Two years ago, Eleanor Kurtz made her first Kanzashi flower, and she’s been hooked ever since. Through her company Scarlett and Maria, she sells a variety of accessories at local craft fairs and on Etsy.com. On Thursday, August 16, Kurtz will be showcasing her handiwork at RAW:Radiate, an event described as an “artistic circus” of fashion, photography, film and even food. Radiate is hosted by RAW:natural born artists, an organization that seeks to provide up-and-coming artists with the tools necessary for success. Join Kurtz and 24 other local artists tonight at 8 p.m. at The Coliseum Music Lounge (2619 Washington). Tickets are $15 at the door.
How did Scarlett and Maria come about?
I knew that my creativity would have to be used to make a living. For one, I had a family to help support, so anything I spent my time on had to make money. At the very least, it had to pay for itself. For two, my ability to produce could easily outstrip my own need for accessories and gifts, and eventually fill my entire house. … Since I started out with the intention of making clothing, particularly upcycled clothing, I named my business Scarlett and Maria after Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With the Wind and Fraulein Maria from The Sound of Music. Both of them were upcycling divas making clothing out of curtains.
What is Kanzashi, and how did you get started with it?
Kanzashi is a traditional style of hair adornment originating in Japan during the Edo period. They are flowers created with fabric that is folded in a style similar to Origami. … When I quit my job, I intended to go back into clothing making. But I knew that it was going to be … a hard sell since my style had turned a little to the avant garde. I bought a few different books on flowers for a specific dress idea I had. I made my first Kanzashi flower, and it was horrible. But I was hooked and determined to explore as much of the infinite possibilities as I could. These flowers would be the perfect way for me to explore and express color and theme more expediently and in a neater package than a very expensive dress. So I have spent the last two years working at my technique every single day, thousands of hours to make my flowers perfect. I went beyond the techniques in the book and developed my own construction method and designed my own new petal styles.
How did you become involved with RAW:St. Louis?
I was just browsing the St. Louis Etsy forum and a friend mentioned that she was being showcased at some RAW thing. … I found the mission and diversity of RAW so intriguing, so I signed up myself. But the full awesomeness didn’t reveal itself to me until the coordinator called to tell me all about the possibilities of my showcase. I was thinking like an art fair, just set up my table and sell stuff. But when she said the two magic words “runway show”—only my lifelong dream—I got so excited I couldn’t even eat my dinner or sleep that night.
How does your work fit into the show?
I have teamed up with Shauna O’Brien of Vivi Lee Handmade Jewelry to put on our very first runway show! We will have 12 beautiful, live models displaying her jewelry and my accessories to create fabulous synergistic fashion looks. Our show is at 8:45. My pieces will be on display for sale as well.