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Where have I been!?!? COSTUMING!

I haven’t been posting as much as I have in the past.  Wondering why?  I accepted a full-time position at The Rose Theater as the Costume Shop Foreman, so I’ve been keeping QUITE busy.

Corner office with a view.

I’m still adjusting to working on children’s theater costumes from 9-5 and then working on my own brand during lunch breaks, evenings and weekends. I’m used to working a lot, but this new ratio of working outside the studio vs. time in the studio has been a rough change.

Repairing butterfly wings at my dayjob.

At first I was really concerned because of all the time I would NOT be spending on Audio Helkuik collections, but I’m really so grateful for this job.  If I have to have a 9-5, it’s pretty much the perfect for me.  Children’s theater is really random and wonderful.  My supervisor is really good and really, really, REALLY fast, so I learn a lot from her.  I can’t wait to be able to design, pattern and sew as quickly as she does.  So many of the skills I’m perfecting in the costume shop are exactly the skills I need to continue making Audio Helkuik better and better.  I love to learn.  I love getting better.

Day job work desk essentials: fur, leather, goggles, specs and coffee.

With my new position, I get to design a few mainstage shows each season.  Right now I’m working on designs for a show about a little family of singing mice.  Children’s theater.  So random.  So wonderful.

Designing outfits for singing mice.

My table at a staff design presentation event. Mice!

Really excited to see my designs on the stage again.  I love costume design.  I love fashion design too.  Don’t you worry.  I have LOTS of projects in the works for Audio Helkuik.  Screenprinting.  Leatherworking.  New collections.  Photoshoots.  SOOOOOOO PUMPED.

The future is looking up. Life is good.

One of my desk drawers at work is filled with antique irons. Cool. Random.

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Posted by on 03.29.14 in Audio's Life, Costumes

 

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How I Spent my Fall Semester

Since the morning after the Omaha Fashion Week Finale Runway Show in August, I’ve been in Orange City, IA working as an interim Costume Studio Manager for Northwestern College’s Theater Department.  I had zero recovery days after the chaos that is known as Fashion Week.  While it was a bit of an exhausting transition to go from runway work straight into a fast-paced theater costuming gig, I truly love my work.  Here at Northwestern College, I teach, I learn, I laugh, I love.

Instructing a student on how to stitch trim onto some belts we made.

NWC has one of the nicest costume studios I’ve ever worked in.  Most kind of have that “super cluttered basement” feel to them.  This one is big and bright with TONS of windows and the workspace is pretty much clutter-free.   It makes me want to cut down on the clutter in my own studio, which is always a challenge for someone who loves to collect fabric and supplies.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a bazillion large storage rooms to help keep my workspace completely clutter-free, so I just try to keep it under control

Showing NWC theater students how to create whiskers on masks.

Despite the great workspace, after three months on Orange City, I’m definitely ready to come home. Orange City is a small, conservative town that makes me miss Omaha, my Homaha SO MUCH.  I will also miss the NWC theater department when I leave.  They all also love to teach, learn, laugh, love.

Photo credit: Stephen Allen Photography

 
 

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Go to your happy place: an Overcrowded Costume Shop

In the theater where I work, there’s a very, very full costume rental shop in the basement.  My coworker friend manages the rental department, but when she can’t make it into work I get to fill in.  I can’t bring myself to say “I LOVE WHEN SHE’S SICK!” because being sick is a sucky deal, but it means I get to be surrounded by costumes all afternoon.  (When I say surrounded by costumes, I really mean “almost swallowed up by the insane amount of costumes stuffed into this space.”)

Audio Helkuik in their natural habitat: an overcrowded costume shop.

Besides all the vintage outfits, the giant animal bodies, and crazy headwear, the reason I REALLY REALLY love costume shops is because they are SO. FREAKING. RANDOM.

Randomness strikes: “Where should I put these handfuls of wolf heads?”

And where else would it be normal to find a box of polar bear heads stashed under a giant gator body?

Of course it’s alot of fun to run around and play dress up while working in a costume shop, but there IS actual work that has to get done. I took a photo for proof. Exhibit A:

Sorting colors for the billionth load of laundry that day.  I loathe doing laundry.

For curious folks: The theater I stitch at is the Rose Theater in downtown Omaha.

 

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Audio Helkuik featured on regretsy.com

Back in 2010, one of my items made it onto the official regretsy blog.  For those who dont know, regretsy is a blog whose motto is “Where DIY meets WTF” and they post listings of etsy and then everyone trashes them with comments.  It’s usually freakin’ hilarious, I’ll admit.  Occasionally, I actually like what’s on the blog (I’m also guilty of loving things from “The 10 Worst Red Carpet Looks” lists and having most the outfits from everyone’s “Fashion Don’ts” lists).

While I enjoy the blog, I had mixed feelings about being featured. First thought: COOL! I’M ON REGRETSY! Second thought: Awww, people are mean.  Third thought: Ehhh…….it’s just regretsy.  Fourth thought: People are mean. Back and forth.  I figured it was just a matter of time until I saw my work up there, but I hadn’t really prepared myself for the onslaught of witty online bashers.  However, my etsy shop views for the weeks following my regretsy feature were THROUGH THE STINKIN’ ROOF.  What do they say, any press is good press?

Screen shot: “Hakuna Ma-Schmata”
Audio Helkuik featured on regretsy in 2010

As I said, the regretsy blogger posts an item that’s for sale on etsy along with some commentary, and then people are free to bash away.  About half of the comments on my listing just laugh at Omaha in general (Cow and corn jokes. How original.), many comments are making fun of gay male models (really? gay jokes….?), and then the rest are aimed at me.  I’m fully aware that I don’t make mainstream clothing.  I also know that alot of people do not like my work.  The thing is, I don’t make clothing for those people.

For about a week, I was pretty upset.  Then I took the garment that was beaten down online and looked at it for awhile and I thought “Nope. I still think it rocks.”   I love the outfit, the makeup, the image, the model (Mark! What a trooper!), everything. I also like to imagine this sweater styled with so many other outfits (although I find the head-to-toe tribal look aesthetically pleasing):

Sunny fall afternoon: throw this sweater over a tank with skinny jeans, sunglasses and gobs of brass jewelry.

Menswear casual: Pair this sweater shrug with a black button up with khakis and some sweet black boots.

Tough glamour: A little black dress with clunky boots, this sweater and giant hoop earrings.

While I don’t necessarily enjoy being bashed online, it’s not so bad as long as I know I am making collections that can handle the beating.  I still stand behind “h/g: you be the hunter, I’ll be the gatherer.”

See the etsy listing that was featured on regretsy here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/57034127/sweater-shrug-with-shoulder-fringe

See the regretsy post titled “Hakuna Ma-Schmata” here: http://www.regretsy.com/2010/09/23/hakuna-ma-shmata/

***UPDATE*** Link to Regretsy feature broken because regretsy.com shut down.

***UPDATE*** All clothing featured in outfit are SOLD OUT (except the wrist cuff)! Heck yeah.

 
 

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Costume Design for Avant Garde Theater: Muazzez

As part of the 2012 Great Plains Theater Conference, I was asked to costume a Mac Wellman play.  It is titled Muazzez, from a larger piece of work called A Chronicle of the Madness of Small Worlds.  This was my first encounter with a Mac Wellman script and I quickly learned that he is infamous for stories that poke fun at our culture using an eclectic set of vocabulary, outlandish themes and heavy underlying topics.  Muazzez lives up to everything I was warned about. It was cool to be asked to costume this avant garde play, because I was also just chosen to present a clothing collection in an avant garde runway show.  Avant garde plays! Avant garde runway shows! Avant garde everything!

Costume illustration for Muazzez.

Muazzez takes over my studio workspace.

Muazzez is about an abandoned cigar factory on another planet.  I assumed that I’d be costuming the people that make up the workforce in the factory, but the actor IS the cigar factory.  I loved that the costuming concept could really go ANY direction: literal, crazy, minimalistic, whatever.  I created an outfit that conveys the “noble king of nothing” personality of the character, but also encompasses the look of my clothing brand.  Because the script creates a costuming opportunity that is so open to interpretation, I decided I could go ahead and infuse my costuming work with my brand’s aesthetic for this project.

Typical Audio Helkuik aesthetic: Accessorizing the accessory.

Stylized handstitching.

I also did makeup design for this production.  The actor’s  neck, fingertips and soles of his feet were to be painted black.  I always do a practice run of the makeup before the day of the show and typically I practice on myself.

Sketch of foot makeup.

Painting my foot for practice.

Painted foot: Muazzez body makeup design

Watching the rehearsals for this production were a treat.  The performance venue, House of Loom, is such a cool space, which is great since we all spent alot of time here working on Muazzez.  Reading scripts, coming up with concepts, creating the outfits and watching them come to life (with a great Gus & Call soundtrack!) is so fun, especially when you get to work with great people along the way.

Watching the Muazzez rehearsals at House of Loom.

 
 

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