Thursday, January 7, 2016


Bolero: n. 1. A lively Spanish dance in triple meter.  2. The music for this dance.  3. A waist-length jacket, with or without collar, lapels and sleeves, worn open in front.  (Webster’s College Dictionary, Random House, 1995.)


I found this and one other bolero (the article of clothing) in a big box lot of linens and doilies at a recent estate auction.  I’m not sure if the estate was of a collector or antiques dealer, I am guessing the latter, as there was not enough of any one type of item to clearly establish a collection of that given group.  Plus, nearly everything had a price tag on it.  I troll the local estate auctions for vintage linens and other things I can use in my fabric dyeing and art quilts.  My first thought on these boleros was why would anyone make, buy or wear a lacy sort of jacket that not only doesn’t cover the torso, but will do nothing to keep you warm?  Lately, I dress more for comfort.  After I thought about my gut reaction more, I realized that I cannot recall the last time I dressed up to go somewhere.  There is an emotional benefit to getting “dolled up,” at least once in a while.  Why not make and wear something beautiful?   

However, since I have a closet full of dressy clothes that I obviously am not wearing, I have put the boleros up on my Etsy store.  My creative brain wants to dye them and alter them, but I think they might be worth keeping as they are.  I will give someone who is into historical costuming the chance to give them a new home. 

I think that the last time I dressed up and went out was about three years ago (that long, really?) to a fantastic orchestra performance of Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, with Pepe Romero as the guest soloist.  One of many classical pieces I would like to hear live is Ravel's Bolero.  Somewhere, I have heard that Bolero is the longest crescendo in classical music.  There is a great video of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra performing Bolero on YouTube.

I have been contemplating interpreting music in my textile art.  Other than illustrating a few Tom Waits songs, I have yet to come up with any solid ideas on transforming sound into fabric in such a way that the viewer would relate to the music.  I think that using music would be a good way to teach visual design, there are similarities to both.  In the case of Bolero, an short theme is repeated on the timpani s throughout the piece, and the other instruments echo it, while a melody is repeated through the instruments, solo or in groups; repetition, variety and unity – both important tools in visual design too.  This is definitely a concept I will be working on this year.

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