Sunday, September 27, 2009


Adrienne was born in the year of the monkey. The fact that she is clever, inventive, skillful, and truly original is maybe down to a well placed birth date? (ok -plus immense talent, work, and experience)!

All lovers of fine and beautiful things owe a debt to whatever cosmos aligned to bring her forth! She truly embodies ALL that is the darkest hue of Green. Her work is made from ALL recycled and found objects, fabrics, and castaways. She gives old sweaters, wire hangers, notions, and men's shirts a rebirth. She lives and breathes all the kind of alchemy that yield the most magical art pieces I have seen in awhile. I first was introduced to her clothing which extended the life of kid's favorite numbers and created new inspired fanciful frocks. Then I saw her toys (clutching heart)... The magical robots. Amazing. What inspires me most is her ability to create something out of whatever comes her way. A real frugalist and sorceress for our times. She will even stuff an object using remaining fluff and dust bunnies from her studio floor. NOTHING goes to waste. She has an incredible eye for detail and sometimes labors for 15 hours to make one small piece. I visited her Bed Stuy studio, reGenerations to share with eco-bling readers the beautiful person(a) behind these joyful works of art. I went for the felted mermaids and stayed for the sweet pecans and brie! Maybe next blog she'll share some recipes too.

EB If you could paint the sky what color would it be?

rG blue. you know; if it ain't broke...

I do love fireworks, though. And skywriting is kind of fun. I wonder what it costs to advertise that you think there are bio-diesel options? Can they send tremendous clouds of nag champa into the stratosphere that spell 'buy reGENERATIONs' ?

EB How did you get started?

rG Have i started something? sorry, Elissa. I will put on my 'serious' face. you know my lovely twins...when they were around 18 months, we had this hand-me-down sweater Amzi wore ALL the time until she got too long for it; you know how they just keep getting longer, but not wider.

Anyway, a thousand years ago my mom taught me how to crochet to help me get over my very first broken heart. It worked, and I fell in love with crochet. So when Amzi grew too long for the sleeves of this sweater, I extended them by adding crochet cuffs.

The fairy boat mobiles and marionettes I'm making now are a far cry from that first sweater, but that's the nature of art, I think. The nature of creation. It evolves, and that's really what the name (reGENERATIONs) is all about. My mom passing her art down to me, my dad's shirt becomes a fairy skirt for his grandaughter, or a dragon fairy boat for someone else's son. The shape of a thing changes although it's dna is always there.

And my kids get to be surrounded by these magical things, their imagination soar while they watch me work, and they are learning about conservation without being hit over the head with the idea. Do you know their favorite place to shop is goodwill? I love that.

EB What encouraged you to become a full fledged business?

rG I love doing this. I feel most myself and most at peace when I'm creating my art. in a crazy world which seems to be getting more surreal by the second, the only thing that makes sense to me is that I focus on what helps me to feel really alive.

EB What is the best (or most bizarre) compliment you have ever received about your work?

rG my sister calls me Willy Wonka. Which is the best compliment in the sense of his being this wonderful magician and creator of his own universe. It's also bizarre because i don't wear a purple crushed velvet top hat.

EB What do you need to happen to feel that your business is really soaring?

rG I need to be able to afford my children's tuition, or to live somewhere with good public schools, and to take a vacation every once in a while. Is this an appropriate time to mention health insurance?

EB Do you still work a "9-5"?

rG No. I worked for 19 years in the fashion industry. After seven years at my last job, we were all laid off. On a Tuesday at 1 in the afternoon. No heads-up, no farewell lunch, and no severance package. We were all technically freelance, so they could get away with it.

I hope that doesn't sound bitter, because I'm actually not. I think this sort of behavior in business is insane, but if my employers had been more reasonable about it, more human, I may have been aggressive about finding another 9-5, and then I wouldn't be working so intently on what I believe I was born to do.

I'm an artist. there... I said it. But I would accept another 9-5 if it were a great job and allowed me to continue doing this work.

EB What are your plans for reGENERATIONs?

rG you know what they say; we make plans, and god laughs. I'm SO tired of being laughed at.

There are a couple pieces that have developed that I love, and they could be those perfect items that really take off. My heart is not in mass production, and the factories I have worked with want bolts of fabric and uniformity, which is also not what I do.

Though I've been thinking that so many fantastically skilled people are unemployed after years working in garment district. It would be great if someone created a few sewing cooperatives.

They could make my one great piece, and then it becomes this symbol for living wages and community and employing/buying/selling locally; green business. We take it on the road and plant a sewing cooperative seed in every post-industrial town in the U.S., and Oprah loves it and we all live happily ever after.

It could work.

EB Do you have a background in fashion? textiles? self taught?

rG yes. yes. yes.

Also the time I have spent 'crafting' with the other parents at my children's school has been priceless. absolutely. I have learned so much about wool, felting, finding the balance(!) for a mobile, as well as how important it is to laugh and cry and share while I work.

EB Tell me about your process.

rG that's a tough one. I wake up and check out what's floating through my head or on the computer.

Last Saturday I saw Max, who you know just lost two teeth. I was thinking about her yesterday, and then this image popped into my head; one of my little birds carrying a bag for a tooth. you know, for the tooth fairy. So I made one when I woke up this morning.

Is that what you mean by 'process'?

EB - Yup! - Tell me about your line.

rG I'm really focusing on play and imagination. Perhaps 'focus' is not the right word; more like I'm playing and imagining. It's fun and silly and whimsical work. And of course, it's all made from second-hand materials; mostly men's shirts and wool sweaters which I boil until they are felted.

My understanding is that wet-felting is the oldest form of textile. I love that. This direct line extending back to our most ancient ancestors, and I'm turning it into jeweled pirate eye patches and handing them to my children. yum!

Right now I'm working on dragon and swan boat mobiles, some small birds, and custom name banners; those are all on the decor end of things. I have fairy skirts, knight's coifs, aviator caps and goggles, feathered headbands, and military vests for dress up. Although my kids wear those things to school. Often.

My very favorite pieces at the moment are the marionettes. Talk about love! I actually giggle as I see them come to life. I also love the neck ruffs, they're much more practical (ha!) than most of my work, and they fit little people as well as grown folk.

EB Any interest from distributors or retailers that you can talk about?

rG I can say that I received an email today from the lovely Acorn Toy Shop on Atlantic Avenue here in Brooklyn. The phrase that comes to mind is 'I definitely want the boats'. They should be there in time for holiday shopping.

And I have an appointment next week with the baby buyer (that sounds weird) for a swanky Japanese Department Store on Fifth Avenue. You can do the math.

EB How long (on average) does it take to make a piece say, for example, the fairy boats?

rG The boats take me 5 or 6 hours to make. I can save a little time by making a few at a time, but not much, because they are still one-of-a-kind, and it's a lot of hand-work.

EB What records/books would you take on a deserted island?

rG What a segue! David Bowie's live Ziggy Stardust album. Everything I could carry by Manu Chao, Susana Baca, Led Zepplin, Chuchumbe, Virginia Rodriguez, and Cyndi Lauper. Right now I'm listening to Sugar by Ddib and I can't imagine having to live without this song. At least I would want to have the chorus lyrics tattooed on me somewhere.

In terms of books; Song for Night. Absolutely. And an extra copy just in case the tide takes one away...Magic of the Ordinary, The Bible, Coming Through Slaughter, Red Earth and Pouring Rain, the Baron in the Trees, Angry Black White Boy, the God of Small Things, Life of Pi, Confederacy of Dunces, The Little Prince, The Bone People...exactly how large a vessel is carrying me to this island anyway?

EB How do you balance work and twins?

rG easy. I've strung each of them onto either end of a rod made from recycled newspapers; one-of-a-kind mobile and work/twins balanced. viola!

EB What constitutes a "good day" ?

rG I haven't raised my voice. My kids have played outside somewhere with some friends, and I've made something beautiful. We've all laughed, ALL gotten a bath, eaten something delicious, and my kids have told me I'm sweet.

EB What do your kids think of your line? Being an entrepreneur?

rG I suppose they love what I do, because every single time I make something new they ask me who it's for and why they can't have it. I don't know that they're quite as pleased with the entrepreneur part. The boundaries between family time and work were much more clear when I was working 9-5. I think that's a lot easier for 5-year-olds.

EB Other than your own what toys/textile lines inspire you?

rG I love petit pan and paper wings. Both are beyond gorgeous. If you don't already know their work, please look at them, look at their websites, and sigh from the beauty.

EB What famous person would you want to have dinner with dead or alive?

rG Wait... I have to choose whether I'm dead or alive?

hmm. I'd love to have dinner with Julie Taymor, Manu Chao, Arundati Roy, Van Jones, Louis Kahn, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Charlie Chaplin, or Steppin Fetchit. Their work has brought me to tears.

EB What would be the ideal city for you, reGENERATIONs, and your family?

rG I love Brooklyn. This is the very first time I have felt really at home in New York, and it has most of what I want in a home town. But is becoming pretty hard for working folk to 'maintain' around these parts.

Sometimes I imagine a school bus converted to be a home, studio, as well as a retail/classroom venue. I'd love if we could park in a city/town with a mild climate and a public Waldorf school during fall and winter months, then to be on the road during summer/art fair months. Our west coast would be our best bet, though I'd love to be on the east coast of Mexico. Vera Cruz would be nice.