Tag Archives: figleafcostumes

Clowns, the good kind!

I have been back in town for a week, and finally have a minute or two to write a post about my trip! Many of you know me as the owner of the costume shop here in town. You may not know that I am also a musician/performer/ and aspiring clown! I write original material including skits, bits, alter egos, folk music and more. I don’t perform as much as I used to because I am usually at the shop (which I love btw)! So this summer I took a trip to Wheelock, Vermont to take a week-long “Pochinko Style Clown” workshop from none other than Donna Sellinger.

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I met Donna several years ago, when she came through town with her theater troupe called “The Missoula Oblongata”. They perform original plays with loads of historically referenced material turned on its head to make a person rethink how they exist in the world. Their sets are made of mostly recycled randomness, and sometimes reclaimed trash all of which fit into the back of a minivan with its 3-5 actors! It’s a wonder to behold! Once when I booked her for a backyard play, it rained. And we had to move the furniture out of our bedroom so they could build the stage in it and fit 24 audience members! It was pure magic, and the best show I have ever witnessed!

Moving on, she is currently a Baltimore based artist, writer, and performer. Normally she teaches a 6 week baby clown workshop. But, this week-long was just a taste of the full length class.

It was held at Wheelock Farm in Wheelock, Vermont. The grounds were beautiful and there was no signal for data in the mountains. It was an incredible property. There were eleven of us students total. We were from Detroit, NYC, D.C., Philadelphia, Connecticut, North Carolina and more. Many of us were already in the arts or performing music, puppetry, clowning, and theater. So it was a really great group! Donna kept the class affordable at $250, so I was able to justify the gas there. I wish I could have paid her so much more for what she taught us! If you have a chance to learn from her, take it!

Here are a few pics.

This was the tent, where we painted, and practised our clowning exercises and critiques.

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Behind the tent was the trail to what we called the “Clowntain”. Most days we made multiple trips up the hill to a gorgeous field to do visualization exercises in.

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I set up my tent down at the beautiful stone round house for sleepers. Below the hill was a pond with a beaver dam, and a creek running by. I was visited twice during the week by what we think was a deer or moose, and maybe a coyote or a bear. The second visit had me screaming and clapping to make “it” go away. I was lucky that Becca and Anissa came to rescue me. No more tent sleeping after that. Though I would have been fine surely.

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There were so many flowers on the property. Everything was dripping in color, and the air was nice and cool! Every morning brought me to the kitchen door to meet, and eat with my fellow clowns and talk about all manner of things. The kitchen was spacious and easily held all of us. we ended most days there with a group dinner, getting to know one another better, learning songs and singing them, drawing, sharing music…

Plus, they had the best maple syrup ever, made fresh on the farm!!!

One of the days we stopped at mid-day to visit Bread and Puppet Theatre. They have an incredible circus, museum, and more. They are famously known for their work in social justice activism and sociopolitical theatre. I have been wanting to visit for a long time and finally had the opportunity. These are photos from their circus, and museum. You can learn more about them at Bread and Puppet.

We watched a puppet performance of the eclipse, though we did pause from class to watch the real eclipse later. All 12 of us took turns using the one pair of eclipse glasses. I was also privileged to participate in Shape Note Sacred Harp singing at The Paper Mache Cathedral one night, and I went with a fellow clown to see a shadow puppet play in the ballroom, about immigration,on another night.

Finally, towards the end of the week, we earned our clown noses, and chose our costumes for our final “Something Fantastic” scene. Everyone delivered an amazing scene, some of us chose to do it twice. With our costumes and noses they were even more fantastic!

I was really sad to leave, but many of us will stay in touch, and hope to work together in the future. I ended up staying an extra day to help Marie with her broken car. we spent the morning in town and having breakfast at the Hardwick Food Co-op restaurant. we drove around the countryside a bit to drop her at the auto shop, had a coffee and pastry at a theatre there and then I hit the Museum of Everyday Life on my way out of the mountains. The museum was the perfect ending.

Finally my trip was over, except for the 21 hour drive home. But, I took my time on the way home, so it was a lazy 41 hour drive. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat!

Thanks a million Donna!

 

 

 

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Feeling Royal!

This month we designed and sewed a dress for Amanda Chapman in Tuscumbia. Anyone unfamiliar with her can find her 31 faces of Halloween posts HERE!  She is an incredible photographer, yet she dabbles in FX makeup like a goddess!

Recently she was selected as one of the top 30 artists for the NYX Face Challenge! The first challenge is royalty. Amanda asked if we had any royal dresses. we do of course! But, we decided to make her something special. Below are some process shots of making the dress week before last. But you can see the finished product in her challenge video.

We hope you love her look. If you do help her to the next round by voting and sharing. You can vote up to 3 times a day if you want. Enjoy!

Hoppin’ into Spring

Things are getting busier at the Fig! I had a great time showing the makeup crew how to apply the beast prosthetics for Beauty and the Beast. Be sure to catch the show! There is still a whole weekend left. Buy tickets here!

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Here is a cute photo of  Grissom Senior, Ansley, with the beast prosthetic test run, and with the more final product! She used Mehron, and Graftobian products for this one.

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I also had the privilege to show some technique to students from Arab Musical Theatre last month, as they prepared for their production of the Addams Family. The kids were great and put on a fantastic, seamless show! The costumes, set, makeup, and lighting were all phenomenal! I will never miss another AMT Production. The theatre was packed with families with barely a seat left. People drove all the way from Birmingham, Huntsville, Scottsboro and Cullman to see it. Make sure you catch the next one! I took a few photos of pre and post show. Enjoy.

I have had the privilege to design costumes for Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theater with their production of Pinocchio!  There is a really great group of parents and teens helping making the costumes from my designs. I think the donuts keep them coming back, but most likely the good company! It has been a pleasure to sit in on casting, rehearsals, and concept meetings. We have a show in just about a month, but the tickets are selling fast! Be sure to get yours ASAP, it is going to be a great show with a whale, a carnival scene, and a real live puppet of course! Here is a sneak peek!

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The costuming class at Fantasy is doing great too! They are working on their cardboard puppet creations for Moppets, Poppets, and the Deep Blue Sea. They are learning how to use tools and design to make their sea creatures come to life. I cannot wait to show you their finished Jellyfish, Manta Ray, and Sea Turtle. All articulated of course!

I will have more next week as we look forward to Faustus at UAH, and Honk at Randolph School! Meanwhile have a great weekend and enjoy a show! We will see you at the shop!

New Years Masks are in!

We have a nice selection of masquerade masks in stock for New Years. We have a range of masks from plain to feathered to all rhinestones! We even have a phantom of the opera mask. 

    In the western world we have relegated masks to New Years Eve, Mardi Gras, and Halloween. But what is the origin of masks?

Some of the oldest masks in existence are 9,000 years old and were found in the Judean hills of Israel. Funny how some of the masks in this collection bear a striking resemblance to emojis. Really it is the other way around. Though emojis truly are masks that we use every day to convey meaning, and emotion to one another. 🙂🙂🙂🙂🙂🙂🙂😯


Moving forward over 7,000 years to 27/29 B.C. We find the Janus mask comes in to Roman history. The Roman deity known as the gatekeeper, presiding over all arrivals and departures continues to endure in the modern world. The month of January is even named after him, as it is the doorway to the New Year!

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     You will also see the two faced  Janus mask in theater. We often call it the comedy/tragedy mask, as it represents the two extreme emotions of the theatrical spectrum. 

Locally, you may have seen the Janus mask represented loosely as Fantasy and Fantasy jr. @ a Fantasy Playhouse Production. They come in before the play begins to welcome you, and come out again to bid you farewell at the end. The older Fantasy is on their way out as they show the ropes to Fantasy Jr. on her way in. Here at Fig Leaf Costumes we worked (with a local artist Jaeme Case) to redesign the Janus mask as our logo. The result is a nod to 35 years of costume legacy at “The Enchanted Masquerade” costume shop as they closed their doors, while we were opening ours!

     No matter what mask you choose to wear for the holiday just remember that masks have been around for thousands of years in nearly every culture of the world. We hope you find one that suits you well and serves you for years to come! If you need help finding one come into the shop and take a look. “We’ve got you covered!”

Holiday Hours!

Happy Holidays everyone! 

Around the holidays we change our hours slightly so that we may spend time with friends and family, and with special seasonal theatre productions.

We will be CLOSED this Tuesday, Decembre 20th, and reopen Wednesday!


Fig Leaf will be backstage working wardrobe for the Broadway Theatre League production of ANNIE! The show holds a special place in my heart since seeing it on the big screen when it came out in the 1982! And now I will be able to see the costumes that travel with this wonderful show! Make sure to take your kids, grandkids, friends with kids, and get yourself a ticket too by clicking on the ANNIE link! 

We will also be CLOSED Decembre 24th, 25th, and 26th for the holidays! 

But, we are OPEN this Wednesday thru Friday for any last minute gift buying needs for that special theater person in your life! And we still have Santa and Mrs. Claus suits for rental!

Halloween is nearly here!

We would really like to thank everyone who has come in to find costunes, makeup, and accessories for Halloweenie!

We have loads of Ben Nye and Mehron available for character makeups. We have tons of glitter left and the candy pink and blue for Harlequin. 

We have new wigs in too! Trump wigs are going fast, and pink kitty cat wigs from BoJack Horseman.

Need clown supplies? We literally have it all!!!! Wigs, makeup, rubber noses, and costumes!

Come look around, try things on, and join the fun!

Back in the Saddle!

I am so excited to be back at the shop! Thanks to everyone who came in last week! It was great to see new, and familiar faces and hear all about your theatrical projects and plans!

Curley, Daisy, and Zero the clowns came to visit! They are putting together an all new clown training class! You can earn your rubber nose at night in the Rocket City Clown Alley group. I will have more info when they solidify classes.


We also had some Gishwes players in the shop looking for costumes. If you aren’t in the know that means “Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World’s Ever Seen”! People compete in teams worldwide trying to take photos of odd combinations. For instance a victorian woman on a railway car. Like Maddy! She looked great in our getup!


Lastly, Halloween is just around the bend! I am getting packages weekly from our gigantic Halloween Order. There will be lots of new things to bring your Halloween costume to life. Come in early amd consult with me about what you want to be. There are so many ideas!


It’s great to be back! Thank you for supporting local, we hope to fill your costume needs for many years to come!

Best, Rita