May 09 2012

When I first knew Zoe, I was the one who belly-danced.

I took belly-dancer for great exercise and camaraderie in the late 1970s. I never danced professionally, although I did act as a “wardrobe mistress” to a couple of dancer friends who did.

I learned from “Tahia” in Baltimore, MD from whom I took lessons for a a year and a half. I learned classic, traditional belly-dancing which had a five part presentation that was structured and well defined. In other words, the dance included: 1) an entrance, 2) baladi with veil work, 3) drum solo, 4) floor work and 5) a finale.

Although there were many variations and cultural offshoots such as the cane dance and snake dance, all belly-dance performers that I knew here on the east coast danced the five parts, always with zils or finger cymbals. Now, lets talk about how Zoe belly-danced.

Zoe danced Tribal Style belly-dancing, dressing
with robes, turbans and lots of jewelry.

When I use to take Zoe’s dance workshops, it was for therapeutic movement and spiritual connection with the divine feminine not for belly-dancing. After I left New York in the early 1990s, Zoe learned belly-dance by taking lessons in Tribal Style. She excelled at everything she did and conquer belly-dance as well, becoming well known in Central New York for her dancing. Tribal belly-dancing costumes tend to be dark, plain fabrics, with ethnic handmade jewelry and headgear. If you are interested in the costuming, this is a great site for patterns and suggestions, click here.

No, I’m not saying I danced this well!

The above video is an example of the type of dance I learned and costume I wore. This is the 1st Place winner “Dovile” in the Queen of the Pyramid competition in Lithuania. Here is her web site.  Her skirt is more modest with full skirts, letting very little leg show. Her costume is light and shimmery with sequins and lame fabrics. Her bra and dance belt are worn with her skirts and with a veil that she has dropped by this point in the dance. But, the overall effect is light and performance base, dancing to please the audience.

A circus performer, Jamila Salimpour, started Tribal
Dance in California. She was a great showman. Her
dance troupe danced at cabarets and renaissance fairs.
The costumes were, and continue to be, dark and ethnic.

In the 1960s, Jamila Salimpour, who had a middle eastern background and who was a circus performer, decided to form a troupe of belly-dancers and ethnic Middle Eastern music to dance at renaissance fairs on the West Coast. Jamila’s troupe emphasized the music and dancing of nomadic tribes, who would dance in their everyday garments.

Zoe in the middle, with one of her dance classes.

Jamila’s players also took to creative costuming, adorning themselves with plain fabrics, mainly colored black, rather than the colorful layers of sheer chiffon found in classic belly-dancing. A great variety of garments became popular as Jamila’s dance style spread across the United States. Tribal garments are not adorned in a performance style, but to please the whim of the dancer. Dancers express themselves through their costume choice and jewelry display. If the costumes interest you, they can be purchased by clicking here.

Fat Chance Belly-dance is a studio considered the
originators of the American Tribal Style, or ATS.

American Tribal Style Belly Dance is clearly defined and documented as having been created by Fat Chance Belly Dance in California with the primary characteristic being that of group improvisation. ATS is generally performed in a group, often at community events, with a number of dancers on stage. The group acts as a chorus with dancers in ones, twos and threes, coming forward to dance as the rest dance in the background. ATS dancers typically favoring a look provided by wide-legged pants gathered at the ankles, open backed  tops known as cholis, full skirts, taselled belts and much jewelry.

Here are dancers from YouTube, Elena Safae e Vanessa Amira,
taking the tribal style in a Goth direction.

As belly-dance evolves into different forms and styles, no telling what we’ll see next. On YouTube there are hundreds of great videos showing vintage and current performances of all different “flavors.” Here’s a teaching video from the ELLEN Show where you can learn a few steps.

Ellen learns to belly-dance and you can , too!


NaBloPoMo May 2012

Tags: , , , , ,

Filed under: Clothes,Lessons — admin @ 4:42 pm Comments (0)
Mar 15 2012

Create art to celebrate life and manifest your spirit!

When one is an artist, it’s easy to feel artistic about one’s workspace and lifestyle. Waking up every morning to create, dazzle and delight must be a fun life choice. While there are certain realities, I’m sure, about paying the light bill and buying artist’s materials, let’s just focus on after we’re famous and have it made in the shade. Let’s pretend we just get to slide out of bed and into the studio every morning to be with our “stuff.” And, remember we get paid to do this, as we are not starving artists!

Whoa! That sounds like fun, like fingerpaint on steroids and Play-Doh with a shot of Grand Marnier. But, of course, we’ll need a smock, if we’re artists! H-m-m-m. I wonder what artists wear? Hey! Here’s an artist! Let’s look at HER!

Barbara’s Smock of Spectral Colors.

I was preparing to write two posts on Barbara Hughes, scuplptor and painter: the first, Healing Sexual Abuse and the second Teaching in Africa. I asked Barbara for some portrait photos of herself along with some of her actually working in her studio, When I received the photos, I was delighted.

One showed Barbara standing in front of her studio with her “Smock of Spectral Colors.” I knew from the design of the smock this was an artist’s artist and a pretty fun individual. Who else would turn themselves into a palette of color to delight the eye? And what better pattern than a Tie Dyed Rainbow Spiral? I found myself wanting a smock like Barbara’s. If you also are interested, here’s how one is made:

Many garments can be dyed with this method, including
one like Barbara’s Smock by not using the black.

You need three things: 1) The smock or garment, 2) The dyes and 3) A workspace with dyeing equipment.

The Smock: Looking at Barbara’s smock, it appears to be a male lab coat, judging by the length and the big pockets. They can be found here, along with women’s lab coats, if you prefer a shorter length.

A sampling of the blanks at Dharma Trading Co.

If you would like to make dresses, here’s a good link for “blanks” or 100% cotton clothing meant to be dyed. Blanks for children and men can be found by looking at the list on the left hand side.

The Dyes: In the early 1970s, I used to mail order dyes and supplies from the Dharma Trading Company in Berkeley, CAImagine my delight when, in 1974, I visited San Francisco, Berkeley and the Dharma Trading Co. While other tourists want to see the Golden Gate Bridge or Fisherman’s Wharf in San Fransisco, nope! Not me. I had to go to Berkeley to shop at Dharma.

I was able to order anything I wanted and hand carry it with me. Now Dharma is located in Petaluma and San Rafael, CA, but back then, they were in Berkeley.  I picked things out from a black and white printed catalog that listed their stock in an unimaginative way. Fast forward to 2012 to find them on the Internet in a fantastic color display of possibility. Just check out this web site and dream away, by clicking here.

To make the smock or tie dye any mostly cotton fabric, use the Fiber Reactive Procion Dyes in the section of the left third of the main page marked Fiber Reactive Dye Colors by clicking here.  There are 110 eye catching colors in the Fiber Reactive palette.

The Instructions: For detailed instructions and required equipment, click here.

Advanced tie dye patterns as shown by the Dharma Trading Co.
Complex patterns made with nothing more than rubber bands.

Tie Dying is easy and fun. The feeling of creating art cannot be matched. Expressing the soul for the world to see and claiming it in a physical way will be empowering to you, just like when Barbara creates her sculptures and paintings. With dyeing, you can create clothing, inexpensively, without sewing, and call it your own. It’s LOTS of fun!

Now, let’s look at some professional tie dyeing women from Africa, which is a big continent with many diverse regions of distinctly different cultures, languages and practices. I wanted to find a video of women in Tanzania dyeing fabric. The country of Tanzania is where Barbara did her work and where the fabrics in the previous posts were dyed, but I couldn’t find one on YouTube.

This glorious video on a tie dyeing woman, Sanata, and her family shows large production methods done by hand with magnificent results in the west African country of Mali.

Sanata says, “Women always have dreams. I have many
dreams. If I start telling you my dreams, it’ll get dark
while I’m telling you.”

The video above was a short film used for funding efforts envisioning a one hour film presentation called Bamako Chic. To be funded by grants, organizations have to be sponsored by a non-profit entity who manages the money granted, making sure the agreement is followed and grant money spent correctly. The non-profit entity for the movie Bamako Chic is the San Francisco Film Society.  Here is a link to a film grant makers media database listing Bamako Chic.

And, best of all, here is a link to Queen Sheba Village where
you can buy bazin cloth, the profoundly beautiful polished
cotton fabric, made by the home dyers of West Africa.


NaBloPoMo March 2012

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Filed under: Clothes,Lessons — admin @ 4:53 pm Comments (0)
Sep 21 2010

Have you been frustrated while trying to sew for yourself or family? Well, I can understand. I experienced this disableing emotion quite a bit when I was learning sewing as a child. The patience it took to plod incrementally through a sewing project, “do this, then this, then this” was so didactic for someone who loved colors and wanted to combine them to see the final effect. I wanted to hurry up and get things finished!

Talk about SHABBY! Kitty says she never worries about
construction technique and gets along just fine.

But how did that finished project look? Well…a little shabby and homemade, I suppose. And so, for a while my sewing efforts abated while I finished high school, disappointed that I “couldn’t sew” no matter “how hard I tried.” Then, I was facing going to college on my own and stayed out a year, between high school and college, to make money and sew clothes. But! I had to face lots of demons to conquer my bad attitude about sewing for myself. I decided I had to change and, where before, I was sewing seams by eye that looked like 5/8.” now I was going to measure every seam line and draw it on the wrong side of the fabric with a pencil. That was what I decided to do and that is what I did.

Home sewing saves money and allows a greater selection of style.

And it worked! First I made a pair of culottes, then blouses, dresses, skirts and all sorts of things to wear. At the time, in the early 1970s, I could get on a bus, go to J.C. Penny’s and buy, on the clearance rack, a yard of fabric for 33 cents! So, needing three yards of fabric for a dress, I could make a dress for a dollar.

But, don’t fret, once you get into sewing, if you’re not already, you’ll find the savings are proportionally just as great today.

You’ll find the more you visit Sunbonnet Smart, the
more you’ll want to create things yourself. It’s fun!

Come back for lessons, patterns and a guiding hand.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Filed under: Clothes,Lessons — admin @ 8:37 pm Comments (0)

Follow Us!

Recent Posts

Featured on
Syndicated on

Flash the badge

<div align="center"><a href="" title="Sunbonnet Smart"><img src="" alt="Sunbonnet Smart" style="border:solid 1px black;" /></a></div>


About Me
sunbonnetsmart's items Go to sunbonnetsmart's photostream
I'm going to BlogHer '12
BlogHer '13
I'm Going to #BlogHer15: Experts Among Us
I'm Going to #BlogHer16 in Los Angeles!


NaBloPoMo November 2012