If you read my recent interview with textile artist Wylie Sofia Garcia, you already know that this year’s Uncommon Thread Wearable Art Show is just around the corner and it promises to be as amazing as ever.
If you didn’t read that post, go read it. But here’s the lowdown: Uncommon Thread is an epic fashion show of wearable art, unlike any other. This year’s event will take place on December 5, 2015 at 8 p.m. at the Main Library in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The show features incredible wearable works of art created by textile artists, fashion designers, skilled costumers and sculptors from across the country. (Yep, so you don’t have to live in Louisiana or be present the night of the event to submit your work! Check out the full Prospectus here for details.)
Did I mention there’s a $1000 cash prize on the line for the best in show??
The call for entries for the 2015 Uncommon Thread Wearable Art Show is now open. The deadline to apply is midnight on November 16, 2015. This year’s theme is Epilogue, with artists asked to “meditate on notable books, authors, or literary characters and use wearable art as means of opening up a conversation about these influences.”
I recently chatted with one of the past winners of Uncommon Thread, Kate Mayne, to learn more about what goes into creating a winning work of wearable art:
How did you first hear about Uncommon Thread? Do you normally work with textiles or was wearable art a new experience for you?
I heard about Uncommon Thread in an introduction to sculpture class at LSU, but didn’t apply until after I graduated. As an art form, I have rarely worked with textiles, but have a strong sewing background. Both of my grandmothers sew, one taught me the basics and to quilt, while the other helped me make clothes for my dolls.
Can you talk a little about the winning piece you made for Uncommon Thread? What inspired it and what was involved in creating it?
When I was going through the brain storming process I only knew one thing: that I wanted to use clay. I thought of clay as an original material used for armory, and fur as an original material used for clothing. The piece represents our primal need for clothes as protection with the modern aspect of design and beauty.
The dress took planning; first I made a cloth dress that could be easy removed once the clay tiles were added, along with a hoop skirt secured with braided wire. Then I made the tiles using slabs of clay and cookie cutters, having to drill holes in each one before they were fired. Once over 2,000 were made, I got to sewing. For three months I fought through carpal tunnel to sew each individual tile on.
What was the experience of participating in Uncommon Thread like overall? How has it differed from other art shows you’ve been involved with?
Overall it was a good experience. There was a lot of planning that went into this show, and things went very smoothly for the scale that it was. Uncommon Thread is building a strong reputation and I’m proud to have been a part of it.
What advice would you give to other artists who are interested in submitting their work for this year’s Uncommon Thread Wearable Art Show?
This is a show that you have to have both impeccable craft and concept. On show day I looked around and knew my work was in the top three, but what I think truly set me apart was that the judge asked questions about my concept and choice of material. It was about more than the actual dress.
Where can people find your work?
Currently I am living in Austin, TX and work for Whole Foods Market. I do not have any work up for viewing because I have been focused on applying to graduate schools. I want to study mental health counseling, while focusing on art as a tool for therapy.
Think you’ve got what it takes to create an epic wearable work of art?
It got me thinking… There are a LOT of marketing strategies that have worked for me over the years. SEO?Check!Rockin’ Pinterest like a boss?Yep!Doubling my followers on Instagram? Been there, done that! (And if you want to learn how I did it, join my #BadassCreatives e-mail club to get FREE access to a 55 minute screencast where I explain all my Instagram tips & tricks!)
That said… when it comes down to it, all of those things are tactics. And tactics are great, but what it really boils down to is PEOPLE. Real relationships with other human beings are the glue that holds everything together and builds a brand and a business that is sustainable over the long term.
Way back when…
In the Internet world, this site is fairly old. As in, Miss Malaprop has been around since 2006. And it has changed a LOT over the years. When I first started, my goal was to build this blog into a brand that I planned to transform into an online shop + brick & mortar boutique dedicated to handmade and eco-friendly goods. And I did that… part of the way at least.
By 2010, I’d launched my online shop and was selling regularly at craft shows, fairs and festivals. But then… things changed. People change, goals change. What I wanted for my future changed. But the connections I’d made over the years? The people I met and collaborated with? The genuine relationships that evolved? That stuff has a way of coming around full circle.
People who consistently give freely have a way of getting noticed. And this badass group of folks has given so much knowledge and insight to the online creative community over the years. These are all people who I’ve continued to follow in the years since that series of blog posts, and I know I’m not the only one. Collaboration gets you in front of someone else’s audience, and when you genuinely help people, you get remembered for it.
The New Orleans Craft Mafia
There’s no way I could talk about collaboration without mentioning my New Orleans Craft Mafia ladies. While most of us have changed course and we no longer organize events together the way we used to, the NOCM played a huge part in my life and made a huge impact on where I am today.
The New Orleans Craft Mafia was founded in 2005, spearheaded by my friend Rachelle and based off of the original Craft Mafia started in Austin, TX in 2003. These groups were started in the days before Etsy was a household name. Back when taking credit cards at craft shows meant using carbon copies and a knuckle-buster, and back when craft shows featured mostly traditional crafts and not the hip, trendy designs you might see at a show like Renegade today.
The NOCM came together because we knew that we would be stronger as a group than as individuals. Over the years, we organized a ton of events, including an annual holiday market called the Last Stop Shop. We also hosted free workshops, teaching people at Bayou Boogaloo how to upcycle their t-shirts.
Promoting all of those events for our group also taught me a LOT. I became a master at writing and distributing press releases, and formed relationships with local journalists that I wouldn’t have had the chance to connect with otherwise. I also polished my e-mail marketing, SEO and web development skills during those years.
In 2007, I traveled to Pittsburgh on behalf of our group for Craft Congress, a conference for craft show organizers. That was my first real taste of how incredible conferences can be for building real-life connections. (I’m also still friends with some of the people I met there!)
Speaking of conferences…
Finding ways to network with people in real-life, face-to-face is CRUCIAL. When I was focused on selling my handmade goods, selling at craft shows was the #1 way I built my following and made money. My most important business relationships have come about through joining mastermind groups, going to local networking events and attending conferences and other in-person events.
I first met Kristy Oustalet, creator of The Essential Planner and one of the founders of the upcoming VenturePOP! Creative Conference, through a local group of business women. There were about 9 of us, and we’d meet for dinner once a month or so, to talk through our business goals and roadblocks. We’d listen, discuss and give each other feedback and suggestions. I later collaborated with Kristy when she rented out her art studio to me so that I could host a holiday pop-up shop – a mini version of the brick & mortar boutique I was working towards at the time. Even though both of our businesses and goals have changed a lot over the years, we’re still there to support each other. She even interviewed me for her video podcast:
Attending and speaking at conferences and finding ways to meet other like-minded creatives in real-life has been instrumental for me in growing my biz. If I could give you one piece of advice it would be this: get out from behind your computer screen and find a way to meet other Badass Creatives that you can connect and collaborate with! Whether it’s a local networking group, a conference, a mastermind group, or just reaching out to a local creative entrepreneur that you respect and inviting them to meet for coffee… get out there and meet people!
That said… I TOTALLY get how intimidating it can be. I’m an introvert by nature, at least when it comes to meeting new people. (Put me on stage, and it’s another matter, but face-to-face, first time meeting someone? Totally scary and nerve-wracking!) But you just gotta FACE YOUR FEARS. The worst that can happen is that the conversation falls flat, you say “It was nice to meet you,” and then you go pull yourself together in the bathroom.
For example, when I went to Texas Style Council back in March, I was really stoked to meet Cyndie Spiegel. Then, during the party the first night of the conference I turned into that shy weirdo and skulked around with a few of the people I already knew and couldn’t muster the nerve to JUST SAY HI. *face palm*
BUT! The next day after Cyndie’s panel I hung around afterwards until there weren’t so many people around and finally introduced myself and told her that SHE was the person I was most excited to meet there. Fast forward to this summer, when I joined Cyndie’s group coaching program / mastermind group, The Collective of Us. Within that group of amazingly kickass women, I’ve developed even more awesome relationships which are pushing me to do bigger and better things.
All this is to say…
You get back from life (and your business) what you put into it. Businesses don’t function without real people on the other end. So…
Collaborate and KICK ASS.
P.S. What do YOU think?
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This post is a part of the Double Your Followers blog tour to spread the word about April Bowles-Olin’s upcoming CreativeLive course. Does hearing the word ‘marketing’ make your armpits start to drip with anxiety? Are you terrified of sounding salesy or like you have the personality of a dead blowfish? If so, come join me and 2,500+ entrepreneurs who’re taking April’s latest CreativeLive course, Double Your Followers with Creative Marketing. You can RSVP and watch for FREE. Yep, free. High fives, wildflowers, wine samples. Who doesn’t love free?
If you’ve been following me for awhile on Instagram (which, HELLO, you totally should be!), you might have see me post the awesome concrete jewelry created by Baton Rouge, LA based maker Amelia of Little Eli. Amelia makes all sorts of beautifully unexpected stuff out of concrete, including jewelry and home decor.
Amelia recently launched a super cool new package of handmade art which she calls The Little Motivator Bundle. It’s designed for anyone stuck at a desk, trying to find their place, who needs someone to motivate and believe in them.
The Little Motivator Bundle includes a fun handmade concrete pillow stand (which is also great for photos, notes, and as a phone stand!), plus 6 original hand-painted quote “prints” designed to inspire.
Better yet? Amelia is offering a FREE bonus print just for Miss Malaprop followers! Get your hands on a super exclusive hand-painted print featuring the words “I am a #BadassCreative” by using the coupon code badasscreative when you order The Little Motivator Bundle. Add in the exclusive freebie, and you’ve got yourself an 8-piece package of awesome handmade art for just $97.
I recently chatted with Amelia to find out how she got started working with concrete and what inspired The Little Motivator Bundle.
Concrete is a pretty non-traditional material in the context of making jewelry and home décor. How did you get started working with it?
It probably all started with a project I had in college. The assignment was to rethink how to use a material to change the users’ experience, and I was assigned concrete. I guess I should start by saying I graduated from LSU’s College of Art and Design, and now I’m a Landscape Architect between the hours of 9 and 5.
Anyway, in that class we learned a lot about various materials. Concrete is a material with a very utilitarian purpose in the landscape. A few years later, I started experimenting with concrete on a smaller scale after discovering the Homemade Modern Blog. By then I had uncovered my true passion for making, and I haven’t been able to keep a clean studio since.
I’m obsessed with all the texture and personality concrete has, because you really wouldn’t think so! So now I’m on a mission, so to speak, to spread the good word of concrete. I want people to think of concrete like they do marble, this simple, but textural material, that adds a lot of depth to their environment.
I also adore the limitations of concrete, the challenge of making molds that work, knowing which shapes you have to avoid, finishing materials and dyes, etc. I love seeing how many of the perceived limitations I can break.
What inspired you to create The Little Motivator Bundle? Who is it for?
It started out as a way to join my two side-projects, concrete and lettering. And it transformed into this way for me to spread my positive feels out into the world. As an introvert, I’ve found that people naturally want to confide in you, ask you for advice, and expect honest feedback.
I discovered this wonderful online community of makers/dreamers/creative badasses that just needed this little push. Creatives want someone in their corner they can count on for a pick-me up, and I had become that person to a number of awesome people.
I’m not a teacher and I’m not a coach, so the Little Motivator Bundle came to life when I figured out I could combine my passion of making, with my love of motivating, on a personal level.
The Bundle is for people stuck at a desk all day. Whether they are in corporate America and their latest assignment has them in the dumps. Or if they work from home, blogging/coaching/designing from their couch, but feel so alone as they chug along, trying to stay positive. It’s for people who need a reminder of how f*cking awesome they are!
Beyond making awesome things out of concrete and hand-lettering, what gets you excited? What types of things motivate and inspire you on a daily basis?
Great design rocks my sock off! Captivating product packaging, modern fashion, an interesting use of materials in the landscape. It’s all really art, just instead of using paint to convey emotions, these designers work with shapes, materials, and scale to affect the user’s emotions. Umm, yes please!
But, on a daily basis, I try and avoid inspiration. I like setting aside time to seek out, and reflect upon what I’m feeling. If I’m constantly bombarded with “inspiration”, the whole process starts to lose its magic.
I will say, the one thing I never get tired of is hearing about other creative’s success stories. Not in the general sense of seeing people on the internet do well. But when I talk to one of my maker-friends and they finally figured out this new glazing process, or finally got their website header finished. Those little victories motivate me to keep going, for us all to keep growing together!
What’s next on the horizon for Little Eli? Where do you see your company 1 year from now?
I’m currently working on re-structuring my design/production process. I really love making things. I’m a “maker” in the purest sense of the word. Yet jewelry (and most other retail design) is on a 6 month production cycle. Make in the summer for the winter, make in the winter for the summer, and making only twice a year just did not work for me.
So I’m re-structuring and building in more ‘making time’. I’ll be designing 3-5 new necklaces every month. They will be limited edition/limited time only, feature higher quality materials, and will aim to explore the boundaries of concrete. I also have some very interesting collaborations in the works to merge concrete with various other materials. (If you are interested, please join the Little Insiders. Insiders get first dibs on all new designs!)
TL;DR. Coming soon, I’ll be releasing a few new necklaces every month, in very limited quantities, and only available during that month. In a year, I’d just like to be happy with whatever Little Eli has become. It’s a side-passion for me, so my priority is to enjoy the ride and keep it exciting!
Get your hands on The Little Motivator Bundle!
The Little Motivator Bundle is a very limited edition art package – just 20 sets available! Everything in each bundle is handmade and hand-painted in Baton Rouge, LA.
Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links, which means if you click through and purchase a product, I receive a small commission. That said – I only post things here that I genuinely like or think are cool! More info at my my disclosure page.
Whether you’re all about the HBO tv series, or prefer the original book version by George R. R. Martin, Game of Thrones is a do-not-miss pop culture phenomenon, and with good reason.
If you’ve got a fellow Game of Thrones fan in your life, I know just what to give them. (Hey, the gift recipient could be yourself!)
Here are some of my favorite Game of Thrones inspired gift ideas.
If you know someone who’s really into the HBO show, but hasn’t yet read the books, the Game of Thrones 5-Book Boxed Set is a great gift. Available in paperback or mass-market paperback (plus Kindle versions), this is a must-have for any GoT fan! Another, super affordable gift idea? This Game Of Thrones Dragon Egg Flash Drive. This would be great for a friend or co-worker!
Whether you’re looking for a fun, yet inexpensive gift for a co-worker, a friend, or even yourself, these picks are a great choice that won’t break the bank. Funko POP makes a variety of different Game of Thrones vinyl figures, but this Jon Snow version is my favorite!
I also LOVE these Game of Thrones inspired tees by Brooklyn-based indie brand Jordandené. Founder Jordan Ellis creates tons of amazing geek chic apparel and accessories, inspired by so many of my favorite tv shows and movies.
I wanna know… who’s your favorite GoT character?
It’s hard to choose, but c’mon… at least narrow it down to your top 2 or 3 characters, and let me know via Twitter or Instagram!
As for me, I’m a big fan of Daenerys Targaryen. (I mean, who isn’t? She’s the mother of dragons, after all.) Arya Stark and Brienne of Tarth are two other favorites. Basically badass women who take no shit from anyone.
Love these gift ideas?
Be sure to bookmark them on Pinterest so you don’t forget!
Prices subject to change. Price categories are based on product prices listed at the time of writing this article.
I’ve been following Culture Candy’s Uncommon Thread Wearable Art Show for a number of years, although I still have yet to make it to Baton Rouge to witness the artistry in person. (Let’s change that this year, shall we?)
Back when I was creating my own wearable art more frequently, I even considered entering myself. After all, it’s an amazing juried national competition showcasing the best in wearable art. Plus, there’s a $1000 cash prize on the line.
Uncommon Thread is a show unlike any other… a full team of professional choreographers, dancers, musicians, make up artists, stylists, set, sound, and lighting designers come will together to produce an epic evening of wearable art, this year on December 5, 2015 at 8 p.m. at the Main Library in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. But first, textile artists, fashion designers, skilled costumers and sculptors from across the country must submit their work.
The call for entries for the 2015 Uncommon Thread Wearable Art Show is now open.The deadline to apply is midnight on November 16, 2015. This year’s theme is Epilogue, with artists asked to “meditate on notable books, authors, or literary characters and use wearable art as means of opening up a conversation about these influences.”
I recently chatted with this year’s juror, artist Wylie Sofia Garcia, to learn more about the show, her experiences creating amazing works of wearable art, and what she’ll be looking to include in this year’s show:
How did you get started making wearable art?
Ever since I was a kid, I have been embellishing my clothes. I got started commercially designing wearable art in the summer of 2003. I was fresh out of undergrad from The University of Chicago and had just moved to Burlington, Vermont. I needed a way to make some money, so I started upcycling t-shirts under the guise of Y’s Design: Couture Wearable Art. My motto was “Fighting Cliché” and I embroidered that phrase on almost everything I made as my signature. Eventually, when the clothing business really crossed over to wearable art I was thinking about clothing more as a form sculpture than as functional everyday object.
What draws you to this medium versus other art forms?
It is ridiculously fun and brings me joy. At times there can be so many formal rules to sculpting depending upon the media one chooses. I love being able to have total freedom in this art form.
I saw that you’ve been involved with Uncommon Thread for a number of years. As an artist, how does this show differ from other art shows you’ve been involved with?
There are really good and dedicated people running this show. The models are amazing and easy to work with. The setting, where it takes place, is always fantastic. And it’s Baton Rouge, which, as a location, always pleasantly surprises me with its devotion to the arts, and always delivers a fantastic turnout of support for art/fashion events.
What will you be looking for when evaluating this year’s wearable art submissions for Uncommon Thread?
I will be looking for several things: quality of construction, connection to our theme Epilogue, and use of innovative material.
What can an artist do to set their work apart from the rest?
This is always a difficult question to answer. As a judge, I like to be surprised by thoughtfulness. I like it when an artist pays attention to detail.
Can you share with us a little more about your yearlong wearable performance art project, The Dress That Makes the Woman?
The premise of the project was: One Year. Twelve Dresses. One artist’s challenge to create and to wear a work of art for each month of the year.
The project took place from 2010-2011 and was invented partly as a birthday gift to a friend of mine. The intent was to embark upon a ritualized creative challenge: to wear and to work daily on a dress for one month at a time for an entire year; resulting in twelve wearable dresses.
What inspired it?
The inspiration came during a walk at a special place called Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, Vermont. The landscape was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, who also designed Central Park amongst other wonderful landscapes. Most of my inspiration really gets in the zone while walking there and I have created some of my favorite projects while traversing that scenery.
How did you feel about the project through the course of the year?
This project became a wearable diary. It was very exciting in the beginning to feel the novelty of wearing a wearable sculpture every day and changing it according to my whim. The performance aspect of the project was an interesting experiment on private vs. public space with regards to the body and what we choose to wear.
Overall the project became a testament to letting go of image and becoming comfortable with the person within. It was really transformative and powerful. I like to say that with this project came a year of love, loss, struggle and couture –- the honest mess of one woman’s daily life.
Has there been any lasting impact of this project on your other work?
Yes, this project taught me the importance of perseverance and daily practice. One of the rules for this project was that I had to work on the dress every day for at least 10 minutes, whether I wanted to or not; even if that meant sewing in the same spot for 10 minutes. The daily “do-ing” of making art is an important lesson for anyone trying to succeed as an artist.
Think you’ve got what it takes to create an epic wearable work of art?
Witness 360 degrees of theater, dance, fashion, visual art, music, and, this year, books at the 2015 Uncommon Thread Wearable Art Show: Epilogue on December 5, at 8 p.m. at the Main Library in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Buy your tickets now: $20 early bird tickets are available until November 20! (P.S. Be sure to RSVP on Facebook and share with your friends!)
A big thanks to Uncommon Thread for sponsoring Miss Malaprop!
This site is a participant in various affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to sites including, but not limited to, Amazon.com, Zazzle and ModCloth. Some links to products you see here are affiliate links, which means if you click through and purchase a product, I receive a small commission. That said – I only post things here that I genuinely like or think are cool! More info at my disclosure page.