Saturday, March 31, 2012

Thrifts of Terror: What the What is That?

I have no idea what this is even supposed to be.
The only thing I'm sure of is that it was in the Holiday section and that these creatures are riding an ear of corn.

Seen at the Orange, CT Savers.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

American Buffalo: An Introduction

I've mentioned in previous blog posts that I am in the midst of the design process for a production of American Buffalo. Elm Shakespeare, the company I work for, also produces a small show in the spring in addition to our usual summer fare. This spring's production is American Buffalo. I was asked to design the costumes, and I asked if it would also be possible for me to design the set as well. The Directors agreed and here I am, attempting to dredge up drawing and computer skills I haven't used in years.

American Buffalo is by David Mamet. The play takes place in a resale shop, and who knows a resale shop better than me? The shop is owned by the character Donny and is a hangout of sorts for the other two characters Bobby and Teach, as well as the rest of their nefarious group.. On this particular day this dysfunctional family of sorts is plotting to steal back a Buffalo Nickel that was purchased from the shop by a buyer a day or two before. In true ReSeller fashion, Donny feels like it was worth more than he sold it for. Since these guys don't have much in the way of scruples, they decide that stealing back the nickle to flip it for more cash is perfectly reasonable.

I see the play as a window in to the never ending cycle of these characters lives. There is constantly a scheme, there is constantly a jostle for position within the group, someone always loses their shit, something always gets broken, someone always gets hit, they all drive to the hospital together and someone gets stitches. All is forgiven. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The time is set in 1975, the place Chicago's North Side. I feel this time in American History is the beginning of the end of the 20th century American Dream due to the people's disillusionment with Vietnam, the fall of the auto industry, and the beginnings of pushing manufacturing overseas. According to James Truslow Adams the American Dream defined is "Life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone with the opportunity for each according to ability or achievement."  But if there is no work and you don't have the capital to start your own business, how can you possibly acheive? I've always said the new American Dream is that people feel deserving of a big cash windfall for as little work as possible. Like winning the lottery, or suing for a cash settlement, or stealing a valuable object and selling it. These guys are desperately trying to live the new dream, because the old one has screwed them over.

The biggest challenge with this set design is that we are performing in an art gallery. So the set has to live in that space while still serving the production. Tricky. I can't exactly set up a full blown resale shop in the middle of a functioning art gallery. As far as the costumes go, there is always the challenge of finding men's vintage clothing.

Be sure to check back here mid-week for updates. I'll be posting lots of information about my process including all the junk shop and vintage clothing details up until opening.

Research images are from the UIC Flickr set of The C. William Brubaker Collection, which is an amazing resource of images of Chicago in the 1970's . Thanks UIC!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Thrift Share Monday: The New Westport Goodwill

Back in the day, when I lived in Norwalk, the Westport Goodwill was my absolute favorite Goodwill in Connecticut. They had tons of name brand, high end clothes for reasonable prices and a really great selection of clothes and housewares. Times change, and lately it has become picked over and overpriced.  One of the biggest problems though was it's parking lot, which was a narrow, one way affair prone to overcrowding. If you couldn't get a spot on your first pass, that was it, you were screwed.

Now the Goodwill has moved to a brand new building down the road. With a huge parking lot!

It was busy, as to be expected on opening weekend. I poked through housewares and came away with this beauty for $6 at half off.

Another piece of Copco cast iron to add to my small but rapidly growing collection. This time a dark brown enamel grill pan.  It is one of the Michael Lax designs, which is really exciting. I love the teak handle.

I can't wait to try grilling some salmon on it later this week.

Her Library Adventures

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Weekend Update: Deep Breaths

I think, (breath) the worst, (breath) is over. (exhale) Maybe. Now that Winter's Tale is open and I have a full two days off, maybe I'll finally get something done. No time to waste typing, on to the wrap up...

Goals From Two Week Ago:
1. Plan Apartment Therapy for bedroom.
2. Put up Betty Crocker Cookbook page on the blog.
3. Finish CAD tutorial. Draft KL Gallery and ground plan. Figure out where to plot the drawings.
4. Meet with American Buffalo Director: Go over designs thus far, revise, and finalize. We also managed to pull some props and set pieces for the show, bonus!
5.Continue Macbeth research. Email our lighting designer about scaffolding information and park layout. Start rough sketches and prep for a meeting with the Director and Artistic Director on the 13th.
6. Start panicking about working on my 2011 taxes. I think I'm gonna need to file an extension this year.

Goals for Next Week:
1. Put up Betty Crocker Cookbook page on the blog.
2. File a tax extension.
3. Finish Ground Plan and new perspective sketch for American Buffalo. Email to the Director for final approval.
4. Library Day: Pay off Yale Library fines and check out Macbeth research. Visit the Institute Library, return book, look for more Macbeth research. (Visit English Market next door.)
5. Get back on my gym schedule. 4 days this week!
6. Finish quilting the Baby Quilt Project II.

I got nothing for Thing a Week this week. But I did watch most of my new Game of Thrones DVD's for Macbeth research, yeah...for research.

I 'm headed to Westport to check out the new and improved Goodwill and hit up Stew Leonard's for groceries tonight. So yes, there will be Thrift Share on Monday!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Weekend Update: As Predicted...

My last week was insanity! I worked, I slept, I ate. I went to the gym twice, but only because I had extra long dinner breaks on those days. I managed to cram in one sketch for Macbeth, my fist pass at the set design for Thing a Week number 10:

Back to goals next week Nerds, I promise. Possible Thrift Share tomorrow. Maybe. If I get my ass out of bed at a decent hour.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Thrifts of Terror: Little Angels

I like to think the children in this photo
are the ones who brought this to the donation center.

I bet they were plotting the demise of this thing for years.
Seen at the Milford, CT Goodwill.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Thrift Share Monday: Enamel Pot

Oh look, a cute enamel ware double boiler. Or is it?

Wait, it also has a steamer basket...

...and a colander...

...and the expected double boiler, is really a pasta insert...

....and the enamel in the pot is a little dirty, but in great shape.

$6.99? Hmmm...but wait! I have a $6 credit at this Goodwill.



Sunday, March 11, 2012

Weekend Update: Quickie

Despite all intents and purposes to be productive this week, my schedule took on a life of it's own and it was all I could do to hang on for the ride. I'll be postponing working on goals until next Sunday when the work schedule eases up a little. 

I had to go shopping for a co-worker's birthday gift so I did manage a spot of thrifting today. Even with the schedule crunch there will be Thrift Share Monday tomorrow. For now I'll leave you with a photo I took of a garment tag on a men's sweater:

Reminds me of the movie Misery. "I know that Mister Man! They also called them serials! I'm not stupid you know!"

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Thrifts of Terror: 3D Shells

For even more of your 3D enjoyment, a 3D shell painting.
I remember these being big in office art in the 90's.

Spotted at the Newington Savers.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Thrift Share Monday: American Buffalo

Well Nerds, due to some unforeseen upheavals in my schedule this past week, my thrifting trip to NY was cancelled. Life is starting to get really busy with the two shows I am designing sets and costumes for. You may remember last week, my Thrift Share that revolved around my car repair. In addition those lovely items I was able to find a few pieces of clothing for the production of American Buffalo I'm designing.

The costumes for American Buffalo are every day, middle class men's wear from 1975. Not so easy to find in the thrifts in 2012. Especially since two of my actors are over 6' tall and broad shouldered. As is usual for me, I got lucky in the most unlikely of places.

Teach is a character who, according to our Director, "fancies himself a ladies man" with the emphasis on fancies himself.  Myself, the Director and the Actor all agreed he needed a contemporary stylish leather jacket. After dealing with the car I drove down the block to Sarah's Cupboard and discovered they were having a 50% off sale on winter coats. When I walked into the back room with the clothing , I immediately spotted the perfect leather jacket.

At 50% off, it was only $25 and broad enough in the chest and shoulder to fit the Actor!  I love the furry zip out lining. (Which we definitely will not be using in the show!)

My next stop was at the Teen Challenge thrift store in Branford. It is a great spot for furniture, but the clothing selection is sporadic. But I got damn lucky and found 2 pairs of men's vintage jeans in a size 40 waist. They may be a little big for the actor playing Donny, but at $5 a pair-it's worth a shot!

During my Presidents Day Live Thrift Share, I picked up a t-shirt option for the actor playing Bobby. It's a GAP vintage styled ringer t. While I'd rather find a real vintage tee, I still like the color of this one a lot. And, it was only $1.

Stay tuned for more on American Buffalo in the next few months. I'm also designing the set and the play takes place in a junk shop. I'm sure I'll be rounding up plenty of thrifty things to share!

Apron Thrift Girl: Thrift Share Monday
Her Library Adventures: Flea Market Finds

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Weekend Update: Where Did the Week Go?

I really have no idea, but then switching to a day schedule always has a tendency to mess me up. Also a late night in New York on Monday for The Observationalist NYC's birthday was really, really fun but did not really set a proper tone of productivity for the week. As the week progressed, new and exciting challenges presented themselves, horrible weather, a giant bear costume, and a meeting at the Gallery where American Buffalo is being staged.

The weather was basically the remnants of all of those tornado storms that have been terrorizing points south and east of New England. Here is became sleety, snowy, rainy yuck, but at least it didn't obliterate anything. The bear is for our upcoming production of Winter's Tale at the Rep. It's rented from the Guthrie Theatre, it's huge, and it requires 3 people to get the actor into the costume. So I've been spending some time in rehearsals, which is a change of pace for me-but time consuming.  The Gallery meeting went very well, I was able to talk to the manager about the needs of the show and the Artistic and Managing Directors and I worked out a layout. However I realized I needed to start drafting the ground plan soon, which presented a bit of a problem.

Where and how to draft the scenery?

It's been about 10 years since I've done any drafting by hand or by computer. (Other than sewing pattern drafting, which is different.) In fact, my hand drafting skills are excellent since I've been drafting off and on since Junior High School. In both High School and Graduate School I upgraded my skills to AutoCAD on Releases 11 and 14 respectively, and I have access to both AutoCAD and it's Mac bretheren Vectorworks on my office computer. After a fruitless search at work for a drafting table with a straight edge attachment, I decided it would probably be easier to refresh my CAD skills. After all, the information is all still in my brain somewhere, I just need to reboot the information.

Enter which has extensive online tutorials on AutoCAD, Photoshop, and hundreds of other programs. All of which, I can access for free through Yale! So most of Sunday has been spent in front of the office computer, plowing through the AutoCAD 2010 tutorial, with breaks for food and costume drawings. Now I just have to finish 7 more chapters of the tutorial and review the theatrical drafting standards and I'm good to go.

Which means I had to completely adjust my goals for the week:

This Week:
1. Return library books, clear fines. Finally!
2. Plan Apartment Therapy for bedroom. I finally cleaned and vacuumed, at least.
3. Draw and color Costume sketches for American Buffalo. Paint a second set sketch from another angle. Best to wait until the ground plan is finalized, really.
4. Read Macbeth again, start researching.  You know, thank goodness for audio books, they are the only way I can get any reading done.
5. Put up Betty Crocker Cookbook page on the blog. Literally, we had no sunlight this week for photographing anything.
6. Dye my hair. Clairol Nice and Easy #111, if you want to know. 

Considering I've relearned the gist of a tricky computer program in a day? I'm calling this week a win. Oh, and I also cleaned out the photos on my iPhone, because it was full. Double win!

Next Week:
1. Plan Apartment Therapy for bedroom.
2. Put up Betty Crocker Cookbook page on the blog.
3. Finish CAD tutorial. Draft KL Gallery and ground plan. Figure out where to plot the drawings.
4. Meet with American Buffalo Director: Go over designs thus far, revise, and finalize.
5.Continue Macbeth research. Email our lighting designer about scaffolding information and park layout. Start rough sketches and prep for a meeting with the Director and Artistic Director on the 13th.
6. Start panicking about working on my 2011 taxes.

Thing a Week #9: Costume Sketches! From left to right: Teach, Donny, and Bobby

Once these initial design meetings are over I'll be able to share more information on the blog. Tomorrow's Thrift Share will be about American Buffalo!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Thrifts of Terror: 3D Virgin Mary

In what seems to be a recurring theme this month,

I spotted a 3D Virgin Mary at the Hamden Goodwill.