31 December, 2010

Update on Shoemaking Class

I just got off the phone with the people who run the small shoe school I am hoping to attend. Not only are they lovely people for allowing me to take classes that are already full, but I ended the call with excited jitters running through me. This sounds like exactly the sort of education I need. Knowing the limitations of trying to make shoes in a country with no shoemaking industry, they will teach me how to start from scratch and make custom components. This is HUGE! This is what’s been holding me back, and knowledge like that will change everything for me! Additionally, this will be my introduction to the US’s shoemaking industry- the teacher has already helped me find contacts for excellent leathers, shoemaking components and tools, and told me I would receive a list of contacts and shoemakers in my area. This is INVALUABLE information if I want to start my own shoemaking business (and I do).

So let me explain to you why I have been trying to auction off my skills and my soul in order to pay for these amazing classes. Each course is a short term intensive, focused on making one pair of shoes of your own design. The first one takes place in mid-January and lasts for eight days. The second is in February and is two weeks long. The third one (making fetish boots) is about ten days and in March. After that, I will play it by ear and see if I want to continue with their internship program.

The cost for my first class is $1200 (not including living expenses for the week). I know that sounds high, but it is very reasonable when you consider that he will be giving me all the leather, components, and materials needed as well as an in-depth education in a specialized field. The second and third classes are a bit more, but they will give me a 20% discount for signing up to all three. All in all, the total for the three classes will be a little under $6k (again, before living expenses).

As I have mentioned, I’ve recently fallen on hard financial times, as has my family and boyfriend. Things have just taken a rather sudden turn for the worse for everyone. Bad timing! Luckily for me, I have generous friends who have helped me raise $150 towards the costs so far (Thank you, M, S, B!) and my unemployed mother has fronted me the cash to pay for initial costs, but I must pay her back immediately.

I know it’s classless to discuss money, but several of my friends have asked me to break down the costs of what I’m doing so they weren’t donating blindly to a cause they weren’t sure I was serious about.

So let me tell you in no uncertain terms: I am INCREDIBLY serious about this career. I will do whatever it takes to pay for these classes and develop my design work. I am applying for jobs every day in hopes of changing my financial situation as quickly as possible. This is what I want to do. Shoemaking is a fascinating craft and I LOVE doing it. These classes are my next step in making this a career, and not just some dreamy hobby.

So if you have any suggestions on how I could raise some money to help pay for this amazing opportunity, I would love to hear them!

27 December, 2010

Funny Thing about Offering Classes.....

I sent out a message with my idea of offering shoemaking tutorials, and several of my friends wrote back immediately saying they weren't interested in that so much as just simply donating money. I feel really odd about accepting cash, but as three people have suggested it now, perhaps I'm not a horrible person for accepting their incredibly kind offers.

So, at their request:

Behold my new Paypal donate button! If you aren't interested in taking shoemaking classes, or bidding on naked art of me, but still want to contribute to my shoemaking class fund, this is a way you can do it. Every cent in appreciated, though in no way expected.





Would you want to learn shoemaking in exchange for a little help?

Let me catch you up on the story so far.

I just returned to San Francisco after studying in London, where I changed my focus from fashion to footwear design. I have a good basic knowledge of the shoemaking process, but I am looking to learn more so I can prototype my experimental and wild designs.

In my search for further education I have found three advanced shoemaking classes in a neighboring state that I very much want to take. They are not cheap and I have recently fallen on hard financial times. In order to help fund my shoemaking classes over the next three months it has been suggested that I turn to my friends. But I don't like the idea of asking for money, so I was thinking of what I could do to raise the funds I need to continue my education.


Then an idea occurred to me: I was nearly hired to teach a basic shoemaking class in London. Not only do I know the basics pretty damn well, but in all modesty I'm a good teacher (In fact I helped teach pattern cutting when I was a student at Central Saint Martins). So I want to ask you this:

Would you be interested in bidding on a 1-on-1 basic shoemaking class with me?

You would learn how a basic high heel shoe is constructed and make a basic mid-heel mule in your size. I would need to find an industrial sewing machine in order to make this happen, but that's completely doable. Your class would take place sometime in March, ideally. That way I will have finished more classes and be able to offer you far more expertise and experience to draw from.

(Additionally, my friend James Courtney has offered to donate a print of yours truly from his Wicked Grounds show for people to auction off, and my friend Elisabeth Anderson has offered to draw a portrait of an auction winner as well!)

I'm just trying to gauge interest in things like this, so please feel free to leave comments. I feel a little weird about asking my friends to donate, but so many people have told me I should do it.....

20 December, 2010

Seeking Design Work

If you have been reading my posts on Tumblr these past few months, you know that I’ve been having a great time working on an amazing and oh-so-secret project.
Unfortunately, two weeks ago circumstances beyond my control changed everything, and my amazing design job is suddenly no more.
But onwards and upwards, right? In the interest of seeking out new design and design-related opportunities, I am hearby sharing my eclectic resume in the hopes that one of you might have a lead for me.
Please feel free to pass it along to anyone you think might have use of my skills/talents/fabulousity. Thank you in advance. I’m blowing you very professional air kisses as you read this.

17 December, 2010

Computer Says No *kaff

Pleaser was silent for the last few days so I checked in to make sure they received the designs. They did, and they "weren't sold". So, that's that. I was feeling pretty confident about being able to design for them. Oh well. Good thing I didn't send anything like the stuff I usually design- they might have had a panic attack!


On the bright side, I can now share the three designs I sent them!


I didn't do anything wildly original because, well, Pleaser is Pleaser, and they have their look- I didn't want to challenge them too much. Perhaps playing it safe was a mistake? They asked me to design three styles that fit into their current lines, and send hand sketches along with a proper design. I wasn't sure what that meant, so I just did something simple. I'm aware that I'm not the best artist (to say the least), but I get the point across I think...

(Of the three I sent, two of them used standard, unchanged Pleaser shapes, so I didn't make up random measurements for those. Just FYI.)









09 December, 2010

Pleaser

The other day I was hunting for shoe design jobs, a disappointing experience which confirmed my fears that there are very few to be had in California. I happened across a listing for two entry-level design jobs at Pleaser shoes. Despite not having as much experience as they wanted, I could totally do the job. The only catch? I’d have to move to Anaheim, CA to do it. So I passed it by and moped about it for a few days.
But I kept thinking about it, and on a whim last night, I sent a rather ballsy email to Pleaser, asking if I could be a contract designer for them. I mentioned that I am a part of the alternative lifestyle and studied in London. I made it a point to mention that even though I’m new to the field, I see them trying to expand their brand and know I could help them do that. 
I never thought I’d hear back and almost regretted sending the email.
But to my surprise this evening I received a response! They’ve asked me to design 3 shoes for specific lines in their brand and to send those along. Essentially, I have an audition! 
Oh shit! Now I actually have to walk the walk I was talking the talk about. AIEEEEE! 

03 December, 2010

What Have I Been Up To?

Both the boy and myself were sick over Thanksgiving, and as such I didn't work out for two weeks and instead spent considerable time laying around watching movies. I also started a new Tumblr while I was feeling sorry for my sickly self. I have hundreds and hundreds of pictures of shoes laying around, and I realize that they aren't doing me much good if I don't tag and archive them to create a reference book for myself. Thus began the joy that is Shoe Pr0n, your daily dose of interesting footwear design, curated by yours truly. New stuff posted daily, sometimes with commentary or history.


Despite having to take those two weeks off my workout regime, I'm losing weight. I'm about 4-5lbs lighter on average, and my measurements are slimming down bit by bit. My natural waist which was at 32, is now a little below 31, and ideally should be around 30 or lower. It's nice to feel like I can wear waist belts and not look thick and icky anymore.



My oh-so-super-seekrit design job is going well. I'm a little frustrated with my own limitations as a designer, as they are doubled by the limitations placed upon me by the sort of job I'm doing. Additionally, I'm not a good artist and I feel a little ashamed about my inability to draw what I want quickly. I've worked my ass off at uni, but never before have I been expected to create new designs every day. It's a bit stressful, and I can feel my brain wanting to rest. But then I think to myself, "holy shit, I'm being paid to design clothes and shoes! FORREALS!" and the happy shock of the situation urges me to shut up and get on with it.



The funny thing about this job is how my ego is coping with it. I am of two opposing minds almost every day. On one hand I have complete confidence that I know what I'm talking about, and have opinions and knowledge worth listening to. On the other hand, I doubt my ability to back those opinions and knowledge up with actual skill. There is also a bit of fear as this is the first time I've ever worked inside a semi-corporate structure as a designer and it means that I get orders from on high without ever having presented or defended my work and ideas. I know I have advocates showing my work on my behalf, but it's unnerving to not be there to present it myself. All I get is 2nd hand feedback, and marching orders. It's just a bit unnerving, and it reminds me of the day I applied to Central St Martins when they took my portfolio away from me and judged it without me there. I don't think my work speaks for itself, and my drawing ability certainly doesn't do anything to improve my case, so I feel I NEED to be with the work in order for it to make sense. But that's a very amateurish way of thinking. I'm no longer in school and no one cares about my sketchbook and inspiration. They want content and innovation without artsy fartsy bullshit.


I've been dressing up nearly every day (yeay for a job where I can wear heels) and I've rediscovered my passion for trying different looks and silhouettes each day. I've also found that my consistent immersion in the fashion world has once again awakened my appreciation for design far beyond the scope of my paycheck. It's becoming dangerous.


So that's more or less what I've been up to.  Working, working out, buying shoes, posting on Shoepr0n, playing video games (I finished Fable 3!) and missing London a little.

21 November, 2010

Cranky

Having a really tough time readjusting to life here right now. Feel like crying or screaming or both, sometimes. Not sure what I can do about it.

This cold isn't helping, either.

CRANKY!

03 November, 2010

Fixing My Brain

I feel very lucky that my first design client is my boyfriend's company, and that he is my direct contact. He's an excellent art director and gives really helpful feedback. He also has somehow tricked everyone else in the company into taking me seriously as a designer, and it's the first time I've ever felt my professional design opinions matter to anyone, at all, even a little.

Every day he helps to heal the damage CSM did to my brain, in ways he doesn't even know.

Thank you, lover.

31 October, 2010

On Working Out and Complaining

A bit of a row started on Twitter the other day when I whinged about hating doing cardio, but being glad that my bmi was going down. A number of people reacted very angrily to what I thought was a playful complaint followed by an upbeat "however". So let me respond to the unexpected drama my comments seemed to rouse:

If I am uncomfortable with the weight that I am currently at it is not a crime against feminism, or a sign that I am giving into the skinny-model-ideal bullshit. It simply means that *I* am not pleased with how I look in clothes right now. I have never fit into the fashion model ideal, nor do I aim to. I do not want long, super skinny legs with no hips or butt. I'd rather look like a J. Scott Campbell girl any day. ;)

I ask that people not jump on me for wanting to lose weight. I really do appreciate that some people believe "you're perfect the way you are," but I feel within myself that there is room for improvement. Whether or not you agree with me, I would rather be supported in this decision than attacked. It's not like I'm having random cosmetic surgery here- we're discussing regular exercise and healthy eating. There is nothing negative or harmful about what I'm doing. I am addressing my insecurity and taking steps to improve the way I feel about my body by becoming a healthier, fitter person. Tell me, where the harm is in that...?

I see nothing wrong with admitting that I feel unhappy about the way my body looks when I am taking steps to change it. That should be applauded, not condemned as "giving into insecurity" or "against your feminist ideals". I've gained over 20lbs since moving to London and it's time that comes off so that I can feel confident and healthy.

Additionally, if I choose to work out, it does not in any way reflect upon *you* or your choice to work out (or not). Just because I have exercised for a week doesn't mean I look down upon you if you haven't! There is no holier-than-thou going on here- I am simply trying to get back down to a weight I am happy with.
Something about trying to get healthy makes people assume that I am becoming a health nazi. I'm not. I'm eating nutella on white bread as I type this. NOM NOM NOM.

So please, in future, when I am complaining a little about how much I hate running but like losing the weight, I would ask that people not take it personally. MY choices have nothing to do with them. I am taking healthy steps to change something I don't like about myself and I think that should be applauded.

Thank you!
R.

30 October, 2010

Friday

Yesterday:

Dancing to Lady Gaga with Eva who was wearing my highest, most ridiculous platform heels, driving gloves, and a huge gold mask. This girl is going to be a performer- she was practically vogue-ing.

Spending far too much money on vintage-inspired dresses and future-inspired shoes.

Heading out to Kinky Salon where we met the hottest fast zombie ever (aka our friend Arwen) who took us back to her awesome flat to watch Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl which was a fine example of uh, quality film making.

Getting home at 3:30am and being taken advantage of.


Awesome Friday.

28 October, 2010

Tubby

This week I began working out in the mornings with my boyfriend. He's been at it for months, whereas I've gained 20lbs since moving to London.

This pretty much sums up my feelings each morning:


23 October, 2010

Self-Employed

This week I began my first job as an actual fashion and footwear designer. I’m suddenly self-employed, contracted, and designing some ridiculous things. I can ignore reality to some degree because these clothes will never actually be made out of fabric. Intrigued? I cannot tell you more, nor will I be able to show you anything I am doing for several months. But trust me when I say that if I can pull it off, this will be an epic start to my new portfolio and a discussion-worthy addition to my CV.

14 October, 2010

Back in SF, Day 3

Today I am cranky. I am sitting in my boyfriend's bedroom and getting really irritated at myself because I don't have any knowledge or control over my situation right now. After a year of being the responsible one who set up the utilities and made all the decisions and took care of all the problems, I am suddenly feeling impotent and useless in a situation I didn't set up.

I realize that sounds a little petty, but I am used to thinking, "ok, this isn't working, and if I can't seem to fix it, so I go to this drawer to find the paperwork I filed, to call the company that has an account in my name so I can sort it out..." and instead I find myself having to defer to my boyfriend and ask him stupid things like where the router is, or where I can put my clothing that won't be in the way.

Because I am no longer taking out loans to pay for my education/life, I currently have no income and no money at my disposal. I am also living in a place where I cannot control how easily I come and go. I just feel useless and pathetic. It's no one's fault, certainly not my boyfriend's. I'm just confused by suddenly having a very different lifestyle and not having tons of stuff to do. It's all just a weird mix of familiar and unfamiliar. The transition from months of constant activity and learning and stress to sudden laziness and being in someone else's space is really getting me down today. I just want to throw all my stuff away and stop trying to fit into a life I didn't create for myself.

I hate feeling useless and incapable.

13 October, 2010

Hello, San Francisco

It's hot. Unseasonably hot. I just flew out from a country with wan, blue sunshine and I'm not ready for this warm buttery sunlight and heat.

Without sounding pretentious, I feel a little out of place here. I've spent considerable time adjusting to London and it finally became natural. Now I find myself feeling uncomfortable with how wide and open American roads feel, and why does everyone insist on driving on the other side of the road? Our money looks silly and I don't see the point in $1 bills. Tax is added onto shop prices at the till, service charge isn't added, and people look at me funny when I say, "cheers" as a thank you. I'd forgotten just how lazy Americans are about putting together an outfit in the morning- my god people, at east TRY to look nice! You're offending my eyes. The colour of the atmosphere and the colour of the buildings create a pink hue over all of San Francisco, and I'd forgotten how peach the street lamps are. The accents are all wrong. Heavy Californian accents (which I'd never noticed before) sound almost crass. Most English accents are softer to my ears, and I can't believe how many hard, loud Rs I'm hearing around me. I'm highly aware of the weather, the sense of space, the colours of the city, the high hills and massive amount of greenery dotted around the streets. I wonder if this is how visitors see San Francisco.

I'm not a traitor to my own people, but obviously leaving the country gives you a new perspective on the place you come from. I am looking at my city with slightly different eyes, and although little things will become habit, I suspect some things will never become invisible again.

My boyfriend seems absolutely thrilled to have me back. He keeps looking at me like he can't believe I'm really here. It warms my heart, even though I have trouble expressing how much I appreciate his appreciation.  And I realized yesterday that I am officially no longer "staying" with him- now I live with him. I guess that should feel like a big step, but it doesn't. We work well together as a couple, so it comes naturally.

Speaking of work, I start a new job on Monday. I know, right? Well, I *did* say I needed to hit the ground running when I arrived. It seems I'll be doing some design work for my boyfriend's company (it wasn't his suggestion, by the way. His co-workers suggested me because, yaknow, I'm awesome.) In between that, I'm going to harass the shoe designer here that I'd like to work for/with. I will be so friendly she won't be able to say no. I'm good at that.

It's only my first day here, but I miss my friends in London. I am both happy to be back and sad to have left. I miss a lot of stupid things too- like being someone with an accent, and it being a conversation-starter. I miss the feel of pound coins, and boys with smart coats, nerdy specs and perfectly wrapped knit scarves. I miss the weekend markets, the painfully fashionable Shoreditch twats, and the all night salt beef bagels. I miss the transit system (laugh all you want), and I miss brick buildings. But yes, most of all I miss my friends. I don't find friends of that calibre often, and leaving them has left mascara running down my cheeks in the back of cabs. I hate goodbyes. So so so much.

But hopefully I will be able to fly back and visit my people soon. I couldn't say goodbye to either city permanently. I think I will always feel that London is as much a home to me as San Francisco.

08 October, 2010

4 days pt 3

The walkthrough seemed to go surprisingly well. They said I was one of their good tenants, and there were no major problems.

Hopefully I'll get most of, if not all of the deposit back.

I made one mistake- I gave them my keys, forgetting I might want to leave the house to get, say, something quick to eat. So now, while I wait for my girl to pick me up in a few hours, I have to order in food when what I really want to do is go down to the shop and grab crisps.

LAME.

4 days pt 2

I'm confused by how many cleaners have suddenly appeared in my flat. There was one, then there were three, then four, now six, back down to three...

I'm having a bit of a white person complex right now because the cleaners are all non-English speakers from other countries. Somehow I didn't feel like such a privileged white bitch when my Indian flatmate was the one organizing the cleaning service. *shrink


So after waking early to wait for the Virgin Media guy to come collect the router, and waiting for hours, I finally called and they told me "oh, no one is coming to pick it up. Ooops. Just leave it." Great, thanks guys. There were so many things I could have done this morning had I not been sitting around waiting! I could have slept in!

I managed to get rid of my unwanted clothes and shoes by putting them downstairs in the entry way with a sign saying "FREE CLOTHES size 14 and SHOES size 8-9". They were gone in ten minutes.

Now I just have to survive the walkthrough with the property manager at 3pm. I anticipate a lot of arguing and drama. Hopefully I can either kill him with smiles and kindness, or turn on the, "I'm taller, bigger, and meaner than you," persona. It just depends on how he wants to play this.

Today is stressful. I just want this part of it to be over with as quickly as possible.

4 days pt 1

Waiting for the Virgin Media guys to come take away my internet. In the meantime I have the cleaners in, and one particularly stinky/sweaty guy is cleaning my bathroom. His scent does not inspire confidence but he seems to be taking his time doing details, so....

In the meantime, I am taking photos of stuff so I can determine which clothes I'm carrying down to the donation bin, and which I'm shoving into a bag to give to friends. I was going to donate my bike back to the place I bought it from (they are lovely and fix old bikes to sell at good prices), but luckily an equally tall friend of mine is in need of a bike for a few weeks, so I'm riding down to give it to her today and she's going to donate it for me!

I stupidly asked a friend to keep one of my suitcases at her place so I didn't have to bother carrying it around this weekend, but now I realize I need to put a few things in there. Oops!

I still feel like I have so much to do. I need to make a few phone calls, meet with the property managers for a walkthrough tonight (not looking forward to that), mail some books to a friend who forgot them, move all my stuff to my girl's house for the weekend, and then move it all to my friend's house on Monday, repack once I have the other suitcase, organize a car to Heathrow....

I won't rest until I'm on the plane. Now I just have to take vitamins and get sleep so I don't end up with a cold on my flight... that will hurt.

07 October, 2010

5 days: My Last Night in Shoreditch

It was a beautiful sunny day. I woke early to get a head start organizing all the bits and bobs involved in moving. At 2:30, the movers came to pick up my boxes, and by 4pm my flatmate had moved out. Suddenly the flat was calm, empty, and a place I didn't mind spending time. I opened the windows to air out the cigarette smell my flatmate left lingering while waiting for my aunt to return my call, hoping I'd get to see her today. But I never managed to get a hold of her, and instead I spent the day throwing out trash, and moving furniture around in preparation for the cleaners and final walkthrough tomorrow.

At 7pm I had to drop off a dress I'd altered for a friend from work, and I went down to a shoreditch bar to meet with the Tent London folks. I do miss working in that office- even though I only worked there for a short time, it was a great place. I had a few drinks, talked about corsetry and moving in with my boyfriend, before heading out into the Shoreditch night. I went to the first chip shop I experienced for my last meat and chips bonanza, and walked through the heart of hipsterland, across the park, and into my crappy little council flat.

I do love it here. But as my friend keeps reminding me, San Francisco will be good. I will be with my boy, with friends, with family, and London is always here waiting for me.

06 October, 2010

6 days

I am 99% packed. I have some forms to fill out, but all my boxes save one are taped, marked, numbered and ready to go when the shipping company gets here tomorrow. My suitcases are nearly full and there is almost nothing left in this flat that wasn't here to begin with.

It's real. I'm actually moving. It finally dawned on me today when I removed the last colourful bits of "me" from my bedroom and pushed the furniture back into its original place. Suddenly the room looked stark and empty, and no longer felt like home.

I was rereading old blog posts this evening- particularly those written when I first moved to London. I was so sad during that time. I remember the knotted stomach and unbearable loneliness, and my heart sinking the moment I saw the dorm room for the first time. And now I'm sleeping in a room that no longer feels like my own surrounded by boxes and suitcases, again. It's not the same thing, but there are echoes in the experience.

My flatmate is moving out tomorrow. I am glad to see her go because things didn't go as well as I'd hoped- I think we will part ways with the sort of stories about one another in which we call the other one "absolutely insane". Ah well. I'm looking forward to one or two nights alone in the flat before I leave on Saturday morning to go stay with my girlfriend for the weekend. Then on Monday I stay with a dear friend in Camden before waking early to get to Heathrow Tuesday morning. I have so much to do- so many odds and ends to take care of- turning off the utilities, organizing the donation of my bike and clothes, dealing with the property managers and our cleaners, sorting out my bank, my cellphone and internet, trying to fit in a few final goodbyes with friends and family....

I will get it all done of course, but I just feel sad about it all tonight. I will miss so many people and so many things about my time here.

05 October, 2010

7 days

This time next week I'll be on a plane heading back to San Francisco, and will no longer be an American Redhead living in London- I am moving back to the states.

I am a little too overwhelmed with the practicalities of moving to spend time focusing on how I'm feeling about the move, but when I have a quiet moment between things I sometimes reflect on how differently I thought this London story would end.

If I'm completely honest, I hoped that at this point I'd be working on my final collection at Saint Martins and talking my way into fashion jobs. I figured the long distance relationship would have been more than I could handle and that I would be alone. I was sure I would be working toward *finally* getting that degree. I was pretty sure I knew who my friends would be at uni, and I was absolutely sure I'd be miserably lonely, focused on trying to become the next big thing.


The last thing I expected was to fail miserably time and time again, pick myself up and try harder than I've ever tried before, fail again (ad nauseum) until I decided to leave uni, and leave fashion. I never thought I'd find something I love and am good at, intern with designers, and talk my way into (hopefully) designing my first footwear collection for an amazing high end boutique store in London.



photo by Ben Hopper
I didn't expect to help organize one of the most fabulous costumed sex parties London has seen, or to meet some of the most amazing friends I've ever had. I surely didn't expect to not only maintain and significantly strengthen my relationship with my boyfriend, but to also find find myself dating an amazing girl as well. I hoped, but never actually believed, that I would end up growing more independent, capable, or able to handle whatever life throws at me. I've always thought of myself as a particularly weak person, and I think London has made me stronger in a lot of little ways.


As my left wrist now says in permanent black ink, "change" is something that will always define my life. This is just another rearranging of my situation, and it's certainly not a goodbye to London. No, I will be back as often as I can.

I do have a few regrets. I try to not dwell on things I might have done differently, or how I could have used my time better. I did what I did and I learned stuff. I am happy I came here, and proud of myself. I will miss people and places, but I go back to SF knowing I always have a home here in London. It will always be the place where I came into my own, on my own, for myself and no one else. It will always be a special place full of magical things and wonderful people to me.... yes, even when the weather is this shitty.


Photo by Jon Cartwright
I have much to do and many zzz's to catch up on, so that's all I'm going to say for now. If you want to see more stuff while I finish packing and curl up into bed, go browse my Tumblr.

G'nite.

11 September, 2010

On Being A Girl Who Loves Shoes

As I tucked my new suede heels into their little box this morning a thought occurred to me- I am being defined by my obsession with shoes. People see ridiculous footwear and immediately think of me. While this doesn't bother me one bit (keep 'em coming!), I wonder if my choice of profession has finally defined me as the thing I dread most: "A Girl".

Being called "a girl" isn't something I've ever taken pride in. I never wanted to be grouped in with other girls as a child, and most of my best friends were boys (who I suspect turned out to be gay, in the end). As I've gotten older, I've begun to both embrace and loathe all the trappings of being female. I love a night with boys eating steak, gawking at girls, and playing video games. I am not squeamish about blood or real life gore, yet scary and violent movies make me hide my eyes like a child. I freely admit that I am a sex fiend who likes offensive humour and reads comics. I wear my scars with pride, but worry that I always look a little tired and a little chubby. One day I might be working with the table saw and the next I might be trying on latex clothing, obsessing over shoes and expensive lingerie, or hunting for a new eye shadow. As a liberated female who proudly calls herself a slut and doesn't abide by standard rules for feminine looks or behaviour, why do I feel like less of a person for being a girl obsessed with designing shoes?

Does a huge shoe collection mean I should be taken less seriously as a person? Does it mean my head is empty of any real thoughts? I worry that is the impression people will have of me as I approach Imelda Marcos levels of shoe ownership.

In my own defense, I am not sitting around drawing strappy "sexy" stiletto heels. I hate that shit. The sorts of things I design have weight to them. I want to work in unusual metals, wood, plastics, and rubber as well as the traditional leathers. Making shoes by hand involves a lot of industrial machines, hammering, toxic glues, and decidedly ungirly tools.

Now, having said that, why do I feel I need to "defend" myself against being considered a girl? Do *I* think girls that are obsessed with shoes should be taken less seriously?Do I see people who like fashion and makeup as empty-headed fleshlights on legs? Am I a female chauvinist pig who thinks that I gain power and sexual desirability by being one of the boys? (Which in turn means that this is all about showing off to get a boy's attention- something decidedly girly.) Perhaps I am the feminist's worst nightmare.

I truly believe that the whole point of feminism is that a woman can be however she wants to be, yet here I am judging myself for having feminine traits and interests such as shoes.

I have no answers yet, just lots of thoughts.

09 September, 2010

First Ink

I have had a tattoo idea in my head for nearly five years. I have always known exactly what I wanted, but it never felt like the right time to get it. I asked a friend to type out the word I desired on her vintage typewriter, and I carried around the image in my wallet for years, knowing I wanted it to look a little worn and weathered.

When I moved to London I knew I would get my first ink here. But the tattoo had to mark a moment in my life, and my first year in the UK was rife with stress and unhappiness. I didnt want it to be a reminder of a horrible time, so I waited. I thought I might get it done when I moved into the flat and began life afresh, but again, my life was in flux, and I didn't want to mark that in my skin.

But I believe I am beginning an upward trend. Although I am sad to leave London, I am starting something new, and embracing some big changes in my future. I am once again feeling optimistic about life. I knew it was time.

And today was the day I got inked.




I was terrified. Not of the pain, but of not liking the outcome. Before we began my tattooist asked if I wanted the word to face me or face outward. The question took me by surprise- I had never considered having it face outward. This tattoo is for me, and me alone. That's why I went to have it done alone.

So why "change."? If there is word that defines me, it is "change". I feel that I am always striving to change for the better, and to not get stuck in a rut. In English it is also a command and a reminder that if I don't like the way things are, I have the power to change them. I also enjoy the irony that the first permanent marking on my body is about impermanence.

I was terrified this morning, but now I love it! I'm going to be very good to it, follow all the instructions my tattooist gave me, and in two weeks it will feel as though it's always been there.


02 September, 2010

25 pt 2- a shoe-filled happy day!

My 25th birthday was awesome! The only thing that could have made it even better would be having my boyfriend here with me.


As I walked home through the park, carrying a berry tart and a bag full of goodies I thought back to my birthday one year ago. I was turning 24 and spending my birthday alone. I didn't really know anyone, had just left Saint Martins and I was feeling pretty shaken up. And now at 25 I spent the day surrounded by some of my favourite people, feasting on tea and cake, and trying on shoes I could never afford with my favourite redhead!

The day began a bit badly when my birthday high heels were delivered and I found to my dismay that they'd sent the wrong size. Having planned to meet said Favourite Redhead at Liberty for tea and cake I suggested we meet outside Selfridges, so I could return the shoes I'd ordered.

I've always been afraid of big fancy department stores like Selfridges, but today I found it really fun to go in and browse. I returned the shoes and instead bought the ones I REALLY wanted in the right size. And because it was my birthday I  let myself go try on ridiculously high shoes and prance around the store for a while...
 
Then, to make sure the day was FULL of shoes, we visited the Vivienne Westwood shoe exhibit in the basement of the store. And Oh. My. God. SO inspiring! SO brilliant! If you are in London, and love the glorious Miss Westwood, go take a look at the mini-exhibition. It's worth your time, trust me!
Feeling a bit like a tourist with my American accent and big ol' yellow Selfridges bag, we made our way to Liberty- another store I've been scared of- for fancy tea and cake. We ate so much cake we both had an insane sugar high followed by an immediate food coma. But the coma was offset by the best birthday gift ever.... a miniature red silk fez, custom made just for me! It is made to sit on the left side of my head at a jaunty angle. I LOVE IT! It makes me go SQUEEEEEE every time I think about it!

After tea we wandered upstairs to the shoe department just for a looksee (because, yaknow, we hadn't seen enough footwear for one day) before heading out into the Carnaby street crowd. We passed Irregular Choice's new store and spotted a pair of boots in the window that I'd been curious about. So I figured, it being my birthday and all...... and the boots looked SO good and fit SO comfortably that I have decided to get them as soon as I can afford them. They are space girl rockstar boots!

Then it was time to head back to East London where my coworkers (have I mentioned my new job yet?) were having a September Birthday Do, as 4 of the 5 of us have September birthdays. I'd invited a few friends and took my shoes, my fez, and my girl with me to the bar. We were greeted with hugs and an open bar tab, and a huge red fruity tart just for me! :) How did they know I prefer fruity things to cake?

Friends turned up, drinks were had, chatting seemed to be going well when my boss suddenly pulls out his phone to show me a photo. "Lady Gray," he says (he calls me that in the office to distinguish between myself and the other Rachel),  "what is your opinion of these shoes?" He shows me a pair of United Nude heels that I have seen before and liked. Knowing United Nude is having a sample sale at Truman Brewery (get down there, people!) and knowing he's been looking for a pair for his Rachel, I gave them a thumbs up. Then he said, "well if you like them, they are yours! I found them in a size 41, and Rachel said you'd like them and I thought they might be your style, so...." My boss bought me shoes! SQUEEEEEEEE! 
 
The evening ended and I was full of gin and tonics, covered in birthday kisses and hugs, carrying cakes, shoes, a graphic novel my friend illustrated, and a fez made just for me all the way home.

It was a very good day.


01 September, 2010

25

In 40 minutes I will be 25 years old.
A quarter of a century! "Makes a girl think," as Marilyn Monroe said.

I really hoped things would be a little better by 25. I would have liked to have accomplished something significant other than gaining weight and drawing pretty things in my sketchbook. I feel I didn't make the most of my time in London when it comes to my career. I feel like a failure and this birthday feels like a marker of how I wasted this opportunity to make something of myself.

On the other hand....
Is 25 really old enough to have done anything?
What were you doing at 25?

23 August, 2010

Countdown

The ticket has been booked. I fly home October 12th.

05 August, 2010

Lomography: It Should Be My New Hobby

Lori gave me a lesson in lomography a few weeks ago, and with my first go, I got a couple of pictures I really like while we wandered around East London:

04 August, 2010

Things to Remember

Don’t be afraid of simplicity. It is okay to do things you can already do well. You don’t always need to suffer for your art.

Portrait with Tea

Photo by my favourite redhead ever, Lori Smith

03 August, 2010

No Rest for the Wicked

I can't tell if nothing or everything is happening. The lead up to Everything looks suspiciously like Nothing so far.

My time in London is coming to an end. In two months time I will find myself once again flying through the air with the greatest of ease watching socially acceptable films on a tiny screen, and wondering how many of my shipped belongings will break in transit between London and San Francisco.

My feelings about the impending move vary wildly, but the overall feeling is dread seasoned with genuine eagerness. Two months is not enough time to utilize the connections I made while here, so I feel like my time to make the best of London has already passed. That being the case, part of me just wants to have it over with and move back to avoid the two months worrying that I wasted my two years abroad.

After returning from Paris where I spent three days with my girl Jany, I fell in love with London all over again. I nearly kissed the Underground on the way back to my mine (I held off for fear of disease). I will be heartbroken to leave to London; it's become my second home. But maybe it's time I take a step back and really look at the last two years. See, I've begun to wonder if this city has worn me down. One of my British expat friends in San Francisco recently told me she found it very hard to be optimistic in London. And she's not the first to say that to me. For a city with so many open doors there are an awful lot of glass doors to slam into. I've hit my fair share, and I have all sorts of bruises to show for it.

That is not to say I don't appreciate the opportunities London has offered me. But the realization that's been dawning on me this week is that I am not yet ready to make use of those opportunities. I have ideas, I have drive, but I don't have practice and skill or the organization required to make things happen yet. Yet.
I have found myself with a small but growing list of people I could contact when I have questions about shoe design: two teachers, my mentor, a designer or two, a shoemaker who offered me his US contacts, a teacher at Polimoda, etc. I have contacts within the leather industry, and a whole host of amazing people who will be ready to help me make more contacts provided I stay in touch. I have people who will help me publicize what I do, and friends I can count on when it comes time to put on my first show. Now all I need is self discipline and time to learn the ropes. Yes, much to my dismay, I need to learn quite a bit more before all of these contacts can be put to use. London has presented me with these opportunities, but I need to be ready to take them. That half of the work can be done anywhere- that half is up to me (god help me).

So what will my 25th year look like? Fuck me, I have no clue! I see no clear path ahead of me, just obvious barriers. It's easy to focus on those instead of remembering that there is no way to anticipate chance opportunities- and I am *very* good at finding those.

So who knows? Maybe in six months time I will be talking to manufacturers in Spain while helping a friend design the interior of a flat and working for kink.com. Or maybe I'll be working as a bartender to pay rent, teaming up with some other designers to launch a new line of latex clothing and metal shoes. Maybe I will be hiring a seamstress to help me bring about my lingerie line and taking millinery classes. Maybe I will be traveling to take shoe design courses around the world and taking language classes. Maybe I will be in and out of London and Brighton, working for Irregular Choice. Maybe I will still be interning with a designer somewhere in San Francisco, or maybe I'll be setting up my own little studio space to share with a friend.

Just remind me to not sit on my ass and play video games. I need to get off that plane in San Francisco and hit the ground running. Sprinting, even. No rest for the wicked, and I am quite, quite wicked.


(Addendum: Right after posting this, the teacher from Polimoda suddenly showed up in the doorway. Turns out he's in town and when he heard about my plans to design for Coco de Mer he offered to help!)

29 July, 2010

Tiny Steps

Today I did something I've been wanting to do for over a year. Today I threw out the project that haunted me and nearly drove me to murder at Central Saint Martins. I never got rid of it for fear that, I dunno, I might suddenly fall in love with it later on. I unceremoniously shoved it under my bed and glared at it every time I happened to catch a glimpse.

Remember this horrible thing?



No you probably don't, and that's a good thing. It was a two person project and I got teamed up with my favourite person in the whole class. She and I worked out asses off, doing every step of the project together. She designed and printed the muscle-inspired dress, and I designed and printed and made the skeleton-inspired cage over it, printed with a photograph of hair and skin.

When it came time to present the entire class was impressed with what we had pulled off in ten days. I hated it, and it wasn't well made, but at least it was done and it looked just like my idea. However when it came down to grading, my partner passed and I failed. We were graded by the Evil Tutor, who adored her and hated me.

I was so furious and defeated at that point I gave up. I stopped feeling any semblence of optimism and began assuming the worst- which did indeed come to pass. This project marked the beginning of the end in my mind.

So today I pulled this piece of shit out from under the bed, pulled the dust bunnies off of it....

Carried it downstairs looking like a hairy, curled up dead spider.....



And happily threw it into the skip, never to be seen again!
 


It was incredibly liberating! I look forward to going through my other projects soon and tossing them out as well!

20 July, 2010

The Anxiety Dream of CSM

Last night I had the strangest anxiety dream. It didn't have any of the normal trappings of an anxiety dream- in fact most of those classic things happened, but I wasn't worried about those. What I was worried about in this dream was not being helped when I needed it most.

So my dream began on the morning of a project presentation at Saint Martins. I had worked my ass off and created an epic presentation, a beautiful dress to show, and I was nervous, but ready. We had to present in a theatre, mic in hand, to an audience full of people. That didn't bother me.

The dream skipped forward and I ran up on stage, grabbed the mic and began to banter with the audience and tell them a little about my project. I was ready for my model to come on stage. But no one came. It turns out that my classmates/friends didn't feel like trying on my dress, and just decided not to model for me. So I had no dress to show, and the rest of my presentation rested on having the model out there on stage with me.

I turned it into a joke on stage, and ended my presentation without actually presenting anything. Backstage, I was furious! I looked at my group of tall, skinny classmates that had agreed to model and demanded to know why they just caused me to publicly fail my project when I had worked so hard on it. They answered with, "we're tired," and that was that.


I woke up feeling let down and untrusting.

23 June, 2010

Where Has the Redhead Gone?

In case you've been wondering why I haven't posted in ages, it's because I've decided to give my whining a rest and start focusing on what I'm doing with my life. I try and post on my Tumblr no less than 5 times a week, if possible. So keep an eye on me there if you'd like.

03 June, 2010

Coco de Ohshit!

This evening my favourite redhead and I went to see Sam Roddick, creator of the amazing store Coco de Mer, speak on sexuality. And after this inspiring, enlightening talk, I somehow managed to worm my way into asking if I might design a range of shoes for Coco de Mer. Why? Because I felt ballsy at that moment, and I know I could do it. To my surprise she was interested and gave me the contact information of her head of design development.


Oh shit. Oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit! What did I just do??? Ok, I need to source some makers and materials, stat! At least I know I can aim high for quality when it comes to price point because CcdM is not a cheap store. I need to have a small line of designs with some projected costing ready to show her, and it needs to be soon.
Why do I do this to myself? Because I need deadlines and a fire under my ass to do anything.

Christ on crutches, I need to enlist all my contacts to pull this off. But it’s worth it because how fucking incredible would it be to release my first line of shoes at Coco de Mer?

I have a LOT of questions to ask my design internship mentor guy now… oh shit.
Oh shit.

18 May, 2010

The Last of Formspring

Formspring is a bit dull.... well no, it is VERY dull. So I'm closing my account. But there have been a number of questions that I'd like to remember. It's always interesting to have something to look back on to see what your mindset was a few years back. So here are a few:


What message would you want to put in a fortune cookie?
The truth that I always need to be reminded of: Don't discount things just because they are easy.



If you could go back in time 10 years and tell your younger self something, what would it be?
Stay in dance class and keep playing cello.



If you could make one person fall in love with you who would it be?
He already has.


What do you consider to be your best quality?
My best quality is also my downfall: I never take the easy route. I don't feel that something is worthwhile unless I've nearly died for it. You can see how this would make me push myself very hard, but also discount every success along the way, always sure that I didn't work hard enough for it to really count.



More or less ?
Tough question. I tend to say "more". More sequins. More hairspray. Longer lashes, higher heels, brighter hues, spicier foods, redder reds, and chromed silvers. Moderation can go to hell. Ridiculous is always better than boring.


When was the last time you had a fight? A physical dust up.
I've never had one! Which is a shame because I'd really like to see if I can handle myself in a fight.


Everyone knows the internet is fabulous. what's the best thing you can do with it?
Pretend.
Pretend until it's real.


What would you do if a man slapped your bum and gave you a wink? In this instance he's extremely handsome. Smack his ass right back, and possibly his face. I don't care how attractive you are, you don't start the conversation by manhandling.


What's your earliest memory?
I lost a lot of memories of my childhood after my dad died when I was nine. But little snippets of my life come back every now and then. I remember making puppets at my 8th or 9th birthday, and before that I remember playing with dolls at my friend Kim's house. I remember the spaghetti Brianna's mom used to make (it had peanut butter in it). I remember watching Xmen and Spiderman cartoons with my older brother. I remember my first computer- DOS, black and gold screen, floppy disks. And I remember being obsessed with Labyrinth and trying to dress like David Bowie's character through most of elementary school.


What's the most you've paid for a meal?
I don't remember money, I remember experiences. I've had a lot of amazing, incredible food with my friends. We've gone out to ridiculous restaurants and had delicious drinks with decadent meals and discussed nerdy things over rich desserts. Sure, these experiences weren't cheap, but I'd be a fool if the amount of money I spent was the memory I took away from those evenings.


Why is your worth tied to a large boatload of success?
Not a boatload. I don't need to be rich and famous, if that's what you mean. I just want to feel a sense of accomplishment within myself.


What would your dream job look like?
Dream job? I'd work in an ex-industrial warehouse with amazing windows. Open plan seating, large tables, and a small team of people working with me. I'd have a workshop full of the tools that one needs to make and design shoes (industrial machines, belt sander, vacuum moulding, etc etc) and a windowless, but bright room where latex is stored/made.

At all times our fridge would have champagne and Hendricks in it.


What would the you-of-five-years-ago make of you now?
Surprised.

Five years ago I was 19 years old. I was in my first year of art school, living in my first apartment in San Francisco (which was a disaster), neurotic, confused, needy, unsure, in a difficult relationship situation, and probably more than a little depressed. I was also on the tail end of being goth. I didn't know what I wanted, and was easily influenced by others.

I still face a lot of the same issues, but with a certain grounding in myself now. And although I am easily intimidated by people, 19 year old me would have been terrified of 24 year old me. I'm a very different person. A lot stronger, a lot more together. And when I'm not, I'm a lot better at faking it.

24 is way better than 19


What's the secret to happiness?
Paying attention to the little things and not just the long term big picture future stuff.
(I need to remember this)


If you had a friend moving from the US to the UK, what bit of "culture shock" would you warn them about?
I didn't experience much culture shock moving here. What's funny is going back to the US after being here for a long time. You notice how loud Americans are, and how dirty and under-dressed most of us look in public. You also notice how much more aggressive Americans are, and not always in a bad way.


But, moving here I noticed a few things right off the bat. If you don't already know how to use two pieces of cutlery at once, learn. Whatever is your normal speaking volume, turn it down two notches. If you don't like cream on everything sweet, you're in trouble. Workout culture isn't as prominent here, but there are more skinny long legs in London than I've ever seen in one place before. Pubs close at 11, but bars and clubs are open much later. You can go to the pub at 2 though, and afternoon pub culture is like American coffee shop culture- you go there, have a drink, read, hang out. The sausages you get at any grocery here are yummier than some of the expensive sausages in the US. Londoners aren't a terribly friendly group, but don't be afraid to stop and ask someone for directions- they are British after all, and too polite to do anything but answer. And on that note, the Brits are a reserved group, but get them alone and they are the all big nasty pervs- it's fantastic! If you've never been to England, you should know that people aren't all like John Cleese. Pure silliness isn't common in the culture, but self-deprecating humour is. There is a big difference between the two. Also, make sure you have tea, scones with clotted cream and jam. It's delicious.

Lastly, it has come to my attention that many people seem to think The Full Monty means naked. If you've seen the film, and make that association, you might be surprised by some of the menu items at breakfast joints here in the UK. So let me clarify that for you all- it means "everything".


Are you a man-hater?
What? No, not at all. I'm a stupid jackass hater, and that applies to all genders.


What is your experience of England?
This


Which bothers you more - that you can't take a compliment, or that someone YOU compliment can't take one? 
Both. But I'm very bothered by people who can't take compliments. And then I feel like an idiot because I do the same thing. But I am trying very hard to learn how to say thank you and really hear what they are saying, and not discount it.


Would you agree you're hot?
In my opinion I am average with a few quirks in my looks that make people pay attention.


Spooning or Spoonerisms?
There is no spoon. Try and realize that it is not the spoon you are asking about, but yourself.


What is your ideal day out?
One that starts with brunch and mimosas, involves something ridiculous, something educational, something challenging, something inspiring, and ends with marathon sex. (you know I'm talking about you, @astra)


What's worse, lack of stability or sacrifice of ambition?
Sacrifice of ambition, no question about it. I'd rather risk it all for something than spend the rest of my life in relative comfort wondering and wishing and regretting. I never want to look back on my life and say "if only I had done what I wanted to do, instead of what I thought I should do..."


What do you see yourself doing in 5 years time? 
I would like to be living with my Boy, in a flat near my working studio. I'd like to either share a workspace with a few designers, or have teamed up with someone to start a label. I would like to travel a lot, to London and to my manufacturers (which will most likely be in Spain or Italy). I want decadent friends, a decadent arty life, and uh, a good ass. Also, good dresses and shoes. ;)


If you were to become famous what would you like to be known for?
Making fabulous things and being fabulous in them alongside other fabulous people. Essentially, I would like to earn the title Emperor Fabulous!

17 May, 2010

I Don't Know How I Do It, But...

There are very few books on shoemaking and pattern cutting for shoes. It's a dying art, as most shoes are designed by someone with no knowledge of production, and handed to someone else to make. But I feel I need a more in-depth understanding of shoes, and I also really enjoy the process of making them.

I have found one book that has been immensely helpful. Of course it is also immensely expensive. So I did some price shopping around the intarwebs, and I found that I could order the book directly from the publisher for half the price. I email them, requesting an order form, and not ten minutes later I get an email from the author of the book! It seems he works for this publishing company as well! He invoiced me and said he could send the book this morning!

But that's not the really interesting part. That's just the lead up. So, of course I sign all professional-ish emails with my phone number. I hate getting phone calls, but when it comes to my design work, I want people to contact me! But no one ever does. So you can imagine my surprise when at noon I receive a phone call from the author, letting me know he mailed my book. He asked if I was a student and we get to chatting. He is a lovely chap. It turns out he used to teach at Cordwainers (back when it was a good school) and has been in bespoke shoemaking for over 45 years! We talked about schools and how hard it is to find a real education in footwear. And then he did something amazing. He offered me two things- first, that I may email him with any technical questions I may have about shoemaking. Secondly, he said he teaches in the US and knows a lot of suppliers, shoemakers and other people he would happily put me in contact with.

HOW did that just happen? I order a book and somehow get a phone call from the author who offers me his shoemaking contacts in another country?? I think he sussed out that I wanted to do more than make Manolos and was happy to meet someone who appreciated the knowledge he has to share. But still... WHAT? HOW?

15 May, 2010

A Parting Thought

"In Russia, batmobile drives you."


G'nite.

Needlefully

Another needley day- I patterned and sewed these boot mock-ups for my internship today. It was a quick job- just basic uppers and lining which we'll turn into shoes tomorrow. I would like to say that except for a few very visible parts where the leather didn't agree with the machine, it was refreshing to see that I CAN in fact sew pretty well when left to my own devices.

But yeah, I can't get away from needles it seems.

14 May, 2010

Needleful Day

"I'd like to say you were brave about getting pierced today...." 
"But I really wasn't."
"Yeah, you really weren't..."

Today has been a needle-heavy day for me. Piercing needles, knitting needles, and suture needles. It began at Cold Steel in Camden (where my "FUUUUCK" exclamation of pain shocked the piercer), and ended at the Hunterian Museum for a late night crafty evening with two of my favourite girls. 

The little medical museum was full of people learning to knit, weave, spin, and sew sutures. Surrounded by tumorous duck heads in jars and hundred year old surgical equipment a giant group of crafty fools giggled and knitted away from 6-10pm. Quite a lovely way to spend a Friday night, actually.

I got an introduction to knitting ("Mr T. on knitting: 'I knitty the fool!'") and then had a glass of wine while we learned how to sew sutures onto fake arms.


For someone with a fear of needles, I had a pretty needleful day.





13 May, 2010

12 May, 2010

Christmas coming early!

I feel like someone just told me it's Christmas. Two of my favourite people in San Francisco have informed that that they want to work with me. As if that wasn't awesome enough these friends also happen to have an outfitted workshop, space to make stuff, tools, knowledge, and have asked me to collaborate on some projects and events when I move back!

*squeeeeee

I have awesome friends :)

My Sandbox. Or, Sex Party Etiquette for the Socially Ham-Handed.

Speaking as someone who organises sex parties, I find it very important to have clear boundaries and rules about behavior at these events. That is not to say we are restrictive about personal interaction, but a certain level of mutual respect is required of our members.

Despite what some may think, a good sex party is not a free-for-all faceless orgy full of naked girls ready to take a cock in any which way it becomes available. (Of course some parties ARE like that, and trust me there is definitely a time and place for that sort of mindless fucking. ) Kinky Salon London is not that place. We aim to develop a group of like-minded pervs and sluts of every orientation and gender who chat, drink, fuck, and dance around in silly costumes. I hate using the word "community" because it sounds a bit too hippy, but I guess it's the most appropriate word for what Kinky Salon is. It's a community of sluts with taste and tact and charm.


In a sexual environment, etiquette and mutual respect become VERY important. While being direct is encouraged, it seems that many people don't know how to be direct while still showing respect for the other person in the exchange. 

I got a lot of shit today for saying that I find it offensive when someone approaches me (even at a sex party) and says, "you're hot, let's fuck." Now, some people said that the offer was made by someone being direct about what he wanted in an environment where sex is encouraged. That is true. However, the thing about a "you're hot, let's fuck" statement is that it completely disregards me and my wants. By approaching me with that line, you are telling me that I fulfill your requirements for sexual attractiveness, and that my own requirements should only be that I am hot enough to fulfill yours. A line like "you're hot, let's fuck" completely disregards the importance of chemistry and mutual attraction. And on top of that, it's just plain insulting. There are a million other ways to be direct about being interested in someone without also reducing them down to a pair of tits. (And while objectifying people in a sexual situation is sexy or fun, you NEVER open a conversation by doing it.)  My point is simply that saying, "you fill my required hotness factor, now let's fuck" is disrespectful and unacceptable, even at a sex party.

Even in the world of kink and sex, basic etiquette applies. If you want to play in the sandbox, learn the damn rules. 

11 May, 2010

.....Oh.

After years of exercising in one form or another, I had a realization today. Gym class teachers don't yell at you to keep going because they are disappointed in you, they do it to motivate you to push yourself.

That seems pretty simple and basic, but somehow I never quite figured that out. In my head, every time a trainer, a dance teacher, or anyone else yelled at me to keep going I felt I was falling short of their expectations, disappointing them, or making them angry.

My brain is a weird and twisted place to live sometimes.

09 May, 2010

Old Photos

I recently organized all the photos I've taken during the last year and a half I've spent in London. I divided them up into the CSM era, and everything that came afterward. Looking over the photos I've come to a couple conclusions.

First, I was a lot thinner when I first moved to London. I was also absolutely miserable.

Secondly, though I produce less art now than I did during my time at CSM, the quality of my designs has raised significantly. There is not one piece of CSM work that I am proud of. Yet in the months that followed, I began designing shoes and things that I love. I've never before produced ideas that I fall in love with.

I must be doing something right.

06 May, 2010

Today's Haul

Today's haul included patent leather and tweed to make my shoes out of. Blue metallic spandex to make hotpants out of to go with a certain pair of shoes I have. Purple micronet stockings to help complete my fetish Joker costume. An always-useful gold purse gun, a "Belgium Detective" fake moustache (in case I need to be in cognito) and two sets of silver lashes (for a project which I will reveal soon!)

Project Update

Not much to say these days. Mostly I run around every day either sawing/gluing/ruining things, tying stuff up, sewing things, running errands, or meeting people about Kinky Salon London stuff...

This morning I met with my KSL co-head of decor and we worked out how to build a Barbarella-spaceship-inspired seating area. At the moment it's a big ol' mess as we try out everything from stacked pallets to high density polystyrene to staging, covered in foam, cut down to size, covered in monster fur. It's turning into quite a debacle, but I am determined to make it work. I might have found the perfect solution though- I just got some price quotes back from a company in Leicester and things might be looking up.



I've been taking an evening shoemaking course and although I'm using a last I hate, I decided to challenge myself and do some brogue-type lace ups. Currently I'm only as far as patterning and cutting the fabric and leather, but I'm kind of loving the Old Man Chic I'm working with. I've always had a thing for tweed and elbow patches, so I've sort of incorporated that aesthetic on my new shoes. Here's a sneak preview for anyone who is curious.


I've also been working at my internship most days doing everything BUT shoes. We're currently working on some furniture for an exhibition (which I obviously can't show you), and I've spent my days becoming reacquainted with every kind of finger-chopping saw in the workshop and making a fool of myself as I tie things up, glue stuff, break stuff, trip over stuff, and make a huge mess. That said, I'm having an amazing fucking time.


Now I just need to schedule in some sleep.

01 May, 2010

Night of the Senses

I found myself as Kitty Stryker's +2 last night at the follow up Erotic Awards Ceremony where she was nominated and WON in the Innovation category. It was an interesting event, gave me lots of think about in terms of how I approach our next Kinky Salon event at the end of this month.

Anyhow, I don't have much else to say here except that I ran into many sexy people I knew, got lots of kisses and hugs, and left early like a rockstar. Oh yeah.

Oh, I wish I had a full length photo, but you can imagine- this skirt reached the floor and has a bustle in the back. I wore it with black fluevog shoes.

Victor? Victoria?

An actual conversation between myself and a girl I met today:

     Me: "I love the sequins on your sweater." 
     Her: "You're just a human magpie aren't you?" 
     Me: "I prefer the term 'drag queen' actually, thank you..."


30 April, 2010

Gone Drinkin'

Twitter is a lot of fun. It is especially fun when you've been out drinking and find yourself shoved into a cab, told to go home, and suddenly with no one to talk to but the cranky cabbie.

10pm:
 Not yet drunk, but typing is hard. My eyeballs feel furry.
Old man Ellis wants to be called "daddy". ok internet, time to indulge @warrenellis . Say hi to daddy.

11pm:  
This cab has lasers. Vroom vroom pew pew pew!
What is this rain bullshit? Unacceptable! 
Passing saint martins. FUCK YOU BITCHES I AM AWESOME!
I wish I could describe the offtune anti-music this cab driver is playing.  
Also, I want chips. Bring me chips
VROOOOOOOM!
NRRRRRRRR ERRROOOOOOOOO. VROOOOOOOOOM! SSCREEEEEE

Then I got home:
im so drunk that if someone took this piece of toast from me I would kill them.
The poster is wrong. The poster should say KEEP DRINKING AND CARRY ON DRINKING
Rain against my windows. So unnatural. RAIN IS UNNATURAL!
MINIONS! BRING ME PORN AND CHIPS!
Must sleep. I leave you with this. Good night you useless bastards that didn't bring me CHIPS!!!

And then apparently I made this and linked them to it: