Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday, Mama!


Feliz Navidad All,

Wishing everyone the Merriest of Christmas Seasons and blessings in the New Year!  This is a time for great joy and family reunions...yuletide tidings and an outpouring of love, faith and of course, fantastic food.  It is always a special time for our nation, but this holiday has an extra special meaning to me and my sisters.  It is our mother's birthday...Christmas Day, an especially cherished memory.

So, in the words of Tiny Tim,  "God bless us all, everyone".  And, "Happy Birthday, Mama".  We will always love, cherish and remember you.


Cassandra, Von Gretchen and KiKi

                                     Dottie's Daughters, three, and nephew, Jr.        

Fade to Mama's voice, soto volce..."Bei mir bist du schoen, means that you're grand.  It means you're the fairest in the land."

All images, text and content copyrighted, 2011, all rights reserved

Monday, November 28, 2011

Hiatus, History, Holidays and Here I am, Baby!

      "Bring Me that Horizon", Kayaking at Cedar Key, Florida in the Gulf of Mexico

Hello All,

Well "bless my soul", if it ain't the Little Ole South!!!  Just a peek at some of the adventure I had during my hiatus, and long awaited vacation.  Here I am kayaking in the Gulf of Mexico...and, I tell you true, I had never even picked up a paddle before!  After a brief bout of the jitters (and a semi-panic attack...terrified of the local gator population, that inhabits every river and stream in Florida), I took to it like a "duck to water".  No gators here, folks.  Just fish, porpoise, pelicans and terns.  Wow!

                            "Shoving Off", at Cedar Key Island ( Gulf of Mexico)

Kayaking at Cedar Key was not only visually stunning and amazing, but I paddled (unknowingly) right into my own ancestral stomping grounds!  The Creek Indians who were part of the Seminole Nation were the first inhabitants of Cedar Key Island, which was the original site of the town and its oyster industry.  No wonder I have such a happy smile...I kayaked to, and walked on the island where my Granddaddy Jim's forefathers had lived so long ago.  First Nations on Cedar Key. "Destiny...destiny, there is no escape for me".  What a head rush!  Wow!  And, Wow, again!

           "Isle de Cedar Key", on approach...destiny, destiny.  Simply, incredible!

Whoops!  Just look at the time!  Gotta run to the studio, but I will be back with the rest of this tale in a jiff!  Hold your horses or your paddle (as it were).  I'll be back before you can whistle, "Dixie".

        "Nature becomes Art", on Cedar Key Isle...faint drumbeats in the distance


"Here I am, Baby."  Back and ready to continue with the amazing time I had at Cedar Key.  As I said before, I could hardly believe my ears when our kayaking guide told the history of the island and its inhabitants.  Although the island has a hiking trail that will lead visitors into a historical landmark at its center, (through very dark and dense mosquito infested woods) the kayaking tour did not allow time for that.

Instead, we had a "fruit and juice" break on the beach, and satisfied our curiosity by combing the shore for oyster shells and walking out on the pier.  The pelicans and terns were amazing.  Hundreds of them sat, perfectly poised on the posts, all facing in one direction as if it was a dress inspection.  "Dress left..."

    "Florida...I believe we have lift-off, folks!"

And, just like that, they all lifted off, circled the pier once and came to rest in their original positions.    It was quite the performance.  Just another part of this fantastic day!  Cedar Key Island, an amazing journey and unexpected discovery of my ancestral past.
While I sauntered and enjoyed the sun (that finally appeared after a dreary overcast start), "fish were jumping" (like Porgy sang) and the porpoises' glistening backs rolled "high" from the surface of the water.  Lost in the nostalgia of where I was, I wandered along the shore picking up oyster shells, and tried to channel the voices and memories of my ancestors, the Creeks.  The atmosphere was electric!  Sparkling and bright, as I breathed in the very air where they had feet leaving footprints in the sand, where they had stood.  The air was charged and so was I.  I breathed in...I breathed out...I felt the electricity along the surface of my skin.  I closed my eyes in reverence, and felt the essence of my ancestors.  I smiled.

Someday...I will return.

                                       "Isle de Cedar Key...home of my Ancestors"

All images, text and content copyrighted, 2011, all rights reserved

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Contemporary Take on an Ancient Theme: Felt

                                   "A little bit of Seamus" (pronounced Shay-mus)
                                       IMAGES ARE COPYRIGHT PROTECTED

Hello Again,

Do you remember that ambiguous "stuff" we all used to use in kindergarten crafts?  That thick, somewhat soft, fluffy, man made fabric (lord knows what it was made of) that every "Blue Bird", "Brownie", "Girl Scout", and "Campfire Girl" (...sorry, not able to resist the color reminders) couldn't wait to get her hands on for those "badge-earning" projects?  Well, I for one sure do...and I am "absotively, possilutely" sure that you gals out there are grinning ear to ear, nodding your heads, vigorously, up and down, and groaning at the same time! Ha!  Gotcha on that one, Girls.  Nostalgic, isn't it?

Okay, I'll stop torturing you with vintage memories, but the fact of the matter is that way back then, we were all, subliminally, in love with an ancient piece of history [the history of creating felt] (wool cloth) by hand with wool fleece, water, soap and friction.

See!  You didn't even know it, but the art of creating wool by hand is at least 8,000 years old, maybe even 9,000.  It dates back to the days of Genghis Khan and the warring  nomads who created felt for their tented homes (yurts), their clothing and saddle padding (for maximum comfort) when riding their horses across the Steppes.  They could ride, sleep and practically, live in the saddle for days on end.  The comfort and insulation from the numbing cold, which felt (wool cloth) afforded the Mongols, made them the most feared and respected adversaries of their time.  Pretty advanced thinking for a so-called "primitive" people.

Today, preserving this ancient and significant craft is becoming a phenomenon.  I first discovered it over twelve years ago, and am absolutely "hooked" on the new, emerging art form that encapsulates this unforgettable history.  It feels so natural and "right", that I should be able to take raw wool fleeces and combed fiber through a series of steps that give me a handmade, sustainable cloth in the end results.

That description sounds a bit convoluted (even to my own ears), because there is no accurate way to describe what it feels like to create this "miracle" of sorts.  Although thought of as the mere "basics of life" by the nomads, (like breathing in and out for them), this surprising process captures my attention, and touches the initial core of my being, when I am deep in the manipulation of the fiber and its creations.  To be able to preserve such an ancient, evolutionary part of mankind is indescribable to me.  I love the fact that I am a part of the past, as well as a creator of the modern adaptation of this art form.  After all, my surname is Shepard, a variation on the word, shepherd.  I have always been a lover of sheep, especially the little ones.  (I throw a few goats in there, too, just for good measure.)  Again, how "natural and right" this venue of expression is for me.  Shepard and sheep.  They go together like wool and fleece.

Whew!  I hope that makes sense to you all.  It is a difficult thing to capture in a few words...the emotional high that one experiences while in the process.  I believe that the creation and, subsequent, embellishment of wool cloth (felt) has held the same fascination for woman and man alike, for eons.  Oh Boy...I'd better stop.  I am getting all wound up!  As I said, "It is an emotional high that defies description (well, simplification, anyway)...the, exclusively, "handmade" creation of wool cloth from raw fiber (without the assistance or usage of knitting, weaving, spinning or mechanical manipulation)."

So, in the words of Miss Geraldine Jones (as played by the not so hirsute comedian, Flip Wilson), "Wooo!  Don't Fight the Feeling!"  The feeling of free form felt forged by feminine hands...That would be me, "Pia", as in Pia Zza!  Fierce!

Feeling free form felt forged by feminine hands.  "Felting with feeling"...Fabulous!

All images, text and content copyrighted, 2011, all rights reserved

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I Love...Ralph Lauren (Who Doesn't?)

Hello All,

Well, I am putting myself "Right out there" today.  Let me just "tell it like it is", okay?
I LOVE RALPH LAUREN!!!  And, make NO mistake about it.  Do we understand each other?  Well alright, then.

I don't want to get any one's "dander" up, but I am very passionate about this Marvelous Man.  It doesn't get any better than Monsieur Lauren, in my book!  Were it not for the fact that I am an artist and putting all discretionary funds back into my art, I would, literally, live (full boar) in Ralph Lauren.

His sense of style is unmatched when it comes to sensuality brilliantly coupled with easy Town and Country couture.  Soft flowing drapability in silk and wool dresses, seductively belted with fine leather and perfectly finished off with magnificently appointed boots gets me every time.  Sighhhhhh!


And then, there's always lacy femininity in combination with classic wide leg trousers (and, the ever present leather belt...reminiscent of equestrian elegance).  Oh, Ralph.  "You really have a way with the ladies"!  This one, anyway.

Hold on.  I'll be right back.  The pot is boiling in the kitchen...wool washing day!  Back in a jiff with more on Mr. Lauren.  What a Guy!

I'm back, and dreamily thinking of Ralph, me and "La Look Boheme".  Ralph does it again with tweed jackets and fawn colors for fall.  How does he do it?  And, so perfectly tuned to my tastes and sensibilities?  I think Ralph Lauren is one of those geniuses who captures the essence of his own lifestyle, and transforms it into ART.  The art of the "Bohemian", all polished up with the smell and feel of "tack and leather"!  (Oh...someone, quick.  Bring me my smelling salts!)

Ralph has the gifted knack of projecting his unique vision out of his subconscious, right onto the human figure, and polishing up the subject to spotless brilliancy.  Prestidigitation.  Even with all of those words, I am not sure if I am capturing the true essence of Ralph Lauren.  Therein lies the challenge.  Perhaps, that, in the end is the true beauty of him.  The mystique of him.  Ralph Lauren is an experience.  One that you or I want to "live" in.  He makes us feel the sensuality of our being.  That part of us that hearkens back to Bohemian nature.  Aah, yes.  I think I have it now.  In the feeling, the senses of sight, smell, sound and touch.

I think I will leave it at that, so that I do not tarnish or diminish him with words.  I simply, close my eyes, run my hands over the textures of his palette and "experience" the magic of Ralph LaurenSensual Bohemian.

[Pause.  Slow, deliberate intake of breath...]

Ralph Lauren.  'Nuf said.

All images, text and content copyrighted, 2011, all rights reserved

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mystical Merlin...Made for Valued Patron

Sold to Private Collector
Le Mariage Silk Organza Kimono in Merlin

This lovely silk organza kimono in Merlin just sold to a valued collector who was recently in San Diego on holiday.  She popped into the studio one day last week with an entourage of bubbly family members, and tried Merlin on.  It was a perfect fit.  She has promised to send photos of herself wearing Merlin.  As soon as she does, I will post them here for all of you to enjoy."

As I create each piece or length of yardage, I always keep in mind the final outcome, literally watching for signs of completion.  The cloth "tells me" when it is finished.

I stand back and if the colors and composition look right, then it is done.  I had a graphic design employer ask me once (in reference to a design layout), "Does it look right to your eye?  If it looks right, then it's right.  "If it don't look ain't right!"  (Thanks, Larry.  Great advice.)

Merlin looked right and was made just for my collector.  Each creation always seems to go to the "right" patron.

Sold to Private Collector
Le Mariage Silk Organza Kimono in Merlin
(View from the Back)

And, now for the "flip side" of Merlin...Mmmmm!  Just as good from any angle.  That's what the collector thought, and so do I.  The pattern and colors in this kimono are reminiscent of deep forest greens, brightly colored lichens, twining vines and a little splash of orangey rust; bringing forth images of cool dark "bois" where nature plays a whimsical surprise by adding a splash of color, just to liven up the palette.

I call this dance of dark and light "Mambo #5".  The mambo of cool and warm hues in random (uh-huh) syncopation.  And, yes, that is totally possible.  Just take a look at Merlin, and you will understand what I mean.

Oh yeah.  That's the stuff!

Hope you enjoyed the history of Merlin.  Keep an eye peeled for the photos from my collector.  I am positive she will look RIGHT in her new Merlin Kimono, and wear it for Life.  Uh-Huh!!!

All images, text and content copyrighted, 2011, all rights reserved

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mais, Monique Lhuillier n'est ce pas Chopped Liver, either!

Monique Lhuillier
Ultimate Collection of Designed Wedding Gowns

Hello All,

What is it about wedding gowns that turn otherwise sensible calm women into wet noodles with soft doe eyes?  SIGH-HHHHH.  Looking at this vision of lace and flowers, I just want to reach out my hand and touch it.  "Isn't she Lovely?  Isn't she Beautiful"?  Once again, a familiar melody plays itself out in my subconscious (...thanks, Stevie.  You really hit the nail on the head with that one!)  I have just discovered Monique Lhuillier...magnificent Monique...effusive elaborate Monique...c'est magnifique... MONIQUE LHUILLIER!

White Satin and Crystal Embroidered Wedding Gown
by Monique Lhuillier

Another of Lhuillier's
"Visions in White" reminiscent of snowy mountains and intricately patterned snowflakes in winter.  Just a few of "my favorite things"... "snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes".  White gossamer butterflies nesting together...shavings of white chocolate mounded one on top of another...white images, nothing so lovely as this!  Tres Bon, Monique!

Monique Lhuillier
White Satin Rose Motif Wedding Gown

How do you solve an enigma like Monique Lhuillier?  Answer:  "You Don't"!  You just, simply, sit back and marvel.  Monique Lhuillier, young, gifted and oh, so Filipina French.  Vive la France...vive la femme.  "Vive la Monique Lhuillier"!  Oh, Yeah.

And now for "All the Rest", fashion that is!  Opulent and Grand, Lhuillier, as only Lhuillier can be!

Monique Lhuillier
2011 Spring Dresses Collection

Monique Lhuillier
2012 Spring Dresses Collection

Monique Magnifique!

MONIQUE LHUILLIER...WALK, WALK GIRL!  You have got it "All Going On".

Monique Lhuillier, designer

All images, text and content copyright, 2011, all rights reserved to perspestive owners

Thursday, July 28, 2011

There's No "Thang" like Vera Wang!

Vera Wang, designer

White by Vera Wang
2012 Bridal Collection

Hello All,

This thought has been going around and around in my head for quite some time.  The name of Vera Wang comes as no surprise to any of us fashionistas.  It's just a given when one thinks of fashion, feminine style and simplistic luxury.  A subliminal melody keeps playing in my mind..."Small and white, clean and look happy to greet me".  Though the lyrics of this well-known song are clearly referring to the edelweiss blossom, I can't help but think of Vera Wang when I hear it.  Especially, Vera's exquisite and oh, so feminine Wedding Gown Collections.  "Blossom of snow.... may you bloom and grow, forever.

Vera Wang Spring 2012
Bridal Collection

Was there ever a more perfect usage of cloth and fiber?   Even in Vera's most extravagant gown designs, where every imaginable type of chiffon, lace, tulle and silk has been utilized, billowing out, tucking under, ruching in and folding back upon itself in impossibly unbelievable patterns, there is that ever-present, undeniable sense of "less is more", when more (and, I do mean "much more"...Wow, just look at those ruffles!) is no "less" than Magnificent!
And, so very Vera.

Am I impressed, or what?  "Whoa...Climb down there, cowgirl"!  I have to reign in my Texas style enthusiasm, before I start "Yee Haa-ing" all over the place!  I'm sure that I am not the only cowgirl out there right now shouting, "Hell Yeah"!  It may not be so "lady-like", but it sure is "Right On".

2012 Bridal Collection
Mermaid Wedding Gown

So, as far as my vote goes, Vera Wang is the "Thang" when it comes to Wedding Gown heaven. Oddly, enough, Vera has said that her Wedding Gown Collections were just the "gold" that paved the way for her to do what she really loves...creating her private fashion couture.  Once again, it just goes to show what a "bombshell", Vera Wang really is.  If the wedding collections are her "bread and butter", so to speak, then all of us aspiring designers really need to "step up our game"! 

Vera Wang
2011 Bridal Collection

"And, Which of us can ever forget This?"

As I said,  "There's No Thang like Vera Wang".....XO, XO Vera.  You are an Inspiration...and then Some!

Hold that Inspiration, and I will be back with "Visions of Vera" in a jiff!  The shape of gowns to come, huh Vera?  YEEE-HAAA!

(Well, the photos are in, but I like that last entry so much, that I have decided to leave it in the article....Texans and cowgirls never get enough of the ole "Yee-Haa" enthusiasm.)  See, Vera.  It's all your fault!

Photography: Kevin Sturman for Vera Wang, 2012 Bridal Collection

All images, text and content copyrighted, 2011, all rights reserved to perspective owners

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Shape of Things to Come

                      Chocolate jeweled blouse and skirt, Linda Stokes 2010 Collection
                                                 Model, Von Gretchen Shepard

Hello All,

Just a little peek-a-boo at my "high aspirations" of returning to the glitz...or should I say, the "Ritz"? And, Putting it On! Let's not give up the beauty and glamour of the Silver Screen. Those ladies had it "Going On". And, you can, too.

Coming soon, is my new Pia Zza! Collection of gowns, dresses and wraps of nuno felted featherweight silks, exotic wools and natural fibers. Soft, flowing and billowy visions of fabulous female fashion. Ranging from watered silks reflecting the moods of the ocean to glorious spectral colors combined with ribbons, hand painted textiles and natural wool fleeces.

Faux print dress, Linda Stokes 2010 Collection
Model, Von Gretchen Shepard

So keep an eye peeled, and your "DeMille Closeup" attitude close at hand. A fantastic new Pia Zza! OOAK original is coming just for you. You Girls are all OOAK and originals. So be FIERCE and glamorous. We are waiting for you at the "Ritz"!

Champagne sequined gown, Linda Stokes 2010 Collection
Model, Von Gretchen Shepard

Photography by Michael Stokes, copyright 2010, of Linda Stokes, designer

All images, text and content copyrighted, 2011, all rights reserved

Friday, May 20, 2011

Organza and I ... "Sway Me, Now"!

Artist's Private Collection
Le Mariage Silk Organza Kimono in Azul Backsplash
(Seagulls in flight with backsplash motif)

Hello All,

Don't you just love the floaty feel of sheer organza to "step out on the town" in?  I sure do.  I just can't help hearing that sultry voice of Nicole Scherzinger crooning, "Sway me...sway me.  Sway me, now".  Aw, yeah ...That's the Stuff!  And, even more titillating is the coming of my new summer coats, tunics and vests featuring lightweight silks and cottons in combination with some other amazing natural fibers.  Just you wait and see! 

Floating about in one of my coats, you will be the "talk of the town", and all your friends will, simply, be "...Pea Green with Envy"!  Isn't that right, Scarlet?  "Fiddle dee dee, Girls".  Wear it, wear it ...Own It!

Presenting, "Water Sprite" by Pia Zza!  Experience the Eternal Flow of Elemental Water...Water inspired silk and layered organic couture for the free spirited femme in us all.  See you at the studio.  Studio 32 in Spanish Village Art Center, that is!

"Sway me...sway me.   Sway me, now."  (fade to you on the town...)

Feeling free form felt forged by feminine hands.  "Felting with feeling"...Fabulous!

All images, text and content copyrighted, 2011, all rights reserved

Friday, April 15, 2011

Persephone..."Spring is Busting Out All Over"!

Shhhh!  Can you hear that?

It is the quiet push of Springtime...a gentle stretch...the infinite soft sound of sound without static or strain.  A bird warbles, a gentle yet cool breeze floats about on zephyr wings, a gossamer dragonfly flutters nearby, and the sun shines down with the amazing warmth that we all look forward to this time of year.  Pale green and bright yellow buds and leaves push their delicate arms through a thin veil of remaining snow, instinctively migrating toward the sky and powdery clouds that drift by overhead.  I lift my face, upturned, to the welcome gift of Spring, and am drawn to its renewal and promise of rebirth, as was Persephone in Greek mythology.

Persephone steps from the underworld, and places her lovely foot upon the newly replenished ground, and as she walks, surely, "Spring is, suddenly, Busting out all over"!   I loved this Greek tale of rebirth in the spring when I first read it in high school, and it recurs in my memory each spring.  After its winter hibernation, nature awakens and bursts forth once more with color, sound and texture for our delight.  Warming and enticing us with the promise of summer.

This is the inspiration for my new line of felted boas and accessories from Pia Zza!  Yarns, handpainted fabrics, ribbons and various wool fibers are mixed together in a glorious medley to simulate springtime and the influence of Persephone upon the season's change and nature's abundance.  Inspired by this theme, I had originally named my new line of felted boas, "Confetti" because the wool, ribbons and fibers combined in such a way as to give the viewer the impression of confetti raining down in celebration and "joie".  My friends and  patrons were delighted with the concept.  As my designs for the scarves and ornaments are constantly growing and evolving, I have decided to rename them "Renew", in honor of Persephone and the renewal that comes with springtime.  They will still be reminiscent of confetti, but so much more.  That is what "joie" does to just grows and grows.  Isn't that right, Persephone?

Oh, this reminds me of an assignment that we had in college in art calligraphy class.  Our beloved instructor, Malcolm Nichols (perfectionist to the hilt), gave us the challenging mid-semester project of composing a completely nonsensical poem of so many lines, and then, scribing it in excruciatingly perfect penmanship. Thanks, Malcolm!

I dug deep down in my creative bag, and came up with this questionable tribute to nature:

While casually crunching my angel cake,
I contemplated a noodle fly
Who sang a whistle
To the ear bursting silence
Of a green squash plant,
And, the ferocious feline fell afloat.

Cassandra Shepard, circa, 1972

Sorry, Persephone, maybe not as brilliant as your paintbrush in Spring, but it was fun writing it.

So, remember everyone, come to the studio and take home one of my new felted boas, wraps or accessories, and each time you wear it you will "Renew, renew...renew". 

Wishing you love and joie for Springtime,

Cassandra Pia

Feeling free form felt forged by feminine hands.  "Felting with feeling"...Fabulous!

All images, text and content copyrighted 2011, all rights reserved

Thursday, March 10, 2011

"A Rose for L. J." (As in, Lynette Jennings)

                                                         Sold to Private Collector
                                                              "A Rose for L. J."
                                                      Faux Batik Painting on Silk

Hello All,

Ah, yes.  "A Rose for L. J."  As in, Lynette Jennings of the Discovery Channel fame.  This painting of a Rose of Sharon was painted by me in July of 2001 during a video demonstration on the Lynette Jennings Design Show, using faux batik techniques and gutta resist.  The segment aired on October 12, 2001.  It can be viewed as Episode 171, "Coronado Beach House".

While on tour in San Diego, Lynette visited my home studio where her film crew taped my demonstration of the technique, as she completed her own version of the same flower.  What with fending off the local bees, who followed the aroma of the beeswax, to explaining the process to Lynette while trying to complete a finished painting in time with the video tape, we had quite a day!

Stay tuned for a recap of our art full and eventful day ... a day in the life of faux batik painting, and the "flight of the honey bees"!

All images, text and content copyrighted, 2011, all rights reserved

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Seamus "On My Shoulders Makes Me Happy"

  Sold to Private Collector
                             Le Mariage Shibori Bolero Jacket in Off the Grid

Hello All,

And, yes.  You did hear me correctly when I said, "Seamus on my shoulders...Makes me Happy"!   Seamus on anyone's shoulders, I assure you, can make you happy.   Seamus (pronounced Shay-mus) is the baby son of my most favorite angora goat, Arlen.  Although, Kathi, his owner, is very close with his fleece, I was able to procure a mini sample of  his locks, and used them, sparingly, along with Arlen's  in my scarves.  Seamus and Arlen are two of many sheep and goats owned by my friend, Kathi Ruiz and her artistic family who live on their ranch in Campo, California.  Kathi and Rose, her oldest daughter, have been members of Spanish Village Art Center for a little over 3 years.  My discovery of Irish Rose yarns and Kathi Ruiz has been a godsend.

Upon seeing it, I immediately fell in love with the rare hand spun yarns that Kathi produces from the wool of her sheep.  I recognized in an instant the myriad possibilities of creating masterpieces with her yarns and fiber.  And let me tell you, I was onto those soft and alluring boucles "like white on rice", if you know what I mean.  In the past 3 or more years, I have collected enough of Kathi's fiber to fill a sack that can rival Santa's bag at its fullest.  I mean, literally, I can climb inside of it and take a nap!  For those of you who would like to know more about Kathi Ruiz's "Irish Rose" yarns and hand knits, please read my blog feature, "Ewe... Just Gotta Spin!" which I posted at: , circa September 10, 2010.  (Click on my "Friends and Favorite Links" list to read the article)

Kathi and Fern at her annual shearing

I have been promising you all that I would get photos of my new line,
Pia Zza!, onto the blog for awhile.  While the creation of my new pieces has been ongoing, and my knowledge of felting is expanding, I have been selling the new creations in my studio almost before I can get them done.  I'll be working overtime to get a few pix on the blog ASAP.  Pia Zza! is an original line of scarves, wraps, hats, garments and accessories that are a combination of hand painted textiles and luxuriously exotic wool and fiber.  In my creative exploration, I search for unusual and uncommon fibers and textiles which give a signature look to my line, and a standout image to the collector...the ultimate woman who can and does, "Express the Elemental" in herself.

This is why Kathi's fiber fell so easily in sync with my ideas.  The natural textures and colors of her products jumpstart my imagination, and I can hardly contain the channels that my mind runs in each time I purchase another bundle of her yarn.  This last week, when I thought I may have seen it all, suddenly there appeared a glorious riot of "black and white" boucle yarn from "Dutch".  I knew I would create something marvelous from this yarn, and I have already decided to call it (You guessed it...), "Double Dutch"!  Yea!

Hold that thought.  I'll be back after a short break.  Got to get to the studio.  I will pick this up in a bit.

Saturday, 2/26/2011  1:30 p.m.

Okay.  I am back and ready to go with Dutch, Tasha, Arlen, Seamus, Fairy, Comet, Delilah, Fern, Gemma, Maggie, Opal, Gandolph, Warlock, Wulfgar, Mystic, Isis, Shaman, Violet, Lola, Daisy, Erie, Ellie, Bear, Callie, Spice, Skye, Bianca, Tristan and Toffee...(I told you... I've been collecting awhile) just to name a few of those lovely "purveyers of flotsam and fleece"!!  Okay, I'm waxing poetic again, but I just can't help it.  These darlings and their lovely fleeces are as individual as my garments, and their fleeces can only be gotten once a season.  I love the novelty of this because it makes each piece that I create as individual and one of a kind as their annual shearing.  So, keep an eye "peeled" for the upcoming array of felted silk and wool wearables.  I promise, you will be "Happy with Seamus on your Shoulders"!   (In my mind's eye, I have seen it.)  Isn't that right, Seamus?

Baaaaaaaaa...aaaaaaaaaaaa!!  (That means, "You betcha!)

Kathi gets a "little love" from Seamus

Self expression is the texture of Life.  Pia Zza!  Express the Elemental in You.

Feeling free form felt forged by feminine hands.  "Felting with feeling"...Fabulous!

All images, text and content copyrighted, 2011, all rights reserved

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Aw...Do It! Just...Do It! Express Yourself!

Aw, Yeah!

Le Mariage Shibori Silk Kimono in Indigo Indie

Are we up this morning, Ladies?  I am, and Dancing through the Day!  Aw, do it...Just do it.  "Express Yourself in Pia Zza! and Le Mariage".  You know it...(da, da da).  You got it...(da, da da).
"Express Yourself"!

What's a day without Dance?  Dance!  Dance!

You got it ... Dull.  So, come on ladies..."Shake your Shimmy" and sing out loud, "Express Yourself"!

Le Mariage Shibori Kimono in Bromeliad

Le Mariage Shibori Kimono in Off the Grid

Le Mariage Shibori Long Vest and Scarf in Autumn Borealis

Artist's Private Collection
Le Mariage Shibori Ruched Collar Ruana in Blue Blazes

Artist's Private Collection
Le Mariage Shibori Silk Kimono in Azul Backsplash

Aw... Do It.  Just...Do It!  Express Yourself!  You know it ... Hop to It!  Express Yourself!

You Go, Girls!   You are Pia Zza! and Le Mariage, that is!

You know it (da, da da)... so, show it (da, da da).
(fade to) ... "Express Yourself"!

Visit  me at my Studio 32 in Spanish Village Art Center
located at 1770 Village Place, San Diego, California.
Studio phone:  (619) 230-0039

Studio is open 7 days a week from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Come on in and, "Express the Elemental in You" in
Pia Zza! and Le Mariage, or take a walk on the "rouge" side
in La Vie Rouge by Pia.

"Beautiful Things are Happening, Everyday"

All images, text and content copyrighted, 2011, all rights reserved

Friday, January 21, 2011

Back to...Mon Idee de Genie

Artist's Private Collection
Le Mariage Shibori Silk Kimono in Bronze/Orchidee Grid
Cassandra Classics Swarovski crystal bracelet
with Sterling Silver bangles

Bonjour, encore!

Well, I'm back to the "beginning" of Le Mariage Shibori Collection, and looking forward (or up, your choice) to the "back" of my Bronze/Orchidee Grid Kimono.  Ha! (And, yes...pun intended). Might I mention that I was very fond of poems, limericks and tongue twisters when I was a little girl.  These are the memories (remember?) that I love.  "There was a crooked man...As I was going to St. Ives...Jack Sprat could eat no fat...wee Willy Winkie...How much wood would a woodchuck chuck?"  You get the picture.

I mentioned before that I debuted the clothing collection in May of 2003.  I had, of course, been working on the idea and the textiles for much longer.   A couple of months before the debut, I attended a fiber art symposium in St. Louis, Minnesota.  It was a wonderful 5 days of total immersion in the art, textile and fiber community.  I met many new artists, spent time with old friends, and was graced with the acquaintance of some very real "icons" in the field.  I had the great honor and fortune to meet Marian Clayden, renowned clothing designer, Yoshiko Wada, author of "Memory on Cloth", and Carter Smith, shibori designer par excellence during the conference.  I was on Cloud Nine, let me tell you.

I met Marian Clayden at the symposium while we were waiting for the shuttle to the airport.  It was the last day, and I was surprised and pleased when Marian introduced herself.  Of course, I knew it was her, and had been holding my enthusiasm in check hoping she would open the conversation.  She talked about her career in the clothing design field as I soaked up every bit of advise. I imagine my face must have appeared stretched beyond human elasticity because my smile felt humongous.  At that moment, I probably could have rivaled the Joker for comedic drama.  I will never forget her parting words, "Move slowly in everything that you do, every decision that you make.  Think about it, and take your time.  Choose your direction wisely.  And, always, be true to your instinct...your inner voice!  I am sure you will find your own path and excel in it".  I get goosebumps remembering.  I have no idea why Marian singled me out and talked to me in such length.  I, simply, am greatly appreciative for such a singular experience and the gift of Marian's words.

On the first day at the symposium, after a grand tour of the art scene in St. Louis, we all gathered at a local gallery for the opening reception.  The temperature was high and the humidity was higher!  Hoping for a cooler spot, I decided to tour the lower floor of the gallery expecting a cooler blast from the air conditioning unit.  Alas, it was not to be, so I removed my shibori silk jacket and draped it over my arm.  Sipping on a citrus punch and trying not to perspire too much, I felt a small tug on my jacket.  Standing in a very tight space among the displays, I carefully turned to see what had caused the tug.  I glanced around at my own eye level, and seeing nothing, swiveled further around to the opposite side when the tug came again.  This time I looked down and came eye to eye with a pair of warm jet black eyes.

The bearer of this visage had been standing further to my left behind me, and so I did not see her on my initial glance.  The petite and intriguing persona, apologetically effused, "Oh, excuse me.  I'm Yoshiko Wada.  But, the cloth.  I was looking at the cloth.  I'm amazed at the pattern and color.  It's so different.  I've never seen anything like it.  It is shibori?  Is it yours"?  Stunned and elated, I beamingly answered, "Yes, and Yes!", as we both broke into laughter.

What a way to kick off the conference.  Yoshiko Wada, no doubt!  I forgot all about the heat.  I almost started to hyperventilate.  These were the icons of the textile field, and here was one of my most admired standing right in front of me complimenting me on my technique!  I know that Ms. Wada spoke to me for some time, but I can't remember much except those first words, and her final parting ones, "I don't know what you are doing, but, whatever it is, keep doing it.  You have got a new and wonderful direction".   Interestingly enough, Marian's words echoed Yoshiko's, though I didn't make the connection at the time.  I was, and still am, ever so grateful for the gift of these two women's vision and encouragement.

I'll be right "back" to the Le Mariage Bronze/Orchidee Grid, and the saga of Mon Idee de Genie depeche mode, n'est ce pas?  D'accord.

Wednesday, 1/26/2011  8:30 a.m.

And, now for Carter Smith.  What does one say about Carter?  Tie-dye artist turned Shibori Master...nee Enigma!  I think that about sums it up.  Carter Smith...enigma.  Anyone in the textile field is familiar with Carter's magnificent use of vibrant color and unparalleled pattern creation.  He is definitely the "standout master" of shibori.  His credits run around the globe and back, and Carter is certainly not shy when it comes to talking about it.  The art of tie-dyeing was learned at "his mother's knee"  from childhood.  But, there is no question that Carter Smith has taken the craft of tie-dye back to its "origin", and realized the art of Shibori as the mother lode.

I knew that Carter would be lecturing at the symposium, and was eager to attend all of his speeches.   The first was on opening night, and I arrived late scooting unnoticed, I hoped, into the back aisle seating.  Well, no such luck.  When I entered, Carter immediately looked up and hesitated for a brief moment in his speech, seeming to look right at me.  Oh, great.  Not at all what I had intended.  He glanced my way several times during the lecture which encouraged me, I must admit.  I left before the last speaker, so I did not, formally, meet Carter that night.

Our next encounter was during a luncheon on the lawn for a meet and greet.  I sat down to chat with my new friends when I realized I did not have a cool drink (remember the humidity), and returned to the buffet.  On the way up the slight hill, I noticed Carter and his son, Noah, approaching the dining area.  As he came abreast of me, his eyes were averted, so I, perkily, said, "Good day, Carter".  He gave a slight start and beamed, "Hello".  Noah nodded and smiled.  I took this as a good sign, and determined to speak with him on the next opportunity.

That opportunity came at his next lecture.  The hall was packed with artists like myself who hung on every word he spoke.  He talked about his history and his tour in Japan, where he was welcomed with open arms.  Finally he began to speak about his technique.  You could have heard a pin drop.  The "aah's, hmm's and swift intakes of air" were palpable in the room.  During questioning, Carter revealed only the fact that he has an amazing "pleating machine that he forces to do things that it was never meant to do".  At the end of the speech, he invited us to come onstage and look at a sample of the pleated white cloth up close.  I stood close to him, hoping for an opportunity to speak, as he talked with another artist explaining the workings of the pleater.  Engrossed in what he was saying and mesmerized by the pleated cloth, to my total surprise, he lifted the long drape of fabric and placed it in my hands.  Incredible!  I hadn't uttered a word.  He smiled inviting me to examine it more closely.  It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen in the world of shibori technique.  I cannot describe it.  It was beyond words.  No, wait...enigma.  Yes, the enigma and mystique of Carter Smith's vision.  Even now, when I try to recall the intricacy of the pattern, it is virtually impossible.  What I remember is that it was one of the most memorable highlights of my experience in the fiber art world.  I have Carter Smith to thank for that.

Today, Carter continues his career and discovery of shibori.  He now offers 3-day retreats at his home and studio in Nahant, Massachusetts,on a lovely island surrounded by swirls of mist.  One can go and learn at the "knee of Carter Smith", so to speak.  Workshops start around $2000.  Hey...give the man his "props".  He has certainly earned it.  To learn "at the knee" of the master is no small thing... nor, is it free.

During the symposium, Carter and I had many "chance" encounters.  Sometimes a small greeting while shopping for books.  Sometimes a simple nod in passing.  After awhile it started to feel like, "...wherever you are...there I shall be".  I'm not sure who was manifesting who.  I would turn, and there he would be catching my gaze.

At the end of the week, embracing and saying goodbye to my new friends in the cafeteria, I was told an unforgettable thing.  One of them said, "Well, Cassandra...(we're all in agreement), you know what we have been saying about you during the conference"?  Surprised, I sort of froze, but managed a smile and said, "No.  What?"  My friend continued,  "We have all been bantering about (the entire week) that you are the closest thing to [the innovation, creativity and color theory of] Carter Smith at the conference".  Incredulous!  Outstanding!  This time I did hyperventilate, mop my brow and had to take several gulps of ice water.

"Okay, Joker.   Move over!"

I floated home in a happy textile haze, and  immediately started planning the debut of Le Mariage Shibori Collection.  I guess "Mon Idee de Genie" had turned out to be just that.

All images, text and content copyrighed, 2011, all rights reserved

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

In the Beginning...Mon Idee de Genie

                                                        Artist's Private Collection
                                Le Mariage Shibori Kimono in Bronze/Orchidee Grid
                                    Crepe de Chine  Handpainted and Batik Dress
                           Logo Ensemble for Le Mariage Shibori Silk Couture, 2002

Bonjour, Tous!

It's Tuesday, Tuesday, as Al Roker would say.  In my last two blogs, I have spoken my mind about getting back to Day One and my own personal creativity, as well as asking patrons for appreciative support of dedicated artists and their individual expressions.  This morning as I sat down to watch Good Morning America with a hot cup of Celestial Seasonings' Acai Mango Zinger, I mulled over a few options for the subject matter of today's blog.  I finally settled on the origin of Le Mariage Shibori Collection, formally introduced in May of 2003.  Many years in the making, I thought I would tell you how it came to be.  This is the story of my Le Mariage Shibori Collection.

I have been a painter since junior high school.  Actually, longer if you count the Smokey the Bear poster contest in elementary school when I was eight.  Loving art, naturally, I carried this love with me through high school and throughout college as a Fine Art major.  My emphasis, at university, was on drawing and painting.  I studied the typical curriculum of art history, drawing, painting and design using the accepted media of pencil, ink, oils and acrylics at that time.

Later, I studied independently, in Mendocino, California with award-winning watercolorist, Ken Michaelsen, as his apprentice using gouache (opaque watercolor) medium.  Gouache is a wondrous medium with its creamy consistency and it's invaluable property of reworking the surface as one progresses.  It was a match "made in heaven", and a saviour for an artist who likes "slow art".  A slow approach where I stay connected to the medium in a measured process.  Maybe I'll coin a new phrase, "Slow Art".  "I like it...oh, yes. I like it!"

I credit this apprenticeship with my dear friend and mentor, Ken Michaelsen, as the catapult for my entrance as a silk painter and textile artist.  After 10 years of doing wall art as a silk painter, my students cajoled, nagged, begged and quite literally pushed me into the clothing design field.  "All right. All right.  I'll do it.  Just stop with the cacophony"!  So, I studied, researched and manipulated a lot of cloth in the interim.  I locked myself in my studio for one long (and very Hot) summer...whew, three months,  and came up with the idea of combining all I had learned as a traditional painter with batik, resist silk painting and shibori techniques, in order to create a cloth with its own unique signature.  Mine.   I dubbed this cloth/technique, "Le Mariage" ... the marriage of textile and techniques.  Voila.  The birth of my Le Mariage Shibori Silk Couture Collection.  Oh, tres bon!

Okay, I had the concept.  I was discovering the cloth along the way.  Now, I needed to introduce the clothing line to the world.  So, what would be the title for the debut?  This answer was provided by my former French instructor, David Milroy (an Irishmen, no doubt).  Go figure!  When I called him and told him what I wanted, David reminded me that English does not always translate exactly into French.  I was positive that I wanted a reference to brushstrokes in the title.  I wanted something like "stroke of genius", sort of a double entendre or, "epiphany".  Ever the teacher, David explained that the translation might not sound title worthy.  We finally settled on the title of, "Mon Idee de Genie", my genius idea.  Merci, David, merci.  (I apologize to tous mon amis francais for the absence of the accent marks in the title.  They are not on my keypad.  Pardone moi.)

Will be back after a short writer's break.  C'est bon, mon amis?  D'accord.

All images, text and content copyrighted, 2011, all rights reserved

Friday, January 14, 2011

Hey, Did you Ever ... Read a Book?

                                                        Sold to Private Collector
                                        Le Mariage Shibori Silk Wrap in Woodbine

Hello again,

Really, did it ever occur to some to just "read a book"?  It is the oddest thing, not experienced only by myself, that there are thousands upon thousands of gifted and dedicated artists throughout the world that are set upon by commercial and altogether uninspired individuals, to volunteer up their very souls when it comes to their own artistic creations.  Surely, these individuals can simply, "read a book", or take a workshop on any art process that they find an  interest in.  With the advent of the worldwide web, there exist magnums of information on the Internet, for anyone who will just look it up.  It is the best "encyclopedia" in the world.  Perhaps, sadly, the joy for some is in the taking, and not in the learning and growth of their skills through their own hard work.  If this is so, then they have missed, entirely, the whole point of artistic creation.  But, then again, perhaps, that is really the point.

Recently, this same sentiment was shared with me by another extremely talented fiber artist who is exceptional in her concept and designs.  I would like to semi-quote her as saying, " is not the material, type of wool or fiber that is used by an artist [in the process], which creates the magic [of a piece], is it?  The magic [really] is in the hand (and heart) of the artist and the mind of the creator".  I will leave her anonymous, but she summed it up perfectly.  To wait upon another to create magic, and then beleaguer them into divulging every minute detail that they have discovered in the learning process, is not the "purest form of  admiration", as some would have us believe.  It is merely, theft.

                                                       Sold to Private Collector
                                     Le Mariage Shibori Silk Kimono in Off the Grid
                                    Cassandra Classics Swarovski crystal bracelet
                                                   with Sterling Silver bangles

So, I sing you Praises...all of you artists who live and love to create the "Magic".  Let your souls remain joyful and your expression remain "yours".  And, I ask of the world, "Revel in the existence of the truly creative.  Recognize and support those artists who have dedicated their lives and passion to their individual creation.  I call upon you to become patrons of the truly creative".  And, please, please, "Don't hang back with the apes.  Man has progressed in the last millennium".  "I thank father thanks mother thanks you, and every living creative soul thanks you."

All images, text and content copyrighted, 2011, all rights reserved
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...