"Frenchie"-Tulle over Fur

I consider my journals a collection of me! – in a visual and voiced format.  A formation of me; a framework generating a material composition of my days.

Working my way through fashion magazines reminds me of my teens when I reverted into them for place and inspiration.  Each glossy page announced the promise of a beautiful future.  I spotted people I needed to adopt as role models.  The pages whispered of excitement and destinations like Paris and New York.

"Lanvin & Peonies" - I Want it All!

If you see something in a magazine that makes you think of a friend, clip it out for them, and send it off with a hand-written card or note.  My friend Sonny always reaches into her handbag as soon as we sit down together for coffee out, and produces a small sheaf of magazine clips for me, to inspire me.  I rework hand-me-down jewelry into new designs by re-assembling elements from multiple pieces.  Sonny’s thoughtfulness has led me to new ways of seeing and inventing.

My friend Elaine provides me with three huge shopping bags of fashion mags and one of Vanity Fair annually.  She passes them along to me because she knows I need them for collage, and subsequently, I pass them along down the line to friends who are also artists.  I keep beautiful floral file folders available for the parts of mags I’m saving. One for articles, one for writing prompts, and one for design tips and ideas.  Oops… there’s more:  one for creative ideas for paintings and the fifth one is for photographs I admire for their lighting, composition, or novelty subjects.  Magazines make excellent reference tools when you slip a piece of silk ribbon or a lovely bookmark into the pages you’re interested in re-visiting.

Begin this art exercise by cutting out things you are attracted to for just twenty minutes. Don’t think about it.  Pretend you’ve won a shopping spree and you’re just grabbing everything you can and throwing it into your basket.  Have a pretty basket beside you and drop your clippings into it.

These will be, what I call your ipages, or your VIP’s:  Very Important Pages.  Spend ten or fifteen minutes arranging these on a few large pieces of paper.  Choose any background to attach them to.  I like pure white or lined, but you decide on the color that best resonates for you and then take a gluestick and secure them neatly to the papers.

Now lay them out and contemplate what you’re seeing.  How do you like this glimpse of your inner workings??  What shapes repeat themselves?  What colors dominate your collages? Are there ways for you to make changes in your wardrobe or environment using these ideas and objects.  A new tabletop display perhaps or outrageous accessories to liven a conservative outfit.  Take time; sit down and record your thoughts and feelings about the work you just accomplished.

"Toney Three-Button Cropped Sleeve and Leather Gloves"

Flower and garden magazines offer beauty in landscape that can be cut out and pasted over a nondescript book or journal to enhance the cover.  Used bookstores have so many bargains jumbled on shelves or tables you might want to pick up a good solid one. When you get home with it you can paste or staple a fresh sheet of paper over a page and make it presentable for attaching particles of fabric, color swatches, ribbon, stamps, photographs; the choices are unlimited.  As an alternative, gesso can be brushed over the page and left to dry, and now you have a plain white sheet to work on.  Yes, it may be a little imperfect, but in art that’s all the better to show life in matter.

Go inside your ‘new’ journal, your source and improv book, your altered book, and live between the pages for awhile.  Photograph some of your results and post the pictures inside.  Send me images to post here and we can all be inspired.  Failing that show them to your friends and help them try something new; bring them to my blog to view these examples.  I remember when I bought my first journal; I could hardly think of what to do, or write down in it, or even what to collect in it.  Now the family is horrified wondering how many truckloads it will take to clean out my studio when I… well, you know when.  How many trucks it’ll take is open for debate.

Copyright © 2010 Nicole Rigets

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

© 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

In High Fashion – Wallis Simpson Shops eBay for Oranges

Last  Christmas one of my dearest friends and I met downtown and brought gifts for each other.  We arranged ourselves at a table in a large and fairly quiet cafeteria on the top floor of Vancouver’s heritage Bay building.  This is where we always begin our visit before we hit Holt Renfrew, Sephora, and Robson Street; finally squeezing into Artigiano across from the Vancouver Art Gallery.

When I removed the wrapping paper from my gift, I saw the cover of a ‘coffee table’ book titled, ‘In High Fashion’, Photography by Edward Steichen. What a thoughtful gift Jessie chose.  I adore it!  I handed her an Hermes bag (the color belongs to her) and added that a modest gift was inside…but I wanted her to own an Hermes bag (No! Not a handbag – are you daft!?) a customer shopping bag to specially place in her apartment.  Every woman should possess an Hermes bag or box, even if it’s empty, or merely contains a strip of embroidered ribbon.  This bag held a Clairfontaine journal from France with tangerine and magenta flowers on the cover.  She loved it!

Then I had her open the canonical kraft brown shopping bag with the leopard and black patent handbag she had been putting off buying and we both let out a whoop because she knew, and I knew, how much she wanted it.  When she opened it up to look inside she found I had tucked a few small gifts into the zippered compartments, just for fun, so they wouldn’t be empty when she peeked into them.

Hermes empty shopping bags and boxes are for sale on eBay.  They run about $15.  More about why we want these orange icons is revealed on the site below.

That Orange Box

The 'Orange Icon'

We’re surviving January wearing the old and the new year styles are swooping into the media all clamoring for us to notice them.  Last Friday I was browsing in the newsstand at Park Royal and while flipping through January’s British Vogue I saw a lot of whimsical, lacy and fancy fragments.  Think:  Wallis Simpson suffers nervous breakdown overseeing reconstruction of remnants in fashionable lingerie design studio.

Later that day I received a link from Scarlet Black introducing me to:  The penniless fashionistas.  They are Canadian designers creating with a focus on dynamic use of color, prints, and fabrics, while integrating intricate details that highlight the designs.  These can’t live withouts are online:  http://www.pennilessfashionista.com

Next, a stop at The Coveted will make you just want to book the week off and drool all over the electronic pages offering up delicious and outrageous fashion manifestos.


Not quite ready to quit:  not until we’ve stopped in at Gala Darling and looked into 2010 Style Direction:  and “Psychedelic” Ladies Who Lunch:  the Icing on the Fashion Cake!


I dreamed I awoke in Paris in my Hermes scarf woven from the silk of 250 mulberry moth cocoons.

Dreams Always Come True

Wikipedia:  The per-pound cost of a scarf today is approximately $1,965.00 USD (compared to a pound of steel at $0.19)

Copyright © 2010 Nicole Rigets

Are You In-Or-Out…of Style, Silly

Beauty and Fashion Itch for Each Other…and when a magazine like In-Style publishes tips on these subjects my antennae reach to great lengths to pick up pen and paper and immortalize them in my journal.  It was by pure chance that these morsels found their way into my pages of providence.  I had swiftly grabbed a dog-earred copy of In-Style from the give-away shelf next to the recycling containers on my travels one morning.

I won’t keep you holding your breath:  these ideas were submitted by young stars and appropriated by Moi.  This is my little gift to you just in time for the Holidays.

  • Keep a spoon in the fridge to put on your eyes for five minutes before “dressing” them.
  • A little black lace is all that’s needed to add a special touch to an outfit.
  • My Choice:  shu uemura “Premium Black Gown” False Eyelashes.  These are made with black lace to cast mysterious shadows on the eye.
  • Use shimmer to put a little sparkle above your tear ducts so your eyes will shine and appear larger.
  • Line the inside rim of your eyes with white pencil to make them look bigger.
  • Use brown mascara for a younger look.

To quote Parker Posy: “Black eyeliner says you’ve been through stuff:  you know things.”

  • Jackets make jeans and t-shirts look decent.
  • My Choice: “Weird Jacket Science” (term used by Suzy Gershman in “The Born to Shop Lady’s Secrets for Building a Wardrobe”). This means rummaging at sales and thrift shops to track down the most outrageous jackets ever made in retail history. When paired with a plain top and jeans these ‘dark dogs’ bark out, “Audacious, Assured, Nervy Woman.”
  • Carry layers of necklaces in your purse so you can throw them on in the evening.
  • Combine different materials in your accessories.   ©”Gravity Collage” Wearable Sculptures – available from Nicole Rigets
"The Tuscany"
"The Attic"
  • Don’t throw anything out (I love this one).  Buy some sparkle at an arts and crafts store and turn an old shoe into the talk of the town.
  • Big bust?  Never wear crew neck t-shirts.
  • Men’s white shirts can be worn loose or belted.  My Choice:  leave the sleeves long and let the cuff flow low across the back of your hand Beau Brummell style.
  • Clip-in hair extensions take 3 minutes to attach and they don’t damage your hair. I watched two demos on You Tube and I liked a straight look, slightly layered, best.
  • Top Stick Boob Tape – Go Sheer with Confidence.  BTW you can always wear a weird jacket over this.
  • Wear ‘Pasties’ under a dress instead of a bra.
  • And remember it takes a 3-inch heel to help you walk with purpose, presence, and elegance!
  • My Choice:  Cut-out Bootie by Bettye Muller in black suede with a 3″ heel.  Cut out detail at vamp.  Elasticized gore.  Side zip.  Leather Sole.  Made in Italy.

  • While out shopping why don’t you pick up some paperwhites and enjoy their bright white flowers and exclusive fragrance.

Copyright © 2009 Nicole Rigets