A Short Lesson in Modern French Slang

Bon Chic Bon Genre. Observe the first letter in each word and say them as one word. "Baysaybayzhay." Say that more quickly and there it is, "Baisebeige!" Translated, it refers to people who think they're all that. I am exploring the changing values of world culture and expressing through dress the evolving image of the pillar of our modern society.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


An important aspect of living sustainably is being able to do more with less and space definitely is included with that. I am currently living in a tiny house that was originally built semi-detached from a grand house in 1892. The industrialist who built this house put his science lab on the third floor, so the maid's room and her loo as well as an open first floor plan to accommodate parties were part of his controversial home design plan. This space was enclosed sometime during the mid twentieth century and this is my home today.

I do have a large kitchen as well as the 17' by 35' front room and spacious storage in the basement to share, but I'm trying to find that sweet spot of comfortably living and working in my textile studio and running an e-tail business and gardening in my BathroomFarm conducted inside this room. So far so good, but it can be better. So, that means tiny-fying. Constantly. Like. A. Lot.

Small space living with an eye on profit and productivity certainly adds a new dimension to the process. At this point, there is probably nothing wrong with most of the things I have. Most of that unnecessary fluff is long gone. I do have to keep scrutinizing possessions to determine if they are appropriate to my goals and release them if they are not. Lucky for me, my neighborhood has the best neighborhood yard sale ever and it's coming up soon.

Right now my life is an intricate exercise of sorting, sifting, stumbling knee deep over tubs of stuff, separating the Etsy biz wheat from the yard sale chaff, photographing, editing and listing and there's not much fun stuff to talk about. I enjoy this part because I know that I'm going to wake up on the second Monday of June with a more ordered and focused life.

Intrigued? Visit my neighborhood yard sale during the first full weekend of June every year. Shop 80 acres of yard sale paradise at the Woodruff Place Flea Market this year on June 7th and 8th in Indianapolis, IN. We tithe 10% back to our neighborhood to preserve our historical prettiness. I love to participate in this event because I appreciate the luxury of living in an outstanding historic district. Being able to efficiently declutter allows me to enjoy doing that even more.

Can't wait until June? Shop for vintage textile treasures at my Quality Junk shop on Etsy! This is where textile items that are too fragile or difficult to sell at my yard sale come to find new homes. I named this shop after my own sale at the Woodruff Place Flea Market. Of course, there will be plenty of other textile items for sale on my porch in June. I'll see you there.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Handmade and Vintage Clothing and Textiles

My Baisebeige Studios Shop on Etsy has a swell tagline proclaiming "Handmade and Vintage Clothing and Textiles! I carefully chose those words with flow in a circular nature to to express handmaking by using vintage materials and the changing uses of items made from those materials. I have amassed an impressive collection of vintage clothing, salvaged materials and household items during my entire lifetime. Now, it's time to get busy!  I am going to pack up my act and take my show on the road!

On First Friday, Indianapolis local fashion magazine Pattern in conjunction with AIGA, the professional organization for design, opened The Bindery, a Pop-Up co-working space for fashion design at The Harrison Center for the Arts. From First Friday August to First Friday September, there will be a fully functional fashion design studio available free for any Indianapolis creative to use. I moved to Indianapolis in 1982, and this is the most ambitious fashion project this city has ever seen.

It's a call to action for our design community and depending how the community responds to this opportunity, may be the first baby step toward having a local fashion incubator. They didn't have to tell me twice! I cleared the decks and organized the stash. Although, as a fashion artist and upcycler, I exist on the fringes of fashion, the possibility of building a local fashion industry matters very much to me. Local business makes sustainable economies and empowers all of us. In the very least, I will have fun with doing my part in improving local culture and business and make swell new friends in the process.

It may sound like a hassle to pack up my work and commute to a new workspace, but the possibilities are truly unlimited. I visited the space to acclimate myself to the equipment and resources today. One of my projects now is to make vintage clothing and lingerie relevant for these modern times. It seems like this space is perfectly appointed for my needs. This Victorian s-curve torso could be just the thing for draping beautiful bustles. I have been to The Bindery promised land and am pleased.

I am going to savor the opportunity to participate in the community. The finale of the project on First Friday September 6th is a Pop-Up Shop of our products and a prime opportunity to discuss works with the public.

Watch for frequent updates as this opportunity unfolds. We're making business history in Indianapolis and creating a better economic future. This is an exciting story to tell.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Shop Cleaning and Halloween-ing!

Yay! October!

Sometimes I think October is the beginning of my year as opposed to January, which is fine with me. I like riding the wave of the change in the season and the glitz and the glam of Halloween crafting and costume making adds sparkle to my attitude as well as twinkle to the floor of my studio. The renewed energy inspires me to plan and expand my work.

I am very happy for my source of new old stock vintage masks. Being able to sew beads onto the surface of the masks, makes a much more beautiful product and I have added a few new items crafted in this manner to my Etsy shop inventory. But, as I always say, "out with the old and in with the new"! Therefore, I have added some of the plastic masks decorated with glued decorations to my new clearance section.

Also in my shop clearance section are discontinued rag knit items. Most of the fun for me in the creation of rag knits is making the fiber to knit. The direction the rag knits is headed is toward items that include more hand dyed elements to enhance the upcycled fibers or to be made completely from dyed fabric and fiber. I also am changing the style of the cowl to be more like a small capelet with a closure at the neck. My fingers are crossed that buttons made from drilled beach stones will work perfectly for them.

That "out with the old and in with the new" is also in action in my own personal inventory of my lifetime collection of very cool and useful things. I have added new items to my studio destash shop named for my annual sale, Quality Junk. This shop is the end-of-the-road for items that I'm sure I'm never going to use myself. I have a serious weakness for interesting vintage textiles and need to be firm with myself about getting too overloaded with my acquisitions!

Why am I ambitiously cleaning things out? Baisebeige Studios has a plan for expansion! I am going to expand my space in this interesting old house. My work frequently spills out of my room so I am going to make my takeover of that space official in November.

Halloween is calling me back to work now. Stay tuned for more news on this year's merriment and the changes in my studio!

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Few Alterations to Rock and Roll History

Today is Global Beatles Day and I have a tiny tale of my own related to this celebration of modern culture influenced by the Fab Four. Meet my friend Faith Cohen. We go way back to the good old days of punk rock except she was talking more about The Beatles then. Time has passed and she is making bigger noise about The Beatles now. She's the creator of Global Beatles Day! She lives it, breathes it, sleeps it. ... And now she wants to wear it out on Saturday night!

This jacket is a genuine artifact of rock and roll history. It was previously owned by Pattie Boyd who was first married to George Harrison. They met on the set of A Hard Day's Night in which Pattie appeared as an extra in the film. Pattie was a model for Mary Quant and is credited with creating the definitive "London Look" that was perpetuated by Twiggy in later years. After Brian Epstein gave the Beatle his permission to marry her, she accompanied him to the Maharishi's ashram in India. She inspired The Beatles song "Something". And, yes, that is Pattie Boyd in the video at the link. After her subsequent marriage to Eric Clapton, and being the inspiration for his rock classic "Layla", Pattie Boyd became known to be "The Greatest Rock Muse" ever.

The jacket itself has a pop culture connection. It was made by Kings Road designer Nigel Preston for his fashion line branded Maxfield Parrish. He was well known for colorful leather and suede clothing and was popular with rock stars in the mid-1970s going forward. Although Mr. Preston is no longer living, his brand is still in production.

So why doesn't Faith look very happy in the picture above? Maybe it's because she is swimming in the garment and something must be done! Lucky for her she knows me and Baisebeige Studios is the home of the Gonzo Alteration. It was no problem to take the jacket apart, raise the shoulder line, take in the torso, take in the sleeves and shorten the sleeves while preserving the original intention of the maker's design lines. And, it doesn't hurt at all that I completely "get it" and understand the whole story attached to this article of clothing.

The surgery was a complete success and Pattie Boyd's jacket fits exactly like Faith Cohen's jacket should fit. It's so true that the culture of The Beatles is being passed forward through time. This little wearable snippet of history has many more years of fashion fun ahead of it. I think a much happier Faith agrees and is drinking to that!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I Ran Away to Chicago to Seek My Fortune

My trip was efficient and comfortable and even greener than expected. The vehicles
are engineered for optimum fuel efficiency. During my next trip, I'll remember to take my netbook and adapter because each seat has an electrical outlet and there is WiFi! The bus schedules between Indianapolis to Chicago are convenient for short visits or a full day of business.

The Merchandise Mart is an impressive structure built by Marshall Field at the peak of the pandemonium of the Great Depression to make it easier for the makers of goods to reach
a wider market. It's two city blocks long and has an annex that was designed to be an apparel market. In the 1980's that was packed full of glam and glitz. Since that time Chicago has gone through many changes and so has the building. Chicago is the greenest city in America and the Merchandise Mart itself is the biggest LEED certified existing building in the whole world. That's good green karma!

So I went to work cooking color and researching the information online about the Merchandise Mart, its shows and its showrooms. It just seemed odd that there was just one floor exclusively apparel showrooms. My original plan was to take samples on the day of my trip but my gut told me to check out the situation first. I noticed when the building became LEED certified there was a Green StyleMax show. I couldn't find any subsequent sustainable fashion shows.

I was really hoping to find showrooms that deal exclusively with sustainable design businesses. However, even being America's greenest city is still small
on the grand scale of everything. I've only been able to find 16 retail stores in Chicago with 40% or more green merchandise. and, to be honest, I'd really rather do what I do in my own green way and express my aesthetic and point of view without being too overtly political about it. So I went with an open mind, making
the trip a fact-finding mission instead.

There is no doubt either that green is a way of business life in this building. Every trash can in the hallways had a place to recycle paper, aluminum, plastic and glass. The ultimate badge of greenness was displayed prominently throughout the building. Here it is at the end of the bridge to the Apparel Center!

However, there is absolutely nothing that could have prepared me for what I found on the other side of that doorway. The 13th floor, essentially the only floor of the Apparel Center still devoted to apparel is a ghost town. It is at least 75% vacant. Showrooms still in business have red banners protruding from their doorways indicating occupancy.


I did make some great contacts with the showroom tenants that have survived in this environment without going out of business or moving to less expensive locations. It's too bad that Marshall Field's original concept to make business more efficient didn't work very well in the building using energy more efficiently. There was, however, a real spirit of comradarie and cooperation between these wholesalers of fashion I've never seen before and much more openmindedness about the business of fashion in general.

I do have optimism that I will be able to expand into the Chicago and upper Midwest markets soon. It's going to take a somewhat different approach than what I had anticipated. But, change is good. Not only that. Change is necessary. Guess where the people who couldn't be more flexible and forward-thinking are. Gone.



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Little Dog

I sincerely apologize to my readers for not posting for so long. Three days after my last post, a nothing but fur-and-bones homeless Little Dog approached me for help during the peak of the oppressive heat during the summer. I put many things that were important to me on hold while I helped her deal with her needs which was made increasingly confusing by people who made their own wants a priority. Dealing with homeless animals is an important part of urban green living and more complex than you can ever imagine.

My initial goal of getting the dog out of the yard and into a shelter was achieved. In a weird way. The neighbor who insisted the dog have a home when I told her I wanted to take her to a shelter eventually deceitfully lured the dog into her yard, stuffed her into a crate and dumped her at a shelter after I had found her home, which was the new plan, so I thought. Lucky for Little Dog, though, she has the perfect opportunity to become a "poster dog" capable of attracting donations to the shelter. In Little Dog's YouTube video, you can already see she is ready for her close up! I would not even be surprised to see a family in my own neighborhood adopt her!

I had an opportunity to learn a LOT from Little Dog. She was very timid and mistrustful of people so Elizabeth Wilhelm, Indianapolis Certified Dog Trainer, graciously helped me make a plan to capture the dog which would be the least stressful for this already overly stressed animal. Animal behavior has always interested me, particularly canine behavior. When I was in college. I was lucky to have been near to a compound studying the behavior of wolves in Battleground, IN. Learn more about this amazing place at wolfpark.org.

I also had the pleasure of talking with Beth Duman who is an author and Certified Dog Trainer at the end of this experience. Interestingly, Beth had been associated with Wolf Park from it's earliest days! The conversation did help me feel better and more at peace about the situation. It's a little bit of a struggle still, though, for me to let go of feelings of anger, betrayal and helplessness and replace them with bunches of positive warm fuzzies. Her book about dog training, The Evolution of Charlie Darwin: Partner With Your Dog For Positive Training is available for preview and purchase at the link below. Now all I need is the positive training book for humans .... See, I can still smile.

I know I will feel better and more positive about the circumstances as time passes. Our furry friends who have touched our lives even briefly leave all kinds of goodness with us. I know for certain, as evident in the photo at the top, Little Dog liked my home cooking. Being unwilling to eat factory food myself, I discovered online dog recipes for
more healthful feed options. She's topping off a Sunday brunch of chicken-ric
e-carrot food with peanut butter cookies for canines. There is a definite wag in that tail... But if she had to choose, I'm certain the Bacon Biscuit Yummies were her favorite. ... You can find these recipes at dogtreatrecipes.org.

Post Script:

For National Volunteers Week, Indy Humane posted this wonderful picture of a dog similar in appearance to Little Dog interacting with a volunteer. Although this is not my buddy, no doubt many hours of dedicated work helped her regain trust in humans. Little Dog, now named Macy, has been adopted by a wonderful couple who lives in Michigan and is living large in a forever home! I will never regret helping her when I had the opportunity. It was one of the best experiences of my life. She is the best Little Dog ever.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Knitting Vintage Yarns for Fall

I recently acquired a large amount of vintage craft supplies including vintage hand knitting yarns. It was a trip down memory lane for me because I had just reached my stride as a hand knitter when these yarns were news on the market. So many people are purists about crafting materials, but I have become quite practical in my own knitting experience through the years. When synthetic thermoplastic textile fibers were introduced into the hand knitting market, they were warmly received by knitters. The companies which made them were mostly American owned with manufacturing right here in America. I'm not sure if anyone noticed that fact at the time, but we are certainly noticing the rarity of American knitting yarns now.

There was a lot to love about these yarns beginning that they are durable, resistant to insects and biological (mildew, molds, fungus, etc) pests and allergy ( and itchiness -) free. Crafters embraced the easy care of the items knitted from them starting with no blocking required in the finishing steps of the articles as well as the ability to machine wash and dry the items. These yarns will seriously last forever. Which may be a good thing or not. It's a good thing if we reuse the materials that already exist. It's not good if they find their way to the landfill.

I am a believer in 'practical green'. I think that although these vintage yarns are made from petrochemicals, their attributes make them 'greener' than some of the new ecofriendly fibers that are currently flooding the market many of which are already short-lived. it is also interesting to observe that many of these "green" modern yarns are produced in countries which have very poor human rights policies and practices. This makes them not at all "green" in my opinion.

About 15 years ago, I bought a quantity of modern synthetic craft store yarn and have been recycling it through the years into trend items in my wardrobe. One curious property of the "art of dress" is the wearer's desire to occasionally update style with new
items. By raveling and reknitting, I have been able to add new interest to my wardrobe in a 'zero waste' way. This sweater has had previous lives as an ankle length filet crochet vest and a ribbed pencil skirt. After wearing and washing for years the fiber still looked and behaved as if it were new. This is the recycling end-of-the -road for this yarn. I'm pretty sure after six years of wearing this jacket, it will be one of my favorites forever. I'm also pretty sure it will last as long!

The vintage yarns I acquired have remained
in pristine condition after being stored for many years. They also have some notable label quirkiness about them which I appreciate. When the synthetic yarns came on the market, manufacturers competed with each other trying to find the most exotic combinations possible. These yarns are predominately acrylic, but there are also polyester, polypropylene and olefin fibers in some of them. The labeling on the yarns was also interesting to see. In fact, United States textile fiber product labeling got so out-of-control and confusing, laws were updated to help consumers navigate the new world of fibers. Notice this label has Orlon and Dacron which are confusing trade names for forms of acrylic and polyester, which are generic fiber names now required by the law. It's interesting that the quality of "performance" is noted. I'm still wondering what that means! These yarns have lasted much longer than the store where the were purchased. Eventually, Michaels started acquiring Lee Wards in 1992 and had completely swallowed the chain by 1994.

I knitted a set of swatches to use when designing the clothing and accessories I plan to make for my Etsy shop and to determine how well they interchange for combining into single pieces. Swatches are also very portable when shopping for second hand items to upcycle when finishing the pieces. Most owners will probably NOT ravel the articles and reuse the yarn in the future so I'm going to be clever and design many pieces more artfully that will fit a range of sizes and work with a variety of styles. One of the principles of slow fashion is that style gradually evolves and lasts longer.
The physical nature of having no natural insect or biological enemies will naturally extend the life of the garments. They will also appeal to persons who choose now or may choose in the future to shun animal products. Easy care garments are often favorites in a person's wardrobe and NOT dry cleaning keeps harmful chemicals out of the environment. I hope the
new owners of these items will be as pleased with them as I am with my "button front" sweater pictured above. Consuming less during a person's lifetime - by depending on treasured items with long life - is greener in the long run.