Clothing, accessories and jewelry designer for my business Talismana Designs. I love the high of being flooded with inspiration and vision.Lately I've had to take measures to prevent myself from being the Muse's overworked puppet.I'm grateful (and relieved) to have built a lifestyle of travel, art, crafting and design. I love historical fiction and costume dramas, ancient ruins, dancing, old architecture, ambient spaces, brokedown palaces, estate sales, and all the imagined charms of the romanticized past. You know the type.
How do you define Steampunk?
I'm frequently groping for a concise definition of Steampunk for people who've never heard of it. “...A subculture based on the science fiction of the Victorian era...with great costumes...” As a clothing designer my entry to Steampunk was through costuming. Steampunk is primarily an aesthetic for me. It's sexy, romantic, and offers grown ups a chance to play. I can't even say I particularly 'like' the Victorian era – it's more that it's somehow an immutable part of me. I need dark velvets, crowded parlors, hour glass figures,
Please describe one of your creative processes...
My travel schedule leaves me only pockets of time in the yearly cycle to get serious about which designs are going to come into being. I sketch ideas as they demand then toss them in a folder. When it's time to get real about the next year's production I leaf through this collection. Some are chosen for practical reasons, some are chosen because they won't stop banging on my mind's eye. I love designing and diagramming on paper but many things require samples sewn at home. It's a rude surprise when I take what I thought was a gift from the Muse and find out while sewing it into a garment that it was more of a practical joke. Things can look so good in my head! I believe the best designs come through a refining process of repeated samples.
I am an inspiration junkie. It feels so good to be lit up with the possibilities of new ideas and I love that Steampunk offers an outlet for that.
Art museums are a huge source of inspiration for me. And it's great if they include a costume department of course. There's so much beauty in historical clothing, the grace of the seams, the detailed construction, and the flow and drape that we don't use much of today. It is such a pleasure to fall into a state of wonder enjoying the treasures that have survived time.
Ambient spaces are hugely inspiring to me. Walking into an atmospheric space is like entering a romantic alternate reality. What could I wear to play in this charming space? I like creating fusion wear that offers subtle hints of costume while still being compatible with modern living. I want to wear something acceptable for the grocery store while I buy wine and take the subway, then slip into a dream state for an afternoon in Highgate Cemetery. The ideal designs have a chameleon quality that comes to life in ambient space.
The dance floor has always been a great creative channel for me. My best work communicates the visuals of our tribes and subcultures and we tend to come together on the dance floor. Moving the body clears the mind and offers a clean surface for inspiration to land on. I work with trends in my business and trends are a great reflection of the group mind. Staying connected to the tribe I'm designing for is key.
Tell us about one of the projects you're working on...
My favorite current projects are huge and ambitious and only exist in my mind thus far. I will be amazed and grateful if I ever have a chance to network with people and create these mindscapes. I feel it's a gift to be visited by a dream and that it's not always necessary to make it a reality. I dream of creating festival spaces with elaborate permanent architecture and gardens where we can have immersion experiences. I dream of reviving a ghost town populated by artisans crafting with salvaged relics of the past. And most unlikely of all – I dream of a planned neighborhood of Venetian micro-palaces for architecture lovers, set around a central swimming grotto, with a ginormous estate house at one end, divided into apartments and ateliers, with a shared ballroom that serves as a yoga and dance studio between balls.
A project I'm actually working on, in reality – packing my suitcase for a visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Finally! See you in Diagon Alley! (SW: We are jealous!)
What advice do you have for young Steampunks? A few things I've noticed about crafting: I have to make a lot of things a lot of times to develop my style. “Perfect is the enemy of good.” Thank you Voltaire. Jump in and get your hands dirty. When I feel terrible I can't create, it seems I need a baseline of confidence. But there is a rich sweet spot of vision that comes in the aftermath of trauma. There's an endorphin activated portal of creativity that opens when I start to exit a dark fugue state.
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