Kanzashi originated thousands of years ago in Japan during the Jomon period as sticks and combs which were considered to possess mystical powers of protection. The Tsumami Kanzashi style of the folded fabric flowers appeared during the Edo period when the hair styles evolved from the long and straight to the upswept. It has been has designated as a traditional Japanese Handicraft. Kanzashi hair ornaments are currently most popular with Shinto brides and apprentice Geisha called Maico.
Traditionally the Japanese create Kanzashi by folding fabric squares and mounting them on bases using a special rice glue. I learned my technique differently, a kind of American spin-off. My petals begin the same way, by folding fabric squares. But then they are sewn together in the center and then finished with commercial craft glue. I am inspired by 20th century vintage palettes, haute couture, and found materials. Each piece is one-of-a-kind and handmade only by me in St. Louis. It is not my mission to be a traditional Kanzashi master or to imitate the Japanese aesthetics. I only wish to express myself artistically, and folding fabric is the medium that speaks to me, second only to the performance art of putting on a runway show.
The majority (80%?) of the fabrics are repurposed, upcycled, or vintage. Lots of fabric gets bought, saved, never used, and eventually given up on. This is the fabric that I love to bring back to life in my flowers. All of the buttons come to me second hand. I never buy buttons from the fabric store. More than half of them are vintage or antique. Even about half of the felt I use for the backing I get from my local craft supply recycle centers. Only the hardware is commercial except for special finds like some vintage combs.
Scarlett and Maria is named after Scarlett O'Hara and Fraulein Maria. Both of these characters were pioneers in upcycling having made amazing garments out of curtains in their films. When I first returned to crafting I was making mini skirts out of curtain valances and the name stuck. I do still use vintage curtains from time to time to make my flowers.
Member of the St. Louis Craft Mafia
2012 RAWards Semi-Finals nominee for Best Accessories Designer
Storms, floods, droughts, stinging insects, UV rays - Nature is dangerous, alive, free. As a mere human, I have no control. Liquids flow through my fingers, stick and get on everything; hard things break, shatter, resist. Fabric obeys. Fabric I can command. In fabric, I have control, a say, a voice. With fabric I can paint my own little Eden, nature in all her beauty but safe from her treachery.
I am an indoor girl, a city girl, a girly girl. I don’t like dirt, I don’t like bugs. I love fabric. When I meet people I am drawn to the fibers they are wearing before their faces. I can’t make eye contact, too busy examining necklines, seams, colors, lines. The palettes that resonate the most with me are the vintage palettes of the 50s, 60s, and 70s and also combinations from Japanese art.
My pieces represent to me, a moment of still perfection in a raging unpredictable world. There is precious little I can wield power over in my environment. But in my little fabric garden, I pull the strings.
Eleanor Kurtz first became enamoured with fiber and fashion in middle school where she grew up in St. Charles, Missouri. She learned sewing from her Mother and Grandmother so she could make her very own “gothic” clothing, and created her own line of dresses in her twenties. But tailoring never suited her as much as the details, trims, pin-tucks, and other flourishes. Fashion took a back seat to her Tae Kwon Do and fitness training when she earned her First and Second degree Black Belt. Despite holding a degree in accounting, studying nutrition, learning and performing belly dance, creating cardio-kickboxing routines, and becoming a well liked cashier, none of these satisfied her as a career. The ubiquitous urge to create art and fashion kept driving her to go into business for herself. Clothing seemed like the obvious first choice, until a dress called for a flower embellishment. A book of fabric flower patterns introduced her to Kanzashi, the Japanese art of folding fabric. Persevering through months of experimentation she developed and modernized her own technique based on the traditional handicraft that originated with the Geishas of the Edo period. She has been making and marketing her original accessory and art designs for four years and is a member of the St. Louis Craft Mafia. She created two runway fashion shows through RAW: Natural Born Artists and does custom work for weddings, dancers, and nonconformists.
Scarlett and Maria accessories are designed SOLELY for adult use! NO Child 12 years old or under should EVER wear a Scarlett and Maria piece. Scarlett and Maria accessories are NOT designed for persons 12 years old or younger. The buttons, berries, and other small parts are CHOKING HAZARDS!