Made From Scratch


Made From Scratch


Date: August 21, 2013
by: Mallory Gnaegy | A&E Editor





A costume designer’s medium is typically fabric — not puzzle pieces, coffee filters or retired dental retainers. But, that’s not the case at SCF Fine Art Gallery’s upcoming The Art of the Costume “Reinvented.” In fact, no fabric is allowed, and anything unconventional goes.

The idea man behind the exhibit is Ken Erickson, the director of theater at the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota as well as manager of Neel Performing Arts Center. He was kicking around ideas with the curator and manager of the gallery, Joe Loccisano. Loccisano had success in 2009 with the first and only costume exhibit SCF hosted — The Art of the Costume, which featured 20 costumes from Asolo Repertory Theatre productions. The goal was to create an exhibit of the same caliber, but with a new spin.

The exhibit will open Sept. 6, about the same time the 2013/2014 theater seasons begin. Erickson thought the timing would make for a collaborative exhibit that would kick off and highlight area theaters’ seasons; each theater would supply a costume representative of one of its programs. Then, he took it one step further: The costumes could only be made from unorthodox material.

Ten theaters gladly committed to the exhibit, and most designers have found the rare opportunity a fun one to undertake — even though they traditionally haven’t sewn with dental floss, attached pieces with glitter glue or had to steam children’s picture books just to get the right shape of a piece.

The project came naturally for Erickson. Before studying theater at the State College of Florida, he studied art, which is evident in the elaborate detail in his quasi-sculptures.

For instance, he created an Elizabethan-style dress from a combination of used Bingo cards, biohazard waste bags, packing foam, rope, Bingo markers and Scrabble tiles; and a collar made from veterinarian X-rays and gold-painted doilies. And he adorned the mannequin’s tortellini-haired head with a crown made of candy — Sixlets and gummy bears ­— and where an expensive jewel would be is, instead, an expensive orthodontic retainer that his daughter used to wear. His other costume design is just as elaborate and involves hundreds of postage stamps, coffee filters and dry cleaning bags.

He was nearly complete when he saw David Covach’s coffee filter dress.

“It really set the bar!” he says.

So, he stepped it up a notch. He tried several different materials for the jacket on the bodice before deciding the packing foam typically used for mailing dishes worked the best. He took care spraying the costume with bug spray so no bugs got to the pearls, emeralds and rubies that adorned his costumes (Sixlets and green and red gummy bears).

He hopes people will appreciate the costumes, not only on first glance, but will also spend time discovering the small details — such as the word “design” spelled out with Scrabble tiles on the hem or stencil-painted ivy on the red medical hazard bags.

“(Usually) costumes are one of those things people look at on stage with someone in them, but they aren’t ever appreciated by themselves,” he says.

Theaters involved:

Asolo Repertory Theatre
Florida Studio Theatre
FSU/Asolo Conservatory
Island Players
Sarasota Ballet
SCF Studio 84 Productions
The Glenridge Performing Arts Center
The Players of Sarasota
Theatre Odyssey
Venice Theatre



The Art of the Costume ‘Reinvented’ opening reception
6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6. Exhibit runs through Oct. 16.
Where: SCF Fine Art Gallery, 5840 26th St. W., Bradenton
Cost: Free
Info: Call 752-5586


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