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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Skinner Silk

This is a very special fabric for me. It came from my great aunt's collection. She was a master seamstress who, in her youth in the late 1920's, worked for Novilles (sp?) and Roberts who were prominent "modistes" (dressmakers) in New Orleans. The fabric is a Skinner silk. Skinner was one of the great American silk mills in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. I love this description from an article at "The Skinner name in fabrics conjures up sumptuous images of slinky satins, rustling silks, fine silk prints and luxurious linings. Every bride's dream was to float down the aisle in a shimmering gown of Skinner silk. Every woman's wish was to feel the soft warmth of a Skinner lining next to her skin." I backed the Skinner print with black silk chiffon.
Cat modeled this for me at the fabulous LA hair salon Clark Nova, where she works.

Suiting and Silk

I'm really getting in to these men's suiting fabrics. This one, in brown/beige tones was my grandfather's. He bought it in Jamaica in the late 60's, and intended to have a suit made from it. But the suit never happened and the fabric was stored all these decades. I combined it with tussah silk in a pinkish beige color. Antonio was photographed at Silvertop, a John Lautner house overlooking the Silverlake reservoir in L.A..

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pinstripes and Sheer Wool

I visited Gabrielle in Palos Verdes, where she runs the Artists' Studio Galleries at the Palos Verdes Art Center. The Artists' Studio sells the work of artists, artisans and craftspeople who live and work on the Palos Verdes Penninsula. Gabrielle has an especial passion for dramatic art-to-wear pieces that she features at the gallery and in the Wearable Expressions shows she organizes so I was surprised that she was attracted to this very subdued scarf. It's made of a very soft charcoal pinstriped wool suiting fabric backed with the sheer, gauzy wool I've been using a lot of lately. But it doesn't take bright colors or fancy trims to create drama. It's all about the way you wear it and the personality that you express. And Gabrielle has a lot of personality, so this dark and subdued scarf is just enough.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Almost a Shawl

Another amazing hand block printed fabric by the late Douglas Ram Samuj, made into almost a shawl. This fabric was made in the sixties or seventies when Ram Samuj had a boutique here in LA where he sold his unique fabrics. I had enough of this fabric to make a couple of these shawl scarves as well as a few narrower neck wraps, all backed in a very lightweight blue wool.

Green and Gray are the colors of 2011?

Wow, I just heard on NPR that green and gray are THE colors for 2011. It's a good thing I had enough of this vintage silk to make a bunch of scarves. I posted an earlier version here. Now we have handsome Henri putting a sporty spin on the same scarf. Henri has good taste, as you can see at his culture blog.

The Shield, Revisited

Remember the scarf I modeled called The Shield? I found some vintage wool in the same shade of yellow as the little shields scattered across the midnight blue silk I used for that scarf. So now we have Tamara wearing The Shield with a yellow wool backing, instead of black. Tamara cuts hair at Clark Nova Salon, where I took this picture. Check out her hair artistry here.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Scarf as Accessory

Alison is back wearing a little floral scarf that acts like a bit of jewelery: an accessory with more aesthetic value than pragmatic use. It's made of sheer printed 70's silk backed with the very sheer black wool I've been using lately. Too sheer to keep you warm, but it sure looks pretty.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Turquoise Thai silk, on silk

I've had this printed Thai silk for a really long time and was having a hard time finding the right fabric to back it with. I finally found some Tussah silk in the right shade of dark blue. Tussah is also called raw silk and has a very interesting story. It's silk from wild silk moth worms that eat all kinds of leaves, rather than cultivated silk worms that only eat mulberry leaves. Read about it here. Our model is jewelery designer Melissa McClure who does incredible work in gold.
Oh, and check this out: James Beard is wearing an apron made from the same printed Thai silk, except in red and black, on the cover of this Cuisinart cookbook!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Marimekko Rose Garden has expanded

A little while back I posted a scarf made from the Marimekko rose print called Maalaisruusu. I've made some more scarves from this fabric but this time instead of backing them with black linen I used the gorgeous brick colored vintage Kanebo silk I found at an estate sale last week. Kanebo started out as a silk mill but the company is better known now for their silk based cosmetics. I met web designer Alison for dinner and there she was with her red hair sitting against the stone wall, and I just happened to have this red rose scarf with me

The Good Old Red, Black and Blue

Red and white stripes on a long, sheer, flowing silk look great against Heather's little black dress. The blue border is part of the design of the material.

More Marimekko

I'll have an update shortly on the Marimekko Rose patterned scarf I posted earlier but in the meantime here's Tiger wearing another vintage Marimekko print scarf. I found this fabric mounted as a wall hanging. The print is called Kumiseva and was designed in 1971 by Japanese designer Katsuji Wakisaka. The print shows the roofs of a Finnish or Russian village but as you can see, when it is broken up into a small scarf it becomes quite abstracted. And this is a small scarf. I had just enough fabric to make a handful of these short neck wraps backed with black cotton satin.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pretty Scarves All in a Row

A sea of scarves, in the colors of the sea. Doesn't it make you want to dive in and swim around in them?!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Shield

Masha (see Marimekko Roses post below) and I went to the opening party for the Beacon Arts Building in Inglewood last night and decided to take advantage of the pristine white walls of the new gallery space to take pics of each other wearing my scarves. So, my readers, you finally get to see a picture of me, Charles, the creator of the scarves! I call this scarf The Shield because of the little yellow shield shapes strewn on the dark blue silk, as well as the fact that it provides a useful shield against cold and wind because of the wool backing on the reverse. The silk is a vintage fabric from the fifties, I believe.

The Beacon Arts Building has some exciting programming coming up. If you are in the Los Angeles area, check it out here.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Le Billard Electrique

The boldly printed silk you see here makes me think of the lights of the pinball machine Edith Piaf sings about in "Le Billard Electrique". Or the bright signs of old Times Square made up of row after row of individual light bulbs. An exquisite silk combining plaid and polka dots into a big flashing, colorful sign. Christine just happened to be wearing a red silk jacket when we met up the other day. And I just happened to have this scarf and my camera. The scarf is backed with that beautiful Italian wool satin I've used on some of the other scarves I've posted previously.

Argyle Silk Velvet

Our lovely model, artist Jen Smith of pickle fame, is wearing a luxurious silk velvet scarf with a rich argyle design, backed with lightweight wool. All of the printed and patterned fabrics I use to make scarves are "found" fabrics, meaning none were bought new. I find the fabrics at thrift shops and yard sales, either as unused short lengths or as garments or home decor items that I take apart and repurpose. It's not often that one finds a beautiful silk velvet at a thrift shop. This was a nice find that matched well with the lightweight wool I had around. The scarf Jen is wearing has a blue wool backing. I also made a couple of these with an incredibly soft Italian black wool satin as shown in the lower picture.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Japanese bamboo

A delicate bamboo print in red and blue with gold highlights drifts across fine cream colored silk on this vintage fabric that is probably Japanese. I backed it with lightweight blue wool. I think the wool is what is called challis: it's not scratchy at all. This scarf is reminiscent of an obi but is soft and pliable, unlike obis which are very stiff and can't be worn as scarves. The photo features our new model named Crystal.

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Scarf that looks like a suit and tie

Scarves are like ties and ties are like scarves and this scarf is like a tie, and a suit too. The printed fabric on the front is the kind of fabric that is used to make ties. And the fabric on the back of this scarf is classic herringbone tweed suiting fabric. So you've got the elements of a suit and a tie in a scarf. Our model Chi-hong visited Beijing this summer to present at a conference on statistics. If he goes back in the winter, this scarf will keep him warm and stylish.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sixties Stained Glass

This early sixties fabric makes me imagine a modern stained glass window design. It has various patterns embedded in an overall honeycomb design, in shades of earthy oranges and browns, though the design itself is not very earthy. The fabric is a very soft satin weave cotton. I backed this with plain black satin weave cotton. Cotton on cotton makes for a great "all-weather" scarf. Thanks to my friend Pamela for modeling this one.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Green and gray silk: handpainted?

This green and gray early 60's silk looks like it is handpainted with watercolors but in fact it is a print. I backed it with a gray and black herringbone wool suiting material, which gives it a masculine look. Good for men or women. Also available backed with black cotton satin (sateen!) for a lighter weight.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Marimekko roses

Masha is wearing a scarf sewn from vintage Marimekko fabric that came from a duvet that I found in an antiques shipment from Denmark. I took apart the old duvet and cut the fabric into strips to make scarves. The print was designed in 1965 by Maija Isola: it's called Maalaisruusu. It seems to be available again but not in this color. 100% cotton, backed with black linen. A great weight for spring or fall.

Douglas Ram Samuj

These are some of the first scarves I made when I started this project a few months ago. The printed material was made by the late Douglas Ram Samuj who came to Los Angeles from Australia, in the sixties, to create hand printed fabrics. I had a very limited quantity of this 1960's linen fabric. I was able to make just a couple of short scarves. But I have a few other Douglas Ram Samuj fabrics, so check here later for more scarves from his wonderful hand printed fabrics. I backed this with linen/rayon blend fabric in a matching shade of blue.