The Story of My Organic Cotton Tote

When I asked for a Raven + Lily tote for Christmas, I couldn’t have been more excited to receive it as a gift.  I always enjoy having large bags to carry with me, and not for just hauling groceries.  When I lived in Denver, I used to have multiple bags to carry everything I needed for my jobs and was always thrilled when it could fit my lunch as well.  In Chicago, a reusable grocery bag was always necessary to carry coats, jackets and umbrella for the just in case moments walking from the bus stop to work.  That’s why I was excited to see this one from Raven + Lily that is colorful, playful and was durable as well.  Just how much do I admire this tote?  I didn’t think it was possible, but after learning more about it like I have with other accessories, I appreciate it even more. Continue Reading ›

The Story of My Peruvian Scarf

Stumbling upon Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco in Peru after a visit to a local market only seems like yesterday, not the two years that have passed.  I still recall carefully inspecting the bright textiles and beautiful patterns that seemed to be in every direction that I looked.  I had heard of the organization before I visited their store, but hadn’t expected to visit in person any day soon.  Luckily I was wrong and I explored every inch of the small museum and available products.  I had been looking for something to bring home from Peru that would reflect the culture, but nothing had caught my eye and I yearned to find something I knew would be authentic, not another tourist trap or from a store claiming to be fair trade.  After deciding on a scarf of purple and deep reds, I felt proud of my choice, but upon returning home I didn’t seek the opportunity to wear it much.  It can be easy to tuck our travel souvenirs away in favor of clothes we wear all the time, but recently I’m determined to wear this accessory.  Why?  To share the beautiful craftsmanship and history of this scarf.  After all, this was the reason I was careful in selecting it; I wanted to share a piece of Peruvian life. Continue Reading ›

Cultural Appreciation vs. Cultural Appropriation

If there’s one thing I always strive for in my travels, observations of fashion and appreciation of art, it’s discovering and sharing the cultural meaning behind my experiences.  Cultural heritage, as you’ve seen from my previous blogs, is an important aspect of everything I have done in life.  Whether it’s my latest jewelry project, sewing endeavor or world adventure, I’m always seeking the story and meaning behind what I’m doing.  As I’ve been reshaping my blog and focusing more on culture, one concept came across my path that had me thinking about my past actions: cultural appropriation.  What exactly is cultural appropriation?  As it turns out, the question is incredibly difficult to answer.  The clearest definition I had gotten was from About.com: “. . . [C]ultural appropriation typically involves members of a dominant group exploiting the culture of less privileged groups.”  The definition got me thinking: Was my childhood involvement with local Native American groups at Pow-Wows cultural appropriation?  Have the craft projects I’ve featured on my blog been disrespectful to the cultures I gained the skills from?  When was I showing appreciation?  Or was it appropriation?  In order to gain some insights into how to decipher my future actions, here are a few questions I’ve found from other bloggers to help guide me and others when it comes to travel and fashion choices: Continue Reading ›

Native American Heritage at the Natural History Museum of Utah

Like most elementary age children in the United States, I remember learning about my state’s history, main agriculture, state bird and numerous facts about how the state was established.  As I grew up, my memory changed when I made my way to Colorado and all that remained of my Utah knowledge was of beehives, seagulls and pioneers.  All of that changed when I paid a visit to the Natural History Museum of Utah, and began to relive the memories beyond those of my middle school classroom.  Walking outside of the popular and current Gecko exhibit, past the displays of gems and minerals and beyond the exhibits of Utah’s weather, one place in particular called my attention.  A gallery of Native American art, crafts and history welcomed me in and before I knew it I was taken back to my childhood where my dad had taken me to Pow-wows and numerous activities with local tribes in southern Utah.  Many times I had asked my dad, “What happened to the Native Americans after the settlers came in?  Where are they now?”  It’s a difficult question, but this section at the Natural History Museum of Utah gave me a few answers. Continue Reading ›

It’s Just Sewing

I was having a typical conversation about my work with my roommate, discussing my multiple costume jobs and costume shop procedures, when he exclaimed, “It’s Just Sewing!”  This wasn’t the first time I had heard this point of view.  Numerous times people have expressed shock that I was paid for sewing.  How could I be paid for something that is so easy?  Since I know how to sew everything why would I charge money to do something that comes quickly to me and takes virtually no time?  Even though I no longer work as a costumer, after learning how the collapse of Rana Plaza in 2013 killed over 1000 garment workers and injured about 2500, I was hopeful people might see the result of not thinking about how our clothing is made and who makes it.  Although Fashion Revolution Day is upon us, it unfortunately seems that sewing is still regarded with these attitudes: Continue Reading ›