Flowers

The first camellias are opening on our street, and in the studio we're honoring them with these...

Partial camellia of organza, chiffon, and habotai.  100% silk. photo markmitchellburial.com 2013

Our silk flowers are carefully created by hand, each one unique.  For a camellia, individual petals of different sizes and fabrics are stitched into place around a center knot.  Roses are made by artfully folding, twisting, and stitching strips of fabric.  The roses look quite realistic when massed in different sizes, with leaves and buds.

Monica hand-forms roses from silk organza.  photo markmitchellburial.com 2013

Inside

The hidden pieces of the collection are some of the most exciting parts.  Secret pockets, lush interior details and lots of hand-stitching make each garment a one-of-a-kind treasure.

Interior jacket detail, showing embroidered silk organza and organic cotton shoulder pad with organza ruffle header and embroidered keepsake pocket "My Darling Boy".  photo markmitchellburial 2013.

Houston, Tx.

Arrived home last night from our research trip to Houston, where we gorged ourselves on art and Tex-Mex, and spent a terrific morning at the National Museum of Funeral History with museum President Genevieve Keeney and Historian Shelley Hess.  They were incredibly generous with information and resources, and we hope to see them again later in the year.  A beautiful artifact they shared with us was this child-sized pair of burial shoes.

A child-sized pair of satin burial shoes, trimmed with braid, ribbon, and paste buckles.  National Museum of Funeral History.  photo markmitchellburial 2013

The Ultimate Appointment

People plan for months or years to devise the ideal wedding costume but rarely think of what they’ll wear for life’s ultimate appointment. I use traditional fine-sewing techniques to create garments that honor the deceased with a thoughtful integrity of artistry, design, materials, and workmanship that offer an alternative to the tradition of “Sunday Best” or the uninspired offerings available at this time in the funeral industry.

Saint Clare of Assisi, patroness of embroiderers

Details 2

Inside this organza and gauze jacket, shaping devices of hand-made bias tubing are held in place by tiny crocheted rings, the ends scroll to a finish.

Inside shaping detail, silk ruffle jacket.  photo markmitchellburial.com 2013

Tired and Inspired

Spent a long day getting ready for Monday's research trip to Houston, and I'm about out of steam, but I still feel as excited and eager as I did when I started work at 7 this morning.  There is something about working on a project that you care about deeply, that you fully believe in, that lets you work far past the time you should have your feet up watching something awful on cable.  This project has been like that from the beginning.  Launching our website this week has brought really kind and thoughtful responses from unexpected places, which makes me feel very optimistic about the road ahead.  Thanks everyone for your support thus far, and for keeping an open mind.  I can't wait for you to see what we have in store later in the year.

A Pioneer

I want to introduce you to Greg Lundgren.  Greg is an artist, designer, and curator.  Among his many accomplishments is Lundgren Monuments where he challenges our ideas about memorialization through his personal design work and the group shows he organizes.  His input and advice has been crucial to the development of the Mark Mitchell Burial project.  Visit his website to see his wonderful work, then read this recent profile from Seattle Magazine.

MAHOGANY CABIN    Medium: Cast Glass & Mahogany   Dimensions: 8.5"x6.5"x6"   Capacity: 48 cu in   Price $2,500

Buttons

Gown in 4-ply silk crepe with 84 matching buttons and loops.  2012.  photo markmitchellburial.com

Each of these buttons starts with a 7/16"  wooden mold that is covered with a small circle of silk crepe to match the gown.  Tiny stitches are used to gather and tighten the circle from behind, so that the front and sides of the button are completely smooth.  This gown requires 84 such buttons to close the front and sleeves.  Matching loops are created from silk and padded with wool to take the place of buttonholes.

The National Museum of Funeral History

We are very excited to be planning a trip to Houston to see the collection at the National Museum of Funeral History.  It will be a relatively short trip, but look forward to seeing what the museum holds, and spending some time with the funeral historian Shelley Ott.  I know the trip will be inspiring and enlightening.

photo National Museum of Funeral History

Gauze veil

This veil is a sneak peek at the work we're doing for our September premiere.  The gauze fabric of the veil is half the weight of silk chiffon, and the silk floss comes from Au Ver a Soie, a French company that has been making thread since 1820.  This veil is completely hand-stitched, with a fine rolled edge and 30+ hours of chain stitch embroidery.  It’s a fussy thread to work with.  If you have a bit of a rough nail, or even a rough patch of skin, it catches the floss and fuzzes it up. It takes real hand-ballet to use it, but it is unsurpassable in shine and beauty.

Gauze veil with floss embroidery.  All silk. photo markmitchellburial.com

Gauze veil with floss embroidery.  All silk.

photo markmitchellburial.com

Closures

A Romeo Gigli cocoon coat, in velvet with ribbon-tied sleeves.

I’m thinking more about tied closures, and making everything open neck to hem either front, back, or around the sides.  Meeting with Ross made me so much more aware of the realities of the pieces, that and D’s fitting when he could barely get into his chiffon tank alive!

I love the tied sleeve on this Romeo Gigli velvet coat.  The cocoon shape is also very appealing, and a major inspiration.

Details

It occurred to me today that the sleeves and headpiece I was designing for A. were even more wonderful when Alexander McQueen first designed them!  So back to the drawing board a bit for her outer piece and headwear, and serious thought about the ribbon tank and it’s unpleasant puckering problem.  These are two of the hundred or so the things I need to be working out over the next couple of weeks so I can lead my little crew to create a beautiful, thoughtful collection.

I have so much thinking to do about closures.  They are part of the essence of some of the pieces, but seeing the simple ties of the Jewish shrouds today have me rethinking some things about fit and closure, especially for the more ready-to-wear end of the show.

A sample of silk ribbon on silk chiffon. photo Mark Mitchell Burial.

An inspiring meeting

This morning I talked for an hour with Ross Kling , the funeral director I met when he took my sewing class.  He prepares Jewish bodies for burial, and provides funeral services for both Jewish and non-Jewish people.  I was struck by his presence, his kindness, and gentleness.  He described the ritual of cleansing and dressing the deceased in the traditional shroud, made up of several pieces, using traditional wrapping and knotting to close openings and mark the ankle and waist.  I was moved by the presence of this gentle man, so physically engaged and intimate with this body that has to be manipulated into the various garments.  He spoke of how grounding and humbling it is, and how meaningful to him that he is the last to see this human before their remains are buried. I was made clearly aware of the need to design garments that preserve the dignity of both the deceased and the person who dresses the deceased.

The items that make up a traditional Jewish shroud.