Danielle Solis, stylist at WINDOWWALL Salon

Balayage and the Hand Painting of Hair

I know by now you all have heard the word balayage, but what is it? It is the French technique for hair painting. It is one of the most sought out services in our salon and women love the results. Its look is a modern, chic color that creates depth and dimension giving you a final look that is sun kissed.

The sun-kissed look is here to stay and with many factors going into making it great is getting the perfect long-layered cut to show off your balayage. Balayage is a free hand painting technique that is designed specifically for the client and their hair. The looks can range from being more subtle or dramatic depending on what look you are looking to achieve.

The appeal is a range… It depends if you want more of a punky look or if you want something more sexy, or even more subtle. These are all looks that can be achieved with balayage. Another great factor to Balayage is an economic one. It is great option if a client cannot afford to come in every 4 weeks or wants to visit the salon less frequently. On the downside with balayage, if the color gets overlapped by the stylist, the hair can become severely damaged. So, the right techniques and a properly trained stylist must be taken into the assessment of the desired look.

Balayage is best on natural hair. I personally think it looks best with a beachy texture, a tousled look. With sharper haircuts reflecting precision, I always prefer a stronger hair color technique, something that reflects the shape. Balayage is left more for sexy beach hair looks.

Balayage will dry out your hair more than foils or even a single process color. So, it is important to speak to your stylist about getting the right color shampoo that keeps the color locked in and a conditioner that is hydrating, but will not weigh your look down. A balayage look will last you longer, but this doesn’t mean you should shy away from coming in for your regular toner appointments to keep up with the desired shade. Call WINDOWWALL Salon to set up a consultation with Danielle (left). She is our go-to colorist for Balayage!

xo, Kim

POSTED February 20th 2017
A photograph of a young woman with long wavy blond hair standing outside.

io / io for Windowwall Salon: Fall Artist Laura Burke

In Video Green, author Chris Kraus confesses to a period of loneliness in her life spent online “cruising websites for computer sex [and] driving around the countryside listening to Frank Sinatra Classic Hits and weeping (31).”

These songs cause Kraus to weep, because rather than a series of interchangeable and vapid online encounters, the songs evoke a world that reminisces in the nuances and idiosyncrasies of each lover. “The old Cole Porter songs,” Kraus writes, “evoked a world of specificity, where lovers were remembered for the hats they wore, the way they held a fork, their smile, rather than forgotten through the infinitely exchangeable signifiers of computer sex and porn.”

Laura Burke’s drawings and printmaking work expresses a similar disconnect in desire and experience. In the series of prints currently on view in WINDOWWALL, it is as though Burke is recalling the tiny details remembered of specific lovers and affairs. Each piece is composed of the elements of sex and dating that make up the notion known today as modern-day romance. This work is about the intense encounter, the casual one night stand, or the evening spent alone.

When the figure appears in Burke’s current work, it is always fragmented and solitary, and serves to record specific mannerisms: a tug at a shirt neckline, or a facial twitch. These moments are nested within a catalogue of objects that stand silent witness to each encounter.

Despite the attention to detail, Burke’s current work seems devoid of the syrupy-sentimentality evoked in the songs Kraus mentions. Instead, Burke’s work is executed with a kind of clinical-cool that reads as detached at first glance. Take for instance, “Me, Myself & I” where the topic of masturbation isn’t mute or taboo, but rather matter-of-fact. Yet, there are dead giveaways in this series as well, moments when things seems to splash and spill over. Take for example, the gushing paint swatches above a dried cup-ring stain set directly onto the printmaking paper on “Your Coffee Stain,” or how in the largest piece of the series, the blue triangle of paint bleeds across an intersecting line, rather than sitting contained underneath it.

Then there’s this: a tiny moment where static-electricity from the clear panel protecting the printmaking paper has trapped one lone strand of hair that sits coiled and pressed between the paper and this frame. It’s a detail that’s easy to overlook or pass over as a mistake, but I think it’s a vital key to the work to know that Burke left it there, rather than fight against the natural clinginess of the materials.

Laura Burke is a Portland-based artist and printmaker who received her BFA from Pacific Northwest College of Art. Burke’s work will be on view in the salon this Fall 2016.

io / io is a curatorial project by Debra Woodward that is in collaboration with WINDOWWALL Salon.

POSTED October 9th 2016
A display of artful letterpressed getting cards.

Willowcrest Press Cards by Emma Gaze

From playful to poignant- Willowcrest Press cards are made in a wide range of styles befitting the most casual, to the most sincere reason to drop a line. Hand-pressed in Los Angeles by artist / musician Emma Gaze, the cards reflect her love for materials and process. Made out of a home-studio in Studio City, California, the cards are patiently hand-letterpressed by a vintage press onto lettra card stock, a paper that leaves “a deep impression” for the chosen typeface.

Gaze’s designs create a full spectrum of moods and whims.Take for example, the pressed illustration of a raccoon with “hey” nonchalantly below, or a wolf, mournfully howling, with the phrase “i miss you” to the side. She also features a series of quotes on cards that impart wise words from art, literature, and philosophy, from the minds of Yoko Ono, Virginia Woolf, or Sartre, to name a few.

Each card design seems to come from a playful experimentation and a deep love for collecting various media and materials. This creative process has been influenced by Gaze’s time spent as the drummer for English band, Electrelane. Formally started in 1988, with the multi-talented singer/keyboardist/guitarist Verity Susman, Electrelane remains the only band Gaze ever played in. Gaze describes the band’s dynamic as
“a family- but closer…we grew up together and have a very specific shorthand with each other, and also, we’re quite telepathic with one another…which is very, very useful on stage.”

Electrelane took off at a time that Gaze was still in her early twenties. When the band received a record deal, it meant that she did not have the opportunity to finish her degree at art college, where she was studying photography and design. The pressure to promote and perform with a record label meant that Gaze put other areas of interest on hold in order to focus on music. Gaze refound the space to begin creating letterpress cards during an extended hiatus that Electrelane took, beginning in 2007.

While Electrelane has performed several shows since their unofficial hiatus, the relaxation that comes with not having so much pressure coming with a record deal has meant that playing together has been more joyful and relaxed. “It was just pure fun and love,” Gaze remarks about Electrelane’s recent performances.

Willowcrest Press began during a time that Gaze found herself between her hometown in England, and her wife’s home in Los Angeles. It was in Los Angeles that Gaze found herself spending too much money on cards because of her love of letterpress. “I hadn’t ever seen letterpress cards in England. When I got home I looked for a class, and found an amazing teacher – I learned the basics. After I moved to America I bought a press and just started exploring and testing and making loads of errors, (..) part of what I love about letterpress is that one can always improve.”

A surprise to Gaze, and Willowcrest Press, is how popular her cards featuring quotes have become. “Lately, I’ve been really enjoying pressing the quote cards, and seeing people’s reaction to them. I had initially just done the odd [quote] that I liked, just for myself, not thinking people would actually want to buy them, but I got so many requests, now it seems that [the quote cards] are way more popular than any of the cards with images on them. It’s always funny because my wife says “I like it….but what is it for?” and it’s generally that reaction that turns into the best seller. I just find quotes that resonate with me personally that I would like to be sent, that make me sigh or smile…well, actually, they always have to make me smile, even if they’re sad.”

Gaze currently resides with her wife in Los Angeles. Check out her website to fall in love with her hand-pressed designs at: www.willowcrestpress.com.

POSTED October 9th 2016
Photo of woman with balayage technique on hair in Portland, Oregon.

TO BALAYAGE OR TO FOIL, THAT IS THE QUESTION

I’m sure you, like myself, have been inundated with images of pretty much every celeb or model sporting grown out or softly blended highlights. Typically, this look is achieved with a hair coloring technique that has exploded in recent years in the U.S. called Balayage or Hair Painting. While this technique has been popular in Europe for quite some time, only in the last 4-5 years has it become one of the most asked for services in salons all over the country. If you’re a natural brunette who is looking to achieve soft brown to medium blonde highlights or a natural blonde who is looking to amp up her blonde to the next level, balayage is a great idea!

Because of all the hype around this technique, the traditional foil has taken a backseat. But, i believe with the proper application, you can achieve a very natural/blended or dimensional look. When applying a hand painted technique the hair is typically left in the state in which it falls into gravity, making it challenging to place into a foil. While there are some exceptions to this, for example a corrective scenario, that is typically the case. To incapsulate the hair once it has been painted, it is typically wrapped in plastic, paper or nothing at all, those methods do not seal in heat as well as foil can.

Why do u need heat, you ask? Well, heat is the thing that helps color to process. Without heat, either from the scalp or with a heat source, hair color will not lift as efficiently, potentially not achieving your desired lightness. This is why i plead the case for the foil! With foil highlighting you have a better chance of reaching higher levels of lightness and more predictability when working in corrective situations ie. breaking thru previous all over color. Also, when trying to achieve “cool” toned looks for naturally dark hair, i stay loyal to the foil. To achieve a very natural, blended look with foils, the more the better! If you want a more dimensional look, less foils are typically more suitable.

What about combing the two techniques together to create a soft, yet bold look? Recently, a foiling procedure was introduced called “Babylights”. Babylights are VERY finely woven highlights meant to lighten just a few levels. when doing this you can also incorporate hair painting techniques between the foils, focusing on the mid-lower lengths. By combining these two procedures, you get a very blended soft root color working into something bolder and brighter thru the mid lengths and ends. i find that by combining these 2 methods, you can have the same hair that you’re seeing on the pages of magazines or on the red carpet.

In the quest to go lighter, by seeing a professional colorist, they should be able to assess what technique would be best to achieve you’re hair color dreams.

POSTED September 2nd 2016
Photo of Portland Artist Morgan Reedy

IO / IO for WINDOWWALL SALON: Interview with Artist Morgan Reedy

Born and raised in a small town in South Dakota, artist Morgan Reedy moved to Portland around 15 years ago. Reedy attended Pacific Northwest College of Art for her BFA, slowly finishing the degree to allow time to make a living and travel on the side. Reedy now works under the umbrella of “Reedy’s Hardware,” the namesake of her grandparent’s hardware store, started in Vermillion, South Dakota in 1962. Forty-five years later, Reedy has expanded the concept of the hardware store to include the multitude of ways that she now works as an artist and designer.

Reedy recently answered several questions about her art practice via email. A recent selection of her work, a series of paintings inspired by old surf legends, while be on view in WINDOWWALL Salon during the month of August.

Debra Woodward: What originally brought you to Portland?

Morgan Reedy: Coming from the Midwest, I needed to go somewhere, and the West Coast is where I landed.

Woodward: Has living in Portland influenced your approach to making?

Reedy: For the most part, Portland has provided the time and space to make and live as an artist…although that all feels like it’s changing on the broader spectrum with the rising costs of living and growth in general. But with growth comes new opportunities, and I’ve had the chance to help other creative women open new businesses and launch new projects. I also have an awesome community of friends that look to each other, and their trades [and] talents, to support and encourage new opportunities.

Woodward: Is there a definitive moment in your life that inspired you to become a maker?

Reedy: No real definitive moment…I’ve always been a weirdo. It’s been just the last 5 years that I’ve actually identified as an artist out loud.

Woodward: What is your approach to art and design as a maker?

Reedy: Art is life. I try to bring attention and intention to everything I do. Presence has always been my window into seeing. “Be here now” has long been an ongoing theme of the moment…which has also allowed for an assortment of mediums and subject matter.

Woodward: Are there any particular favorites, as far as inspirations, influences, subject matter, themes, or areas of inquiry in your work?

Reedy: Everything all of the time…the present provides 😉

But a few specifics…Robert Irwin, sign painting, Bob Dylan, Bauhaus, Jamaica in the 1960’s & 70’s, old botanical drawings, and cooking. [As well as] …light and clouds and spacey everyday simplicities. I’ve always had a strong relationship to words, text, and letters- both in their meaning(s) as well as their shape and form. This particular body of work grew legs while I was on holiday in South Africa this past winter. On a big road trip along the coast line, I was getting a cool-combo tour of history (political & social), stories (personal & collective), and geography (surf, swell, weather and plants).

Woodward: What are some other upcoming projects, visions, or collaborations for you?

Reedy: This spring I took Reedy’s Hardware (my creative umbrella where I do all kinds of work…but as a business) above board, and have had some neat projects. I’m doing some work for Libby (of Portland Museum of Modern Art) for her big project (for Houseguest & PICA’s TBA Festival) at Pioneer Courthouse Square in September. I’m excited about some hand lettering, signs & pinstriping projects going into the fall.

For more information about Morgan Reedy’s diverse practice, as well as upcoming projects, check out www.reedyshardware.com.

io / io is a curatorial project in collaboration with WINDOWWALL Salon that celebrates vibrant artists and creatives in the Portland area. If you are interested in submitting work, please contact Coordinator Debra Woodward at the salon by phone or email.

POSTED August 24th 2016
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io / io for WINDOWWALL Salon: Interview with Artist Leif J. Lee

Leif J. Lee, a multi-disciplinary artist currently based in Portland, OR., has been busy. It’s exactly two years to the date since Lee graduated as an MFA from Pacific Northwest College of Art, and since that time, Lee’s studio practice has continued to expand and transverse a wide variety of media. Lee’s current body of work, titled: “Why a queer occult?” coincides with Lee’s practice as part of the Rainmaker Residency. This body of work includes: four drawings, a large scale embroidery piece (hand-dyed by Lee), a short animated film, four photographs, a floor sculpture, a performance, and a zine. Lee recently sat down to discuss this inclusive studio practice, as well as themes in Lee’s current body of work.

Woodward : Your practice includes drawing, performance, sculpture, print, fabric, film, and photography. Would you describe how you begin to choose each material for each project?

Lee: I would say that it always starts from drawing, that drawing is where I begin all my creative process, and often when I’m drawing I’ll be reviewing some of my drawings and certain aspects of [them] will kind of draw response out of me. So sometimes I’ll draw some lines, and then I’ll think: “I really want to get my hands around these lines, so that I can understand them.” So I’ll make clay sculptures out of certain shapes, and turn them into almost game pieces, so that I can turn them around and move them quickly. Other times, the drawings that I’m doing kind of tell me that I need larger pens, or bigger fabric markers or paint brushes or something- to tell me I’m expressing the movement of the line in more detail. Other times, the drawings I feel are kind of expressing animation or movement, so I’ll then jump into Super 8 film and start trying to animate them. And then there’s times that the drawings that I make – working with the clay sculpture that I made based on drawings – where I realize that the performance of using those sculptures becomes really apparent to me, and so then I will shift the work into performance. And photography, I don’t know that I would call myself a photographer, but now with iPhones, we’re all photographers, so in that case I would say I am, because I am always taking pictures of the work – I’ll cut up the photos, or I’ll enhance them, or I’ll zoom in on certain pieces, and I can do that really quickly with the phone. And sometimes the photos end up being the work, and sometimes the photos lead me to other drawings.

Would you please discuss some of the current themes in your work “Why a queer occult?”

I think that’s the most exciting piece about it for me. [The work] specifically centers around these specific ideas around occult as something hidden, and how that connects to queer identity. And so I showed in the exhibit a series of drawings that I did that were really private. I did about 50 or 100 of these little drawings and each time I created one of those drawings, it would be after sitting in a period of 20 minute meditation. I did that everyday for a few months leading up to the show. And what I found in those drawings that would immediately follow meditation, was that they were really free from judgments, or free from requirements or outside influence, and it just sort of came from a source within me, I guess, as opposed to being in response to politics or media or trends in the art world, (even though I think some of the work is on trend with some things that I see currently). But what I found in all those little drawings was a theme and repetitive symbols, that started to show the interplay between those symbols, and that to me is connected to this concept of the “hidden” and the “occult.” I see some of the symbols that I drew from my meditations all over, in the Illuminati and [Solomonic] Magic, and just a lot of different “occults” that I see, that I don’t necessarily say that I belong to, but that I see as these universal or collective consciousness of symbols. And so, I’m also just curious as a queer person, “where do queer people fit into a spirituality?” It’s interesting to see other artists that are simultaneously working with these really similar aesthetics – and I’m not attaching too much to that other than seeing it – and I think it’s interesting to see how we affect each other, especially with the internet, and specifically Instagram, and how rapidly connections are made because of that. I think simultaneously that technology is connecting other artists and it’s also connecting these spiritual, hidden ideas. I think that they are affecting each other and their evolution, and I think that we’re evolving very rapidly. And so to counter that with slowing down, and meditation, and actually looking at what is seeping in and what I’m drawing out of me – literally drawing out of me – making that the focus of the work, [ was ] trying to connect to my own sense of spirituality in a time where everything seems available to everyone all the time. What do I tether myself to in all of that? As a queer person asking, when religion specifically was really damaging to me? And yet I still long to find a place where I can feel like I belong or I connect to, and so the place where I find that to be the most welcoming is the occult. For better or worse.

You currently have a studio space as part of the Rainmaker Residency. How has that influenced your practice?

It’s been great [working so large]! I think having Rainmaker’s Gallery as a place where I can sort of expand these ideas into a container, and show them to people, has been really helpful to me and my practice. Otherwise, all that stuff just sits in my studio. It gave me a chance to try all of these ideas and push myself to do my best to show all of it, and then kind of pare down as I go – or edit as I go. Having a space to try out those ideas has been really, really helpful.

Selected works from Leif J. Lee’s past show “Why a queer occult?” will be on view in WINDOWWALL Salon during the month of July, 2016.

io / io is a curatorial project in collaboration with WINDOWWALL Salon that celebrates vibrant artists and creatives in the Portland area. If you are interested in submitting work, please contact Coordinator Debra Woodward at the salon by phone or email.

POSTED June 29th 2016
Photo of Sasha Davies of Cyril's

WOMENSPEAK NO. 7 SASHA DAVIES

Last week, I explored the wonderful world of cheese through the eyes of Sasha Davies of Cyril’s & Clay Pigeon Winery in Southeast Portland. I was so excited to visit her restaurant, because I have always been a glutton for cheese. While tasting the earthy landscape of a French goat variety, I listened with pleasure as Sasha shared her knowledge of all things cheese and her life as a cheesemonger.

Sasha began working in cheese after seven years as a project manager in financial services. She wound up getting a job at a cheese center in New York City on the outskirts of Hell’s Kitchen.

“They were importing cheese from around the world––caring for it, aging it, and selling it,” she says. It was there that she began an internship in affinage. “When I accepted the position I had no idea what affinage was, but I wasn’t going to tell anyone that.” Affinage is the French word for aging cheese. She worked in what the center called cheese caves, which incubate the cheeses, and was swept away by the process. She says she loves that by making slight alterations to a fairly “basic” recipe, thousands of radically different tasting cheeses can evolve.

After that first year of discovery, Sasha was still unsure of the road ahead of her. She wondered if she could get the general public to share her passion for artisanal cheese. With a love for radio journalism and storytelling, she set out to create a podcast, “Cheese By Hand.” Roaming across the country interviewing farmers and cheesemongers, she spent hours reporting their stories.

Originally from California, she started to miss the West Coast. With Portland’s proximity to grapes, and Sasha’s husband dreaming of winemaking, the two of them decided to pack up, and move west.

In an industry dominated by men, Cyril’s is a breath of fresh air in kitchen culture. The first kitchen she experienced was akin to a fraternity house. “I wasn’t sure I could handle all that testosterone,” she says. “I didn’t want to have to act like a man to be successful in the kitchen.” Femininity shouldn’t be a crime, Sasha adds, the focus should be on the food.

Kitchen work, actually never really appealed to her. “I never thought I would work in a kitchen, let alone run one,,” she says. But in the end, her love for food trumped all, and the result is a restaurant infused with Sasha’s creativity, love, and passion.

When asked if she likes making cheese, Sasha laughs, “I am much more Ramona Quimby, than Martha Stewart. You can make edible cheese no problem, but good cheese is really hard. It is so much more meticulous than you would think.”

The comparison between herself and the fictional character made popular in the series of novels authored by Beverly Cleary, is apropos. Ramona, a rambunctious girl with tousled hair, a curious nature and a strong imagination, stares back at me through Sasha’s eyes. It’s this curiosity and sense of wonder when it comes to food that inspires her menu.

Cyril’s & Clay Pigeon Winery is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday. This summer they will be releasing five new wines, and will host a summer concert series.

WOMENSPEAK IS A BLOG PUBLISHED PERIODICALLY ON THE WINDOWWALL WEBSITE. IT’S AUTHOR, DANIELLE SOLIS, IS A HAIR STYLIST AND WRITER.

POSTED May 14th 2016
Photo of cutting bangs at home

How to Cut your Bangs at Home

There are many different styles of bangs and I personally love them all. Sometimes just adding a little hair in the right areas around the face can change your entire look. And yes, I know the next question… What about growing them back? As stylists, we get asked this several times a day. When working with a well-trained stylist, they can help you grow your fringe out effortlessly. It’s a love/hate relationship with fringe, but I say, I always love it more. Also most high end salons will offer one complimentary bang trim in between visits, but sometimes a girl just needs a quick snip before a night out.

Now most importantly, I wouldn’t recommend this at home if you currently do not have a fringe. The reason for this is what we into account when creating the perfect fringe for you. A highly trained stylist will create balance through head shape, length and width of face.

What you will need:
-A nice comb with fine teeth.
-A sharp pair of hair cutting shears (not kitchen shears!!)
-A few hair clips.

1. First, start by pulling all of your hair back into a tight ponytail, leaving out the bang section. Make sure this hair is clean and dry. Dirty hair is too hard to cut and it’s too hard for a beginner at home.

2. Make sure you stay true to the section that has been created by a professional. Next, split the section in half. Clip the top part of the section back.

3. Now here comes the hard part. Comb with the fine teeth only the part of hair that falls between eyebrows. Determine the desired length and err on the longer side. Use your scissors and cut point-up into the section of hair and with a slight angle.

4. Next, comb the next section down and place between pointer and middle finger. You will start to angle down towards the corner of the eye. Point cut the hair you are holding using the same angle and cutting only into 1/2 of the perimeter.

5. Now, onto the right side, this is optimally where it is the most challenging. My advice, start at the bottom and work up to the hair that you cut between the brows. Comb with the fine teeth again, point cut utilizing the same angle of the previous side. Softly connect the right side to middle brow section.

6. After this has been done and both sides match, continue on by dropping all of the bang section over the hair. Comb and make sure the hair is laying where you want it to. The next rule, where you cut it is where you want it to be.

7. Repeat all of the steps with the hair that is laying on top of what you have previously cut. Blow out any loose hairs and hit with a soft hairspray. Primp Workable Spray from Arrojo is my personal favorite.

xo, Kim

POSTED April 18th 2016
wwrender2

Brunettes

Shimmering brunette hair is a classic favorite. There are many ways to get this look. Sometimes we need gray coverage, more dimension, or several tones of a level of brown that make it feel more natural and show more depth. I have noticed a high demand for cool toned browns that cancel red and brassy hues.

I have had new clients who have tried to find the perfect brown shade, or it is always going too red, too brassy, or just not rich enough. Autumn and winter are the perfect time for rich and reflective brunette tones. Shades like jade brown, rich cocoa, espresso, and matte golden brown have been a favorite this season. I have found the perfect reflective warm and cool brunette tones for these looks.

The most important thing with this color is to cancel unwanted brass or flatness, and dullness. When this color is reflected it looks shiny and bright without having any washed out pigments. The right shades bring out the best skin tones that will keep us looking fresh and glowing during the colder months. My favorite examples of this are cool espresso and a coffee/chocolate brunette.

Lindsey came in with her natural roots grown out a few inches so she wanted some gray coverage. She also needed to cancel the red and brassy mid-to-ends, and over-processed breaking ends. There were around 3 different shades of brass, red, and brown. We trimmed the ends, reshaped her layers, and that gave us a healthy head of hair to work with. We did Goldwell TopChic on the roots and Colorance on the mids to ends. This brought us one level darker, using the depth of the cool ash tone to create a rich almost slate-espresso brunette. The ash reflects the most when the light hits it, rather than looking red or brassy in different kinds of room lighting. We did an Olaplex treatment to further repair Lindsay’s hair, and finished with a Phytokeratine mask and leave-in heat protector spray.

Amanda wanted to go darker to a rich chocolate brunette. Rather than reds, this medium brown has some gold tones in it. She wanted a bob with bangs as well, so we did that before the color, but there were also some hightlights left. She wasn’t sure she wanted to be dark forever, maybe just for winter, so we did a semi-permanent Goldwell Colorance gloss. This gave us great dimension with the ends having some existing highlights. The slight gold tones look so shiny and the light reflects a balanced all over coffee/dark chocolate colored brunette.

I used a similar formula for my client who wanted a tint back from blonde balayage she had previously, and wanted a rich and soft warm brown. We were able to do a semi permanent with Cover Plus by Goldwell, that is long lasting for the colder season, but can gradually transition back to lighter shades for summer.

xo, WW

POSTED February 10th 2016
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WOMENSPEAK No. 6 Critter Pierce

Critter Pierce is the lead costume designer of the TNT network show The Librarians, which first aired in 2014.

We chatted recently in a Portland coffee house––

Pierce’s enthusiasm for her craft is magnetic. Having navigated herself across the television and film industry for the past 15 years, she has a lot to be proud of. She laughs when I compliment her, and tells me about The Librarians recent wrap on Season 2. “The first season, we were just getting to know all of the characters, and developing them, and in the second season, I was able to dive deeper and create more dimension within the characters. It was a really collaborative and rewarding season for the cast and crew.”

Growing up in Miami, Fla., Pierce taught herself to sew at an early age. She created outfits for her dolls, and experimented on an old sewing machine that had been gifted to her mother as a wedding present. Later, she would sew dresses for her high school formals––going to a college prep school ensured that there were many. “There weren’t very many liberal arts classes offered, but there was Home-Ec––we of course had to learn to cook and sew.”

It wasn’t until a co-worker suggested that she try out costume design that she made the decision to enroll in the theater department at the University of Florida. “You would think that fashion design and costume design go hand-in-hand, but they don’t. Costume design, for me, is an entirely different thing.”

As Critter fidgets with the bangles on her arms and takes another sip of coffee, I listen to her explain her design process, and how she dives into the characters she develops. She not only looks at what clothing says about a person, but how that clothing embodies their personality and nature. Critter pauses for a moment, after I ask about her favorite part of the design process, and then breaks into a wide grin. “I am especially interested in how a person wears their clothes, and how they are worn in. Like a hat that you can tell is worn everyday, as well as how it is worn. If you look closely you can tell where it is taken on and off, because of the oil spot left from the fingers. I like to pay attention to the sweat rings that may be on the brim, and the grime that might be built up—the aging of clothing, or aging in general.” She looks around and points out a wall in the distance, and the patina built up from years of wear and tear.

Her attention to detail is remarkable. I can feel my own perspective on clothing changing almost instantaneously. All the sudden, I, too, notice the faded fedora, and not just for what it is, or who is wearing it, but the details of its wear.  I look at what Critter is wearing. The colors are bright; her skirt is bouncy and her jewelry bold. I ask her about her personal style, and she doesn’t hesitate to say, “I try not to take anything too seriously, and to be really playful with my clothing. I really like things that make noise so that I can hear my own movement. Like, if I have buckles on my shoes and they are a little loose, and you can hear them jingle with every step, I love that.”

The safety pin in her ear and her pink nail polish juxtapose old-school punk with girly tradition. I look down at my nails and I have the sudden urge to chip the polish, and cut my hair.  Critter’s unabashed style has me wondering if I have been suppressing my true self these past 10 years. After a few more minutes discussing Portland fashion, and watching passers-by, we say our goodbyes.

A week later, I pick up the photos I took at our meeting. Upon glancing at the negatives, I again grow nostalgic. I realize that this feeling, this je ne sais quoi moment, is due to Critter. Completely unassuming and transparently passionate, she pours life into everyday fashion, and creates costumes that tell a story.

I put down the photos, put on my headphones and blast the Ramones.

Womenspeak is a blog published periodically on the Windowwall website. It’s author, Danielle Solis, is a hair stylist and writer.

POSTED December 17th 2015