Since I started working in costumes over 10 years ago I have had a hard time accepting things for what they are. I have closets of clothing, shoes, and accessories that are the “wrong” size, “wrong” color, and “wrong “ shape and style. That is nothing though compared to the “other side”…when you cross the dark divide of my closet area into the land of desperation. A land inhabited by clothes that have lived a hard life and show it. This is where I store away items requiring a little more love, serious repair, and encouraging words. I refuse to give up on any of them. It’s not hoarding, at least not in my eyes.
Every now and then there is a beautiful, joyous moment when a situation calls for one of the items that I’ve been clinging to, and I get to declare that this not a disorder or something that my friends should worry themselves about, but rather, this quirky attribute is actually an asset. This moment occurs a lot more in the costume shop where we have ample storage space, but in both situations, it is a satisfying feeling.
In the upcoming “Simon Boccanegra,” the designer’s vision called for red boots, (Cordovan to be exact), for the character “Pietro.” Of course they are a specific type of period boot, and they needed to be a men’s boots, no less, in a certain size. Lucky for us we found the exact boot we needed in our stock…but they were white.
That is where Sondra in our crafts department stepped in. She began by removing all existing finishes already on the boot, and then she re-painted the boots with an acrylic based leather paint that she had to mix herself.
After letting the boot dry, she had to dull down the shine, and go back in and add depth.
Throughout the process Sondra had to check the color of the boots under stage lights that we have set up in one of the fitting rooms. Our shop is lit with fluorescent lighting which adds different tones and makes colors read differently than the warm stage lighting does. The whole process only took an expert like her 45 minutes.
On a side note, Sondra says she first thought of doing crafts when she was just a little kid dying Easter eggs. Now her daily routine involves dying, painting, making hats, accessories, and anything else that may come her way, and believe me, a lot does. I am hoping that she will pay a visit to my closet of misfit rags next.
Simon Boccanegra opens February 11.