I am a costumer from Michigan, with a BFA in Theatre Design/Tech from Wayne State University. I have been a costume designer and/or technician for a museum, many theatre productions, Club Med Turkoise, and several films. I’ve also been a Morris Dancer, since late ’95. The Morris is a huge part of my life, in a way I consistently, and utterly fail to be able to explain. Just know that it’s important to me.
That’s where I am now, here is a little about how I got there.
Like many people, (maybe less, these days?) my first introduction to sewing came early; making aprons, and quilt squares with my grandmother. She has always been a wonderful seamstress, and though she no longer does it professionally, she still rocks out! GO DOLLY!!! As I went into junior high, all of this was naturally forgotten in a standard 12 year old cloud if angst… And then came one fateful day, when I was invited to go to the Michigan Renaissance Festival with my friend Elyse, and her family. They were in the habit of going in costume, and helped me get an outfit together. I came home converted, and determined to have something *better* for next time, just 2 weeks later…
The Cliff’s Notes: I took over my mother’s sewing room, and reminded/taught myself how to sew. Within six months, I had replaced half of my wardrobe with a slew of renni-gotho-licious bits, that were more to my liking – remember that in the mid 1990’s, there was only one Hot Topic in Michigan, it was more than an hour away from my house. (BTW, I just did a quick search, there are 23 now; 5 of them are less than 20 minutes from here. Times, they do change…)
I continued making funky clothing, and costumes for myself, throughout high school; at some point I even started doing research, and got really into corsets. Out of all of this, (and some well placed interference, on the part of my mother,) I landed a job in the Period Clothing Department, at Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village – now rebranded to The Studio at The Henry Ford, straight out of high school.
This job was my real training. I learned about good research practices, and cultural influences of clothing; but more than anything, I really learned how to sew well, because the work gave me a *lot* of practice. Over the course of three and a half years, I made hundreds of garments, hats, and bonnets. I truly believe that sewing is like trigonometry: 20% talent/ability, 80% practice. Through all my time at the museum, I was also taking classes at community college; basic requirements that I’d need, regardless of what degree I ultimately got. Early on, I was considering some sort of mechanical engineering, and costuming – this is not a paradox – but really wasn’t sure which way I wanted to go. Then, in December of 2001, I went to see The Fellowship of The Ring with my family, and had an epiphany: I would have killed to work on that film, if thought it would have gotten me anywhere. Decision made, I geared my courses to transfer to the Wayne State theatre department. I started, at WSU in the fall of 2003; this was a little less soon than I would have liked, but taking the extra time at Schoolcraft allowed me to finish all but 2 of my gen-ed requirements before I got there. This allowed me the luxury of taking only theatre classes, and really being able to direct all of my energy into my major, rather than worrying about things like Computer Orientation, Biology for Non-Majors and Contemporary America – U.S. History. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with these, it was just nice not to have to worry about them while I was in tech.
About a year after getting my degree, I got a job at Club Med Turkoise for the winter ’07-’08 season. My memories of this are decidedly sweet and sour. I learned a lot, and got to live on a beach; but I was also stuck on a very small rock in the middle of the ocean. I learned flying trapeze, and that I would rather be in my shop, working on a show, than schmoozing the guests, telling them about it.
When I came back from my tropical rock, I was all set to regroup and move to NYC or LA, but while I was gone, it seemed that the MI state legislature had passed a film tax incentive, and the movies were coming here, so I stayed. Fittingly, my first film was shot at the Michigan Renaissance Festival.