A Colorful Past: An Uncertain Future

Snooping through “Nat’s” (Natalie Goldberg’s) book, ‘Wild Mind,’ reminds me of writing in my journals. Goldberg calls it practice writing when you sit down, “take your hands out of the air,” and write.  Daily it becomes a compilation made up of thoughts and memories, visions, stories, and impressions.

Goldberg’s friend is a jeweler whose beautiful deco jewelry had its origin in the art deco hotels that filled the Miami Beach of her childhood.  This leads to me thinking about my “Gravity Collage” bracelets sculpted with buttons and guided through a process of intuition.

Yesterday I posted a thank you to the Fashion Writing Class at VCAD and here is their letter to me:

Dear Nicole Rigets,

On behalf of my fashion writing class at VCAD, I would like to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to visit our class. Often times when one looks at art, it is taken for face value, and critiqued poorly. Having you come to our class and meet us has given us great insight in to the story, and world behind the art work.

I can safely say that we have all become inspired by your visit in many different ways.  Thank you for answering all of our questions.  You did so with grace and we found your answers very informative.

We especially enjoyed the pieces of Jewelry you brought in to show us. The pieces of jewelry seemed to reflect the environment of our class, many different pieces from many different backgrounds working together to form something beautiful.  We gained great insight in to your world, and your work.

We wish you all the best in everything you do, and know it will turn out great.  Thank you again for coming to see us we really enjoyed your visit.


Wesley Barisoff (on behalf of VCAD, Fashion Writing Class)

A beautifully written letter by students with a promising future.  Their analogy of dissimilar buttons and unique beings was so well described in the letter there’s no need for me to elaborate on it.  It’s first class the way artists and writers cheer for, mentor, and sincerely support each other.

Now thinking back to my childhood and how intrigued I was by the antique container with a little “character” sitting atop the lid.  This china ornament was always displayed on Mum’s dresser. It held her buttons and some small cowrie shells.  I inherited my love of jewelry from my Mother.  Buttons are little objects: little sculptures that show up in different sizes, shapes, textures, and colors. They herald style, craftsmanship, industrialization, and social mores.

"A Colorful Past"

Copyright © 2010 Nicole Rigets

What Jeans are You Wearing this Season?

The first question is: "What jeans are you wearing this season?"

It’s the beginning of the question session at Vancouver College of Art and Design.  I have been invited to talk to Fashion Merchandising students about my art and process by Jannette Maedel who is teaching these students fashion writing.

  • I wear Acne jeans!

Is the beginning of your design process the same every time?  Describe your process.

  • My process is always changing and evolving; fueled by my emotional nature.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

  • From nature, lucid dreams, the history of art and design, cultural – visual milieux.

Do you ever fear that you will run out of ideas?

  • No – never!  I fear I’ll run out on my life’s timeline.

Who do you do your art for:  yourself or an audience?

  • I do my art for myself because I can’t not do it:  it’s pervasive and permeates all that I am.   I like others to see the work and experience it.

How long does it take to complete a piece of art?

  • From 27 minutes all the way through to no boundaries of time (infinite).  Every project is unique.  Each one depends on process, and process depends on the following factors:  money, research, support, supplies, environment, market, resolution, time sensitivity, and the ‘Artist’s Zeitgeist’.

What was the last book that you read?  Did it influence your work?

  • ‘Second Sight’ by Judith Orloff, M.D.  Orloff is a psychiatrist and psychic who tells a compelling story revealing her courageous journey to embrace her psychic gifts.  All of us are born with psychic abilities and this ground-breaking book will show you how to recognize psychic experiences in your everyday life.  The book is hard to put down.  It’s had a powerful effect on me and I’ll likely see its influence on me as my work evolves.

Do you keep some of your art or give any of it away?

  • I donate at times to fundraisers.  Some has been given away.

Do you listen to music when you work?

  • Usually I have music playing.  I listen to jazz – sometimes blues or classical.

What do you mean by, “Harmony is a velvet universe?”

  • Years ago when I first said this, I believed peace could be universally achieved.  More recently I feel my belief to be purely utopian.  Warring parties have existed for-ever and my words are my wish, they’re my divine dream, my intent.  I want to fell weapons with mindfulness and love. Wesley, a student in yesterday’s class, has written: “As hard as we all try to make the world a perfect place it will never happen.  I once heard that angels need demons…and it’s true; how do we know we’re doing good if there is no bad to compare it to?” www.wesleyjbarisoff.blogspot.com February 17th, 2010 ‘is it just me or is it harder to breathe?

What specifically in the natural beauty of Vancouver inspired you with your work?

  • Mountains, the sea in all its moods, trees, flowers and flowering shrubs.  I have invented a color called: “Vancouver Grey.”  It is a distinct color I see all around me in our atmosphere.  This perfectly balanced neutral shade needs to be manufactured to compete with “Payne’s Gray”. “Vancouver Grey” weather makes an outstanding background for photographs; it reflects detail and adds extra depth.  Shoot when it’s overcast.

Who are your favorite artists?

  • Robert Rauschenberg, Louise Nevelson, Hannah Hoch, Alexander Calder, Edouard Manet…too many to list.  I used to sit for hours in the fine arts section of the Library at the University of British Columbia in the late nineties and pour through every book, over and over, page by page until my head was reeling with colors and lines and tangles of inspiration.  This old building that housed the library designated a large concrete room to visual arts.  I very much felt like I was below ground. The few windows were inside and small.  The glass was frosted and all the panes had chicken wire fastened over them.  I loved moving a stool along the aisles and sitting hunched over under flickering fluorescent lights dreaming of all I could construct.  I could hear the dark. The cold weather rained on the other side of the walls and this was like music to mentally create by. Strangely, I seemed to be the only one in there late at night which added another dimension to time and art absorbing me and taking me in fully.

When you were a child, did you dream of being who you are now?  How did your dreams and expectations shape the person you are today?

  • When I was a child I was skittish; abrupt noises, adults, energy fields…often caused me to experience anxiety, moods, and sometimes fatigue.  My dreams were relentless, aggressive toward me, and saturated with color.  I’m passionate about continually learning and doing new things; this has kept me shape-shifting as life unfolds.

What are your favorite styles in photography?

  • Still Life, Social Landscape, Street Photography, Milieux of Cities and People, Reflections, Fashion and Nudes.

What tools do you have “on-the-go” for inspiration?

  • Color always, and a jillion beads, trinkets, buttons, drawers full of saved paper, dried bones and flowers, one dead bird, photographs, magazines, books everywhere, my Maternal Grandmother’s Love Letters, rivers of sentimental clutter and a narrow path to navigate through.  Sometimes I feel “crazy overwhelmed” with it all, yet I know I would be depressed and despondent without it. These papered boxes, tablescapes, and shelves are reminisces of people, places, times, and everything in my life.  Even the insides of the cabinets look like collage.  As a full-time artist, I cannot relate to all my clutter as a conglomeration, when I can “legally” call it an “assemblage”.

When you write, do you prefer writing in a quiet place or do you write anywhere?

  • I write anywhere, everywhere; sometimes even as I walk. I always tuck a few index cards into my pocket or purse when I go out so I can make notes and record observations.

I love your poem about the pair of jeans.  What inspired you to write about that?

  • ‘A Pair of Jeans’, came through while I was sitting in a group at Emily Carr.  We had been meditating and doing warm-up exercises when this flowed through the tip of my pen.  Poetry comes through me at odd times.  I don’t sit down to write poems. Someone said the poem reminded her of Rita Wong’s voice in ‘monkeypuzzle’.

Wong’s poetry often addresses her relationship with her environment. Her poems show a close connection with nature and a support for local product, while expressing distaste for genetically modified foods. In forage, her poem ‘the girl who ate rice almost every day’ encourages the reader to look up Monsanto in the US patent database, and see how many patents there are for genetically modified foods, including the type of foods affected. There is also a poem, ‘canola queasy’ dedicated to Percy Schmeiser, the Saskatchewan farmer sued by Monsanto because genetically engineered canola blew into his fields. Her work challenges the reader to think about how they effect their environment. (Wikipedia). I see now from the excerpt above that Wong and I share the same sentiments regarding seeds as life and death.  Over the weekend I will post an image with text I’ve created Re:  Monsanto.

What advice do you have for young artists and designers?

  • Be 100% yourself!  Be authentic, explore, read, be curious.  Delve into photo and art history for inspiration, then put your own twist on it.

Having written this up as a blog, I noticed these questions could be used to draft an Artist Statement.  Go for it!!

Copyright © 2010 Nicole Rigets

Colors of Halston’s 1978 Runway Show

Like Coco Chanel, Halston began his career as a milliner.  His international fame began when he designed the “Pillbox” hat worn by Jackie Kennedy to the Presidential Inauguration.  From then on Halston became the First International Fashion Superstar.

“At a time when fashion shows were still stiff and formal affairs in which models walked down runways holding numbered placards in silence, Halston had instructed his models to strut down the runway to music, holding up copies of “Valley of the Dolls.” The clothes they wore — casual, free, functional and strangely pajama-like — seemed to instantly embody the feminist and egalitarian spirit of the era.”  (Excerpt from: http://www.salon.com)

One of Halston’s early Runway Shows in 1978:

Diana Vreeland attended wearing a black cashmere t-shirt, and slacks with a red cashmere scarf tied around her waist and another tied around her neck:  All Halston.

This outfit was accessorized with her own jewelry designs including the “Ivory Tooth” and “Ivory Cuff”.  All was topped off with a magnificent sable coat.

The air had the dryness of black paper taffeta.

The eighteen foot ceiling was paved with mirrors.  Deep oxblood carpets reflected from the floor.

A profusion of potted Calla Lilies adorned Parsons tables and guests sat on chrome folding chairs.

Halston’s color palette included:  purple, lilac, lemon, red, navy, cobalt blue, green, black, grey, and white.

"Halston 1978 Palette"

“Simply Halston” by Steven Gaines (Putnam, 1991)

The fashion world is not nearly as malicious and degenerate–i.e., interesting–as it once was. Today’s designers, ever conscious of the bottom line, are indeed disappointingly sensible and well behaved. In “Simply Halston,” Steven Gaines reminds us of the days when hubris-riddled designers went on cocaine-fueled rampages. “In 1978, Dionysus had hired a press-agent and New York was headlong into an era of staggering permissiveness.” After you read this book, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week will seem like a trip to the Mormon Tabernacle.  (Excerpt from: “The Wall Street Journal” – Saturday, February 20th, 2010.)

Copyright © Nicole Rigets

Micke M. Meets Model in the Cosmos

"Will Micke M. ask Her Out?"

Micke M. is My Favorite Party Mouse!!

Will Miss Model go out with him?

What’s her name, anyway?

What would make the first date great for Micke M. and Model?

Send me the story!

Write a mouse-tale!

Make a comment!

Copyright © 2010 Nicole Rigets

© Gravity Collage Wearable Sculpture/Jewelry

What happens between Gallery wall and ground?  © Gravity Collage!

Gravity Collage is a form of wearable sculpture I invented in 2006.  Style, design, and construction in most mediums requires a blueprint and a process of modification as the artist works.  I begin by choosing color, form, texture, line, and pattern.  Repetition helps me to unify my work while using a wide scope of mixed elements.

Paying close attention to spatial relationships I join the buttons to a readymade chain and assemble them just like a collage. I move them around, contemplate the way the colors and textures play off one another, and only when it feels right do I attach the clasp to test drive it and see how it really feels on.

Wearing it is like a writer’s editing process, I always have to add, subtract, move, adjust, or add something bizarre to give it the look and feel I intuit for the finished piece.  Found objects, gewgaws, dice, looking glasses, tin foil, paper, belt buckles, gadgets, and key rings have all been successfully adapted into random designs.

Every sculpture is given a name.  Here are some examples:

"The Galaxy"
"The Sophisticate"
"The L.A."

“The Art of the Bracelet” has been hot and these are in the collections of women that own more than one of my Gravity Collages. Those pictured above have been sold. “The Bronze” is currently available:

"The Bronze"

The Bracelet below was commissioned by a Fashion Consultant who had a collection of her Mother’s buttons sitting in a box in the closet.

"The Brandfourde Signature Bracelet"

The top of a Lanvin perfume bottle from the early 50’s was added, as were some very fashionable buttons Ms. Brandfourde had collected over time.

I welcome inquiries by email:  Click on Email Me in the middle of my front page near the bottom.

Copyright © 2010 Nicole Rigets

Fashion Collage that makes No Cents

Sometimes I like to lay out an imaginary wardrobe.

'When I feel capricious I want ruffles'
Ruffles Mirrored in Roses

Evening brings out black as necessity and accessory.

Tiffany Black

Sleepless and on the alert; hunting down the nonessential:  the treat!

"The Sophisticate"

Bare-shouldered for an "opening" at the Gallery
"Convert Clutch" - To be Worshipped and Rejoiced Over!

…and something for him!


Treat yourself; be frivolous or romantic, sleek and bare-shouldered.

I love these fashions and wouldn’t hesitate to wear them to

enhance occasions when I want to make, “Moments big as years!”

(in the words of Keats).

Copyright © 2010 Nicole Rigets

Smart Art-Effects

Altered books, journaling, scrap-booking, and collage all jump from the same ground and share boundless experimentalism. Deep from within, these processes surface and swell, to reveal story, history, allegory, narrative, and expose’. Everything from found bottlecaps flattened on pavement to string from Grandma’s kitchen drawer can become a part of these art forms.  We may be doing this work for illustration, for remembering, for inspiring, or twisting away from the ‘norm’, but for whatever reason it’s easier to express ourselves and what we want to say to the viewer if we have a variety of tools and techniques to choose from.  Here are some I have encountered:

  • Using a page from a newspaper fastened to a support, apply  a layer of encaustic (melted wax), and write or draw into the translucent wax.  Try smearing with oil paint and then wiping and polishing the surface to achieve a layered effect. Photocopied images of objects or scientific gadgets from the 19th Century can be clipped and incorporated into the design.
  • Create an eclectic journal by collecting urban particles of paper.  Peel flyers from walls, save wrappers from fruit, use parts of bags and tags from shopping and purchasing goods.  Fragments of maps, painted and drawn entries, and photographs can work in a way to unify the pages of this artist’s book.  Even the cover can be modified if the book is store-bought.

I have a humble little paper book I bought in Chinatown with a brown paper cover that I immediately attached a tiny Chinese tissue-paper parasol to once I got it home.  Each time I go to Chinatown I return with some artifacts to attach to the inside:  the string and tag from a jasmine teabag, a hand-written receipt for a steamed bun filled with a paste made from red beans, a round bronze coin with a square hole.

Found Objects

  • Found objects can be incorporated into work to add an unusual dimension in the resolution of a piece.  This can hint at a deeper meaning to the work.
  • Found objects can be used to block out areas of paint and create a negative  shape.

Making New Work Look Old

  • Coat heavy paper with plaster.  When it’s dry bend it to form cracks.  Add a wash of paint to this.
  • Spread modeling paste or spackle on paper and while it’s wet stamp textures or patterns into the surface.
  • Paint gesso onto craft tissue and let it dry.  Stain these with liquid acrylics or inks.
  • Add non-toxic dry pigments (being careful not to inhale the powder) to clear polishing wax and rub it onto painted papers.
  • Peel, tear, or sand papers after they have been glued in place.
  • Brush non-toxic crackle glazes over painted papers or images.

Christmas Papers

  • Crinkled, wrinkled brown bags can be carefully brushed or sprayed with non-toxic paint to emphasize the texture.
  • Use sheets of plain brown paper and sponge, drizzle, or brush on, non-toxic metallic paint to embellish the surface. Add extra sparkle using metallic ribbons, baubles, bows, and faux jewels.

I bought a Baroque black and white paper one year and randomly glued individual faux pearls to the top of it.  I then added a rich violet organza ribbon tied with a generous bow.

Graphic felt pens, inks, gesso, pencil crayon, foil, and glue on graph paper

This fashion design is an example of composing with a variety of materials and reworking them until the desired result is achieved.

Copyright © 2009 Nicole Rigets

$ Dollars – The Aphrodisiac $

“Brand new car – not a drop of gas.”  Lyric taken from an old Blues recording.

Makes me think of how we spend and how we long for certain possessions. What lengths we’ll go to to get them.  How these steps will lead to our relationships with others in our lives.  And how our thinking is affected by things; things we buy or have or ‘need’.

There was a time in the late sixties and early seventies when an area of West Vancouver B.C. called the British Properties was being built.  New homes in a lovely treed and rocky splendor.  Many lots had long distance views to the Pacific ocean.  Views were spectacular and the owners had spent to the max on the newly built house, then ran out of money to furnish it.  The British Properties seemed, by onlookers, to be a very rich and affluent development.  Those of us who attended parties at these homes found walls embellished with flocked wallpapers and empty rooms.

This week a friend passed along a tissuey 16-page booklet to me; Maison & Objet Paris thumbnails a universe where over 3,000 international brands will unveil their new collections and concepts.  www.maison-objet.com

'Paris Capitale de la Creation'
'Griffes Maison' for the Home

Why don’t you visit the website and tune into the photographs and short videos for an unusual and sensual encounter.

Two nights ago I had a dream that I was riding in a french navy blue Porsche Carrera. I was sitting on a flat platform in place of the conventional car seat.  Small opulent gold satin cushions punctuated with tiny dark emblems surrounded me.  I moved forward to let ‘movie star guy’ thoughtfully arrange these cushions for my comfort as he sped through the dark navy night.

For me, the best part of dreaming is, being able to view it while the action is taking place. The other best is:  anything’s possible in the world of dreams.

May your dreams come true!

"Dollars - The Aphrodisiac"

Copyright © 2009 Nicole Rigets