wearable sculpture + unique fashion

Archive for April, 2012

4 Reasons Bridal Shows Are NOT as WIC as You Might Think

Many of the wedding blogs and sites I follow, including my favorite, Offbeat Bride, talk about this thing called the “Wedding Industrial Complex”. It’s the attitude in the wedding industry that says “We make this dress in blue, but if we make the same one in white and call it a ‘wedding’ dress, we can charge three times the amount”! It says that if the word “wedding” is added to something, the price increases. It says brides should wear white, vendors should only address the bride for decisions and ignore the groom except for financial questions, and that same-sex marriages are weird or inferior. My favorite example of this by far is the $128 wedding bucket– a bucket painted white. 

So I often read about how bridal fairs and bridal shows are just a room full of thousands of people perpetuating and participating in WIC-related activities, and how these things are like zoos and all kinds of other heinous things. 

I disagree, at least for LOCAL shows. Here’s why.

1) Supporting local businesses is cool. And not very WIC. 

At the first bridal show I did, the Vintage Glamour Bridal Show at UCLA’s ballroom, my booth was next to a new local company, Studio EQ, that does laser-cut invitations, keychains, you-name-it. They’re a husband-and-wife team who work out of their dining room. On my other side I found an amazing makeup artist who also does film special effect makeup (we’re talking zombies and beyond here, people). 

Sure, I saw a few typical bad greasy DJs and average photographers, plus the cake woman who couldn’t stop talking about how she’d done Christina Aguilera’s birthday cake and Kim Kardashian’s wedding cake (which lasted longer than the marriage, I believe). But the cool local small business sector far outweighed the cheesy wedding sector. 

2) David’s Bridal doesn’t show at wedding shows. 

You know who does? Dolly Couture and Morgan Culture, among others. These aren’t cookie-cutter gowns. They’re pretty darn cutting-edge and fun takes on the whole white ballgown WIC thing. If you want to see more than one set of unique gowns at a time, on live human beings, go to one of these shows- particularly a smaller local one. 

3) You can find stuff that’s not for weddings

Remember that laser-cut thing I mentioned? Forget the wedding- their Etsy shop has some freaking awesome stuff in it. Like who doesn’t need business cards, or thank-you cards for something, or an amazing scarf? Or if you need zombie makeup for something, you’ll know where to find it. And if you need a cute gown for another thing- a prom, a costume, a red-carpet event… you know where to find it. 


And then there’s the people. I was really scared I’d be the only… um… “normal”, non-obsessive, laid-back person there, and that I’d feel completely in another world. I didn’t; I felt right at home with those cool people I found myself next to. I saw people actively addressing the men in the room, who for the most part looked comfortable. 

I even saw a friend from an organization we both volunteer for- that organization’s mission is transform peoples’ lives for the better and fundamentally alter the way communication works in the world. Pretty cool, right? Turns out she, in addition to being someone who cares about making a difference, is a wedding and event planner. If THAT isn’t someone you’d want planning an event in your life, I don’t know who would be. 


So… maybe not as WIC as people think. I’ve read plenty of horror stories out there, but my experience has overall been great, and I’m excited to have been ASKED to be a featured designer at the upcoming Vintage Glamour show in Pasadena! See you there 🙂


The Ins and Outs of Sending Art Out

… out of the country, that is. 

Yesterday, two of my pieces (one of them a collaboration with Dreams by Machine) shipped off to New Zealand! Before participating in the World of Wearable Art show, I’d never sent anything overseas other than for a mail art project or for showing myself in random places in China and Korea (more on that in other posts coming soon).

The whole process is quite difficult and confusing. There are weird numbers involved in shipping merchandise overseas, and forms to fill out, and people speaking a different language. 


I’ve come up with three tips so far:

1) Have as much information as you can about your shipment before contacting anyone. This includes:

-How much your shipment weighs (altogether). I did mine the rudimentary way- by standing on a scale alone, then standing on the scale with the package, and subtracting. In this case, having two packages involved a little more math, but all basic. You can handle it.

-Exact dimensions. For this year’s show, I had two packages, so I had to include dimensions of both. This will help the shippers know how to deal with what you’re dropping off. Make sure to specify INCHES if it’s small, since most of these freighting companies are used to truckloads of material showing up, not a little Hyundai Elantra with a box in the backseat and one in the trunk. 

-Value. Note that for the US, any shipment with a declared value of over $2500 requires some kind of customs form (AES, an acronym which was never explained to me), which costs an extra $75 to fill out and file. 

2) Work with a specific representative at a specific company. 

Last year, I worked with a woman who was able to walk me through each step of each form in person in the office. I highly recommend working with Mainfreight, one of the sponsors of WOW, and its outgoing branch, Carotrans. While I’m not sure what Mainfreight’s services normally cost, since WOW allows us to have a flat shipping rate with Mainfreight, its customer service is impeccable. The representatives are almost always at their phones, are very helpful and efficient both on the phone and in person, and despite their huge contracts with multi-dimensional shippers, they spend time helping individuals get these paperwork things sorted. 

This year I’m bouncing back and forth between the woman I worked with last year and another representative, and, as in all three-way communication, things are getting left out and the whole chain is becoming confusing. Choose a rep and stick with him/her!

3) Talk with people in the warehouse you’re dropping off/picking up at.

Though these people can appear a bit intimidating and unapproachable while driving forklifts at 40 mph and wearing hard hats, these are the people who will be actually touching your work. Making contact with them can be quite beneficial. Furthermore, they don’t often get to find out what’s inside the boxes they ship, so (in my experience) they love the opportunity to get to know what’s passing through the facility. 

When I picked up my piece from last year, the person retrieving my box (who first brought out another artist’s piece- Santa Monica’s Amy Jean Boebel’s work) talked to me for a half hour about art, the show in New Zealand, and what was next for me. He called two of his colleagues over to watch me open the box (this piece didn’t fit in my car while in the box, but fit in the backseat unpacked). Image

And yesterday, while dropping off my two boxes, I found out that it’s better to have smaller, loose boxes (i.e. smaller than 3’x’3’x3′- which is pallet size) shrink-wrapped, and that this service costs extra. I became flustered looking for information on this, but the forklift driver (Donald- thanks man!) saw my worry, and, after I’d opted for sending sans shrink-wrap, told me he’d “throw some shrink wrap on it anyway; it’ll really bang around if not.” So I suppose this point may include a fourth- to make your shipment pallet-sized, but I’m not sure that’s necessary with people like Donald around. 

Vintage Glamour Bridal Show: April 29, Pasadena

I’ve been requested as a FEATURED designer at the Vintage Glamour bridal show in Pasadena ! I showed with the Vintage Glamour crew in February, with my upcycled eco-friendly wedding gowns, and shared a booth with Relentless Weddings, the wedding cinematography company my fiance and I started.

I met some amazing people at that bridal show! Here’s what my booth looked like:

From the glam bridal show:

“You are INVITED…

To the marriage of Vintage and Modern Elegance!

A bridal show not to be missed!

Date: April 29, 2012
Time: 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Vendor Info: glambridalshow@yahoo.com


Pasadena Sheraton Hotel

303 Cordova Street

Pasadena, CA  91101


Goody Bags and wedding planning guides provided by Here Comes the Guide! Magazines provided by Ceremony Magazine!”


Heather, the organizer of the shows, actually approached me and asked me to be a featured designer. That means I’ll have a segment in the fashion show (with at least 10 looks) AND a booth this time around!

It ALSO means….


One of the billboards from last time:


Updates to come soon!

OH- one more thing… YES, I have an open model call for the show. I still need 8 lovelies to strut their stuff (and mine) at this show! Contact me for details.

Morganculture Craftcation Workshop: Textile Surface Design

I’m still in the midst of digesting all the amazing information and people I encountered at Craftcation Conference a few weeks ago. During my textile design workshop, many participants were asking for additional information or handouts ! Well, here is exactly what I put on my handout, with a few extra bonus tips. Oh, and keep in mind that we didn’t get time to do “fabric lazing” or “collagraph”, but I’ll put a tutorial up on it soon, and it will for sure be shown live at next year’s Craftcation!

Screen Printing/ Serigraphy

Full kits available from Speedball and at Dick Blick/Michaels.




Water-soluble textile ink (OR acrylic with extender base or textile medium)- Akua recommended

High-pressure sink

Drawing medium/ screen filler

Emulsion remover (Greased Lightning recommended)

*Note- we are not discussing photo-silkscreen, so you will actually have to draw your design

We will not cover advanced topics like registration/multiple colors unless we have time and/or special requests

Fabric Lazing (A MorganCulture Original Process!)


Water-soluble paint (acrylic recommended) or dye

If using dye, outdoor salt


Lots of time!


Stenciling, overall painting, upholstery



Moveable adhesive

SimplySpray fabric, stencil, or upholstery paint (even works on synthetic satin!!)

Rit dye (for effect with SimplySpray)

Squirt bottle

*If hand-painting, acrylic paint WITH textile or floating medium

Lino Cut


Linoleum block (best if mounted to wood at type height)

Small press or baren (or wooden spoon!)

Lino cutting tools (set is best)

Block printing ink


Mirror or glass palette

Collagraph (not active in demo)

Used in an etching press (best, if you have access to one) or with your CAR + a board or with a baren/spoon like linocut


“Plate”: Sintra (sign-making material), cardboard, anything

Decorative marks, tools, etc.

Ink (traditionally etching ink with loads of modifier, Akua water-soluble also recommended for non-toxic practices and easy clean-up)


Essentially strategic bleaching


Dischargeable fabric (can be ordered, or try your fabric- recently dyed  and natural fiber work best)

Discharge paste

Application medium: block print, screen print, brush-on

Iron (let paste dry and then iron with press cloth for 10 minutes, then wash fabric)



The Complete Printmaker (unofficially the Printmaker’s Bible): Chapters on relief printing, silkscreen, collagraph.

-Hand-press and Inks: Akua

-Textile spray paints: SimplySpray

-Other at-home screen printing ideas: Seminars by Urban Craft Center here at Craftcation!

-Discharge methods and supplies: Dharma Trading

-Basics on colorways and pattern layout, as well as other techniques: Textiles, a Handbook for Designers

I adore feedback and questions!


Ok, so that’s the info on the handout. I wanted to add some stuff: Firstly, next year’s Craftcation will include FOUR surface design workshops (all taught by me, of course). I really got that 2 hours is NOT enough time to teach all of these techniques simultaneously, plus be inside and outside at the same time for the SimplySpray demos.

If you’re doing wearable sculpture, upcycled garments, or textile design, these workshops will be great. I especially find a lot of these techniques very helpful for my upcycled gowns, because it’s SO HARD to get any kind of pigment to stay on a synthetic satin blend of any kind.

As my handout says, please contact me with any questions! Oh- and enjoy these photos from my participants at Craftcation- thanks to Coco Gallery photography for getting the ones of me teaching!

WOW 2012: Going to New Zealand !

Awesome news: 2 of my wearable sculptures are going to New Zealand for the Brancott Estates World of WearableArt ! This will be my second year participating in the show, and I’m so excited.

One of these pieces is a throwback to the ol’ grad school days at Washington University in St. Louis– those of you who have seen some older Morgan Culture shows may recognize it (after the show; I unfortunately can’t show any images of it online before the judging- but I CAN send them to you if you’re on my mailing list! Join it here).

The other piece was a collaboration between me and my friend Laura Brody; you can see her amazing costumes and wearable sculpture  here.

Laura and I went all the way from concept (sketching, jumping around, and generally spazzing out while finishing all the wine available at our place) to final execution (fabulous photo shoot by Relentless Film) in just a few short weeks.

We can’t show pictures of the final garment because of competition restrictions, but here are a few pieces of our working process.