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Archives: August 2006

A Fan Contest Not A Costume Competition

ondeck2.jpg This writer’s friend Nicole Lawler aka “The Good Witch of the South Side” won the White Sox Pride of the Game contest Tuesday night at Sox Park. She earned a year’s supply of Pepsi and two tickets behind homeplate on Sept. 19, when she will compete with others for Fan of the Year to possibly win 2007 season tickets. Here’s the backstory on the outfit straight from Nicole:

“I made the skirt with a wide black “V” waistband, so that when worn with the black blouse, it blends in. To drive to the game, I can’t wear the skirt because of the hoops. So I just wear yoga pants underneath and put it on in the parking lot when we get there. Baseball pinstripe fabric is not sold in stores anywhere or online. I had to order a whole bolt from a specialty supplier out east. Then I added the black band with pinwheels, which were all “hand-glittered.” LOL!! Yes, this was super time-consuming. I worked on it all summer, on and off as I had time.”

The easiest part of her ensemble was the glitter- and sequin-encrusted baseball magic wand, she says; the hardest, the World Series trophy crown. “That was tough,” she says. “But I think it turned out very well.”

Nicole says she got picked out for the contest the moment she walked into the ballpark. The audience voted her a winner with their enthusiastic applause after the sixth inning. “It was a whole lot of fun,” she says. “Everyone was looking, of course, and so many people came up to me to take pictures.”

Her plan for Sept. 19th? “I’m going to jazz it up a little more for the 19th,” she says. “I wanted to make a puffy-sleeved top to look more like Glinda, but I didn’t have time. Plus I’m going to add more rhinestones to the top. After all, a good witch can’t sparkle too much!”

We wish the The Good Witch of the South Side lots of good luck!

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Hats Off Or On Depending On How You Feel Today

largerhat830_.jpgThis writer has a small collection of hats. Three or four new contemporary one-of-a-kind designer toppers, several vintage ones, and the rest she has sewn or crocheted herself. So she was quite intrigued by hear about Saturday Night Hat: Quick, Easy Hatmaking for the Downtown Girl written by New York City milliner Eugenia Kim. Here’s what Eugenia’s editor at Potter Craft, Rosy Ngo, had to say in an email interview about the tome, which will be published in December.

UnBeige: What prompted Eugenia to write Saturday Night Hat?
Rosy Ngo (RN): Eugenia felt there was a need in the marketplace for a fun, easy-to-understand hatmaking book. It’s millinery for the masses or “hat design for dummies,” as she says in the introduction to the book.

U: What’s the market like for this kind of book?
RN: I think it is strong. The popularity of sewing is on the rise and there are many people who find personalizing clothing a very gratifying and fun thing to do. We’ve had good success with our t-shirt transformation book 99 Ways to Cut, Sew, Trim & Tie Your T-Shirt into Something Special not only in book stores, but also in places like Urban Outfitters. Making a brand-new hat (or sprucing up an old hat) adds a wallop of a punch to one’s look but doesn’t take a lot of time to achieve.

U: What kind of research did you (or Eugenia) do to determine how successful a book such as Saturday Night Hat might be?
RN: We looked at the popularity of sewing and millinery, both in terms of previous book sales and the health of the overall categories, but really, we fell in love with Eugenia’s vibrant writing style and her awesome hats. A book that can entertain, inspire, and teach new skills will resonate with readers.

U: How will the publisher promote Saturday Night Hat? Do you have any special promotions or events planned for the marketing campaign?
RN: Yes, we plan on getting national print attention with reviews and features in women’s, fashion, sewing, and general crafting magazines, as well as newspapers nationwide. We’ll also be targeting appropriate national TV shows, websites, and blogs. As a successful designer, Eugenia has many strong editorial contacts, so we are working closely with her on publicity. We’ll be sending Eugenia to several markets for local media and events as well.

End of interview. We already know that Eugenia will be making an appearance at Phoebe 45, a Chicago apparel boutique, in December. Perhaps this writer will have a few more hats stitched up by then!

Mr. Peanut’s Birthplace Razed!

830images.jpgIt’s not often we write about Mr. Peanut, the humble but nimble nut with a top hat, spats and white gloves (who we swear tap dances like Fred Astaire when no one’s looking) but when someone tears down his birthplace, darn it, we’re going to spill some black ink telling the tale. Yes, the 1906 Wilkes-Barre, Pa., building where two Italian immigrants, Amedeo Obici and Mario Peruzzi, started the Planters Nuts and Chocolate Co. was demolished Aug. 13 by a developer who wants to build (hold your breath now) a strip mall. You would think he would have the good sense to save the building, which had a vintage sign of Mr. Peanut painted on its side, the kind of billboard you could see from blocks away. Looking at a photo of the now-gone sign here, this particular advertisement looks to our trained eye to have been painted in the 1930s, based on the retro combination of colors and the font graphics.

Developer Marvin Slomowitz apparently thought turning the building into a museum was dumber than stupid. Wilkes-Barr city councilman Jim McCarthy tried to save the building. Here’s what he told Preservation Online:

“There’s a Crayola museum, a Barbie museum, a Zippo museum, and they attract people from California to Pennsylvania. There’s a pencil museum, for god’s sake. And yet, here in Wilkes-Barre,we say, ‘That Mr. Peanut, big deal. So what?’”

Since it’s a little late to save the structure, we just ask one question. Why couldn’t the developer construct his mall within the building? Do a little facadism, we say. And have a museum to Mr. Peanut squeezed somewhere into between the Subway, Foot Locker, and Barnes & Noble.

The Personalization of Everything: What Ever Happened to Being a Faceless Member?


We know we’re being laughed at every time someone receives a check we’ve sent them and they see that we sprung the extra cost of requesting hilarious Garfield-customization, but we don’t care because, lord love us, we think Odie’s adorable and we hate Mondays too! (wink) But that’s neither here nor there, as we’re ready to move into the future after reading Spingwise’s coverage of the future of credit card creation. First on forefront is Garanti Bank’s Flexi Cards, which let you do all that money stuff, changing your interest rate options and all that, but more importantly, they leave the design of the card completely up to you. It’s kinda neat, in a “yeah, I guess that’s kinda neat” way, but it does set a nice precedent for the future of the whole lot of consumer products and services. Because, if you’re like us, you don’t want to live in a world where you can’t put your ugly face on everything you own.

Dotster Hires Nicole Miller, Has to Settle for Bud


An interesting story from both the equally curious worlds of domain registry and fashion, so much so that we read the press release twice to make sure we had it right. Dotster, a web company, has hired big time fashion designer, Nicole Miller, to create uniforms for the Dotster Dots, the women who will show up at trade shows to giggle at morons asking for their phone numbers and pass out free key-chains. But we suppose having Miller at the helm will help save these poor women from the typical uniform of high heels and bikinis (are we radically generalizing here? yes, we are. but it’s our blog and we can do what we want to with it. hmph!). Here’s from Bud, Nicole Miller’s CEO:

“Nicole Miller is delighted to be designated as official fashion designer for the Dotster Dots,” says Bud Konheim, Nicole Miller CEO. “Plus, Dotster’s high value, low cost ‘MyInternet’ program is a perfect fit for young designers and artists who need web presence, but are budget sensitive.”

Bud was later reported to say, “Now excuse me, I’m going to go have dinner. Plus, salad is very good for you, with its healthy variety of low-calorie topping options, delicious dressings to choose from, and it’s perfect for those budget sensitive people who only own a fork.”

Revolving Door: Betsky Comes Back to the States


You see London, you aren’t so special with your Design Museum and your new museum directors. We sometimes get new people coming into our museums too! Such is the case as The Cincinnati Art Museum has announced that it has selected Aaron Betsky as their new director. Beginning in mid-November, the former curator at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art will take the reigns, leaving his current position as director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute, the world’s largest architecture museum. Why’d they pick him? Besides the credentials above, here’s some more of what he’s been up to over the years:

Betsky is a prolific writer and editor with a dozen books and magazines to his credit, from The New York Times to Metropolitan Home. Currently, he is chairman of the International Sculpture Collection in Rotterdam, which manages an important collection of outdoor artwork. Betsky also has served as a visiting professor at major universities across the United States and received honors from the British Institute of Architects and the American Institute of Architects. He holds a bachelor’s degree in the history of arts and letters and a master’s degree in architecture from Yale University. He is a doctoral candidate at the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands.

The Best on the Web in Your Town

Create Magazine has a local edition in a town near you. How cool is that? So if you’re in Arizona, there’s a customized edition slugged ARIZONA in the top corner on the cover with local design news. Ditto Atlanta, the Bay area, Boston, Central Florida, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, etc. The list goes on. We just think that’s so hip, as in perfect ‘cuz who wants to hear the gossip about New York designers when you’re concerned with the competition around the corner? At least we don’t.

Each localized magazine has its own take on the best of the Web in their neck of the woods. For example, in the Chicago version, writer Jennifer Lyng crows about the web sites for the Chicago Transit Authority (we like that public-transportation site because this writer uses it often), Garrett Popcorn (we haven’t checked it out yet, but we’re afraid to because it might make us hungry for kernels of popped corn with extra butter) and uncommon ground (we’re familiar with the this coffee shop although this writer has yet to visit it just yet).

September Must Be Sewing Month

1561588091.01._AA240_SCLZZZZZZZ_V61747179_.jpgIt’s got to be. We can count at least three (yes, three) sewing books coming out the day after Labor Day. There’s Sew Subversive: Down and Dirty DIY for the Fabulous Fashionista by Melissa Rannels, Melissa Alvarado and Hope Meng; Sew U: The Built by Wendy Guide to Making Your Own Wardrobe by apparel designer Wendy Mullin, and In Stitches: More than 25 Simple and Stylish Sewing Projects by Mullin’s quilting counterpart, Amy Butler.

Since they’re all slated to come out Sept. 5, publishers must think once that holiday is over, we’ll collectively be pulling out our Viking Husqvarnas, Berninas, and Elnas for a little machine stitching. Sewing must be what knitting and crochet was a little more than a year ago. The new, hot hobby. What’s particularly fascinating is how cool it is to sew your own garments. Making your own dress? Hah, that hasn’t been popular since the 1970s. Sure, plenty of people have been sewing clothes in the recent years, but now it’s downright trendy, even a bit naughty as one abovementioned book title suggests. We think a large part of it has to do with the widespread popularity of the reality show Project Runway - more art students who want to be fashion designers, according to a recent USA Today article. But if you’re going to be on Project Runway, you need to learn how to use the industrial sewing machine as one contestant learned the hard way. Machines used to crank out t-shirts, blouses and pants by the millions are different mammals from their home equivalents. Now we interrupt this blog to return to wasting our time on Pattern Review.

Pretty Pre-Perestroika Propaganda Art!

01_current_issue_hst.gifHow’s that for some early-afternoon alliteration? However, it’s appropo for the stunning 1930s-era Soviet children’s book illustrations you’ll find inside the cover of the latest Print Magazine. If you’re a sucker for old-timey prints of just about any kind, you’ll want to check out the story about these mostly Red (pun intended) pictures. Since we weren’t able to find an image of one of these engravings online, we uploaded an image of the cover instead. You’ll have to actually read the rag if you want to see these vintage pieces of artwork. Sorry! These Communist pieces of art were initially welcomed during the Depression, then later reviled, according to the article that accompanies the graphics. Now they’re being compiled into a book titled Russian Children’s Books Illustrated 1881-1939 to be published in Moscow. We’d love to have that on our bookshelf!

AARG! The Burger King! It Burns! It Burns!


That was a nice surprise. We were bouncing around on the internet, as we’re prone to do most of the time, when we ran across this new article over at AIGA, “Red and Yellow Kills a Fellow” by an old friend of this writer’s, David Barringer. Hadn’t heard from him for a while, so it was nice to see a familiar name. And per his usual standards, the piece is great. It’s about why in the world companies would use such bright shades of red and yellow, shades that usually indicate exercising great caution in order to save your self from bodily harm, in their very logos. Do yourself a favor, read it, and then go back to Illustrator and ask yourself, “Does this company bake sale announcement really need to scare the bejesus out of people?” Here’s some:

Why do we use red and yellow to alert us to fast food and danger? Red/yellow says, “The food’s good here and pretty cheap, too,” and, out of the other side of its signifying mouth cries, “Watch out! Trouble ahead!”

The National Fire Protection Association uses color-coded warnings in which red indicates flammability, and yellow indicates reactivity. The U.S. Department of Transportation identifies the Pantone colors for its traffic signs, reserving red (187), yellow (116), and orange (152) for the most important cautionary signs. At the same time, hundreds of fast-food joints and cheap eateries rely on the red/yellow/orange combo, their exit-ramp signs blooming from Seattle to Shanghai. If you jumble these signs together, the Toxic Hazards with the Taco Palaces, you’d be unable to distinguish one species from another based on plumage. You’d need words and context.