Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Adventures of DA BONE


I am going to post a fabric - design - work related entry every Wednesday so keep checking back as I relay some of the goings-on of the past year, and get you up-to-date on what can be expected in the coming year.

I was thrilled when Kathy, co-owner and Head Stylist of Michael Miller Fabrics, agreed to allow me to display my new Halloween group APOTHESCARY at Quilt Market in Houston this past fall. It's a nine-piece collection of prints geared for the little mad scientist in all of us, and our junior chemists and pharmacists in the family. The great aspect of the collection (from a merchandising standpoint) is that the group transcends the frightful holiday and individual designs can be placed in other categories. Here's the link to the collection on the Michael Miller Fabrics website:

Also, all of the designs in the
Halloween category are mine, and it's going to get bigger as I have a few more patterns which I am shooting to debut at the Spring Quilt Market in Kansas City this year.

Once I got the okay to proceed, the process of designing my space began. I, at first, wanted to do a mad scientist's lab - stone walls, bubbling beakers, etc. but it just didn't settle with me 100% - there seemed to be something lacking. Then I remembered that MMF had 2-color damask patterns in an array of combos, so I hoped to find one in red-and-black... BINGO! And better yet, there was one in a black ground with a charcoal grey metallic design. This what it!! Suddenly Sweeney Todd meets the Addams Family meets Dark Shadows came to mind and the design of the booth was born.

As a designer I'm always saving pages from magazines that are inspiring, and years ago I came across a project technique in one that took newspaper, formed into the basic shape of a bone, and then was covered in plaster coated gauze bandage (similar to what would be used for a cast). The article also showed a very large bone resting against a wall, and it was then that I knew I was destined to create this dino-sized femur.

So, the process began. I enlisted the help of a couple of my very talented and artistic friends Keri and Penny. What do we use for the inside armature? How to we make it rigid and shippable yet light enough not to be cost prohibitive? Plaster vs. foam? Soon, the answers came to us.

The long portion of the bone would be wire window-screen stuffed with air bladders used for shipping. How big should we make it? I don't know... let's use the entire roll of the screen (approximately 7'.) The ends would be papier-mache balloon shapes, held together with glue and masking tape. The entire structure would be covered with strips of muslin soaked in plaster of paris.


Pre-Production: Paper-mache globes (Penny trying them on for size), roll of wire window screen.

After the center was wrapped with the fabric-and-plaster strips, the ends of the screen were slit and the globes attached to the ends of the bone. Here's Keri who was fearless about making a mess and getting her hands dirty.

The bone, drying, on my design table (the table is 60" long.) Photo taken one morning from outside of the lanai where my office and studio is located. It was finally sealed with gesso and tea-stained to give it an aged appearance.

Fitting the bone in its cardboard casing for shipping. I wrapped it in bubble wrap, and Penny suggested using insulation foam in a can to secure it even further. Brilliant packing idea!

The bone arrived safe and sound in Houston. It was my second piece of checked luggage for the $25.00 luggage fee (it measured 7'3" packed and weighed 25 pounds.) You should have seen the spectacle I caused at the airport checking this in!

Unwrapping the bone at the convention center.

The bone on display in my APOTHESCARY space in the Michael Miller Booth. The black-and-charcoal metallic damask fabric was adhered to the walls using liquid starch. The picture frames display the fabric collection, and strangely enough, most of the props in the booth are things that I own and have collected over the years :/
And thus ends the saga of the 6'9" plaster-of-paris and fabric bone's journey from Haiku, Maui to Houston, Texas. It now lives snuggled in it's packaging in a warehouse in New Jersey.


  1. What fun to be a part of this! Hurray for Bob & his truck -- getting you to the airport with this extra bit of luggage! Aloha, Penny

  2. I could not have done it without you and Bob, and Keri! Thanks for being my friends and supporting me in my madness - sometimes instability pays off! LOL