The North Star

This September I photographed my first garments made from cloth constructed on my loom.  

I was able to photograph the pieces at the North Star House in Grass Valley.  The North Star house was designed by Julia Morgan in 1905.  

Julia Morgan was a civil engineer and the first licensed female architect in California.

Makeup Artist:  Sarah Ely

Photographer:  David Brown

Special Effects: me

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Superimposed onto the image are equations for stress and strain.  When I was at the North Star house I thought of Julia, and her background in engineering, and I wondered what her challenges were like as a first woman.

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Superimposed onto the dress is a photograph of the North Star house as it was being built.

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On my way to my North Star...

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A cape top to save the day~

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One night when I was up late editing photos, I was listening to Tori Amos' new record 'Native Invader'.  The song Bang resonated with me while I was working, so I included the lyrics...

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I saw your Star, so bright it blinded me, I had to shield my eyes...

-Tori Amos

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Immigrants that's who we all are, cause we're all made of Stars...

-Tori Amos

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7 Ways to be an Anti-Fast Fashion Hero

The fashion industry is the second largest industrial polluter behind the oil industry.  Here are 7 ways to think differently and act differently about fashion to help transform the industry.

 

1) If you are a designer you can recycle material scraps at FAB Scrap: http://fabscrap.org

Fabric offcuts represent only 15 per cent of waste.  There is a mountain of waste at the consumer level, some of which is identified: from the rolls to the remnants and all the runs of garments that are either damaged or over-ordered.  80 billion garments are delivered out of factories annually worldwide.

-Orsola de Castro, Founder of From Somewhere, which makes clothes out of recycled offcuts from luxury fabric

 

2)  Donate unworn clothing to those in need to your local women’s center.  In Nevada City, one resource is:  http://www.women-of-worth.org

 

3)  Go back to basics by buying less, and buying a few key pieces that are meant to last.  When you purchase a piece of clothing, how many times do you plan to wear it?  A good rule of thumb is at least 3o times.

Finding a new way of doing fashion means talking about trade in general, about how we treat people and how we treat the earth.  We need to change our trading system completely. I think we need a complete transformation.  I think we need to educate people about the problem of overconsumption, which is a contributing factor the fast fashion industry.

-Dana Geffner, Executive director of US-based consumer organization Fair World Project

 

4) Shop vintage to find quality, well-made, lasting clothes.  If anyone finds a pair of bloomers from the 1800's, let me know.

 

5)  If you like to sew, up-cycle old clothing into something new.  Alabama Chanin has a pattern for turning a t-shirt into a corset tank top in the book Studio Patterns:   

http://alabamachanin.com/alabama-studio-sewing-patterns 

 

6)  One can lower the carbon footprint of clothing in the use phase of a garment’s life cycle by air dry clothing.  Less energy is used, and the piece of clothing will last longer.

 

7) Support and buy from companies who can trace their supply chain, are using fair trade and organic material, and pay their workers a living wage.  People Tree is one company, and there are many more:  http://www.peopletree.co.uk 

People Tree supports hundreds of women, and many have become heads of their households.  Buying fair trade helps families and children build a way out of poverty and exploitation in other countries.  Women can afford to send their children to school, instead of a factory to work.  Fair trade and organic manufacturing protects women with improved working conditions without hazardous circumstances with toxic chemicals.

Exploitation of the voiceless leads to wars and migration.  People need to be able to grow and develop or they are forever stuck in the same relationship with the West (often of suppliers of raw materials).  If trade is really to become fair, people need the chance to learn new and better ways of doing the same thing, and eventually they need to be able to start doing something else.  If communities have the chance to develop new products, market them and invest in new ways of producing new things, then they can truly be sustainable, able to adapt to a changing world.

-Seyi Rhodes, TV reporter and investigative journalist

I never understood the size and scale of fashion’s impact on our world.  It is at the heart of the struggle for human rights and environmental protection and yet in so many ways we don’t take it seriously.  The reality is that as human beings we make choices, and the choices we make around what we wear are having profound implications for our planet as well as for some of our most vulnerable fellow human beings.

-Andrew Morgan, Director of The True Cost

 

For more information on the benefits of organic versus traditional cotton, study 34 has an article: https://www.study34.co.uk/blogs/discover-responsible-fashion-blog/what-is-organic-cotton

For more information on women leading the revolution with new technologies and sustainable innovation in fashion, check out Miroslava Duma at Fashion Tech Lab: https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/bof-exclusive/miroslava-duma-fashion-tech-lab-with-50-million-to-invest

 It would be a big step if people stopped thinking of themselves as consumers and instead thought of themselves as citizens, activists and change makers.

-Tansy Hoskins, author of Stitched Up – The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion

 

In Love with my Loom

Here is the start of my first piece of fabric that I made with my loom...  

I sourced ecological wool and dyed some of the natural thread with madder root from a natural botanical dye company.

Here is the cloth off the loom, after it has been washed and air dried.  All that remains is finishing the edges.  Can't wait to make more designs that can be worn at the beach or in the mountains ~

Archetypes

I am exploring archetypes from multicultural myths and fairy tales in my next oil painting series. 

There are women in my life that embody the different archetypes, and they are willing to be the subject of each painting.    

I used a digital camera in conjunction with photo editing software to create images to paint from.  I photographed my subjects and incorporated parts of other images to create the foundation for large-scale paintings.

Archetypes I am exploring include the Buddhist goddess Kuan Yin, Greek goddesses Artemis and Aphrodite, Sumerian goddess Innana, and characters from the fairy tales “Vasilisa” and “The Handless Maiden”. 

My goal is to resolve the oil painting series, and inspire women to call upon their inner goddesses and archetypes.

Kuan Yin

Kuan Yin is a Buddhist deity.  She is the goddess of mercy and compassion, and is a protector of women.  She sees the world as one, that there is no separation.  My mom represents this goddess because she is the most compassionate person I know.  She has empathy, and is aware of and sensitive to other people’s thoughts and feelings.  My mom is love, hope, and a representation of the divine mother. I took this photo of my mom inside her house about fifteen years ago.  Coincidentally, it is around the same time she discovered Kuan Yin, and starting meditating and praying to her.  I wanted to keep the rooms of my mom’s house in the portrait because her house is her sanctuary. 

Kuan Yin is a Buddhist deity.  She is the goddess of mercy and compassion, and is a protector of women.  She sees the world as one, that there is no separation. 

My mom represents this goddess because she is the most compassionate person I know.  She has empathy, and is aware of and sensitive to other people’s thoughts and feelings.  My mom is love, hope, and a representation of the divine mother.

I took this photo of my mom inside her house about fifteen years ago.  Coincidentally, it is around the same time she discovered Kuan Yin, and starting meditating and praying to her.  I wanted to keep the rooms of my mom’s house in the portrait because her house is her sanctuary. 

Artemis

Artemis is a huntress, and is a woodland goddess.  She represents independence, courage, confidence and physical strength.  Her health and well-being are affected if she is not in nature or spending time with nature spirits. My boyfriend David took this portrait of me in Downieville at one of my favorite river pools.  I lived in Downieville close to four years.  I moved there to start a new chapter in my life, and I looked forward to the solitude.  I brought my art supplies and my mountain bike, and during this time I was racing mountain bikes professionally.  Kelli Emmett was my mountain bike racing coach, and she was the guidance behind my intent to find independence.  I chose Kelli as my coach because she is a champion racer, and is the best climber and descender I know.   Some days I did long rides to Packers Saddle or Chimney Rock, and I pushed myself to ride distances and terrain few would follow.  When I wasn’t on my bike, I was working on the house, working on myself, or working on art.  Once I found a job, I was working remotely from home on structural engineering.  On a day-to-day basis, I saw more animals then people living in Downieville.  Nature had a lot to say, and I will cherish the time I had with the mountains, the rivers, and the wildlife. I learned what it means to hold position.  One day I crossed paths closely with a bear while out riding.  The bear would not budge, and I saw in the eyes there was no negotiation.  I waited until she let me by on the trail. I learned what it means to launch an attack. Another day a hawk attacked me 3 times when I rode too close to its nest.  I saw what her wings were capable of when she had a point to get across.  I’ve never seen something so on point, sharp, and fast.  I learned freedom and power.  On several occasions I followed mountain lion tracks on long loops, in rugged mountain country, after the dusting of snow from the first fall storms.  I saw the distance the mountain lions cover on the upper and lower trails.  I learned how to shape-shift and transform.  Every gorgeous swallowtail butterfly showed me this over and over in the spring and summer.

Artemis is a huntress, and is a woodland goddess.  She represents independence, courage, confidence and physical strength.  Her health and well-being are affected if she is not in nature or spending time with nature spirits.

My boyfriend David took this portrait of me in Downieville at one of my favorite river pools. 

I lived in Downieville close to four years.  I moved there to start a new chapter in my life, and I looked forward to the solitude.  I brought my art supplies and my mountain bike, and during this time I was racing mountain bikes professionally.  Kelli Emmett was my mountain bike racing coach, and she was the guidance behind my intent to find independence.  I chose Kelli as my coach because she is a champion racer, and is the best climber and descender I know.  

Some days I did long rides to Packers Saddle or Chimney Rock, and I pushed myself to ride distances and terrain few would follow.  When I wasn’t on my bike, I was working on the house, working on myself, or working on art.  Once I found a job, I was working remotely from home on structural engineering. 

On a day-to-day basis, I saw more animals then people living in Downieville.  Nature had a lot to say, and I will cherish the time I had with the mountains, the rivers, and the wildlife.

I learned what it means to hold position.  One day I crossed paths closely with a bear while out riding.  The bear would not budge, and I saw in the eyes there was no negotiation.  I waited until she let me by on the trail.

I learned what it means to launch an attack. Another day a hawk attacked me 3 times when I rode too close to its nest.  I saw what her wings were capable of when she had a point to get across.  I’ve never seen something so on point, sharp, and fast. 

I learned freedom and power.  On several occasions I followed mountain lion tracks on long loops, in rugged mountain country, after the dusting of snow from the first fall storms.  I saw the distance the mountain lions cover on the upper and lower trails. 

I learned how to shape-shift and transform.  Every gorgeous swallowtail butterfly showed me this over and over in the spring and summer.

Inanna

Inanna is a Sumerian goddess, and rules the heavens and the earth.  She has ties to the underworld, and is the goddess of death and rebirth.  Inanna is a mother goddess of all the goddesses. My childhood friend Amber represents this archetype.  Amber has helped me navigate through the dark times in my life and transform the experiences.  She is not afraid of darkness, and she can shift it easily.  Amber is a healer, and she uses spiritual medicine and plant medicine.  Like Inanna, she can swing between earth and sky, and has access to both worlds.  I have always thought of her as a shaman.  She has shaman eyes.

Inanna is a Sumerian goddess, and rules the heavens and the earth.  She has ties to the underworld, and is the goddess of death and rebirth.  Inanna is a mother goddess of all the goddesses.

My childhood friend Amber represents this archetype.  Amber has helped me navigate through the dark times in my life and transform the experiences.  She is not afraid of darkness, and she can shift it easily. 

Amber is a healer, and she uses spiritual medicine and plant medicine.  Like Inanna, she can swing between earth and sky, and has access to both worlds.  I have always thought of her as a shaman.  She has shaman eyes.

Aphrodite

Aphrodite is well known as the goddess of love and beauty.  She is a water goddess from the sea, and she asks what are you passionate about?  She extends to things that make the heart sing, such as music, art, and nature. When I think of passion, I think of current, and things that have energy, or current, moving through them.  Ocean waves, electricity, and sound all have current and power.  There is a differential equation that governs energy propagated by waves.  High-level math is beautiful and pure, and this particular differential equation fit with the portrait of Aphrodite. I want to challenge the viewer to see the difference between beauty and passion.  I want to challenge the viewer to see which one has more power. Photographer Duane Michaels has said on the subject of viewing women, compared to the subject of understanding women as energy, “it’s the difference between reading a hundred love stories and actually falling in love.” My friend Sarah posed as Aphrodite.  Sarah has always loved the water, and she is passionate about environmental politics.  When she used to ocean dive, one of her favorite things to look at was the waves breaking on the surface, because the waves looked like clouds.  

Aphrodite is well known as the goddess of love and beauty.  She is a water goddess from the sea, and she asks what are you passionate about?  She extends to things that make the heart sing, such as music, art, and nature.

When I think of passion, I think of current, and things that have energy, or current, moving through them.  Ocean waves, electricity, and sound all have current and power. 

There is a differential equation that governs energy propagated by waves.  High-level math is beautiful and pure, and this particular differential equation fit with the portrait of Aphrodite.

I want to challenge the viewer to see the difference between beauty and passion.  I want to challenge the viewer to see which one has more power.

Photographer Duane Michaels has said on the subject of viewing women, compared to the subject of understanding women as energy, “it’s the difference between reading a hundred love stories and actually falling in love.”

My friend Sarah posed as Aphrodite.  Sarah has always loved the water, and she is passionate about environmental politics.  When she used to ocean dive, one of her favorite things to look at was the waves breaking on the surface, because the waves looked like clouds.  

The Handless Maiden

The Handless Maiden is a German fairy tale about a woman’s initiation through the rite of endurance and mastery.  The maiden in this tale has been tested with various trials, and she meets and overcomes each journey.  This tale can offer perspective for a woman’s entire life process.  The tale of the handless maiden is about letting the hands go, and letting go of whatever keeps one from growing.  When the maiden meets and overcomes the challenges, her hands grow back. This image is of my friend Carmen, on top of the Buttes in Downieville.  She coached me when I raced road bikes, and she is a champion racer.   Carmen is one of the rare people I know who will give me direct, honest feedback.  She has asked me questions that turned me inward and showed me what I was holding onto to stay stuck.  Carmen led by example, and taught me discipline, and how to endure, and not give up.  Carmen is one of the toughest women I know.  Carmen also exposed me to the most types of creative processes, and has influenced my art.     I want the peak and valley shapes in the portrait to show the many descents and the ascents of the handless maiden. 

The Handless Maiden is a German fairy tale about a woman’s initiation through the rite of endurance and mastery.  The maiden in this tale has been tested with various trials, and she meets and overcomes each journey.  This tale can offer perspective for a woman’s entire life process. 

The tale of the handless maiden is about letting the hands go, and letting go of whatever keeps one from growing.  When the maiden meets and overcomes the challenges, her hands grow back.

This image is of my friend Carmen, on top of the Buttes in Downieville.  She coached me when I raced road bikes, and she is a champion racer.  

Carmen is one of the rare people I know who will give me direct, honest feedback.  She has asked me questions that turned me inward and showed me what I was holding onto to stay stuck.  Carmen led by example, and taught me discipline, and how to endure, and not give up.  Carmen is one of the toughest women I know.  Carmen also exposed me to the most types of creative processes, and has influenced my art.    

I want the peak and valley shapes in the portrait to show the many descents and the ascents of the handless maiden. 

Vasilisa

Vasilisa is a Russian fairy tale, and can be interpreted as a story where a woman’s intuition is nurtured and passed on from mother to daughter.  When Vasilisa’s dying mother gives her a doll on her deathbed, the doll becomes a metaphor for inner seeing, inner hearing, and inner knowing. Vasilisa tale show’s that listening to one’s intuition gives access to the creative fire.  My niece Dakota posed as Vasilisa, and she is holding a doll from my grandmother.  My grandmother loved to travel, and she brought this doll back from a trip to Central America.  The doll was passed from my grandmother, to my mom, myself, to my niece.  Parallel to the story, a doll, or intuition, has been passed on down the lines.

Vasilisa is a Russian fairy tale, and can be interpreted as a story where a woman’s intuition is nurtured and passed on from mother to daughter. 

When Vasilisa’s dying mother gives her a doll on her deathbed, the doll becomes a metaphor for inner seeing, inner hearing, and inner knowing.

Vasilisa tale show’s that listening to one’s intuition gives access to the creative fire. 

My niece Dakota posed as Vasilisa, and she is holding a doll from my grandmother.  My grandmother loved to travel, and she brought this doll back from a trip to Central America.  The doll was passed from my grandmother, to my mom, myself, to my niece.  Parallel to the story, a doll, or intuition, has been passed on down the lines.

Creative Process for a Prototype

I've been wanting to design a knitted winter tunic...

So first I made a pattern...

To test the pattern/ fit, I made a dress using discarded material that came from old tablecloths.

After the pattern fit correctly, I took organic merino wool jersey and dyed the material with leaves and an eco friendly mordant.

Then I assembled the dyed material into a tunic.  It's my 'goddess of the hunt' knit dress.

I may continue to make more dresses by hand, with botanically dyed wool.

If all goes as planned, this pattern will be used in the future to manufacture dresses with a knitting machine and organic wool thread.

"Always behind the actions of writing, painting, thinking, healing, doing, cooking, talking, smiling, making, is the river, the Rio Abajo Rio; the river under the river nourishes everything we make."  

-Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Botanical Alchemy

The following photos illustrate one of many eco dye processes used to create botanical textiles.

I used found iron objects (old square nails from under the house) to make a mordant.  Mordants are substances that act as a bridge, or bond, between the molecules of the fiber being dyed, and the substance that is being used to dye it.

I used found iron objects (old square nails from under the house) to make a mordant.  Mordants are substances that act as a bridge, or bond, between the molecules of the fiber being dyed, and the substance that is being used to dye it.

To make the mordant, I combined 1 part distilled white vinegar with 2 parts water, added the the iron nails, and let sit for a week.

To make the mordant, I combined 1 part distilled white vinegar with 2 parts water, added the the iron nails, and let sit for a week.

I washed and dismantled cotton t-shirts from the thrift store.  Then I let the fabric soak in water to help pull in the mordant.

I washed and dismantled cotton t-shirts from the thrift store.  Then I let the fabric soak in water to help pull in the mordant.

I gathered rose leaves from the front yard.

I gathered rose leaves from the front yard.

Next I wrapped the cotton jersey fabric with the rose leaves, and simmered the fabric for 1 hour.  Afterwards, the fabric and leaves were left to soak in the mordant overnight.

Next I wrapped the cotton jersey fabric with the rose leaves, and simmered the fabric for 1 hour.  Afterwards, the fabric and leaves were left to soak in the mordant overnight.

Here are some of the results:

Here are some of the results:

Once the fabric is washed and dried, it can be reassembled into a new piece of clothing.

Once the fabric is washed and dried, it can be reassembled into a new piece of clothing.

“You must always know what it is that you want.”                                                                                      -Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist 

From the Archives

This self portrait came from a time when I was reading about wild women archetypes.  

"Practice listening to your intuition, your inner voice; ask questions; be curious; see what you see; hear what you hear; and then act upon what you know to be true.  

A woman is free to find true answers to her deepest and darkest questions.  She is free to wrest the powers from the thing which has assailed her and to turn those powers which were once used against her to her own well-suited and excellent uses.  That, is a wildish woman." 


― Clarissa Pinkola EstésWomen Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype