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Craftcation 2013: Indie Business and DIY Conference

Last year, I spoke at, taught a hands-on class at, and danced my booty off (see below) at a conference called Craftcation.

Craftcation is an Indie Business and DIY conference in Ventura, California. What does that mean?? Basically for me, it meant learning a bunch of stuff about how to run a small business, plus some cool hands-on creative workshops. Actually, Craftcation is what pushed me to start blogging (i.e. the thing you’re reading now) and doing more social media stuff. I still have a few things in the works from last year, so stay tuned as they develop! Also, Craftcation is where I met the people who run CRAFTED at the Port of Los Angeles- you know, the place with the Morgan Culture store that sells LAYGS leggings? Yeah, that marketplace gave us tons of swag and, well, now I’m there!

I HIGHLY recommend this event for anyone with a small creative business- even if it’s not crafty. The speakers are from tons of diverse backgrounds in things like SEO, web design, marketing, accounting, journalism (LA Times, people!!), manufacturing, franchising, and so much more. And they’re awesome.

Last year, I taught one business workshop, entitled “Breaking into the Art World”, showing people more on the craft side of art how to enter the fine art world, and one hands-on workshop, entitled “Textile Surface Design”, where I tried to teach WAY too many things at once. I had everything from the basics of screenprinting, block printing, Simply Spray fabric spray paint, and discharge- all in one 1.5 hour block! I was racing for time and barely got to answer questions. Here are some images of me teaching!

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Morgan Culture teaching screenprinting at Craftcation

Morgan Culture teaching screenprinting at Craftcation

One amazing thing I experienced at last year’s Craftcation was the amount of people who came to my workshops with questions already formed. One woman came from Washington state and brought fabric for me to look at to see if her printing technique was ok. Another woman completely inspired me with her desire to start an art gallery and shelter for underprivileged children in Compton and Inglewood, and she came to me for advice and support.

This year, I’m teaching only one workshop since I’m actually one of the event managers. I’m in charge of all the craft workshops/speakers! Hooray! However, this new role means I’m less able to teach while being accountable for the rest of the workshops. I’ll be teaching a Block Printing demo on Sunday in the very last presenter spot. For more info, go to http://www.craftcationconference.com and search for Morgan Culture under the “presenters” tab. This year, I’ll also have some LAYGS in the pop-up shop available for purchase!

Oh, and did I mention the 80s dance party at Craftcation?? Epic. That’s returning this year.IMG6537-M

If you’re considering attending this amazing conference but the price tag seems a little high, I have some news for you as well. Since I’m in charge of a bunch of volunteers working with me, I pretty much get to choose them. If you volunteer 2 days, you get to attend the other 2 for free. And you’ll be in the workshops the 2 days you volunteer, too! Contact me for details.

Craftcation is March 24-28, 2013.

Craftcation 2012 from Letter Box Films on Vimeo.

WOW 2012 Collaborative Entry: Full Pictures Gallery !

2012 has been a great year so far for Morgan Culture stuff ! One of the main things that’s kept me busy is the Brancott Estates World of Wearable Art show in Wellington, New Zealand. WOW doesn’t allow any photos to be released before the final judging takes place the night of the show, so I’ve been sitting on these pictures since we first entered, agonizing about not being able to release them! But now they are available for public consumption 🙂

You might remember this piece as my finalist piece in last year’s show…

This year, the WOW factor was taken to a whole new level when I collaborated with costumer Laura Brody. Laura has years of experience in the professional costume and fashion industries and is someone I admire greatly- so I was ecstatic for good reason when she agreed to work with me for WOW 2012! After reviewing the show’s entry sections for the year, we started our collaboration with some reference material from authors and artists we liked,

 

 

and then created the following sketches together.


These sketches were used through every step of the process!

We then went shopping. Yes, shopping! We scoured our own fabric collections for appropriate fabric, then ventured into the thrift stores and a military-surplus-slash-hardware-store place.
Next, we draped the piece using two mannequins to simulate our models. Laura used her famous staple draping technique, which she later taught as a workshop in Wellington while we were there for the show!

We completed this piece’s actual construction in just 3 days. Originally, we created the piece for the “musical symphony” section of the show, in which each piece needs to also be a musical instrument. The design of the piece includes a rudimentary “guitar”, made from giant rubber bands and a plastic tote, which the models can play from the inside. However, the piece “wasn’t loud enough” according to WOW judges, so we competed in the American Express Open section instead. Also, our use of all recycled fabrics and items qualified us to compete for the Shell Sustainability Award (though we did not ultimately win it).

The two inner garments were made with a stencil made from hot glue on a mirror, plus some added texture on the garments with 3-D textile paint.

Assembly involved two sewing machines at the same time, lots of coffee, and fun. Lots of fun.

And of course, final surface decoration with Simply Spray fabric paint.

We nailed this piece in just a few weeks from original concept to final submission photo shoot (thanks, Relentless Cinematography, for the images)! It got in, so we stuck it in a box and sent it to the end of the Earth, where we then got to spend two weeks exploring after the epic show.

Working together was a breeze. Sometimes, collaborations can get icky and people compete for control. Laura and I have the perfect balance of skills the other doesn’t- not to mention our compatible design aesthetics, eye for final output (even when seeing scarves at the thrift store and deciding which would make the best tendrils when washed), and our equitable division of labor. We had literally ZERO disagreements during this whole process, and the entire experience was healthy and fun!

For those who don’t know, I’d describe WOW as Cirque du Soleil on steroids. Singers, children, ballet dancers, projection, live music, and crazy costumes.

So looking forward to next year! Laura and I will each be submitting separate garments, plus another collaboration. And we expect to come back to the US with some serious WOW awards in 2013, so get ready!

Oh, and in case you didn’t get enough… our hilarious dressing instructions for this piece!

Announcing Morgan Culture RETAIL space!

Starting November 2, Morgan Culture will have a real-life retail location at CRAFTED at the Port of Los Angeles!! From CRAFTED’s website: “CRAFTED AT THE PORT OF LOS ANGELES is a new concept for Southern California; a large-scale permanent craft marketplace. Our classic World War II-era waterside warehouses will grow to be home to hundreds of individual craft-artists, designers, and artisanal food makers. Each artist presents their unique handcrafted goods in a vibrant patchwork of market stalls. Visitors will be treated to a huge variety of one-of-a kind treasures and have the chance to meet the makers every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday – that’s 52 weekends a year of handmade happiness! The marketplace will also be showcasing daily demonstrations, live music, special events, and of course delicious food from our fabulous food trucks.” The hours my shop will be open are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11AM-6PM. I’ll be offering sweet in-store discounts, doing demonstrations, and generally meeting cool peeps. The store contains my newest product, LAYGS by Morgan Culture (hand-painted leggings), headpieces, and – wait for it – a WHEEL OF LEGS. Yes, you read that right. A WHEEL OF LEGS! I’ll also be featuring work from a few other artists and designers here and there, including some amazing T-shirts from AffirmaTees, in the first few months! Stay tuned, and please come visit me 🙂 See you at CRAFTED!

Morgan Culture DIY Tutorial: Cheap UGLY Shoes into HOT Wedding Wedges!

Part of the wedding outfit (unless you’re having a barefoot beach wedding or a ceremony that requires bare feet) is shoes. Experts estimate the average cost of moderately-priced bridal shoes is $100-$250. Even David’s Bridal shoes can run $40-$100, and many couples shopping on a budget might balk at these numbers when they have plenty of perfectly good shoes lying around already.

In my case, though I did have lots of perfectly good ones lying around (ok, probably too many), some of which were quite fancy, I wanted to get more creative with my duds and feel like I’d really chosen and/or made every part of my look.

Cost of this project: Shoes: $14 at Ross; fabric spray paint: $16.50 (used partially); Swarovski crystal appliques: $36. Total: $66.50.

My partner is super-tall, so I wanted to be at least marginally tall- you know, so we’d even end up in the same pictures. We were having

a beach wedding, so my search almost exclusively contained wedges. I knew I could change up the final appearance of the shoes as much as I wanted since I’d read an entire shoe-altering magazine called “Sassy Feet” and since I’d used Simply Spray for so much, so
I started looking for wedding shoes just based on shape. Check out THESE BAD BOYS, which are exactly my size, exactly the massive platform I wanted, and made my long feet look ever so slightly smaller. Also notice: they are HIDEOUS with that floral pattern and floral bow! Remember- we’re only looking for shape here. I tried on every shoe I thought would work for my purposes, despite any issues with its surface design. If you’re following my tutorial, look for a fabric-covered shoe: this method works only on fabric.

First I removed the hideous bows, never to return. They were simply hand-stitched in, so a simple tiny scissor worked.

Then, I taped off the non-fabric parts of the shoe. The top is a faux-suede microfiber material, so I made sure to tape it off tightly. I used old plastic bags (recycle!!) and masking tape for this. I also taped off the bottom lip of the shoes and made sure none of the inside would get painted either.

I painted the flowered part with Simply Spray upholstery paint in grey. I used only two layers, letting them dry in between, and I used barely a fraction of a can. Though I’d planned to cover the flowers entirely, I noticed that having them show through a little in a total grayscale looked really interesting, so I kept it. Make sure you really let the layers dry, as too much wetness can cause the fabric to loosen from the glue on the shoe.

As a final touch to the paint, I added a light layer of Simply Spray silver stencil paint. It was basically like spraying glitter all over them!

Though I was too excited to let the paint dry completely and part of it came off the bag wet and onto the shoes, I was actually able to remove it with “LA’s Totally Awesome Stain Remover” (I know, I know- but I got it at the 99Cent store and it IS AWESOME). You can remove many mistakes, even with fabric dye or paint, from those shoes with this somehow cheap stain remover.

I realized the stitching from the formerly attached terrible bows had left holes/marks on the top fabric of the shoes, and that though the bottom looked awesome, the top wasn’t quite complete yet. Looking through my studio, I found some of the amazing one-of-a-kind Swarovski crystal and natural stone appliques I’d bought. Though it took me a LONG time to choose the ones I wanted, for the tops of the shoes I used a general applique, and for the backs I actually used a neckline applique. Since the neckline one is slightly curved, it fit around the curve of the shoe easily.


These appliques are actually meant to be carefully ironed on to a garment from the inside. I obviously couldn’t iron from the inside of the shoes, so I simply hot-glued the appliques to the shoes with tons of glue. I found it difficult to peel off the glue portions, so I left them on and glued the whole applique on. I actually would *NOT* suggest this method if you plan to use the shoes in any kind of humid weather. Our wedding was in Riviera Maya, Mexico, which was so humid that the iron-on portion (which I had glued) separated from the real applique!! If I’d done it again, I would have removed the iron-on glue from the appliques before putting them on the shoes.

And, without further adieu… the final products! (final images courtesy of Too Much Awesomeness… they are indeed AWESOME, even more so than LA’s Totally Awesome)

LAYGS by Morgan Culture: New Line of Leggings !

About a month ago, I bounded into LAX off a flight from Nashville, TN with a completely new drive and inspiration. With the creative encouragement of David, owner and creator of Simply Spray fabric paint, I’d determined the course for my newest fashion line.

 
LAYGS by Morgan Culture is a line of hand-painted leggings. They’re all one-of-a-kind, though I do have color options. Leggings are awesome because they are so versatile- worn with a little black dress and heels for a date night out; with boots, a skirt, and thick sweater for fall; or with a daring bikini top and platforms for a clubbing adventure.
I haven’t seen any other hand-painted leggings and I’m greatly anticipating having these out there. I’m lucky to have the support of my friends at Simply Spray (I’m using their paint exclusively for these), and the friends at Inked and Sexy (hot girls + tattoos + leggings… what else can people want?) to help me along this journey, as I’ve never done a product so consumable before.

 

I’ve already filled several custom orders, have a ton of traffic, and can’t wait to keep it rolling. The 7 looks are up now at www.MyLaygs.com – which is your favorite so far? Other colors you’d like to see?

 

The current tagline for LAYGS is “Leggings. But cooler.”

IMAGES of Morgan Culture at May Star’s Diamond Dust Show: San Diego, CA!

As promised, here are the photos from May Star’s Diamond Dust Show at Kitty Diamond in San Diego. This was the first time I’d mixed my wearable sculpture with my couture and wedding gowns all in one show. I found it quite challenging to conceive of a stage presentation that would make sense for this combination, and I really despise having my models just walk around and pose in my stuff.

My work, particularly the wearable sculpture, is meant to be really moved in. It’s meant to create characters and visceral reactions. I can’t just have girls stomping up and down a runway and posing! In the past at fashion shows, I’ve had multiple pieces on stage simultaneously, interacting with each other, in order to make a splash. I love standing back and watching the audience react to my unexpected stage presentation and even more unexpected sculpture at fashion shows. Morgan Culture segments at these shows tend to end up closer to the world of performance art as I ask my models to “do something they’ve always wanted to do on stage but have never had the opportunity to.” Even at more conservative bridal shows, I’ve had my models doing fun and different things like throwing fake flowers at the audience or dancing around. This show could be no different.

Since I had even numbers of sculpture/couture and wedding gowns, I decided to have the girls in gowns “marry” the weird sculptur-ey creatures. I chose one costume (the one displayed at last year’s Inglewood Open Studios exhibition at the Beacon Arts Center) as a shaman type who would marry the two together. I know it’s ridiculous that I didn’t think of this beforehand, but this show occurred during San Diego’s Gay Pride weekend. It didn’t even cross my mind that my show idea would be related to gay marriage- what a happy accident! I had oodles of compliments coming from all types of audience members (some of whom had outfits to rival the ones on stage)!

The only problem with this unique performance-style arrangement on stage (rather than the typical walk and pose) was the logistics. I didn’t realize I’d planned to have the models leaving off the wrong end of the stage- the opposite end of where the other designers’ models were going to end up. I had to quickly shift the plans, which made the whole program much more confusing for the models, who weren’t used to this type of thing in the first place.

Also, since several models didn’t show, our HAIRSTYLIST actually volunteered to walk in the show! I had her in one of my outfits, but when the show didn’t start early enough (she had a wedding to style super-early in the morning), she ended up leaving, which put a kink in the lineup of the show. I’d paired her to “marry” someone, and then had to change on the fly right before my lovely ladies walked onstage! Overall the experience was a blast and I wish I could attend more Diamond Dust events! The models enjoyed the freedom they had and each model had a completely different personality shining through during the performance.

The pictures are fabulous and I truly thank everyone who helped make this a reality. Oh, and a video, taken by the partner of one of my lovely ladies, is HERE !

This is SUCH a cool line- I love seeing the final output from other designers go as far as the full packaging! Gave me lots to think about in regard to the new Morgan Culture line!