NOLA Noteworthy

A random roundup of my personal picks of the best from local blogs and other NOLA-related news.

In Treme news, in response to the last episode, Sam Jasper at the Back of Town blog has written a beautiful and thoughtful post about the culture and tradition of  place and the inevitability of change, “It Just Don’t Smell Right Up In Here”.  Big Chief Albert Lambreaux is showing more of his cantankerous side while in New York recording Indian chants for a proposed record release. The title of the post comes directly from Big Chief’s mouth. Sam writes in part,

“His son has come around to the tradition in his way, but it’s not Albert’s way, and that’s mortality hitting ya in the face. Not just his own, but possibly the old ways, the culture he is so totally self-identified with and by. I know many elderly Native Americans who are terrified that their grandchildren won’t know any of the songs, traditions, creation stories, or medicine ways. In fact, several years ago, I believe it was the Shawnee who were given back sacred objects that had been held at the Smithsonian for a very long time. They let the Smithsonian keep them because no one alive knew what to do with them anymore.”

As an aside,in an earlier thread, Sam talked about the character Aunt MiMi, commenting as how she wanted to be Aunt MiMi. Huh. I’m acquainted with Sam and have heard a few of her stories. I think Aunt MiMi would be thrilled to be her. Sam is one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. She’s a born teacher and storyteller who shares her knowledge and life experiences with an open heart, bypassing the need to instruct. I highly recommend her personal blog, NOLA Slate, although she doesn’t post nearly enough to feed this starving reader. (Check out this amazing post.)

Former mayor Ray Nagin released his self-published Katrina memoir last week resulting in a frenzy of blog posts, opinions, tweets and grumblings all over town. The best thing I’ve read hands-down is Michael Homan’s post, “Pharaoh Nagin”. No spoilers here – you must go read it.

Local indie designer Kerry Fitts was featured in the Times-Picayune last Thursday. (Sorry I don’t have a link.) After the earthquake in Japan Kerry allocated a portion of her sales from her Etsy shop to ArkBark, a non-profit group that was rescuing pets left behind in the radiation zone. Shortly thereafter she began exchanging emails about a possible fund-raiser and is traveling to Japan in July to participate in that event. She is donating her original designs for dogs and seeking additional donations from other local crafters. For more info about this amazing woman see my interview with her here.

One of my favorite local blogs is “NOLA Details” where the blogger Carla shares a NOLA-related photo every day. My favorite reoccurring theme on this blog is “Fun Porches” and we surely have plenty of those  here in NOLA so I don’t anticipate she’ll run out of candidates any time soon! Here’s one of  my favorites. Carla has another blog, “Watching NOLA Nature”, described as “Explorations in the urban oasis of New Orleans”. I really like how she zeroes in on the little things that go unnoticed in our every day lives. She reminds us of the wonder of nature and the beauty that is all around us. It’s a great little Zen moment everyday that I really look forward to.

Are you a tweeter? If so, my pick for Tweeter To Follow is @gadboiselensnola for informative up-to-the-minute reports from many of our city services department meetings including the City Council meetings, the City Planning Commission meetings and the Housing and Human Needs Committee meetings (all in the last 12 days!), among many others. Karen has made it so easy for us to keep up with what’s happening it would be a shame not to follow her.

Finally, I want to give a little shout-out to local blog “New Orleans Write Spot” that currently has one of my pieces posted. Susan Prevost (whom I interviewed here) publishes local talent and has the welcome mat out for local writers who are interested in publishing there. It’s a great place to read a bit of poetry and prose and support local talent.

Remember, you can follow us on Twitter and on Delicious to keep up with what we’re talking (also found in the sidebar) about or just wait for here for my random NOLA Noteworthy posts. Take care, y’all.

Update: I just want to add a post on NoLA Rising I read this morning (6/30) about the musical house that’s being created in  Bywater. Internationally known artist Swoon is involved along with many local artists. I recently viewed & photographed a scale model of the house from the street (seen below). Go to ReX’s website to read about it and view the video that details this community-minded event.

And We Have a Winner!

The winner of the French Quarter Bag courtesy of Bayou Salvage is Shercole! Congratulations, Shercole.

In celebration of Kerry’s birthday and our fist giveaway, I’m adding a little lagniappe: a second drawing. Maura is the winner of a NOLAFemmes tee shirt – congrats!

Thanks to Bayou Salvage and all of our participants for a very successful giveaway!

Bayou Salvage & NOLAFemmes Partner For a Giveaway

In Honor of her birthday Bayou Salvage is sponsoring a giveaway!

 

French Market Bag by Bayou Salvage

 

Perfect for a few pounds of this season’s Satusmas, or school books, or pints of gin. Whatever your poison, this bag can handle it. Strong super soft and sturdy 100% repurposed burlap jute blend. Lined in cream or light colored canvas as available and secured with velcro. Measures 14 wide by 16 tall. 19 inch strap. Handmade with care in the city that care forgot. Bayoufabulous!

French Market Bags have:

* Highest quality fabric sourced from eco friendly and/or local purveyors
* Double stitched for strength and durability
* All seams serged to prevent fraying
* Secured with velcro
* Pockets- 2 of them large and roomy!
* Lined in a variety of neutral fabrics as shown. Each is handmade with care and one of a kind
* Dry clean/ spot clean wool & jute totes, machine wash on cool, dry flat for all others.

This gorgeous French Market tote made of burlap and jute can be yours with just a few simple qualifications:

-To enter leave a comment on this post. Winner will be drawn on Tuesday, October 19th.

-For additional entries, follow
this blog (via email subscription option or Networked Blogs option in the sidebar), & mention this Giveaway on your blog or on Twitter, and let me know you did in a separate comment.

-If you already follow me, mention that and I will add an additional entry.

Good luck, everyone!

To learn more about Bayou Salvage read our interview with creator Kerry Fitts.

Femme Fatale Friday: Bayou Salvage

Our Femme Fatale today is Kerry Fitts, creator of the vintage inspired southern gothic designs of Bayou Salvage. All of the materials in her designs are either vintage,commercial salvage or eco-friendly newer materials sourced in the USA and she’s been featured in an array of media including Mother Jones Magazine,Southern Flourish,Readymade Mag and New Orleans Homes & Gardens. Kerry is as charitable as she is talented – 10% of her profits go to local causes.

How long have you been making clothing and accessories and what inspired you to choose this craft?

I’ve been making clothes from an early age and started making jewelry in graduate school (UNO FILM) just for fun. It was a great release from schoolwork and first it was like ohh look at all the pretty colors and then after spending so much money on materials and supplies I started to sell them at the first show in town, Bywater Art Market. My first market there was Christmas 2001.After selling out at that show I was addicted!

Is it your full-time occupation?

No- I teach at Delgado Community College as a full time instructor- both are full time passions. I plan to sleep upon retirement.

What is your earliest recollection of design and/or sewing as a passion?

It started with Annie Hall. Not only did I love the movie when it came out but dressing in buttondowns, ties and vests was so much fun in 6th grade. It was like playing a part in a school play but no one knew you were in it. Shortly after my grandmother taught me to sew. We went to the mall and my allowance didnt afford buying all the clothes I wanted. We went to the fabric store and came home to sew. By the weekend I had 5 skirts just like the ones at the mall but better colors. Wish that cute pink and yellow striped dirndl number was still around…

My mother was also a bit of a fabric collector and clothes hound. It was heaven to look through her closets at her pill box suits, Chanel bags and crazy 70s caftans from her travels. You could piece together her mysterious girlhood with an outline of the outfits.

Vintage fashion was very accessible and undervalued in that day. It was nothing to go to Goodwill or Salvation Army and buy gorgeous vintage clothing for just a few dollars. I started buying early and often. At one point I had close to 10 leopard coats. Kinda crazy for the deep south!

Tell us a bit about your creative process. Do you start a project with a beginning, middle and ending in mind or does it evolve as you go?

I am inspired by both materials and nostalgia at the same time. The beginning is amassing fabrics or sample vintage pieces that remind me of a time and place that seems fun to visit or revisit.

Deconstructed pieces take a bit longer to realize. I usually work with a silhouette that works well and then go into the vintage stash to see what will work well with those constraints.

Who’s work has inspired yours?

I have an undergrad degree in creative writing and an MFA in film. Literature and film are a guiding influence. I love dressing characters in my mind from Tennessee Williams’ plays, Flannery O’Connor’s short stories and films by Elia Kazan. I grew up watching Perry Mason and Turner Classic Movies on the sly all night long at home. The only designer I know of to any extent, besides Edith Head, is Coco Chanel because of a school paper on her.

If you find yourself losing interest in a project do you feel guilty and push yourself to finish or set it aside saying, “ah it’s just not meant to be”? Do you have any tips you can share regarding motivation and/or discipline in completing projects?

Some projects just cannot be saved. It is hard to let items go. Over here, seasons dictate the viability of designs. If samples arent completed before the season begins, chances are they will have to wait until next year anyway. It is a good idea to put the project out of site for a while- maybe in a box- and date it. If you do not go looking for the box for over a year, probably best to let it go and dont look back!

Where do you see yourself and your work in 5 years?
I’d love to design costumes for another film-it is really cool to see how wardrobe wraps itself around narrative and character. It would be great to do a few more fashion shows and even a video or two.Collaborating with more fabulous women artists like the pictures shown. I hope to intersect design and story perhaps by fashioning characters into the written page as well…

~ ~ ~

WARNING: Be prepared for a Bayou Salvage addiction when you visit her Etsy shop. I’ve already contracted a serious itch.

Thank you, Kerry, for a delightful chat!

Connect with Bayou Salvage on the web:

Bayou Salvage on Etsy

Bayou Salvage on Twitter

bayousalvage@yahoo.com

Buy Handmade! Buy Recycled! BayouSalvage!


Photos styled,modeled and taken by Janet Antene 2010