Mission Statement

Raising awareness and educating the public through high fashion made from recyclable materials.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

It Pays To Have an Editor in the Family

I asked my sister, Tamra Phelps, who is a book editor to look at the
piece I wrote and she offered up her editorial skills.

Elise Cheval Wins Whole Foods' Creative Reuse Contest

Elise Cheval entered Marin, California's Creative ReUse Contest
sponsored by Whole Foods Market. Susan Grelock, of the Mill Valley
Whole Foods store provided Cheval a myriad supply of small- and
medium-sized vinyl banners.

Cheval inspected and evaluated the banners for two days. She "slept
on" how the bits and pieces could best be utilized to emphasize the
motifs' designs. The two pieces Cheval selected was a 4' x 8' coffee
banner—this piece originally promoted a Whole Foods' 20 percent off
sale—and a double-sided 3' x 5' organic food banner, which was printed
with apples and cursive writing.

The largest banner contained images and a word related to coffee and
was made of printed vinyl. Fortunately for Cheval's creation, the
quantity of the coffee banner was limited and therefore stretched her
imagination. The organic food banner Grelock provided had a black back
and was also made of vinyl.

A quilter, Cheval, used her skill of creating fabric from bits and
pieces, a couple of Butterick® and McCalls® clothes patterns. She
strategically placed the large coffee motifs and black material to
integrate a jacket and skirt with a coordinating bag. Cheval's plan
was to top off the outfit with a hat, but she ran out of materials.
Please, if anyone has Whole Foods bags or banners, they would like to
donate to the cause, Cheval would happily take ownership.

Cheval jokes she underwent a warrior-like initiation to create the
garment. "Crumple" marks can be found on the vinyl, showing where the
garment was turned inside out four grueling times to create the
sleeves and collar; and, if one looks very carefully, tiny smears of
blood can be found. The bloodstains were caused by the multitude of
stabs received from the numerous pins and needles. Her cantankerous
twenty-year-old Viking 500 home sewing machine also reminded her of
the difficulty one has when working with three and four layers of

Throughout making the coffee suit, Cheval played with titles; one
"Wake-Up Call" spoke to the dual nature plastic and coffee has on our
planet and inhabitants and impact of their use. The metaphor of coffee
as a stimulant to "make us alert" cannot be ignored either. In the
end, she settled on another idea for a title, "Sew La-La."

When Cheval met folks at the Event who asked her how she "did it"
[created the outfit], she tells them she works very slowly, stays in
touch with Spirit, and is fully aware that anything could happen that
would effect the creative process. She also expressed, "I am a
Feldenkrais teacher. When you can't open the door, move the house!"

Sew La-La is a wearable, beautiful, and truly stunning outfit. The
final piece met Cheval's goals and the entrance criteria for the
Marin's Whole Foods Market Creative Reuse Contest. Cheval's told this
reporter that "while loading the garment in her car trunk, a woman who
had seen the suit hanging at the Event jumped out of her car
exclaiming, "WOW, I love your suit!" The driver was so excited to
speak with Cheval that she forgot to put her SUV into park. While
talking to Cheval the SUV was rolled towards the two women and a
parked car. Trying in vain to prevent the inevitable, Elizabeth
stepped on Cheval's foot. After impact and the determination that no
one was hurt, Cheval asked the man in the parked vehicle if he
sustained any injuries. His response was, "No. I was distracted by
your suit!" Soon he learned the reason Elizabeth's car hit his was
because she too was admiring the outfit. "So many stories go into the
making of a garment," exclaims Cheval.

Cheval's efforts paid off. Her endeavor received an award issued by
the president of the Whole Foods corporation called "Nickle for
Non-Profit Program." On June 1, Cheval's favorite non-profit
organization, The O'Hanlon Center for the Arts will receive a monetary
award from Whole Foods Market. Additionally, she has been invited to
wear the garment and perform her improvisational singing and plastic
story-telling about the product's drastic impact and fantastic nature
at the contest's Recognition Event at the Throckmorton heatre in Mill
Valley on June 1st.

Cheval's wish is that she had a video of the entire process, but being
under the gun to create her work, her focus was to finish the garment
by the contest's April 30th deadline. Cheval's dreams continue to come
true.  Judi Shils, Executive Director of "Teens Turning Green," has
asked her to work with her organization's kids to create a fashion
show, using, you guessed it, garments made out of trash. Keep your
eyes open Marin. There is a reusable fashion show on the horizon.

Author, Elise Cheval
Edited by Tamra Phelps

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