Life as the textile expert at a regional history museum

Thursday, March 29, 2012

This one is for the baseball fans

Things I vacuumed today:

A Mariners jersey worn by Edgar Martinez.

From the 1995 season.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bachelorette Life

I feel like I don't have much to report from work this week. The main thing I've been doing is re-vacuuming things I vacuumed before. Some bug evidence was found on garments that were on display, and so as a precautionary measure we decided to deep freeze every textile-based object that was de-installed from exhibit (the freezing kills bugs without using chemicals). To be thorough, each object had to be vacuumed before and after freezing. The boxes just came back, so I've been having vacuuming deja vu.

As thrilling as that is, I turn now to my home life. Today I had a delightful, relaxing Saturday with my roommate. But now that I reflect back on it, I realize that it was sort of an amusing portrait of bachelorette life. My day included:

-Watching the Project Runway: All Stars finale
-Venting about how boring, predicable, and not-fun the show has become
-Deciding that the only thing that will make us feel better is one episode of Say Yes to the Dress
-And by "one" we mean two
-Just one more
-"I think something in our apartment smells bad"
-Launching into vigorous cleaning mode, including a complete clean-out and smell-check of all items in the fridge, bathroom and kitchen scrub-down, and a removal of all garbage, recycling, and compost.
-Deciding to reward selves with gummy candy in shape of penguins
-A journey outside with a vague list of errands
-More Say Yes to the Dress while eating cottage cheese
-"We need to find this bride a dress, SHE DOESN'T HAVE A KIDNEY"
-Deciding we've had enough SYTTD and the time has come for RuPaul's Drag Race
-Discussion of how to incorporate more drag queen sayings into our lives. Like this:

"Do I look fine? If I look fine I'll keep going"

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Good Bubbleator, Bad Bubbleator

As I've said before, if a mannequin is dressed well you focus on the clothes. If it is dressed poorly you get distracted by how weird the whole thing looks. Today I have a concrete example for you.

For our upcoming exhibition about the Seattle World's Fair my interns and I had to dress a Bubbleator uniform. The Bubbleator was an attraction at the fair that consisted of a round, glass elevator that took people up into an area with a bunch of screens and audio that talked about the future. I'm probably not describing it that well, but I don't really understand it fully myself. What I do know though is that the men who worked as operators and ushers had super awesome futuristic uniforms to wear. When we completed dressing one, it looked like this:

Not terrible, but just sort of strange. The shoulders are huge yet the arms and legs seem spindly and empty. And you can tell something is wrong because the jacket is pulling strangely.

This is proof that sometimes it helps to walk away and see it again with fresh eyes. We had thought we did a great job with this, but then when we looked at it a week later we could tell that it was just distractingly off.

So, we tried for round two.

So much better, right? My interns had an epiphany regarding shoulders and the fact that they often slope down rather than going straight out. We also filled out the arms and the legs so that they didn't look as empty. The fit looks like it is for an actual human now rather than a linebacker with the legs of a ballerina.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Causing disorder in the neighborhood

One of the outfits we are displaying at the new museum is a jacket worn by local TV icon JP Patches. All we have is the jacket, but the designers want the mannequin to be fully dressed, which means I have to create or track down prop pieces to complete the look. I really wanted a red and white clown tie like in the picture, so I purchased this great fabric (from the Dr. Seuss fabric line--no joke) and sewed a prop tie. When I put it together though, it looked wrong because the jacket is worn and faded and the tie looks brand new. So I set to work "distressing" the tie to make it look older.

My education taught me a lot about how NOT to treat fabric, so I figured that all I had to do was the opposite. First I washed it in super hot water using a detergent that contained bleach. When that didn't do much I decided to just hang it up in my window so it could get some light damage.

I chuckled a little bit about how it would look to people who might glance at my window from the street. To me it looked a little like a scarecrow, or like some sort of mysterious or creepy message I was sending to a person in the apartment across the street.

It was up for about a week when an apartment-wide notice went out, reminding all residents of a few rental agreement rules, including:
"No tenant shay display any decor (curtains, art, stickers, etc.) on windows or doors that are visible to the public."

Wa wah. I guess no one likes clown ties.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Vacuuming roundup and other things you should know

Today I worked on some items used during the Klondike Gold Rush. Including:

-Gold poke (small, narrow leather pouch...that I guess you poke your gold into)

-Leather money belt

-Pair of ratty mittens with flowers embroidered on them. (Some miner's mom probably made them for him and he was totally embarrassed but then realized that in Alaska his fingers would fall off if he didn't wear them)

When I wasn't thinking about Klondike miners, I was thinking about New York. Today I got an email from my old boss in Special Collections telling me that the grant project I had been working on has been completed. The thousands of sketches we digitized are now available on this cool portal: I am proud that I got to be a part of it.

I was also reminded that tonight is the opening of the graduate exhibit at the Museum at FIT. My class did an exhibition on Vivienne Westwood, and this year the topic is the 1960s. I am really sorry to be missing it. If you live in New York, make sure to check out Youthquake! The 1960s Fashion Revolution which will be on view at FIT until April 7. If you are one of my Seattle readers, you should know that you can get a slice of the experience right now at the Henry. Their mini-exhibition Flashback looks at art and fashion of the 1960s, and includes some truly fab outfits from the Henry's costume collection.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The difference between New York and Seattle

Impressive answers I have heard to the question, "What do you do for a living?":

New York:

"I work at a photography studio. You know that one actor? He gets his headshots done where I work."

"I work at the Calvin Klein archive. You know that one thing Lady Gaga wears in her new video? I pulled that and sent it out to her."


"I work for a video game company. You know that game Halo? I was one of the programmers for that."

"I work for Amazon. You know how you get those emails that recommend other products? I write the code for that."