Wednesday, December 24

fabulosa monstrum venatrix


fabulosa monstrum venatrix is a deconstructed ~ reconstructed coat made from wool, with inset panels of cashmere coating and velvet. It has a sculpted shape in front and back - with the back featuring intentional curves and juts ... plus a variety of dots of black velvet oversewn with sprays of black stitching (one on the lapel, one at the back of the neck, one toward the bottom of the back, and see one under the right sleeve). There are some unmatched buttons and button holes that have been cut adrift on one side, as well as one upside-down pocket down toward the hem.

About the tag, it's a bit tough to sort out in the photo, but I made the tag by stitching "secret lentil" in black thread on velvet. It's low contrast and looks super lush in person.

Tuesday, October 14

stoic cocoon vestcoat

I'm irrationally fond of stoicism and notions of self-containment, even when they're obviously flawed concepts and I can see that, and I can see why. It doesn't matter, I still like to feel strong, unflappable, untouchable even - stacked, bundled, separate, with distinct boundaries from the rest of humanity — and I'm drawn to clothes that express that, too — I like being a traveling island or a turtle or a cocoon ... maybe because the artifice-laden realm of style is the exact place to play with such flawed ideas that we are drawn back to, despite evidence, despite knowing better.

So, here is a self-contained stoic cocoon made of black wool. It's a coat-weight vest — made from a mix of thicker machine-fulled boiled wool plus some gorgeous wool coating that has a bit of a lovely sheen to it (the bottom petals are made from this - see the close-ups).  Sewn with black exposed serged thread, no closures, billowy pod shape with graceful waffley-honeycomb panels, and of course, all black.

Available here.

Tuesday, September 30

Survivor's Field Dress from The Aether Wars: manufacturing artifacts

Survivor's Field Dress from The Aether Wars

You made it. You survived the mythical Aether Wars. You are changed forever, and it shows, even if you have no words for it. Few others will understand you now but when you meet the eyes of someone else who was there, you will know each other without speaking. It marks you but it's not a hardening: instead you are annealed — changed, yes, but still flexible.

This piece is part of a path I'm working on that explores the creation of artificial artifacts. I think we are drawn to things with provenance, with history, drawn to things that show use and wear — even when we know the marks are artificial. No, it's not the wear born of authentic use, which can only manifest with the added element of time. But still, the pull toward it is there. The appeal is real.

The Survivor's field dress is made from roughly hand-dyed linen, in an olive green with a burnished look, as if it was made from an overblown tent that has seen a lot of rain and wind. It's trimmed with olive stitching that is over-stitched with khaki thread. The rough red panel that runs down the center is top-stitched with multiple rows of khaki also, and the edges are frayed. Two peplum-ish side panels have layers of khaki and red stitching and raw frayed details that show through to the bottom layer of natural linen.
Survivor's Field Dress from The Aether Wars, detail

Tuesday, August 26

Welcome to the Secret Lentil studio ...

You choke my days,
I'll choke yours.

Wednesday, August 20

hue, saturation

Today I'm wearing a black dress, black leggings, black shoes. That's pretty much what I do every day. When it gets cold I'll add a black sweater. But this is what I'm looking at: lovely lush bold shibori-dyed fun.

I'm making things and my artist-comrade Carmel Nicoletti is dyeing them. Actually, it's kind of hard to stop her. She takes a batch and says she'll get them back to me by the end of the week then the next morning —poof— she's back and they're done and they're lovely.  She's not just great with color, she works with my design details and is thoughtful and thorough ... it's such an easy great collaboration.

Monday, August 11

corinne, in her husk, with century plant

Corinne, in her husk, with Century plant.

Tuesday, August 5

helen's dress

I'm keeping this one.

Wednesday, July 2

Pre-Coffee Collage: Ad Hoc


Thursday, June 19

Sundress Number 38

Sundress Number 38. I like things with numbers on them.

Pre-Coffee Collage Number Three: 3-D Printers

Wednesday, June 18

arms. rubbery. big. sale.

big sale now through saturday.
see the stuff here.
read rambling about it here.
that is all.

Pre-Coffee Collage Number Two: Rackstraw

… perspective is an attempt to standardize the metaphor of the depiction of space. — Rackstraw Downes

Tuesday, June 17

pre-coffee collage Number One: Coleslaw

Monday, June 16

today in the studio ... making marks

cutting table, Secret Lentil studio, June 16 2014

Making marks. Leaving marks. Cutting table, today in the studio.

Saturday, May 31

Stefanie wearing Secret Lentil!

Stefanie wearing Secret Lentil

Stefanie FountainTiger wearing her Olive Emphella Shell at the ever-gorgeous Landmark Theater in Syracuse, NY. Not that the theater is more gorgeous than Stefanie. I would never even hint at that, not even a little bit. If you squint into the gold ornateness at her wrist you'll see that she's wearing a Secret Lentil cuff too.

Friday, May 30

long stripey pod-shaped dress

This dress sold from my studio before it got a name so I guess it's doomed to be "long stripey pod-shaped dress."  Anyway, I just wanted to show it off. It has adjustable slip straps and it's made of linen.

Wednesday, May 28

Marilyn Wearing Secret Lentil!

Marilyn wearing Secret Lentil
This just in - Marilyn in her new Fuchsia Pink Emphella Shell. Yay!
Photo: Dee Astell

Tuesday, May 27

Parachute Something Husk: The Corinne Edition

linen lagenlook Parachute Something Husk by Secret Lentil Clothing

I just made this Parachute Something Husk for my studio neighbor, the inimitable Corinne.

She brought me the bricky red linen, so it's not a color I can reproduce for you but I just wanted to show it off. There wasn't quite enough of her material to make the entire thing so we chose some just-zany-enough gray and gray striped linen for the trim, with matching graphite thread. Good times!

Tuesday, May 20

thoughts on words on clothes.

As a middle-aged lady with a punk aesthetic who was also once (ahem, three-times) an English major I have a strongly ambivalent relationship with text on clothing. I've always hated logos — there are very few entities on Earth I care to advertise for on my body (it's my BODY) — but I cherish words. Words are everything! They are power and magic, they are how we meld our minds together, they are really the best thing humanity has churned out. Well, that and ice cream.

I have been putting words on a few things here and there. On the Glompad bag:

And, yes, I put my own name on a thing once in a while ...

but I'm sure you'll agree: I've been so dang prudent. I want to do it more, I'm always stifling the urge to, honestly, but I feel a great responsibility to do it well, to do it right, to not fall into the cultural (and aesthetic) pitfalls that are rife in a world where children wear sweatpants that say "Princess" across their butts and people who put out a line of t-shirts consider themselves fashion designers. Narrative abuse is rampant! Words deserve our care.

So that's what's on my mind. Here's my Pinterest board. I'm building it but it's ... very slow going. I see much that I hate and get a spark of excitement when I see it done right. I'm following that spark and seeing where it leads me. Let me know what you think. And feel free to suggest additions but be prepared for my wrath of fussiness — it knows no bounds.

Sunday, April 20

If Spring, Then Emphella Shell

Who among you remembers the Emphella Shell? *raises hand tentatively*

I love mine so much. I wear it a lot. I have a cropped cardigan that sometimes goes over it, and leggings and a skirt for underneath. It's easy, just a bit dramatic, super comfortable. And a lot of people who bought them came back for more. The problem is, I hate making them. DON'T TELL ANYONE. 

But a few people wandered into the studio last week and inquired about their return, then someone online did as well, and honestly *I* wouldn't mind one in another color, so okay, I'm making some more. I'm picking colors now.

I'm thinking of FUCHSIA PINK! That's right, fuchsia, the word the internet insists can be spelled fuschia. Plus I'll make some more in olive green ...

and of course, black.

None more black. I'm still browsing through fabric, so I may surprise you with another color too. And I'll try not to complain while I'm sewing them.

Friday, April 18

what I'm staring at: Takashi Endo teapot


I let out a small but audible gasp when I saw this teapot online this morning. Such economy and grace and balance — simplicity that's easy to take in but complex to achieve. It changed my breathing, immediately.

"Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity." — Charles Mingus

It's a teapot by Takashi Endo. It's on Analogue Life.

Thursday, April 17

just made: Raggedy Annxiety

Just made, just listed: Raggedy Annxiety. --->for sale here

Raggedy Annxiety is a deconstructed pullover dress that balances sweetness with a darker, jittery edge. If I had to guess I would say this could have only been made at the same time I was finishing my tax forms — in this case there is indeed no such thing as a coincidence. Improvisationally hand made by me in my studio. One of a kind.

It's built from an array of red and white checked cotton. It has a few different collars (see the back) and a lot of button holes that go nowhere and some big X's that may or may not mean something. There's also a collar on the side. And on the other side, just for a touch of practicality, there sits a pocket. It's sewn with a mix of exposed and traditional stitching.

Tuesday, April 15

today in the studio: checky reds, deconstructed

I've got red thread in the serger and a heap of truly ugly red and white checked shirts before me, waiting to be chopped up.

In my head they will end up something like these Comme des Garcons pieces.

Of course they won't end up anything like them, but these are a nice jumping-off point for my brain. Someone else already gave me permission for seersucker to get weird — if I needed that, there it is.

Then when I'm done these are waiting for me — variations on a theme, this time in black.

That's what I'm doing for the next few days. -helen

Friday, April 11

that's meta

I awoke with good intentions this morning. Mr. Lentil and I had coffee then walked around our city park assessing Winter damage — we need the Civilian Conservation Corps to reunite and fix the stone wall around the pond — and watching Spring try to make a comeback.  A few weeks ago someone posted a photo on our neighborhood's facebook page — wait, I have to stop right there. It's hard to toss out a phrase like "our neighborhood's facebook page" and pretend to do it without acknowledging the wave of modern self-consciousness I feel right now. Yes my neighborhood has a facebook page. But it gets better. In the photo, the entire landscape was newly snowless but still damp, brown and dead. And there on the arc of a barren hill was a turkey vulture eating the carcass of a frozen turkey. As my friend Allison said: that's meta.

The good intentions involved the tax preparation that waited patiently back in my office. I imported some files, shuffled a few papers around furtively, then felt an urge to collapse on the couch where apparently I have been for half the day. Oh silly brain.  I'm awake now. Coffee is on. There's no stopping me, probably. Plus I have cookies.

It's still exciting to get real mail.

I sent my postcards out into the world and look what I got back! Multimedia artist Jen Worden sent me this. She made it. I wish you could touch it in real life, it's collaged and shiny and sealed and solid and lovely. Here's a Pinterest board of her work

And yes Jen, we still read blogs. I do, anyway, and I don't think I'm alone.

Tuesday, April 8

INTP leaves the house, lives to talk about it

I, goofball

I spoke in public today — that's twice this year and I haven't died or even vomited! And yes, when no one was looking I posed by the sign with my name on it and took my own picture. Don't tell anyone.

It was at the WISE Symposium — Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship. We had a great panel. Our topic was finding a balance between passionate work and paying the bills, something I could talk about for way too long if anyone let me. The whole event was fairly awesome. My favorite detail was having our lunches served in Chinese food takeout boxes. What can I say? I'm easily entertained. Tomorrow I return to the studio, energized and refreshed. Yay.

Saturday, April 5

freshly made: oceanic party dress

It felt good to mix green and bright blues and turquoise. I should have procured a picture of the linen that makes up the middle panels, it's a nice mottled blend of all three, but it's already in a box on its way to Florida. Yay!