Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

A picture of Kari Love

Kari Love

Costumer, puppet artist

Posted in fashion, puppet

Who are you, and what do you do?

I work as draper at Parsons-Meares LTD., a company that builds made-to-order costumes for stage and screen. My role in the process is to take a drawing of what the costume designer wants the costume to look like, and create the 3-dimensional interpretation. The designer can clarify or change their vision by making choices along the way. I make patterns, determine the method of construction, have fittings on the actors, and lead a team of skilled craftspeople to make the costume a reality. My highest profile project to date is building Spider-man, including his muscle suit, for the Broadway show. My most recent project was building ballet bodices and skirts for a chorus of 16 dancers.

On the side I've been working on puppets. I started as an over-hire builder at The Puppet Kitchen, a great professional shop that works in many styles and scales. Last year, I also decided to start challenging myself to create original works. I've done two original short puppetry pieces, "Armadillo" (Orlando Puppet Festival, Voice 4 Vision) and "Wouldn't It Be Nice" (Puppet Playlist), and am looking forward to doing more.

What hardware do you use?

Sewing machine, dress form, band saw, respirator, ventilation hood, belt sander, irons, pinable cutting mat, heat press, rotary cutter, French curves, clear grid ruler, tracing wheel, bolt cutters, dremel, razor blades, scissors, needles.

When dealing with hazardous materials I love using the North brand respirator with the Defender multi-purpose cartridges since it covers most breathable hazards including organic vapors and particulates. This saves me the hassle of needing to check the OSHA materials sheets for each product while still protecting those precious brain cells. I also wear latex gloves because cancer and crazy should both be avoided as much as possible!

And what software?

Fabric, thread, glue, foam, horsehair, beads, lace, ribbons, net, boning, Wonder Under, safety pins, brown paper, neoprene, plastic, zippers, snaps, fishing line, silver Sharpies, Sharpies, 6B pencils, Stitch N Tear.

Marking on fabric is an essential part of how I work, and it may surprise a lot of people the variety of drawing tools I use. A hard pencil such as a 2B makes a permanent mark that tends not to smudge, whereas a 6B soft pencil is used for marking paint references which need to wash away. On light fabrics pale peach or yellow Prismacolor colored pencil comes in handy, while white is for dark fabrics. Colored Sharpies or illustration quality markers are good for drawing style lines or embellishment ideas on a mock-up with the designer or touching up color imperfections on finished costumes. Silver Sharpies are great for marking on black foam. Wax tracing paper, applied by a tracing wheel, comes in handy for marking through paper patterns or transferring fitting changes symmetrically. Tailor's wax comes off with an iron, and a chalk wheel mark will come off after just a moment when you dust it off. It's no wonder that my pencil cup is always overflowing.

What would be your dream setup?

My dream setup would include limitless access to various specialized machines both outdated and state of the art. On the discontinued front it would include things like a Picot specialty stitch machine and a crank-powered scallop cutter. Of new machines I dream of an industrial belt sander, a 3D printer and a laser cutter. As someone who loves to collaborate, it would also have lots of amazing people with varied skills and backgrounds. The space would be in an old restored industrial brick building with banks of windows overlooking a river. I like to dream big!