Recycled and used items can be a crafter's dream. They are easy on the pocketbook, environmentally friendly and often have a story behind them. I personally have piles of magazine clippings and fabric remnants waiting for just the right craft project to come along. But Catherine Boldt has taken recycled craft pieces to another level by recontextualizing their original purpose.
When I discovered Boldt's Etsy shop, TieBeau, I have to admit I was a bit envious that I had not thought of her idea myself. Boldt repurposes cast aside vintage ties into very fun and brightly colored headbands. She has taken ties past their fashion prime and reinvented them as hip hair accessories.
Favoring the '50s and '60s, Boldt's headbands uniquely tell the story of a bygone era. An outdated print is modern in its new form while paying homage to the fashion and culture of its original time. It's easy to let your mind wander to imagine what the ties' first owners were like and Boldt certainly agrees, naming each headband after whom she imagined wore the tie originally.
I'd like to introduce you to Carter. Carter wore this tie to his sophomore formal and held onto it for years after as a good luck charm. To me, Carter is a little too garish as a tie but has a nice retro pop as a headband. Recontextualized, Carter is a fashion do rather than a fashion don't.
Introduce yourself to more headbands at the One Mother of a Craft Show taking place from noon-5 pm on Saturday, May 9 at the Frequency, where Catherine Boldt will be in attendance with not only her hair accessories but also her line of eco gift-wrap.
Boldt answered a few questions over email about her work and art.
The Daily Page: How do you motivate your creativity? (e.g. do you listen to music while you create and if so what?)
Boldt: My Etsy shop is called TieBeau. This is a play on the name of a once-popular exercise regime. Tie stands for the men's neckties that I use in my crafts and "beau" is French for "beautiful." This means two things to me. Firstly, I find the fabrics, patterns and designs of vintage neckties to be very beautiful and under appreciated. And secondly, men are just not wearing ties anymore, so I have taken the attitude that I am in the business of tie rescue.
I take ties out of the backs of dark closets and musty basements and give them a new life, mostly as headbands. Some of the ties I use are absolutely dreadful. You say to yourself, "Who in their right mind would design or wear such hideousness?" But sometimes, you make a headband or rosette out it and it becomes a thing of beauty. It is always surprising to take a tie and recontextualize it, and see how it changes.
The ties themselves motivate me. The fabrics are so rich; I love the sheen that so many ties have. My favorite ties are from the 50's and 60's. They have a great deal of personality. It is so interesting to see the history of fashion and popular culture in the form of a row of ties hanging on my clothesline. You can see the popularity of colors change throughout the years. The patterns truly reflect the culture of the era when the tie was made.
I'm also really motivated by the novelty tie; I recently made a headband out of a tie emblazoned with the various denominations of paper money. I wanted to embellish the money tie headband with a button that looked like a coin. This led me on a search for buttons, which in turn motivated me to add buttons to other headbands as well.
The thing that I get the biggest kick out of is that I am saving ties from the landfills and taking them out of the hands and necks of one gender and putting them on the heads of another gender. To me, it's the very definition of the "art" of recycling.
In my Etsy shop, I've written a very short story beside the picture of each individual headband. The story is about the person who I imagine used to wear the tie. That is part of my creative process. As I make the headband or rosette, the era of the tie, the colors or the theme of the pattern spark my imagination. I wonder what was the name of the person who wore the tie and where did they intend to wear it.
For instance, one story is about a guy named Kyle: "Kyle got this tie to wear to a Duran Duran concert. He just knew that if he met Simon LeBon that they would become best friends. He realized that it was time to find this tie a new home when Duran Duran's latest greatest hits CD was released and there were no tracks that he didn't already have."
Describe your workspace. Are you at the kitchen table or in a dedicated work area?
My "artist's studio" has taken many different forms over the years. It often bears an uncanny resemblance to a laundry room. Presently my "studio" looks and functions a lot like a guest bedroom. Don't let that fool you though; there is too much junk in it to make any guest feel very welcome, unless they really like ties. I am always on the hunt for a great-looking tie so thrift stores, junk sales and your grandfather's closet are all part of my workspace.
What is your favorite piece and why?
My favorite piece right now is from my line of eco gift-wrap. I make rosettes out of ties and then sew pins and elastic hair bands on the back. I then find fabric to go with the rosette. I found a tie that had this fantastic sheen and then I discovered a gauze type of fabric that matched it perfectly. I slipped the ends of the fabric through the hair band and now it looks like the most luxurious gift-wrap with such a fancy bow. The package says, "Hello, there is something very special inside me!"
The best part is that once you give the gift away, the recipient can then turn around and use it again to wrap another gift and it will look just as beautiful. There is nothing to throw away. You can use the fabric as a tablecloth if you like and the rosette as a pin or to tie up your hair so it's actually two gifts in one.
Doing custom memorial work has given me the most satisfaction. I have made headbands and rosettes for some women out of ties that were worn by their fathers who have passed on. One of my friends couldn't clean out her father's closet until she asked me to create headbands and rosettes from the ties that she found there. She had me make things for her daughters, sisters, and nieces and gave them to her family on the first father's day they were without their father. Now they have something very personal to wear whenever they want to remember him.
What advice do you have for people interested in starting an online store? How do you make the separation between your store and your day job/personal life?
My best advice is to only make what you love or it becomes just a job. I think I need someone else's advice to keep my artistic life and personal life separate. Sometimes they are very much in a big heap on top of each other. Take the recent example that I just worked as the art director for the film The Zombeatles: All You Need Is Brains, a film that my husband wrote, directed and hosted.