Thursday, June 26, 2008
For many years, I ran a little writing camp. Up to twenty kids per week would join me for a few hours each day and do writing exercises and perform skits and have what I came to term (to their delight) Unhealthy Snack Time! As the years progressed, I added an arts & crafts component for the last twenty minutes or so. The kids loved this. It wasn't that they hated the writing part-- they made fun magazines and fast friends. But arts & crafts, now that was something.
This led to little craft workshops over the years. And then, last summer, I held Fashion Camp for a couple of weeks. I did this in part to reach out to my estranged ex-stepdaughter, who had had a huge hand in the death of my marriage. She is an excellent seamstress, but she'd never held a real job. So I hired her, and let her lead, and the kids really enjoyed the projects she helped them create. But I was trying too hard then, and though we got through those weeks okay, the closeness and bonding we'd had before I met and married her father (she'd been a student of mine) was gone. I just couldn't get past the hurt she inflicted. I sense she felt the same way.
But I held on to the fashion camp idea. And this past winter, when we were returning from Mexico, I told MaryJ, one of my traveling companions, about the camp. She's got a background in costume design and she is an incredible businesswoman and overall force of nature. We agreed to work together this summer.
Tomorrow marks the end of two one week sessions. We culminate with a fashion show, which the kids just love. They sashay across the stage of the theater in which we hold camp, showing off simple designs they've come up with with the help of MaryJ and our two teen assistants. MaryJ and I get a good laugh over the fact that, though I am a lousy seamstress, crap with money management, and sometimes don't feel terribly patient (which I try not to let show), I am at the helm of an endeavor that calls for all these things.
But I think the key is to just let the kids have some creative freedom, not to be too imposing on them. They get to dig through big bins of old fabric we've accumulated and to take multiple t-shirts and cut them up and reconfigure them into something new, some personal statement. We also do pillowcase skirts and accessories.
All this reminds me of my mother who is an incredible seamstress and who, I think to preserve her sanity, often set her nine children down with lots of inexpensive craft items and let us have at it. I never lost my love of crafting. And though my sewing is lacking to put it mildly, I'm an okay knitter, so I'm not a total loss in the textile creation department.
And now I'm off to another day of humming machines and giggling girls. We'll do a rehearsal today, and put up our set (a big cardboard box painted with a summer scene). And the excitement will build until tomorrow when, at 11:30, we will commence to having a short but thrilling show.
Posted by Spike Gillespie at 6:27 AM