Category: fashion/costume

Costume for Woods – Death Rattles

I realized that I never shared photos from a costume project from the spring – a music video for “Death Rattles” by Woods, directed by my good friend Sophia Peer. I had only a couple of weeks to costume a cast of 13 people and a budget of about 200 dollars. We were lucky to be able to borrow some of the basic pieces, and I created headpieces, collars, belts and other accessories to add character. I designed and created the 3 children’s costumes from scratch, using rough earthy colored fabrics and netting. The song is both haunting and catchy, and Sophia did a great job of conjuring its spirits.

“Death Rattles” by Woods (directed by Sophia Peer)

Stills from the video

Images of the children’s costumes (click on thumbnail to see larger)

Costume Design: Katja Loher’s Video Planets

Just wanted to share some information about a recent costume design project I did for a Swiss artist named Katja Loher. Katja’s recent work involves video projected onto weather balloons and shown inside video sculptures, respectively called video planets and miniverses. The video depicts activity from a birds’ eye view, involving choreographed movements that spell messages to the viewer. In this newest work Sculpting in Air, human bodies form letters that when composed into words and then sentences communicate simple questions aimed at the viewer or some unknown observer. Their movement takes place on a spinning hard drive which occasionally abruptly stops, and we are informed of a system error. The questions posed by the arrangement of bodies go unanswered as the divide between virtual space and reality cannot be bridged. Or at least that’s my interpretation.

My job was to create the costumes for the piece based on the concept of a futuristic worker, keeping in mind that the work would primarily be seen from above. This meant that there was a greater emphasis on the shoulders and headgear to help shape the silhouette as seen from this vantage point. This was the first time Katja and I had worked together, as suggested by a mutual friend Gin, and we soon found that we were both space nuts and had a common understanding of the visual language of science fiction. Katja was great to work with and very inspiring as an artist and as a director. I had only a couple of weeks to design and execute the costumes before shooting started, but it all came together. Katja’s assistant Luke Emery was also incredibly helpful in gathering materials and completing the helmets. All in all, an excellent project that I feel super proud of.

The piece is now on view at the Maxxi Museum in Rome through December 2010. You can watch it online at For a project description, the script, cast and credits, and more photos see Sculpting in Air.

Below: Video stills from Sculpting in Air and photos from the shoot taken by Marco Monti


Best Worst Movie, Troll 2, and Nilbog finery

photo courtesy of Kelly Sepulveda

For those of you who haven’t been blessed with at least one viewing of Troll 2, allow me a brief introduction: it’s a mesmerizing, god-awful, hilarious, bottom-of-the-barrel budget film of rare form. As kids, my brother Aaron and I screened it over and over, rewinding the tape to review favorite scenes of unspeakably bad acting, wardrobe malfunction, and the remarkably “special” effects. There are countless bad movies out there, but few are as captivating and bold. We felt we had discovered a secret little nugget of inept genius and that no one else had ever seen this movie; and yet, as it turns out, many, MANY kids had a very similar experience. Over time they indoctrinated others into the fold. And so began the rise of Troll 2 to cult status.

This past weekend, my pal Jen and I attended a screening of Best Worst Movie – a documentary about Troll 2 directed by its young star, Joshua (Michael Paul Stephenson). We were unaware that we’d be treated to appearances by members of the cast so were happily surprised to meet George Hardy (the dad) and Jason Steadman (Drew). (See photographic proof below.) At the center of the movie is Troll 2’s father figure George Hardy, a super friendly and likeable guy who has a successful dentistry practice in Alabama. He and some of his Troll 2 cohorts ride the wave of notoriety that’s kicked off by a Troll 2 screening at the Upright Citizens’ Brigade in 2006, and we witness their unlikely celebrity. The movie truly was very touching and inspiring in addition to being incredibly funny, and I feel confident in saying that viewers new to the trash masterpiece will agree.

George Hardy a.k.a. the dad in Troll 2!Jason Steadman a.k.a. Drew from Troll 2

We also had the pleasure of meeting Kelly Sepulveda and Kris Lozanovski who made these AMAZING goblin costumes based on the creatures in Troll 2. They became a part of the documentary as well after attending a Nilbog Invasion event in Morgan, UT in full regalia. Kelly was kind enough to share some information about how and why the goblins came to be.

Troll 2 replica Goblin masks

I was surprised to hear that the soon-to-be pharmacists had never sculpted anything before this ambitious undertaking (though Kelly does some embroidery, sewing, and scrapbooking). They started their journey with a mask-making kit from that included basic instructions. Using still images from the movie for accuracy, Kelly tackled the heads and Kris made the hands using plasteline clay. Here are some excerpts from Kelly’s note about the process:

As far as a technique for figuring out the sculpting process, it was basically trial and error…The sculpting tools I had never used before, so I just had to get used to which tools would be best in working with any particular part of the masks I was currently working on. I am pretty anal about my art, so I did want the masks to look as close as possible to the originals with the time I had to sculpt them…I actually sculpted one of the ears and then cut it off in order to sculpt the other ear so they would both look similar. The hair, eyes, and teeth were all purchased from ebay. The hair is goat/llama hair, eyes are real WWII prosthetic eyes, and the teeth are real shark teeth. I also sewed two burlap sets of shirts and pants and a pillow-case sort of stomach that you could strap around your waist to help complete the costumes. We made spears from some fallen tree branches and bought spearheads from ebay.

The pair met while interning together during college and found that they shared a passion for B-movies, and so Troll 2 came to play a role in their developing romance. When they heard about the costume contest at the aforementioned Nilbog Invasion, they got to work.

I’m all for tackling totally new mediums and am inspired by their story. And their artistry! In addition to the trolls, the couple has also made a board game called Alley Cat inspired by a cat they adopted from the streets. If the pharmacy biz doens’t work out, I’m sure you guys will have plenty of other options.

The goblins are touring the country to help promote the doc and have been seen in Austin and NYC with an upcoming stop in LA. Go see this movie!!
Awesome process shots of the goblin masks below courtesy of Kelly Sepulveda.



Metalmags and the Alien Ambassador: Synchronicity

Lo and behold, the long-awaited sequel to An Opportunity for Social Engagement has arrived. Join our alien friends as they get down in the outer reaches of space. As always, the characters are played by myself and by Collin Cunningham.

Watch the video on my youtube channel, Mags to Riches.

View the growing Metalmags and Alien Ambassador playlist on my channel.

Two more Metalmags and the Alien Ambassador projects are in the works, so you’ll be seeing more of us! Look out for a preview of the upcoming long form project on my website.

Stryx – 1978

While browsing Youtube’s fine selection of Grace Jones videos the other day, I came across this nugget from Italian TV show Stryx in 1978. It features Grace performing her song Fame while trapsing about in a heavily smoke[machine]-filled set and cavorting on leopard print divans. Note the tone set by the fantastical cape and perched birds as she appears in a bubbling pitcher.

My interest was piqued and I carried onward, determined to delve more deeply into the abyss of Stryx. Unfortunately, as the show only aired for one year, there were a limited number of clips to devour. The journey was short, but not without its high points. In addition to Grace, the show featured an eclectic international mix of songstresses, including Amanda Lear (French), Patty Pravo (Italian), and Gal Costa (Brazilian). Stylistically, the show had a decidedly glamified 70s take on the Middle Ages with dark imagery and characters, though catered specifically to each performer’s song. Each performer’s set of segments was classified by a particular Stryx-ian title – Grace Jones was featured in Rumstryx; Amanda Lear in Sexy Stryx; and Patty Pravo in Subliminal Stryx. (A full list of performers can be found in the Stryx Wikipedia entry.) I SO wish Kate Bush had been on this show. But I digress. The show was yanked from TV channel Rai Due in ’78 due to controversy over the devilish undertones and nudity. So unfortunate, but on the flip side, these fun discoveries remind me how very fortunate we are to have youtube in the first place.

Check out some more Stryx clips below. I promise human hand candle fixtures, a smattering of loud costumes, awkward chorus members, a LOT of smoke machine mist, and even – no exaggeration – a whole litter’s worth of adorable black kittens, not to mention several other animal species making appearances.

I’m not terribly partial to the song, but the giant head and hand on set alone make it worth a watch.

Kittens galore! Plus this one has amazing costumes all-around.

Great intro on this one, and great cape

An awesome very moody Patty Pravo performance

And finally, more Patty Pravo excellence including toplessness (turn it up as the volume is low):

My first pair of handmade boots!

My First Pair of Handmade Boots!

More handmade boot pics below – but first a brief history:

I decided I wanted to make a pair of boots about two years ago, as I was inspired by the book How to Make Your Own Shoes that I posted about HERE. As suggested in the post, I did ask for that book for Christmas, and I got it (thanks Santa!). Technically I had made 2 pairs of shoes previously but I didn’t really feel that they counted.

My first pair of handmade shoes - moccasinsSilver boots

I applied the techniques that Mary Wales Loomis outlined in her book but I found it a bit difficult to apply to making boots. For one thing, Mary suggested that you cast one of your pairs of pumps to use as a shoe form, so I went ahead and poured some plaster in my favorite old busted up pair of boots…only to realize after cutting the leather off the plaster that if you made your boot on this plaster form, the boot would never come off. However I did now have a cool set of plaster boots.

Plaster boot formPlaster boot form

Moving on I tried to adapt Mary’s patternmaking techniques to bootmaking to no avail, but luckily I had this cut up pair of boots with chunks of plaster stuck to them. So I pulled all the layers apart to make patterns and to try to make sense of all the materials that were used in the boot, some of which were quite different from what Mary had suggested using. Mary spoke of a helpful man at a shoemaking supply store, so I sauntered into Kaufman’s shoe repair supplier on Bleecker after a tip from a friend. I can’t say that anyone working there was particularly jazzed about helping someone who knew absolutely nothing about shoemaking, but I managed to get more or less what I thought I needed. It was no small bill either, I might add. Fast forward to me sawing through incredibly thick compressed sole leather with a weird knife, hurting my wrist and afraid I’d cut my foot off if the knife slipped (note: sitting hunched on floor working with sharp tools you don’t know how to use must be avoided). I also attempted to created a stacked heel by painstakingly cutting out several different layers and sizes of heel shapes, gluing them together, and sanding them BY HAND (yikes). (I didn’t end up using those heels btw.)

After I finally finished cutting them and dying the edges of the soles, I came to the realization that they were waaaaayyyy too thick to be useable soles, and several of the other structural parts I had concocted were sketchy as well. I decided to put it aside for a bit and consult the pros. So I finally took a shoemaking class at FIT (Footwear Design and Construction I). What went down in that class is kind of another story, as I made two pairs of shoes that I feel proud of but not eager to wear. They each had their issues, the first being a mule (yuck) and the second being a bit ambitious and confused gold bootie. I don’t have a decent photo of either, and that says a lot. All the while, I was eager to apply what I had learned to the ole pair of boots that was still awaiting construction. I went back to the leather upper, which I had already stitched together, and made some changes. The rest of the materials I totally remade – the innersole, counters, toe box, sock lining, etc. – while I made my second pair of shoes in class.

something is wrong herestacked leather bits intended to be turned into a heel

Shortly after the class ended I lasted my boots, or molded them onto the shoe form, which I didn’t have when I was attempting the boots for the first time (note – it’s impossible to make a pair of shoes without a last unless they are simple sandals or uber baggy freeform type things). The only thing left to do was deal with the sole, so I got a belt sander and sanded away…much to Collin’s dismay as I accidentally coated everything in his studio with teeny leather shreds. I augmented a pair of heels with Sculpy to make them fit the last a bit better and covered them in suede. But I still lacked the dye and wax to properly finish off the sole and couldn’t find the right products at Kaufman’s. Luckily my friend Kirsty from shoe class (who also makes really nice girls dresses) helped me get the job done. So I can finally say that I have achieved this goal of making a pair of handmade boots. Wooooooooooo!

My First Pair of Handmade Boots!

Before embarking upon this adventure, I had wondered to myself why you don’t find more readily available information online or elsewhere for making shoes. And I learned that the reason is that it has a million different steps, which change drastically depending on what type of shoe you are making, and that it’s difficult to learn without taking some sort of class. There are a few books out there but they cost a bundle, and I think it would be difficult to learn the techniques without having access to the tools and seeing them demonstrated.

Hopefully I’ll be able to set aside some time in the future to make another pair, but it’s tough without access to the shoe lab. For now, I’m just going to enjoy this pair. I already wore them out once in celebration of my birthday, and not only did they not fall apart – they were actually comfortable! So cool.

See thumbnails below, and the entire set on FLICKR.

My First Pair of Handmade Boots!My First Pair of Handmade Boots!My First Pair of Handmade Boots!My First Pair of Handmade Boots!My First Pair of Handmade Boots!My First Pair of Handmade Boots!My First Pair of Handmade Boots!First night out wearing my handmade boots

Kate Bush Dance Troupe at The Kitchen

The Kate Bush Dance Troupe performed at The Kitchen November 5, 6, and 7 as part of Chase Granoff’s piece The Art of Making Dances. Chase’s piece featured himself and Jennifer Sullivan as the main dancers as well as a group of dancers who performed during several segments. Our contribution fell at the end of the piece and we performed just one song – The Dreaming. I made an additional costume for Renata, as she rejoined the group for this performance. The evening also included i need more by Nancy Garcia and was curated by Matthew Lyons. Matthew also conducted an interview with me, Jennifer Sullivan, and Samara Davis about The Kate Bush Dance Troupe that is included in the book Chase produced as part of his piece. The book is also titled The Art of Making Dances.

We were really stoked to be included in this show, and it was funny, because we had earlier joked that KBDT was blowing up and that we’d be at The Kitchen before we knew it. It was an awesome opportunity and really cool to perform in that space, so “big time” compared to the loft/party type locations of our previous performances. Unfortunately I don’t yet have any photo or video of the performance to share save for a mobile phone pic and some photos of us before and after the show. Check out the review from the NY Times and check back for more documentation in the near future.

Also see posts on our first and second performances.

photo by Timothy Hull

Goofing off in the lobby of the Kitchen before going onstage

Kate Bush Dance Troupe, minus Cassie

Renata of KBDTSamara of KBDTKate of KBDTCassie of KBDTErica of KBDTJennifer of KBDT
pics by me and Collin

See the full set on Flickr HERE.

New Halloween Costume for ’09

This year I had an idea for a costume a few weeks before Halloween and decided to throw it together to become some sort of space rocker, a slight variation from my normal Halloween attire. I originally envisioned this costume being long-sleeved and totally covering the wearer in striped material, including a big hood or collar that would come up over their head. At first I tried to use some plastic tubing to form a circle, but it was nowhere near strong enough to support a collar. I decided to explore the world of foam and ended up stitching together several strips to form a sort of hood/half-helmet shape. I then covered it in the same material as the rest of the costume. The main bodice was copied from a pattern I made for a similar jumpsuit, though the arm pieces were a new addition. It ended up working out really well except that the seam tore on my upper thigh on Halloween nite. Luckily it wasn’t terribly noticeable as I was without a long coat.

Trying to figure out hood construction on costumeHood construction for halloween costumeHalloween costume 2009Halloween costume 2009Halloween costume 2009Halloween costume 2009

See more pics from Halloween 2009 in my flickr set.

Bonus pics of me with my coworker Michael Armstrong as Lady Gaga. Photos by Michele Crowe.


Recession Runway at Nada/Fall Collection at the NY Art Book Fair

I’ve participated so far in two art runway shows that Jennifer Sullivan organized. Last May she mounted Recession Runway hosted by NADA at Bumble and Bumble, and I showed off the costume I created for my performance last March in Wisconsin. After wearing it a few times, I practically forgot that one of my breasts was nearly exposed and I felt more confident in it. I made the whole ensemble for under 40 dollars, including the fabric and applique. Not too shabs.

Pics below photographed by Brina Thurston.


I was away on my honeymoon when Jen hosted Fall Collection at PS1 in October, but our fellow Kate Bush Dance Troupe member Kate Scherer modeled one of the costumes I created for the troupe. Kate did an amazing job and clearly represented the spirit of KBDT on the runway. Photo of Kate below by Dan Perrone.


W.A.R.E.S. Goddess Headdress Workshop with Jennifer Sullivan

In August, Jennifer Sullivan had a show at Heist Gallery called Manhattan Miniseries (With Sweaty Palms) during which she hosted many collaborative events. Jen and I worked together on this workshop, where we led participants in the creation of goddess headgear. Here was the description of our venture:

Wearable Art Research Empowerment Studio (W.A.R.E.S.) Episode
In this episode, artist Erica Magrey and I will guide a free Goddess Headdress-making workshop in the gallery space. Beginning with an informal discussion and a PowerPoint presentation offering some inspirational source imagery, we will guide participants through the process of using simple materials to make their own empowering wearable art. Emphasis will be placed on the expression of each participant’s unique inner strength and beauty through their creation. The workshop will culminate in goddess portrait photo shoot in the gallery space. Additional accessories, props and costume items will be provided, but participants are encouraged to bring craft materials that inspire and interest them.

The workshop ended up being super fun and we got great results. Here are a few of the participants headdresses (Renata Espinosa, Kate Scherer, and Brina Thurston).


See the whole set HERE.

Jen also included the photos in the first issue of her new wearable art zine, made in collaboration with Jenn Brehm.

We had made this cool promotional image that I forgot to post in advertisement of the workshop, so here goes: