Here is another piece I created a while ago for an editorial shoot. I love the silk organza’s color, and I wanted to create something nice with it . . . Something non-floral in every single way.
I don’t hate flowers, but I don’t particularly love them either. And, yet, most of the headpieces and dresses I’ve created so far have flower-shaped trims on them because I find them easy to make. As some sort of compromise, I make those flowers as geometric as possible. People seem to like them. So, all is good. Sort of. But, before long, creating flower-shaped trims has become some sort of a crutch. And, THAT, is not good. I really need to do something about it or I’ll stagnate. So, I challenged myself to create 3 flower-free outfits in a month. The one you see below is one of them.
The color of the fabric makes me think of the Greek Goddess of Harvers, Demeter. And, I imagined the fabric would make a beautiful Lanvin-style Grecian-inspired dress. But . . . it wouldn’t fit with the tone of the editorial I created this top for . . . Besides, I just can’t bring myself to knock another designers works off.
So, I decided to create something that features a several of my favorite SS2016 trends: ruffles, pleats, paperbag waist, and clothing with both transparent and opaque elements. But, I still keep the reference to Demeter. Like Ancient Greek chiton (or tunic), the wearer slips this top over her head and fasten it on the waist.
It looks nearly identical on the back, and meant to be worn with something else on the bottom.
Though I’ve closed my Etsy shop and have been preoccupied with my other endeavors, I never stop creating handmade pieces. These past few months, I’ve been expanding my skill sets, creating numerous hand-stitched dresses, and different kinds of nail ornaments.
Below are some of pieces I created a while ago, made specifically for my fine art photography project that are going to be on view at Beautiful Bizarre currated exhibition at Vanilla Gallery: 『aestheticism～耽美～』.
The curator of the show asked me not to share my completed works before the opening day. So, to give you some idea of what I was working on, I will share some behind-the-scene images and sneak peeks instead.
I created the dress using identical techniques I use when I make silk headpieces . . .
Apparently, I am allergic to the type of feather I used to construct the dress. Although I was wearing a wired surgical mask, I had to take numerous sneezing and coughing breaks which slowed my progress quite significantly.
Because creating the nail ornaments involves numerous messy steps, I didn’t dare to take snapshots of my working process because I don’t want to ruin or stain the surface of my phone and touch screen. May be, someday I will ask someone to photograph the working process for me.
Here are a few snapshots of one of the headpieces I designed and created for Dream Shoot Rentals.
(I took the photos in front of a few yards novelty fabric that I draped onto a garment rack. It makes quite an interesting backdrop)
I like to create pieces that can be worn in several different ways. For that reason, I decided to embellish both sides of the headpiece.
I always put each of my designs through something I call a snapshot test.
It’s very simple. It involves asking someone to model my design and taking many snapshots of the design from many different angles. That’s the only way I can make sure the piece will look great in photos.
I usually have to perform this test a few times because none of my designs ever pass the test the first time around. Some pieces might look fine in person but might look a little bit unfinished in photos (too empty here, not full enough there, etc).
I currently am not taking any new/incoming orders. I’m not selling any of my pre-made pieces either. However, I’m open for collaborations with other people whose work I find exciting and inspiring.
So, if you want to use this headpiece in your upcoming photo shoot, you can rent it from Dream Shoot Rentals for the fraction of its retail price (which, to be honest, is rather steep for something you can’t wear more than just a few times).
To receive information about Dream Shoot Rentals, their promotions, their new dresses & accessories, etc . . . please sign up for their newsletter.
And, if you are planning to attend the WPPI Expo in March, you can drop by at their booth to see the amazing dresses and accessories created by numerous designers from around the world. The pieces are available for rent right then and there.
Till next week, you guys!!!
-joyce @ Angelica Brigade
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It’s a part bonnet part kokoshnik (russian headdress) . . . and it’s reversible.
It will forever be a one-of-a-kind headdress because I no longer have enough materials to make another (identical) one.
The fabric supplier that sourced these French novelty fabrics for me is no longer open for business.
She emailed photographs of epic head-dresses to inspire me.
From those photos, I can get clear ideas of what kind of headpieces she’s looking for.
I would never copy other designers’ works. Not only because it’s disrespectful to other designer’s hard works; but, it also makes it hard for us to be memorable.
Last week, I blogged about the importance of being distinct. Without distinct trademarks, our works will never create any lasting impression.
So, while keeping the inspirational photo’s color palettes and overall silhouette in mind, I went ahead and designed something new.
I find gothic lolita, victorian, and rococo fashion beautiful . . . And, I’m highly influenced by the aesthetics of Japanese anime . . .
And . . . since my art school days, I often gravitate towards soft-cubism art, especially the works of Tamara de Lempicka and Umberto Boccioni . . . their clean, dramatic, and dynamic lines . . . their blends of fluidity and structure . . . and those shadows created by those flowing geometric folds . . .
You can probably see how Tamara de Lempicka’s painting style influences the way I shape my silk hair accessories (such as the one you see here)
This Umberto Boccioni sculpture might very well be my number one favorite. It creates a lasting impression on me.
I’m always impressed by the fact that, from several different angles, it looks like several completely different sculptures.
I’ve never thought of it before; but, subconsciously, I’ve been trying to achieve this ideal. (Here is one of my earlier subconscious attempts to create headpieces that looks different if seen from different angles)
Though I own a proper electric flower iron / dapping tool … I still prefer to shape my silk flower petals manually … with candle flame & metal clips
I started with a clear goal . . . how I want the headpiece to look like . . . then I think of ways to bring that goal into reality.
Just in case I want to make a similar piece in the future . . . I diagrammed my process in my sketchbook.
I basically built the headpiece part by part on a balsa block.
This is the first time I’ve ever made this type of headpiece in my life. As usual, I learned as I go.
Actually, this is the largest headpiece I’ve made so far.
Because I made this headpiece without any external help . . . and because I’ve never made anything like it before . . . I needed 80+ hours to construct the headpiece.
And, below, are some low quality snapshots of the headpiece. I took the photos in my workroom around 4 in the morning . . . so, please excuse the horrible lighting & blurriness.
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To be outstanding, one needs to be different
And to be different, one needs to embrace his/her uniqueness
Some people might consider certain distinct qualities as weirdness
And so, in order to avoid rejections and humiliation,
One might decide to keep one’s distinct qualities hidden
And thus, stay in obscurity . . .
The same principle applies to artists and designers . . .
In order to succeed, artists and designers need to offer something new and different
At the same time,
To make a living,
Some artists and designers might decide
to create the things they believe their customers want to buy
They offer watered-down versions of their aesthetics or ideas
Some of them might even decide to create things they don’t even like
There can’t be any joy in that . . .
But, what if people don’t want to buy our works?
All of us need to make a living.
So, what should we do?
I don’t claim to know all the answers
But, I know for sure that in order to succeed, we need to be memorable
If we don’t stand out from the crowd, we’ll be absolutely forgettable
And, if no one remembers us, no one will look for us and buy our works
And, so . . . take that risk
Be different, and shine
J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter was rejected by 12 different publishers before Barry Cunningham from Bloomsbury agreed to publish it.
Stephen King’s first book – Carrie – was rejected 30 times!!!
Walt Disney was rejected 302 times before he finally could get some fund to build his Disney World
At the same time,
Know that if we do our best and hold onto our distinctness, we’ll have a MUCH bigger chance to succeed
-joyce @ Angelica Brigade
(You can find the list of materials I used to create this headband at the bottom of this page)
Download the free pattern here and copy the pattern onto your beading foundation
The techniques I used to create this headband is exactly the same with the techniques I used to create the Christmas Ornament (last week’s free tutorial). For more details and step-by-step photos, please visit that blog post.
This time, I decided to make my own headband.
Feel free to reproduce this headband for commercial purposes, BUT:
If you have any question, please don’t hesitate to contact me by writing a comment on the reply box below. (Don’t worry if you don’t see your message on this page right away)
Alternately, you can also contact me via Facebook
Any ad that shows up below this line is not endorsed by me &/or Angelica Brigade
Slightly more than 2 years ago, I opened AnGeLICA Brigade – a small handmade silk accessories and chainmaille jewelry shop – and sold my works via Etsy.
One and a half year later, Etsy shut my store down. Even though I post a lot of my work-in-progress photos on my blog and Instagram, and took snapshots of me re-creating the item they want me to duplicate, they refused to re-open my shop unless I show them my trade secret (the only advantage I have, and something I need to guard if I want to survive in the business).
I was shocked, disappointed, angry, and had to go through several stages of grief … but I moved on. A few months after that, I consider the incident a blessing in disguise. I found new ways to market my designs . . . I collaborated with amazing groups of people . . . and I even got my works published in a number of magazines and blogs.
And now, 8 months after that incident, I’m ready to enter the next phase of my life.
Gradually, I will stop selling handmade items and write tutorials on how to make them instead.
I’m also working on a few related projects I’m not confident enough to announce yet. But soon, when I’m ready, I’ll write all about it in this blog (-:
It takes me a lot of courage to do make this rather drastic change . . . shutting down a business I dedicated the past few years to . . . and starting afresh . . .
[Then, why the hell am I doing this, right?!]
I’ve given this a lot of thoughts . . .
This got to change . . .
I don’t want to stop doing what I love to do . . . but I don’t want to destroy myself in the process.
So, I won’t stop doing what I love to do . . . I just won’t sell the items I make, . . . just my patterns and my methods of creating them.
With no pressure of creating something cheap enough and attractive enough for other people, I can design whatever I want to make. And, I will write the tutorials in a way that other people can adapt the methods I use to create something more affordable/sell-able . . .
As for the other other project I plan to start . . . I will talk about it some other time (-:
Now, let’s move onto my next topic: One of the three fashion shoots I did last month.
A super gorgeous location, isn’t it? The MUA I collaborated with knows someone who has the key to enter this private beach in Corona del Mar (in Orange County, California). I took this photo using my iPhone and did nothing to enhance the photo at all.
And here are some behind-the scenes snapshots I also took using my iPhone
For the first time in many years, I made a top from scratch . . . I made the pattern, cut the fabric, and hand-stitched everything in (approximately) 12-working-hours . . . I can see that I’ll make more clothes for more photoshoots in the future.
This is the same top the model wore in the shoot. It’s a one-size-fits-most 1960s-Balenciaga-inspired piece. The spiky nail jewelry and the beadwork ring is also made by me (-:
I also try to move on from making flower-shaped accessories. It was harder than it seems.
There was 6 different looks in total, and – with careful planning – we managed to wrap the shoot within 4 hours.
All in all, it was an amazing day . . .
Next Week: If you love doing beadwork and embroidery projects, I’ll have some fun and sparkly d.i.y tutorials & patterns to share with you. There are 3 tutorials in total; but I will release them one at a time (-:
Till next time!
(Oh, by the way, I’m an Amazon Associate. So, if you click the pictures of the books I on the right side of this text, and decide to purchase any one of those books, I’ll be getting a 6% commission. I’m not paid by anyone to recommend anything and do not recommend things for the sake of getting a 6% commission).
Any ad that might show up below this line is not endorsed by me.
Here are a few things I learned (and re-learned/re-discovered) this week . . .
After 3 weeks of low productivity (in terms of coming up with new designs) . . .
I figured out that I should never go against my natural tendencies & preferences.
I got sidetracked
I ended up creating a few pieces I don’t love . . .
What a waste of time, energy. and resources . . .
Finally, when I had no more energy to make more and more things (which I might not like anyway) . . .
I got that badly needed chance to evaluate my performance & (lack of) progress . . .
I love sleek, minimalistic, well-constructed, geometric, and textured designs . . .
(things with clean, non-fussy lines) . . . and thus, should focus on designing such pieces.
Forcing myself to create ornate, colorful things with organic lines will only lead me to failures and disappointments.
I’m happy to say that I finally heard from some of the modelling agencies I contacted.
I’m organizing 3 different editorial shoots and it had not been easy (you can read more about it here).
Here are some of the principles I live by:
I’m not a Bible thumper,
And, some people might think I don’t interpret those passages carefully/methodically/etc.
But, I can’t ignore the wisdom of what those men and that widow did . . .
Have an awesome weekend!!!
-joyce @ Angelica Brigade
I’ve been obsessed with learning to create sculptural beadwork jewelry.
Ever since I received my copy of Kate McKinnon‘s Contemporary Geometric Beadwork, I’ve been spending most of my free time learning the basic principles taught in the book and adapting them so I can create my own designs.
Here’s an example:
I started by learning to create the triangular ring you can see on my index finger. Then, using the principles I learned by creating the simple ring, I created a more dramatic ring you can see on my ring ringer.
I also went a step further . . .
To make the ring extra shiny and rock-solid, I decided to glaze the ring
After that, using the same basic (but modified) principle and using different kinds of beads, I ended up creating this bracelet.
I’m still not 100% happy with it. So, I’m going to spend some time improving it.
Anyway, when I was trying to finish making this bracelet, I could see the possibility of making mini top hats & tricorne hats using these same methods. It’s gonna be a few months before I can create a decent beadwork hat; but, I’m so excited.
Next Saturday: New Directions, New Designs, and Updated Classics.
Have an awesome weekend, guys!!!
-joyce of Angelica Brigade
That’s the title of my newest piece. What a mouthful, right?!
To be honest, I don’t think I’m going to win. The design isn’t very mainstream and the concept behind it is a bit bleak. But, I ended up owning something I’d want to wear very often, so it’s all good.
I enter contests – even the ones I don’t think I’ll ever win – to challenge myself. And usually, I gain new skills and come up with some things I consider groundbreaking. In this case, they are:
This piece is inspired by many women’s and girl’s hopes and dreams, and their efforts to reach them and the beauty of imperfection
Many women want to be slim and beautiful.
We fix our teeth, wear make-up, accessorize ourselves, and some of us even go through numerous procedures (ranging from getting eyelashes extension, botox injections, to cosmetic surgeries). Some of us even develop eating disorder(s) and exercise addiction.
Some women have more resources and determination than the others. But, many of us do try. This can lead to never-ending strives. People cannot stay young and beautiful forever.
In the end, we need to accept that there are some things we can’t change and do our best with what we have.
So morose? LOL!!!
Well, just so you know, the other two designs I entered into the contest are on the frivolous side. I will write more about them next week.
I feature and use all of the characteristics of each material I incorporate (even the ones other people might consider as negative attributes) to advantage.
In this instance, for example: Galvanized beads.
Some people dislike the fact that the plating of galvanized beads cannot last forever. I, on the other hand, rubbed the plating of some of the beads off before I sprayed them with clear acrylic spray. It gives the piece more texture and makes it look more dimensional. Also, the slightly distressed look of the beads amplify the mood of the piece . . . the beauty of imperfection and the ephemerality of all things.
I also challenge myself by not relying on cabochon(s) to anchor my design. I could’ve used Swarovski rivolis for the eyes . . . and if I did it, I could’ve finished creating the piece a few hours faster. Instead, I choose to “draw, color, and shade” my designs using nothing but beads.
Actually, I planned to put some chainmaille links onto this design. That way, this piece will contain every single thing I specialize on. That’s the very reason I put a silk flower on it. But, I was running out of time & none of the combinations I tried look nice on it. So, I decided to nix the idea.
By the way, I love the butterfly wing the skull is wearing as a headpiece. I’m thinking about creating similar hair accessory (minus the skull) sometime this month.
To me, the most important step in designing a headpiece is making sure that it will look nice on someone’s hair. I had to change the proportion and the silhouette of the piece a few times before it looks just right.
Then, the beading process begins.
One bead at a time . . .
As always, I prefer to “draw” the outline of the piece by back-stitching each bead to create the shape.
I tried a more conventional beading technique before (gluing cabochons —> beading around the cabochons —> cutting the beading foundation —> beading the edges) . . . but, that technique doesn’t work so well for me. May be it’s because I don’t really use cabochons. But not just that, I want to go beyond beading things in radial pattern.
After I was done beading the piece, I bonded it – using hot-melt adhesive – onto high quality ultrasuede … and beaded the part where the beadwork meets with ultrasuede to make the piece more seamless :)
Because the silk rose covers the pretty butterfly the skull is wearing as a headpiece, I decided to make the flower a bit smaller.
And, the number of hours I spent to create this headpiece is . . . 60 hours. The first attempt in bringing an imaginary accessory into reality takes time because I still need to figure out how I can create certain shapes or effects using the materials that are available to me. It involves a few trials and errors. I can reproduce this piece in less time. Say . . . 45 or 50 hours :D
Next Saturday: The other designs I entered into Fire Mountain Gem’s Seedbead contest
That’s it for now, guys!!!
Have a terrific weekend.
I rarely do any non-cerebral labor intensive things (such as cleaning, beading, and chainmailling) without listening to a good audiobook.
But . . . a few days ago, I did . . .
And, it’s something I should’ve done more often!!!
So . . . as I was working on a very labor intensive beading project (I’ll write more about it in the weekend) . . . I let my mind to roam . . .
And . . . as a result . . . I realized how off-tracked I’ve been . . .
I’ve been so busy doing many, many, many, MANY things . . . meeting work deadlines, creating custom headpieces, fulfilling my obligations, accomplishing my personal goals . . . that . . . I didn’t notice that I’ve been off the mark.
I decided to blog regularly so my clients, prospective clients, and fellow designers can get to know me better. (I wouldn’t trust any random independent designer I don’t know and neither should anyone).
While the things I’ve been posting week after week are the results of my musings . . . they don’t tell anyone much things about me a person or as a designer. And so . . . I think, it’s the right time for me to write different kinds of blog posts.
So, I decided to cancel this weekend’s scheduled post and replace it with something more relevant . . . . .
I need to go back to work now . . . I need to finish this piece within 24 hours. I’m o excited about this new design and will write more about it this Saturday.
The seemingly simple (and trite, and unhelpful) answer is:
We should spend the bulk of our times doing the things we love to do.
I’m not saying that we should spend the bulk of our times doing some things that are related to the fields or activities we are interested in. Instead, we should take that principle one step further.
First, ask yourself this seemingly unimaginative question: If you can do anything you want & make a good living out of it, what would you choose to do?
Next, this is the more important question: Why? What do you like about like it?
Many of us will never become Olympic Athletes / famous writers / pop stars / leading actors / international models / etc. But, it doesn’t mean that we have to get stuck doing the things we don’t like so we can pay our bills.
Someone who loves to play tennis might never become a world class tennis player. Some people might encourage her to become a coach or work for a sporting goods company. But, those solutions might not be the best ones for her. She might love tennis because she loves being active. She might also love the challenge and the adrenaline rush she gets when she faces her opponent. So, if (after giving her best shot) she’s not able to become a pro tennis player; then, it’s in her best interest to find a challenging job that can give her plenty adrenaline rush. There are a wide range of options she can choose from, such as:
Besides, she still can play tennis on her spare time . . .
Someone who wants to become a famous rock star, on the other hand, might want to become a rock star because he loves being in the spotlight . . . they love the fame, the money, the booze, the girls . . . Booze and girls are not on a rock star’s job description . . . so, if those are the kinds of things he wants, he might fare better if he:
Or, he can use his skills to get rich in some other ways . . . Gold diggers & alcohol can be a part of the deal
There’s a solution for everyone. Just focus on your real wish and find the best way for you to achieve it
Most people spend the bulk of their times at work (or school). People who hate their jobs (or studies) aren’t very happy, are they?
Besides, I’d never said that we should find a job that fulfill us did I? I merely said that we should spend most of our times doing the things we like . . . if raising & supervising a child if something someone loves to do; then, by any means she should do it . . .
I on the other hand, love to create things with my hands. There are times when I work 15 hour days to meet some deadlines; but, I welcome such long days anytime. In fact, I’ve been working long hours these days because I’m getting some pieces ready for an upcoming photo shoot (8 different outfits for 2 different models).
When we enjoy what we are doing, more is just more.
So, that’s it?! If we do the things we love then we’ll definitely be happy?
No … You can read more about it here
Next Saturday: Common Sense is a Trap
Have a great weekend
Such craftmanship & out of the box ideas.
Her works makes me to aspire to become a better artist …
To ignore limitations and bring a concept into reality …
And to create the best things I can.
Often, I worry too much about the wearability and the production cost of the item I design/create.
I also worry about the item’s possible shipping cost and whether I the item can be packed / shipped easily.
All these considerations tend to limit my creativity … and at the end of the day, I often realized that I did not give it my all … and that I did not bring my designs/ideals into reality, but just a blurry shadow of it. This realization – which I tend to push to the back of my mind – tend to nudge me with some pangs of dissatisfaction that sort of bothers me from time to time.
Angelica Brigade (AB) is a new and small independent company with no external financial backers or angel investors. In order to survive, and in order for that to happen, we need to make a reasonable amount of profit so we can get more materials to create more things and so on. I’m not saying that we’ve been a total sell-out. We aren’t creating anything that aren’t in line with our artistic ideals or tastes … we do … but, only in its lesser form.
So, does it mean that we’ll go crazy and create nothing but labor intensive, expensive to create, and fantastic yet unwearable pieces?
No … But from now on, at least 20% of the things I create will fall into that category.
Slowly, but surely, AB will try to grow into the kind of artistic brigade we aspire to become.
[ I do not own any of the images & videos I feature in this blog post. I’m not using these images for any commercial purpose; but, if you are the legal owner of any of these pictures and do not want to see the picture(s) you own in my blog, please notify me and I will remove the photograph immediately ]