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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Leaf Costume

Around 300-400 plastic and handcut silk maple leaves went into this project.

A few months ago I was contacted by a young woman about making a pageant costume. She was going to be representing Canada in an international beauty pageant in the Dominican Republic and needed a costume for the talent portion of the show. She asked me to create a maple-leaf themed costume with a headpiece. The costume counted for 30% of her score so she wanted it to be really over-the-top fabulous.

Initial Sketches.

Finalized Sketch.

Cutting the skirt, marking darts.

Making the base of the costume.

Adding eyelets for a corset style back. (Snaps on the right side)

Making spaghetti strap to case the wire.

Finished base of the costume with wire "whirlwind"

Stitching leaves to the bodice.
And the skirt.

Finished skirt outside and inside to show stitching.

Headpiece made with wire.


Finished costume. Copyright Rosie Rose 2014.

Closeup to show detail of leaves.

Here's the lovely Jennifer Perrin wearing the costume on stage
 in the Miss Beauty International Pageant in Santo Domingo.
                                              Congrats to Jennifer on winning First Runner-Up in the Petite Division!

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Four Generations Dress

"Four Generations" on to learn more about the meaning behind the dress.

I've been meaning to post this for a while now and just had trouble finding the time to edit photos and write. My body solved that problem for me, as I have been back in morning-sickness-Hell this week, and I have been able to do little more than work on my laptop between running to puke (gross, I know, sorry). On the upside, since I was confined to bed today, it gave me a chance to catch up.

I was invited to create a piece for The Artist Impression of the Mother, an art show in Eureka Springs featuring local artists. Unfortunately between my ill tummy and getting behind on orders I couldn't finish my piece in time for the show (which was on Mother's Day last month). I made a good effort of trying to finish up the day before the show but my sewing machines were working against me, breaking needles left and right and thread tangling, all kinds of trouble. I resigned to finishing the dress for my own satisfaction... I was sad to miss the show though (sorry John & Janet!).

"Four Generations", by Rosie Rose, Ezra Rose, Frances Gies, and Jenny Gies.
My piece is called "Four Generations" because it incorporates textiles created by four generations of women in my family; from my grandmother, Frances Carney Gies, my mother, Frances Jane (Jenny) Gies, myself, Frances Rose, and my daughter, Ezra Frances. The style of the dress itself is inspired by my mother's love for saris and fascination with Indian culture. I wanted it to have a simple elegance reminiscent of an Indian sari, but with a modern feel to it as well.

"Four Generations"

Closeup of "Four Generations"

My grandmother, Frances Carney Gies, was a prolific knitter and created beautiful sweaters with intricate patterns. The textile I used from her is actually from some socks she knitted for me about 15 years ago, probably very near to the last things she knitted before she wasn't able to anymore. For years they have been my favorite socks, one pair stripey and one with hearts, but after years of mending they were worn down to rags with giant holes in the bottom, so I didn't feel bad cutting them up to use in the dress. It was a good re-purposing, I think Grandma Frances would approve.
knitted heart by Grandma Frances.
Waistband repurposed from knitted socks by my maternal grandmother.

My mother, Frances Jane Gies, who went by "Jenny", was a batik artist and silk painter (among many talents). She created hundreds of beautiful scarves and wall hangings in her lifetime. I have a lot of scarves of hers still, including many that I have used as wall hangings and they ended up with tattered edges, and didn't wear them anymore. So, into the dress they went. Her scarves and my own hand-dyed silks comprise the majority of fabric in the dress. The bodice is made of two of her scarves cut into strips and woven together (over a muslin lining). You can see her distinctive "Gies" signature on the back of the bodice. The shoulder closes with antique glass buttons.
Mom and I in Southern Living, circa 1987-8, and one of Mom's scarves in the dress.
Mom's signature on the back of the dress ("Gies", her last name)

Closeup of Mom's signature.
Mom's kitty cat scarf surrounded by sea green Habotai and charmeuse silks I dyed.

My daughter Ezra Frances is only 3 but she is already well into in her own artistic journey, spending several hours a day drawing. She recently has begun, completely on her own initiative, to do artist studies of art that interests her. I gave her this piece of muslin and told her to go crazy with it, and she had a lot of fun decorating it with fabric markers.
Ezra, age 3, at the drawing table. 

I plan to keep the dress as a family heirloom which we may add to over the years. When Ezra is older I'd like to teach her to do embroidery and beadwork and we can add some more details to the dress. I can't wear it now because, duh, pregnant, but hopefully next summer I'll have a chance to show it off a bit, and of course I hope Ezra has a chance to wear it one day as well. Thinking about her wearing it is making me get all misty.

Mom's fish scarf and purple silk charmeuse I dyed.

So there you have it.... Four generations of art combined into one dress. I hope my mother and grandmother would approve. I miss them both dearly and it was a wonderful exercise making the gown and being immersed in their beauty and wisdom. I am very proud of my heritage from these amazing, strong, and gifted women. They may not be here but they left me plenty of gifts to last a lifetime and beyond.

My mama and grandmother in the late 70s; Mom was pregnant with my brother Nate.