I’ve written in earlier posts about names, and also about creating memorable villains. Today I’d like to take those two things together, throw in a Rose with a thorn (in this case a needle) and show you how something as simple as a piece of clothing (and I don’t say that as in ‘simple to make’…because a lot of hard work and craft goes into such things) can really enhance the creative and collaborative process.
Let me introduce you to Rose Teathyme. She is simply amazing. What she does in her workshop will knock your socks off (or it would if the Mythbusters hadn’t busted that myth…darn them…it was such a cool turn of phrase). I breathe life into worlds with words. Rose does it with paper, thread, needles, cloth, and a few random odds and ends.
It started with the Invasion of Fairy Tale Town. Fairy Tale Town (a sort of children’s play park with different areas based on different books and stories) hosts two nights for charity each year where adults can come and enjoy the park and be kids again. One of those events is a masquerade ball. The 2012 masque was set to raise money to refurbish Sherwood Forest, and the theme for the ball was Robin Hood.
As such, the League of Proper Villains (check us out at http://sacvillains.com/) decided to go in force and to take Robin Hood to whole new steampunk level. Not being lithe and svelte enough to rock the Maid Marion look, I decided to go as Little Penny (as opposed to Little John). Unfortunately, I have no fashion sense (I built most of my early steampunk outfits out of bits and bobs from Old Navy and Evangeline’s), and I hadn’t a thing to wear. That’s when Rose stepped in.
What she suggested was a coat that could be used anywhere and for any event. A coat that would have a story. She had me at hello. Thus was born the Through-Time Traveler’s Coat. The coat has all sorts of elements that work with my journalistic villainess: A pocket for a camera, another for a notebook (she measured my notebook to make sure it would fit), the most beautiful machine embroidery (modified from patterns on Urban Threads), to include a monogram for Penny Dreadfulle that (ok, I’m biased) is the best monogram ever created.
She designed the coat with a waist and coattail for my rather ample rear end (which she knows makes made me feel shy and uncomfortable), and she did it in such a way that the aforementioned rear end magically disappears when the coat goes on. The hood is removable and the sleeves buckle on or off, so in the 108 degree Sacramento summers, I can still wear it to the various faires we invade without passing out from heatstroke. And being as I can’t wear boots with the ever so fashionable compression leg wraps I have to use to combat lymphedema, Rose hacked, slashed, and dyed a pair of my jeans to have leather, laced-up fake boot tops from the knee down that zip on and off. She even made a leather wrist cuff to hold a pen and an ink bottle.
We worked together to create a story for the coat and its phenomenal cosmic powers (you’ll get a hint by the name…). And, being the brilliant woman she is, Rose understood that I was using the coat to feel comfortable with the persona I created for the villains. That was beautiful enough, collaborating on the story for a gorgeous piece of wearable art. But, when I put the coat on in the parking lot of Fairy Tale Town and put up the hood for the first time, something even better happened.
One of my favorite lines in The Avengers is when Tony Stark tells Bruce Banner “You’re tiptoeing, Big Man. You need to strut.” That moment in the parking lot was the first time in my life I have ever felt comfortable enough to stand up straight, stop tiptoeing around, and strut my stuff. It was the coolest piece of clothing I’d ever donned, and I knew I looked good in it. That was priceless.
Fast forward to 2013. A few weeks back I mentioned participating in a write-a-thon as a part of National Novel Writing Month. It’s put on by the Office of Letters and Light (NaNoWriMo’s fundraising arm) and all of the proceeds go to benefit literacy and creative writing programs. As of last week, I was horribly behind on word count, but still slogging, and really feeling the pressure.
I was looking forward to the event to catch up and perhaps get a little ahead, but feeling nervous at walking into a room full of 250 strangers, many of whom were much farther along than I was. Quite a few of my colleagues on Facebook and WordPress crossed the 50,000 word mark at the beginning of week two. In my more cynical moments, I admit to thinking that they should have a reverse word counter on the NaNoWriMo website that adds 200,000 words to the goal you’re required to meet if you post 50,000 words before day ten. But deep down, I’m very happy they’ve already succeeded, and feeling inadequate because I haven’t.
I knew I had to grab my fake bootstraps and step up to the challenge. Again I turned to Rose. I absolutely loved Bilbo’s coat in The Hobbit. The one with all the patches. But it certainly wasn’t something I could wear to anything other than a pajama party. Rose suggested a vest instead. A friend at work had given me a bag of old neckties, and I bought some quilting scraps to add to that, and put them in Rose’s capable hands.
Enter the Through-Time Traveler’s Story Vest. And (to quote George Takei) ‘Oh Myyyy’, what a story we came up with for this one. I’ve written in these virtual pages how Penny has pet peeves in regard to misspelled words and ugly grammar. Rose created a vest through which I can make up the stories for each of the ties Penny has slashed off journalists who offended her grammatical sensibilities… (I’m particularly fond of one story I came up with… poor Halliwell, who constantly mixed up decimate with devastate). And the top button on the vest is…you guessed it…a penny. How cool is that?!
With a newsboy hat and the vest, I walked into the Julia Morgan Ballroom in San Francisco ready to rock and roll. I talked to people. I made new friends. I didn’t curl up and hide in a corner when it was time to take my author photo. Like the coat, that vest gave me the power to feel good about myself. And I had a blast. I’m still behind on word count, but it doesn’t matter. I’m not giving up. The Golden Goose will take flight, and the novella will get finished. And a lot of that confidence is due to a miraculous wizard with a needle and thread.
Please check out Rose’s blog at http://musingsofamadtailor.blogspot.com/. She actually walks through her process of creating styles and patterns in such a way that even I, the black hole of the sewing process, can understand what’s going on.
Thank you Rose for being such a beautiful person and an awesome friend!