet either) over the next two weeks. A few weeks later when we hit Comic Con, I was still in the honeymoon phase of my passionate obsession. David Tennant being there was awesome. Since it was the end of his run and my first Con as a Who fan, I noticed a LOT more Doctor Who cosplay than I had previously. Specifically I saw a lot of Dalek girls. I thought that was awesome. I wanted to dress up as something and started planning for Halloween. I knew I wouldn't do any versions of the Doctor, since girls cross-dressing as male characters is a pet peeve of mine (I have no idea why). Didn't really want to do the companions because I didn't feel comfortable matching their body types and their outfits are not "Hey, that person is wearing a costume" except to fans of the show. So I thought "I love Daleks, they're my favorite enemies. These girls have awesome Dalek dresses.. maybe I could be a Dalek."
Shortly after that I walked past David Tennant in the hall and had a major brain meltdown. I didn't even function enough to say 'hi!'. Just froze until he was out of sight, then pointed and made a high pitched noise for a few minutes. My only thought during that brainfreeze was "omg if I were dressed like a Dalek right now, he would've noticed me and said hi." So that pretty much sealed it.
It solved my problem of needing a Halloween costume and also fed my nerdy fangirl attempts at celebrity attention, haha. And it's a bit unique. There are all sorts of superheroines and Doctor Who characters at Comic Con or Halloween parties or whatnot, but a Dalek is a bit more memorable and as such, was something that really kept me motivated during the rough spots.