-- Laphroaig Dress --
Prince Charles' Royal Seal; this is his favorite scotch and the crown is found on every Laphroaig bottle.
A close shot of my hand=stich work of the distillery
Hand-stitching took roughly 18 hours to complete. Long process but well worth.
It all starts with a dream and a vision...
that leads to a reality when one is focused.
-- Seven Grand Los Angeles --
This is the main bar of Seven Grand
Seven Grand is a whisky bar that is located in the heart of Down Town Los Angeles, right above a Spanish restaurant called Mas Malo. There, you can find whiskies from all over the world, including India, Tasmania, England, Scotland, Japan, Taiwan and, of course, the Unites States of America!
This is the Jackalope Room, which is located down the hallway towards the cigar case. It used to look like this a year ago--the plaid carpet and all--but now it has turned into Bar Jackalope.
The Jackalope Room is special to me because of Seven Grand Whisky Society. Without it, I would have not had the opportunity to sample an extensive selection of whiskies on a monthly basis. I also owe it to my dear friend Ron who invited me to partake in this group. Seven Grand Whisky Society holds about 2-3 tasting presentations per month. You can pay a one-time $15 fee or you can pay a full membership for $120, which allows you to bring a guest and this title lasts for a year. I personally think this is a great group to be a part of, especially if you are interested in in learning about whiskey. For example, a few years back, Master Distiller David Stewart of Balvenie let the group sample the following expressions: Balvenie 17 Year, Balvenie 21 Year Portwood, Balvenie Tun 1601 Batch 6. Just to give you an idea of the value of this event, Balvenie Tun is highly allocated and at the time retailed for $250 and Balvenie 30 Year costed roughly $750. I definitely feel that I made money that night from tasting that magnificent line up. Check out the link here to get onto Seven Grand's mailing here. Hope to see you there!
-- Bar Jackalope --
Bar Jackalope was established in February of 2014 by General Manager of Seven Grand Andrew Abrahamson. Upon visiting to Japan with three of his co-workers some time in 2013, he was mesmerized by the hospitality he received in bars, where he was greeted with a warm towel and sweet peanuts covered in a crunchy coating. There, the setting was small and intimate, seating no more than ten people or so, and the bartenders hand cut ice and concocted drinks with immaculate precision, where jiggers, a measuring tool used to pour spirits, were completely obsolete because they practiced controlling the flow of alcohol exiting from the mouth of a bottle with a steady gate. I, unfortunately, do not have the insight of experiencing Japanese hospitality in bars, but can only imagine that is divine.
Andrew has put a lot of thought into Bar Jackalope, and every week a new addition of accoutrements--a 3-prong ice chipper to make ice balls to a box of Le Nez Du Whisky Aroma Kits for guests--is added to personalize the room. I am completely thankful that he recruited me to work here, despite not having any bar experience!
I overheard a guest said to her friend that the beautiful thing about being in Los Angeles and meeting the people is that everyone out there has a dream and a vision. "This bar stemmed from a dream," she said, and she could not be more correct. And Andrew is always finding new ways to keep the bar interesting and up-to-date. In addition, the staff meets every Thursday to train, where we sample a handful of bottles, so we can stay on top of our whisky education.
Bar Jackalope is a bit unconventional. This bar, which seats 15 people at most, opens on Sunday-Thursday from 8:00 PM-1:30 AM, and it is a first-come-first-serve basis, unless you own a bottle then you can reserve a spot for sure. The pace of this bar is completely different from there main bar; there are no shaken cocktails (only three, which includes Old Fashioneds, Japanese Highballs, and Manhattans) and a crowd of people clumping by the bar to take an order. Instead, when you approach the door, you are encouraged to hit a button that turns on a red light to let the staff know that you are present (Knocking on a door is not advised here!). Once a spot is available you are more than welcome to sit down, where we greet you with a warm towel and water. Then, we give you a menu of our collection of whiskies that we have thoughtfully curated. There are bottles that are highly allocated, such as the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection and Pappy Van Winkle, but there are other whiskies that are not expensive; we have the Highwest Double Rye for $4 as a tasting pour! Lastly, we take your orders at your table and serve them to you, while giving you some education about each product. The presentation can be in-depth or brief, depending however you want the sipping experience to be. After all, at the end of the day, the evening is about you and your experience here. I hope to see you there!
Bottle Lockers Inside Bar Jackalope: Guests can buy a full bottle and keep it in a locker to enjoy at their convenience
A Close View of Our Bottle Locker
A View of the Main Bar at Seven Grand LA
Roughly 2.5 years ago or so, I met Laphroaig's Global Brand Ambassador Simon Brooking at a whisky tasting in Los Angeles, and he encouraged the audience to visit Islay. Six months later, I planned my solo trip to Scotland and e-mailed him, asking if it would be possible for me to visit the distillery. And no matter what time of day it was, whether it was 4:00 AM or 2:00 AM on my end, he would respond to me within a few hours. As a result, he made my trip to Islay possible. At the time I had no idea that Simon put over 10,000 miles a month, meeting thousands of people, and yet he remembered me and took the time to help me make my whisky adventure come true. I owe it to him and am so thankful for his kindness. Without him, I would not have been such a big lover of Laphroaig.
It took me two years to design this dress because I had a creative block, but I was inspired by the people I met on Islay and the distillery itself. I remember being in a van with Distillery Manger John Campbell (not to name drop!) and riding on a single-paved road towards the distillery. The clouds seemed low and almost ominous, swallowing the trees and pavement, but there was a cyclist resting his bike while he tied his shoelaces. And from a distance, I could see the pagoda rooftops whistling steam as it appeared to break away from the dark, heavy clouds. My mind begin to whir; I imagined that life here on Islay was much simpler than Southern California, where I was no consumed by the excess grey buildings and cars that putter along the 405 freeway. Life seemed simple and ideal on Islay and I had a romantic idea that the seemingly simplest forms of a single-paved road and a cyclist with an old-timey bicycle would eliminate the mental and physical clog of my brain and body.
Once I arrived on Laphroaig Distillery the aroma of raw casks and scotch wafted in the air. I couldn't believe. There is nothing like smelling dark cherries macerated with wood at a distillery; it is completely sublime.
The next day, I had the opportunity to partake in Laphroaig's Water to Whisky Tour, where I was able to cut peat, taste some scotches from casks and take a sample of cask strength Laphroaig home. Cutting peat was an incredible moment for me because it took away the romance of whisky; it is a laborious task that requires a lot of strength.. And a task to cut peat reminds me that this is a type of job that is extremely humbling and down-right dirty; thus, one must never forget the men and women who work in the distillery who make fine whiskies for consumers to enjoy. To be able to press my whole weight into the soil and hear the sounds of roots separating for the first time when knowing they have been attached for hundreds, if not thousands of years...it is absolutely breath-blowing. When the roots and decayed vegetation detach from each other, it is similar to the sound of one peeling the outer skins of oranges. And I could feel the Islay breeze lapping my cheeks while I listened Islay's music. This is nature at its finest.
-- Laphroaig Art --
A close shot of my journal with a small bottle of Laphroaig that I got to sample at the distillery a few years ago. Also, these are signatures of John Campbell (Master Distiller/Distillery Manager) and Simon Brooking (Global Brand Ambassador of Laphroaig). Both men are soooo awesome and nice! Cairdeas (pronounced as "CAR-chess") means "friendship in Gaelic, and each year a special bottle is released for the Feis Isle Festival, which is held once a year at the end of May.
-- Highland Park Doodles --
Vikings were an integral part of Orkney Islands, and they have been used as part of the special collections of Highland Park, such as the Valhalla Series.
Highland Park Pot Stills
I was very fortunate and lucky to partake in a Highland Park Distillery Tour with Brand Ambassador Martin Daraz in May of 2012. This man pretty much changed my life because he took me under his wing and encouraged me to follow my passion in being in the whisky industry. I was so blown away by his genuine kindness. It is a gift to meet him, and I am always so thankful each day because of him. Sometimes when I want to quit, I just think how a stranger took the time to feed me, drink delicious whiskies with me and teach me courage! He's one of the greatest people you'll ever meet, and I hope you'll take the time to see him present Highland Park.
During the tour, I didn't get to take a lot of pictures at the distillery, so I don't have a lot of hand drawings of this place. At any rate, it is well worth the trek to check out their facility and visit Orkney Islands! I hope you'll take a chance and try their delicious scotches. I find that people who say they hate "peaty-style" scotches end up enjoying these expressions because it is rounded, well-balanced and remarkable.
-- Design of Bar Jackalope Logo --
I was asked roughly a year ago to design the logo of Bar Jackalope, before the place was opened, by General Manager Andrew Abrahamson of Seven Grand Los Angeles. I must say, I was quite honored that he selected me to do the art work because I feel like my drawings are very detailed-oriented, and they always teeter along the lines of, "Okee, DUDE! That is TOO much frill," and, "Alrighty, that's just enough." Luckily, Andrew had a vision and wanted something more streamlined, simple and earthy. He asked me to use Suntory's labels as inspiration, and the logo of the Jackalope was born. This is my modern interpretation of the jackalope.
I had a lot of fun designing this because I had to "rethink" how I would typically draw. Simplifying is hard for me because I overthink a lot, and I think it translates in my whisky journal and clothes. For example, I am inspired by the window displays and clothes from Anthropologie, in which pants have hidden messages and notes near the tailbone, etc. There's something intimate about things like that because, to me, it's like inviting someone into your world of imagination; it represents trust and building strong, interpersonal relationships with others. As far as creating this, I had to learn how to clear my mind and focus purely on instincts. I drew other designs, and it wasn't until 4 hours in, 5 minutes before the deadline of sending the drawings to Andrew, that I came up with this logo. It came so naturally towards the final minute. It was sort of funny because I knew that the only way to get to the final product was that I had to clear my mind and not "overthink" it, though I didn't expect it to take 4 hours!
My Design of Bar Jackalope Logo
-- Single Cask Nation Art --
A Picture Given to Me By Joshua Hatton, One of the Founders of Single Cask Nation
Not quite done yet. I'm not entirely happy with the drawing, but I'm trying to practice not being so critical of myself. I always think, "It could be better."
-- Kilchoman Doodles --
A Blast from the Past and Into the Present
Although my current journal is large, it's easier to draw than doodling from the small ones I used in the past. My sister was kind enough to buy me this large journal through Restoration Hardware, and the paper is fabulous. It's easy to do some pen work here because the paper is so thick that the ink never smears. This is ideal for me, since I'm left-handed. When I used my small, Moleskin books, I found that my hands were unsteady and it's much harder to draw small lines and squares when doodling a page that only allows me to draw a 3-inch image.
At any rate, I haven't filled anything new in here because this book is dedicated to my whisky adventures at distilleries. I'm planning to go back to Scotland and be in UK and/or Europe for 2 months, so hopefully I will come back to the USA with exciting stories and doodles. I am hoping to be there in mid-May through mid-July.
Although the bulk of my journal covers my distillery adventures, I have recently added some pages that are dedicated to people and groups that have inspired me. Single Cask Nation, for example, is a wonderful independent bottling company founded by both Joshua Hatton and Jason Joshstone-Yellin. These guys are really funny and personable, and Bar Jackalope carries a lot of their products at the bar. Every bottle I've sampled has tasted amazing, so I figured it would be a shame for me to NOT add them into my diary. To get their bottles, you can join here.
Tonight I decided to scroll through my old journals. I used to carry these little journals with me everywhere, especially to tastings at Seven Grand, and I'd get them signed by presenters.
Image of Kilchoman's Pot Stills
This is My Current Whisky Journal
-- Single Cask Nation Doodle --
Selecting Casks from Samples by Single Cask Nation
The creative process is an interesting thing. While I am drawing or sewing I find it to be a very therapeutic activity, but I notice that when I snap a photo and post it on-line I start to critique it like crazy. I start to notice all the flaws once its' photographed. It's like recording yourself when you're playing piano. In the middle of digging your whole body into the instrument you don't really notice how the music sounds because there are some distractions--the tapping of keys, pressing your foot on the pedal, etc...then all of a sudden when you sit back and look/listen to the tune, you can hear what's really going on, and that's what I get when I'm drawing and then posting the images I create when I post them on-line; things look more clear when I take a step back, in which I think certain things can look better. I feel like one of those guests from The Maury Pauvich Show when one finds out her man has been cheating on her. "You did what? F$#& you, mother f#&(@+!," an angry lady says, and then she throws a chair and scratches her lover with her fake 9-inch claws, but instead of flipping furniture I just frown and toss a marker. GRRR! My friends tell me I need to be easier on myself because no one else will. So, I'm trying to practice doing that--baring all the good, bad and ugly. I am hoping that the more I open up with my art that I can build a thicker skin and just be comfortable with who I am. So, if you think I suck, I can shrug it off and say, "Well, that's great because I enjoy eating lollipops!" So, yar...I guess this doodle is ...it's perty good and I'm an O.K. person....and gosh darn it...people like me!
-- Highland Park Dress --
I used Highland Park St. Magnus, Highland Park 18 Year, Highland Park 25 Year and Dark Origins as inspirations to design this dress. In addition, Highland Park releases their Valhalla line each year to draw inspiration from Orkney Islands' viking heritage. As a result, I made faux leather straps to give the dress an "edgy" and "warrior-like" appearance, so I could capture the fighting spirit of these people. I also find that some Highland Parks have an abundance of pepper corn spices and red fruits that kick my mouth, giving an adventurous spirit to their collection.
I used silver floss to hand stitch the logo and the name "Highland Park." It was difficult using this particular material because the strings would coil up, clump up into knots and rip. The metallic color reflects the packaging of Highland Park Dark Origins, where its glinting color bounces off the black, matt finish of the bottle. I like the play-on juxtaposition of matt black and glittery grey because it reminds of my time in Orkney Islands, when I had the luck of partaking in the Highland Park Distillery Tour with Brand Ambassador Martin Daraz. I remember seeing the grey clouds hovering over the cliffs, while violent waves hit rocks in 2-second intervals. My surrounding looked so violent and ominous, but I felt calm and at peace because I was with a group of people who were on the tour and Martin was there to guide me through my next journey in life.
It fascinates me that the many of Highland Park scotches are aged in sherry casks, which gives some of their bottles peppery notes that are filled with tannins, yet at the same time there's an element of gentleness here to counterbalance that aggression or assertive nature. The subtle char, where smoke is pumped at 6 Phenol Parts Per Million, carries the weight of lush red fruits and spice, while heather brings out honey and floral expressions to temper the assertive punch. It is an absolutely beautiful juxtaposition--just like Highland Park St. Magnus because, while vikings had a reputation for being cruel and merciless, St Magnus was a martyr who fought for fairness. As a result, I decided to build a dress that had a "pencil-cut" skirt to capture some femininity.
Whole Image of Highland Park Dress
-- Bar Jackalope Drawing --
The Tasting Library Inside Seven Grand LA
People always ask me how the drawing process is like for me, and I tell them that I cannot draw from memory. I take lots of different images of the bar, then I pick all the various parts of each spot that I think is aesthetically pleasing and I start sketching. The problem with constructing and capturing the images here is that the bar is incredibly dark., so I have to constantly take multiple pictures to get a full grasp of the room. In addition, the room is small, so I cannot take a full shot of the whole lounge without cutting any images out. As a result, taking multiple shots and different parts of the room is essential, and then I piece them together in my mind, reconfiguring the whole image into one page.
An image of the Bar Jackalope's tasting lounge. There are books, staves, a working pot still and a cigar humidor to complete the whisky sipping experience .
Sketching and out-lining the bar. The ruler is my best friend!
As you can see, it's very dark in here and it's hard to take a clear photo, but I try to piece all the parts together to make one, full image. This is an image of cart that has a water dripper and a crystal bucket for ice.
Bar Jackalape's centerpiece. Here's a collection of Jim Murray's Whisky Bible from various editions, bottles filled with grain and new make spirit. Also, that is a working still. I hope one day I can pour some beer in that pot and start distilling!
This drawing took 4 days for me because I'm not the quickest doodler. I wish I actually took some art classes because I decided to work on shading this time around and I felt like I didn't know what I was doing. It's a bit challenging to play with light here, and I'm not quite sure if I captured it correctly with that pot still. Markers are hard to blend, but I recently discovered there are some true artists out there who use color pencils and markers for one drawing to create great shading! I also went to my local art store and asked one of the staffs for help. This drawing has flaws for sure, but I'll keep on practicing, and hopefully I'll get better!!!
1 January 2015
-- Laphroaig Distillery Doodles --
I hear this barrel-looking piece has two Laphroaig bottles hidden inside!
Prince Charles' crest is located on every Laphroaig bottle because it's his favorite scotch.
At the end of the Water to Whisky Tour, I got to sample three Laphroaigs straight from a cask, siphon out my favorite Laphroaig and bottle it home.
John Campbell, who is both the Distillery Manager and Master Distillery of Laphroaig printed out my Friends of Laphroaig Certificate. He then took me to my 1 Square Foot plot of land, where I planted both the Vietnamese and USA flags. Boo Yah! This was an incredible experience! ^_^
John Campbell gave me a tour of Islay, and I got to see a bunch of deer roaming through the island. It was very magical! I didn't know there were so many wildlife on such a teeny tiny place. I hear it's very rare to spot deer, but at one point I saw 7 of these beauties in one spot.
2 January 2015
-- Ardbeg Dress --
I was so excited to find this fabric at Jo-Ann's Fabric Store because the color reminded me of peat. The circles also reminded me of the barrels placed in front of Ardbeg's Distillery, where they're leveled in a "roller coaster" position. They looked so fun and light-hearted, and I think that image reflects the whole Ardbeg line. I've only seen images of the barrels on-line and have yet to see them in person, but I hope to complete the dress so I can wear it during the Feis Isle Festival in May because Ardbeg is having its 200 year anniversary. I will also use those green flosses to hand stitch the dress!
-- Ardbeg Dress: Day 1 --
7 January 2015
I sketched out my patterns of the bodice on butcher block paper. Then, I used the Prisma Color pencil to trace the pattern onto the fabric. Constructing a dress takes a long time, and roughly it takes about 80 hours for me to complete a dress because I am slow at sewing and sketching patterns. In the past, when I started to teach myself how to sew I would just use a crayon and do a rough sketch of each piece onto the fabric, but after I made a few bags and dresses I eventually took a beginning sewing class in college to learn how to be a more efficient sewer. I'm still not very good, but I still try to build dresses because I feel very happy when I work with my hands. I think that when I am designing a dress that's inspired by a particular brand of whisky it enables me to understand the product intuitively and deeply.
-- Ardbeg Dress: Day 2 --
8 January 2015
This is the front part of the dress (obviously!). The back part is not attached to the front bodice nor have I constructed it yet. The material of the dress is quite thick and heavy because it's supposed to be used for furniture, but I was so in love with the texture and the design of the fabric that I felt compelled to use it. I will have to hem the bottom and shorten it more, so it will look more modern. In addition I will probably have to use an inner lining and attach a material called "tool", which looks like "fish nets" to give it some volume at the hip-line. I want the dress to look whimsical and quirky because that's how I see Ardbeg!
Here are some rough sketches of my design for my Ardbeg dress. It may not look exactly like this at the end, but we will see! Each fabric has its own weight and character, so it is always a different and unique process when I'm constructing a dress. Sometimes it looks good on paper, but when I start to build it piece by piece, it may look funny and weird in real life. As a result, I have to improvise and change the design.
All of my dresses has a bow because it's my "signature" look. I know a bow sounds boring, but it symbolizes progress. When you pull the bow apart, it is one plain string, but when you tie it up it transforms into a whimsical art piece; it is like a present waiting to be opened.. I come from a very humble background and when I was young I day dreamed about owning beautiful things and clothes that had ornate designs, but I couldn't afford them. I still can't afford these things, and that's why I make clothes. So, for me, a bow represents progress, moving forward and towards a goal--to be happy and financially independent--and it also represents simplifying one's life by not overanalyzing too much. I am a detailed-oriented person, and lots of times I feel like I border the line of over-desigining, making things look like a costume.. I would like to have a clear mind and be at peace. Anyway, we will see how day 3 goes for my Ardbeg Dress project.
-- Some Older Art Doodles of High West --
-- Laphroaig Distillery Doodle --
16 January 2015
-- Highland Park Doodles --
More from My Journal
18 January 2015
-- Greenbar Collective Doodles --
I drew this image of the Highland Park Distillery back in 2011 in a small journal.
I drew this in my new, giant journal in 2013. after visiting Highland Park in May of 2012. The distillery is covered in grey and red bricks. At the time, it seemed like the grey clouds camouflaged with the buildings and making the scenery appear ominous for a California native who has been spoiled by the sun. However, it is an absolute delight to see such a beautiful place that is responsible for producing stunning scotches.
This is the cooperage inside Highland Park, where the cooper builds the barrels.
Pot stills at Highland Park are short and stumpy, and as result of their sizes they produce full-bodied New Make spirits.
I drew this photo back in 2011, and I remember it took me about 2 hours to doodle this. I was drawing every line of stone at 2 AM, daydreaming about being at Highland Park. This is their Gift Shop.
Once I actually saw the gift shop at Highland Park reality set in, and I thought, "Wow. I am actually here". It was such a surreal moment because I was standing inside the actual place, looking at the shop from a different perspective (as pictured above in the first "gift shop doodle").. It was a dream come true to partake in the Highland Park Distillery Tour.
19 January 2015
-- Ardbeg Dress: Day 4, 5 & 6 --
20 January 2014
The Back of Ardbeg Dress
I finally attached the back to the front part of the dress, and I inserted the zipper. I decided to use a heavy-duty zipper that had a bold, metal zipper because it is an homage to Ardbeg Alligator. This was a fantastic Ardbeg that was released in 2010 that was exposed to a heavily char oak, which is also known as an "alligator char", was bottled at 51.2% abv. I remember sampling it in October of 2010 during Seven Grand's Whisky Society and was bombarded by the smoke bomb and intensity of Ardbeg. It tasted of hickory smoke and smoked salmon. It was also had some creamy, vanilla aftertastes that was laced with butterscotch and smoked salmon. I love smoke bombs and full-bodied scotches.
Collar of Ardbeg Dress
Home sewing is all about paying attention to details that may get overlooked by those who don't sew. Because I am only using a straight-stitch sewing machine, it is important to cut out notches and create ridges on the inside of the collar, so I can get rid of the bulk of fabric when I flip it inside out. I decided to use a green chartreuse fabric for the lining because Ardbeg is all about the bold, in-your-face, and obvious smoke-bomb, and I find myself trying to search for subtle notes that linger underneath all of that smoke. As a result, the chartreuse lining is supposed to represent the hidden flavors that go beyond the smoke;.it is a representation of the subtle tones, such as chocolate or milk bread., expressions that I find in the basic Ardbeg lineup. I also decided to create a modern collar, something that would be quirky, to honor the Ardbeg whisky vials that orbited in space for two years that had recently landed back on earth last year. I like that this project was collaborated by Ardbeg and NanoRacks, and I wanted to make some sci-fi collars without making it too costume-like. I hope it works out!
-- Ardbeg Dress --
Day 7: 21 January 2015
It was a lazy Wednesday for me. I had been sewing all day on Tuesday, so the only thing I did that day was adding a collar to my dress. My needle broke and I had to go to Jo-Ann's Fabric store to reload on needles. I decided to not taper the bottom of the dress because the proportion didn't seem to look right in real-life. The fabric is incredibly thick and I decided to just let it jut out naturally at the bottom. That's the fun thing about the design process. I'll have an original drawing and most of the time the end product will look different from the initial sketch because sometimes real-life images don't translate as well as drawings. It is always best to edit a design before it looks too much like a costumer I think.
This is a rough drawing of the barrels located at Ardbeg Distillery. This doodle will be used as a template for me, so I can hand stitch the drawing on my dress!
-- Ardbeg Dress --
27 January 2015
The material I'm using to embroider is called "floss," and six strings are grouped together to form that thickness. I am detailed-oriented, so I have chosen to use only 5 strings because 6 will make the embroidery too thick and bulky. It's surprising that one string can make a difference. In order to keep the fabric from tearing, I add an adhesive material called, "interfacing," in which I iron it onto my skirt. This material strengthens the outer fabric and is usually placed on collars and cuffs. Hand-stitching directly onto the bare fabric may rip my dress, so I must proceed with caution.
-- Ardbeg Dress --
28 January 2015
Here's another 1.5 hours of work added onto this project. I enjoy tearing away the paper to see the raw stitching underneath. It's like tearing apart wrapping paper, so I can open up a big gift! The letters, "A," and, "R," are stitched roughly because the paper gets coiled underneath the detailed work and will make the strings fray. So, after I peel the paper away, I fill in the details of the later.
-- Ardbeg Dress --
31 January 2015-2 February 2014
Holy Toledo! This project is taking forever. I think I've put 5-6 hours on the stitching and I probably have another 20 hours to go. This project may be a terrible idea! EEEEK! Notice the outline of the barrels (they look like circles, really, as it doesn't seem to translate well on this dress!) that have the letters, "e," and, "g," are not as thick as the other barrels. I ran out of floss, so I had to stop. I will have to go back to the fabric store to stock up on these strings!
It's a lot of work, but I'm having fun doing this. I feel like I'm so pressed for time because I want to complete it, so I can wear it to Feis Isle Festival for Ardbeg's 200 Year Anniversary. Between both jobs, I work 6 days a week and roughly 60 hours. So, I have to find time to make this dress. Usually, I wake up in the morning on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to stitch. Then, I work at the bar, and after getting home at the bar at 2 am, I stitch for another 30 minutes or an hour. I know. I'm totally intense. I'm all in or nothing at all and never in between. I'm going to finish this dress soon!
-- Ardbeg Dress --
3 February 2015
"Hey, Linh! Why don't you make an Ardbeg dress! It sounds like a great idea!" says no one ever. Oh, the next stitching phase is probably going to take me 6 hours! Eeeeek!
My stitching game was stalled due to my dad asking me to make a phone call with a staff from Toyota. BOO!
-- Ardbeg Dress --
4-6 February 2015
Wow! Call me disgusting, but it's 2:13 AM, but I've been stitching all day and have forgotten to shower. I probably smell like lemons or it's simply a euphemism for being a stinky bear. Anyway, this stitching business is taking a long time. I really hope that this dress will look nice!!! Cross fingers. Oh yeah...I should shower because my aroma is pretty earthy right now. EEEEK!
-- Ardbeg Dress --
9-12 February 2015
Tearing butcher paper from underneath the stitch work feels like listening to Top Gun love jams---I hate 80's love songs so much. This isn't complete yet. If you notice the lines are much thinner on the right than the left side. Honestly, I think the thin, stitch work looks better than the thick waves on the left of the image. I'm not entirely happy with this work and am hoping I can clean it up by using 2 strings at at imd to fill in the detailed work. I hope it will look good. For the moment I don't really like how it's turning out.
You know that song by Alicia Keys that goes something like, "This girl is on fire?" Well, I think my feet are on fire. Man, I work so much. I'm so tired.. I need someone to rub my feet. Anyway, this dress is taking forever. I think the Rollercoaster logo took at least 12 hours if not 16. I stopped keeping track of time because I didn't want to quit life. When I was stitching for long periods at a time my thumb and index finger started to bruise as a result of pulling the needle for too long. I could finish this a lot sooner, but I do what I can with my demanding work schedule. I'm not sure what I want to add on the left side of the Rollercoaster, but I received some great suggestions from people like stitching Ardbeg's mascot, the cute doggie...Ardbog Sword, etc. I may add all of these touches around the dress, front and back.
-- Ardbeg Dress --
15-19 February 2015
A Close Shot of Ardbeg Rollercoaster and Kildalton Cross
Finally, Adding the Ardbeg Logo!
Blasda and Ardbog Sword
Blasda is special to me because I think the flavor profiles are unique. It reminded me of mung beans and Vietnamese crepes, which eventually took me back to my mama's cooking. At the same time, the traditions of the "scotch" flavor profile was still present. To me, there's nothing more special than a beautiful marriage between Scottish and Vietnamese Culture. I told my friend that I was a big fan of Blasda and he said, "Really? It received really low ratings! You're the first to tell me it's good! People said it was weird and they couldn't wrap their minds around it." Well, that's why I stuck Blasda on my dress because it's a very special whisky to me. I think it's a beautiful scotch and I like that it walked way from the the usual "smoke bomb" expression by being unique and unconventional.
I added the Ardbog sword because it was a throw back to Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Both Frodo and Bilbo Baggins carry a sword. What can I say? Weapons are cool, and I like J.R.R. Tolkien and Peter Jackson!!!!
19 January 2015
-- Highland Park Doodles--
-- Greenbar Collective Doodles --
-- Ardbeg Dress --
25 February 2015
I think I'm finally done stitching, unless I decide to stitch the cool ship from the Corryvreckan bottle. I don't know yet! But here's the close shot of the Ardbog Sword and Shortie, the Ardbeg mascot that sadly passed away a few years back. Darn! I was hoping I could hug the little doggie when I got to Ardbeg. Yesterday, I took apart the collar because it was uneven. I've taken a few steps back in the progress of the dress, but that's okay! It's all about the process, and I'm pretty happy how the dress is turning out. I've decided that I'm not going to put sleeves on it because the dress is already full and big. I don't want to add any more weight on this giant dress. I'm dreading bringing it to Scotland because it's so bulky because I like to travel light---I was hoping to only bring 2 pair of pants for my 2 month Scotland adventure, and now I would have to lug this hunk of fabric with me, but my friend brought a great point. I spent easily over 40 hours on this dress, so I might as well go all in and have the staff of Ardbeg to sign it once I'm there!
25 February 2015
-- Ardbeg Dress --
26 February 2015
YAY! I finally finished my Ardbeg Dress today. I'm actually pretty happy with it. All of that hand stitch work of the logos was well worth it. That Rollercoaster took forever, but I'm glad I stuck it out. :)
By the way, I took a longer time in taking photos of myself than sewing! Gee whizz! I really hate taking photos of myself, but I figured it would be best to work on being comfortable in my skin.
I hope I'll get my dress signed by the staff of Ardbeg soon! It would be a dream!
-- Highland Park Dress --
This is my least, ornate dress, but I figured it was the best to keep it simple because I made faux-leather shoulder straps. I felt that if I added other details, the garment would look too much like a costume--like I was trying to audition for one of the warriors for that hit movie 300! Also, there are my Highland Park earrings! My Highland Park earrings came from wooden Christmas ornaments that I cut off their shapes, painted them and bedazzled them with crystals!
By the way, I feel like a resident, selfie-tool for taking so many photos of myself, but I realized I never took a picture of myself in my dresses. I'm not a fan of taking pictures of myself, but I guess sometimes I just need to get over that awkward feeling and just DO IT!
I love scotch, Highland Park, and Scotland, thanks to Brand Ambassador Martin Daraz! He's the best and one of the greatest people I've met my entire life!
-- Laphroaig Dress --
Dress from start to finish: 7 January 2015 through 26 February 2015.
-- Glenmorangie Dress --
Dedicated to Signet and Artists
28 February 2015
I've been looping some YouTube video's on Glenmorangie's official channel and there were three, main videos that caught my attention. I was so moved by the first video because of the music and the artist who chiseled the stone. It took him 4 years to complete the stonework. I think when it comes to creating something, I feel as though I am part of the earth. It's as though I'm connected to the land, the animals and the people, even if they are far away. That's why when I went to Scotland 3 years ago, I knew in my heart I was meant to be there before I visited the country. I can't really describe it, except for the fact that it feels like there's a magnetic pull towards Scotland, and cannot/do not want to escape it.
I saw some really cool videos on Glenmorangie's YouTube Channel and was inspired by the artists who were commissioned to create the beautiful Signet logo. I am using these artists as my muse (a major interpretation of the Glenmorangie Signet) and my special friend Danielle Crowder, who gave me this Taghta as a gift. (By the way, there's no picture of Glenmorangie Signet because I don't own a bottle; it's too rich for my blood, but it tastes so good!) Anyway, Danielle started out being a regular customer at the liquor store, and we ended up being really close friends. Finding a lady friend is hard (girls can get catty. It's soooo sad!) and she's my Pegasus--always encouraging me to believe in myself because she thinks I have a unique perspective on whisky, and I'm surprised she's been inspired by me because I am very much inspired by her!
I'll be using paint for the first time on a dress, so I hope my garment will look nice. In the image above I was just practicing my brush strokes and swirls, so I could see how the paint interacted with the fabric. The Signet will be very difficult for me to complete because of the design is intricate; I'll have to be really precise. For some odd reason, I have a difficult time breaking apart swirls and celtic designs. My brain gets overwhelmed by the sinuous lines. Anyway, I hope I can complete the dress for the Nth Whisky Experience. That's in 2 weeks, which is a tall order, since the Ardbeg dress was created on January 7 and I finished it on February 26. Also, I'd like to give a big thank you to Glenmorangie Global Ambassador David Blackmore for giving me a link to the Hilton of Cadboll Stone (Glenmorangie's logo).
In preparation for designing a dress, I started to loop these three videos for over an hour because that helps me get in the mood to start getting visions of how the dress should look like. Watching these short films is sort of like playing Hanon's Hand Exercises on the piano before playing Chopin's Minute Waltz or stretching before I run (who am I kidding!?! I never run. I'm totally out of shape, but I just used this analogy in hopes that you will understand).. I have to completely be immersed in the videos, so I can hopefully get a good understanding of the brand. When I am working on a project I play episodes of Project Runway to keep the creativity flowing as well.
I like this video a lot because it shows the landscape of Scotland. Gee! I really hope I'll get to visit Glenmorangie one day! By the way, I think I've been on the LVMH kick because I like that both companies represent two completely different brands, which are Ardbeg and Glenmorangie. I initially fell in love with whisky because it reminded me of 20th century literature, a time period where writers heavily explored juxtapositions and, as a result, I think this company reflects this movement of writing. Glenmorangie, in some ways, is feminine--from the packaging to the delicate nuances of apricots and honey that I find in their standard expressions, yet it pushes itself outside of its comfort zone without getting too crazy nor wild. It reminds me of Graham Greene's writing, especially the novel The End of the Affair. There's a sense of control and conservative approach to his work---not in a hermeneutic's stance--but stylistically the words written on paper are elegant yet technical. I think in this novel, Greene's attempt to look at a woman's point of view is quite fascinating; the main character does not hate his love interest nor despise her for her internal struggle with her identity as a woman who yearns for passion and love. Instead, it seems as though he is trying to be compassionate about his lover's point of view as it it appears that there is a fine line between passion and licentious behaviors in his lover's eyes. As a result, she appears to feel excess guilt for wanting to bask in pleasure because of her religious beliefs. So, where I'm getting at here....I think Glenmorangie refrains itself and remains soft, but it pushes the boundary just enough with its quirky cask finishes without getting too crazy and over-the-top like Ardbeg. And that's why I like Glenmornaige. It champions the common folk and can be completely hifalutin at the same time. I always tell customers, the ones who are new to scotch and are on a budget, to buy Glenmorangie 10 Year because it's only $32, underpriced, and gentle. Yet it offers a lot of complexity to the spirit and makes an excellent dram. Simultaneously, Glenmorangie can be completely extravagant like a Givenchy dress designed by Galliano when one samples the Glenmorangie 25 Year or Glenmorangie Signet without coming off pretentious and condescending. It is refined, beautiful and elegant.
-- Glenmorangie Signet Dress --
5 & 6 March 2015
These are patterns I made to create large, box pleats for my dress. Hopefully the bottom of the dress will look fun and edgy. I forgot to mention that it took me hours to hunt down for fabric yesterday. Originally I wanted to use a dark chocolate colored fabric, but that appeared to be out of fashion for the moment. It was incredibly difficult to find that specific color at the shops. Then, I was looking for thick, black fabric with lots of texture. Unfortunately, no fabric fit that description, so I settled for a thick fabric that one would typically use to make suits. I'm actually glad I didn't; find a textured fabric, but I'm planning to paint on it. A textured fabric would've been difficult to work with during brush strokes. I also went to an art store today to buy black paint and paintbrushes for my dress. The black paint will be used specifically for all the mistakes I make when I paint the Signet, etc.
Slow progress here as usual with my sewing today, but I'm going to try my best to complete the whole thing by next Tuesday, even if it means being inside all day! I'm trying to make a modern, bottom skirt with excess box pleats because Glenmorangie, to me, is feminine in the sense that its flavor are soft and gentle, but at the same time it pushes itself just a little bit without being over the top like Ardbeg. I think by being a combination of chocolate malted barely and malted barely there's a reflection of rebelliousness here, but there's still a touch of emotional restraint because chocolate seems innocuous and sweet. Glenmorangie, as a whole, reminds me of Graham Greene's writing; his material is conservative--and not in a hermeneutic's stance--but stylistically it is controlled, meticulous and methodical ...all while being graceful at the same time. In contrast Ardbeg's fiery temper appears to be a melange of beat poets with a heavy dose of Thomas Pynchon to add comic relief. To me LVMH scotches are true reflections of 20th century literature, a period of writing that I value so deeply because it explores the tension and elasticity of such juxtapositions.. And to me that is ultimately a reflection of the human condition. (Yes, I realize I'm being quite repetitive from the previous post and explanation about my Glenmorangie dress!).
--Glenmorangie Signet Dress --
Day 4: 7 March 2015
* Clearly I lose track of all of my days when I am in my room, painting and sewing. As you can see, the captions are incorrect for the days. I didn't realize that until later, and I deleted the original photos already, so I couldn't fix the dates. There you have it. I make mistakes sometimes...or a lot, but at least I don't give up usually! :D
-- Glenmorangie Signet Dress --
Day 5: 8 March 2015
Somehow the design reminds me of Versace in the early 90s, a time when I was still a kid and stuck at my grandpa's house while my uncle would "babysit" me as he pranced around in his silk undies and smoking some Malboro Lights 😱 but these drawings came from an amazing stone called the Hilton of Cadboll Stone. I've been obsessed with it ever since Glenmorangie's official YouTube Channel featured commissioned artists that created the Signet out of metal, stone and wood. You should check out their videos! I hope this dress will look nice! I would love the Glenmorangie Team to sign my dress at the Nth Whisky Experience this week!
-- Glenmorangie Dress --
Days 6 & 7: 8-9 March 2015
-- Glenmorangie Signet Dress --
Up Close and Personal
15 March 2015
Here's a close image of the Hilton of Cadboll Stone. I took elements of the stone and painted them onto my dress. Also, I took this image from Wikipedia.
-- Glenmorangie Dress --
In-Depth Detail of the Design
2 4 March 2015
The Glenmorangie dress took me 7 days to complete, which seemed like record speed in comparison to my Ardbeg garment (That dress took me 7 weeks to complete). I was able to knock out the Glenmorangie attire within a week because I took time off from work and dedicated those days to sew and paint.
I designed the dress because I was mesmerized by Glenmorangie's Youtube videos that featured all of the artists Glenmorangie commissioned to create the Signet logo. In addition, I heard it took Dr. Bill Lumsden 15 years to create The Glenmorangie Signet. It gave me the impression that all of these artists had an "all in or nothing at all" kind of attitude that resonated with me.
Dr. Bill Lumsden and I at the Universal Whisky Experience in Las Vegas
It actually took me a few months to come up with the design of the dress. I even had nights where I couldn't sleep because my mind was occupied with various images of the garment. In fact I changed the appearance of the dress several times. Originally, I hunted for dark chocolate fabric because I wanted it to represent the chocolate malted barely that was found in Glenmorangie Signet, but I was unable to find the exact color with the right textured fabric because that hue was not in season. I, then, bought a gold-coloured fabric, thinking that it would be fun to go towards the "unexpected" route for the Signet, but I ended up changing my mind again (Dammit! That fabric was expensive, too! I could've bought myself a bottle of scotch with that money).. After driving from one fabric shop to another I decided to settle for a black textile that was geared for suits, but it turned out to be ideal in the long run.
When I think of Glenmorangie as a whole, I am reminded of Graham Greene's writing. It is conservative (not in a religious sense) in terms of the style; Greene's writing appears to be calculating, controlled and methodical. At the same time he adds a feminine touch to his writing, depicting his female characters to be vulnerable and sensitive without chastising them for being weak. Glenmorangie, from its packaging to its flavors, has that feminine quality. It is soft and gentle, oscillating between honey and peach profiles across its lines, yet it pushes the boundary ever so slightly with its quirky, cask finishes without being controversial like Ardbeg.
The sides of the dress has a diamond-cut hole, which is a bit strange, but it is supposed to represent the chocolate malted barley that is found in Glenmorangie Signet. To me, having that type of barely is unusual in the whisky industry and there's an air of rebelliousness here because I think it takes a lot of imagination for someone to come up with that sort of recipe. While I hear Scottish companies like to retain their batch and keep tradition alive, The Signet offers something novel to the industry. Even though it is unconventional chocolate barely seems innocuous because it's sweet. So, that odd cut I created on the side is sort of like a flirtatious wink without being too provocative.
The original sketch of my dress was different from the final run. Initially, the bottom of the dress had some over-the-top box-pleats that were supposed to jut out like poppy flowers. I wanted something dramatic so it could be an homage to some of the Givenchy line, a company that is also owned by LVMH, but once I started to sew I realized I was pressed for time because I only had one week to complete a dress for the Universal Whisky Experience. However, I was quite happy with the final product and thought it looked better than the original design. I was glad to see that the bottom of the dress still possessed some edge to keep it modern.
I decided to make the dress form-fitting because the curves represent the shape of the Glenmorangie Signet bottle. In addition, it bears my back because it's an homage to the Bond Girls. Now, I'm not saying I am one of these models because I know I am built like a horse and have chubby boy boobs for breasts (and I'm okay with that!), but I hear Signet was inspired by Dr. Lumsden's experience as a college kid when he wanted to drink fancy coffee that was made of High Roasted Jamaican Coffee beans, and I think that drink is found in James Bond novels (I believe he said he and his friends wanted to be James Bond. Haha!). So, yes, I was quite out of my comfort zone when I wore the dress at the Universal Whisky Experience because it revealed my back and I didn't want to accidentally reveal side boobs, but I stuck it out after slurping 2 ounces of Glenmorangie Ealanta! Luckily, there was no wardrobe malfunction! Yippy!
Here is a picture of the side of my dress with the signatures from the Glenmorangie Team that included the following people: Global Brand Ambassador David Blackmore, West Coast Brand Ambassador Jon Trainer, Midwest Brand Ambassador Dan Crowell, Associate Brand Manager Christine Guzman and Dr. Bill Lumsden (Oof. I forget his job title, but he's the director for both Ardbeg and Glenmorangie. He's got a super long job title that's a paragraph long). Oh, yes. Master Blender of Whyte & Mackay Richard Paterson signed my dress, too, which was the largest one found on my dress! He's really funny! I painted all of their signatures, so they can be permanent.
Full Image of My Glenmorangie Signet Dress
Well, if you've taken the time to read my blurbs, I hope you like my dress and I hope I captured Glenmorangie Signet well.
-- Kilchoman Dress --
25 March 2015
I found this fabric at Joann's Fabric store in the upholstery section. I bought the last 1.5 yard of the material, which is going to be tough to pull. If I mess up I won't have any back up fabric, but I'm hoping I can complete it. I'm going to make a power businesswoman suit because it represents someone hustling. Kilchoman has only been around since 2005 and some people make the complaint that their products are too young---it's "hot" and "doughy." I feel like they have a lot of cards stacked against them due to such responses, but the team is continuing to work hard and making awesome scotches. Luckily, I find the PLOWED Society (this is a group of hardcore whisky drinkers who have been sipping this stuff since the 1970's) likes this brand! They tell me that some of Kilchoman's cask strength line tastes like Ardbegs that were made in the 1980's. I personally am a big fan of this brand and I am looking to forward to seeing this distillery one day. I support independent companies and I want to see them thrive.
-- Kilchoman Dress: Day 1 --
1 April 2015
1 April 2015
I worked on my Kilchoman dress today and I still need to alter the back of the dress because it's too big. I know what the dress will look like in terms of its shape, but as far as adding the logo or the distillery, I'm not sure if I want to paint or hand stitch images onto the dress. I am having a brain fart with my design and am hoping someone can give me suggestions.
-- Kilchoman Dress --
7 April 2015
I found this golden lace at a fabric store and decided to sew it onto the dress because it's supposed to represent Kilchoman's Islay Barely Farm. Roughly 20% of their barely is used to make their scotches, while the remaining is sourced in Port Ellen. There's not a lot of images of the distillery on-line, so I kept it simple by hand stitching the building. I also used golden paint to fill int he roof, the logo and the letter "h" in Kilchoman.
This is sort of a silly thing, but I recently met James Wills, the proprietor's son of Kilchoman, and wore the dress. Then, on my way to meeting him and the others, my internal thoughts went south and I got self-conscious, thinking that the lace hanging downwards were flapping like feathers or worse cheap flags found in used car lots. So, I was quite awkward with the dress and was not proud of it when I wore it in front of him.
This is the first whisky dress that took me just 4 days to complete. I started to feel guilty that it took so fast to make--like I loved Kilchoman Machir Bay less than the other ones, but that's not the case. I think the sewing gods were on my side and I was surprisingly accurate building the garment. Thus, I was able to move in record speed!
I beaded the bottom of the the lace to try to break up the color blocks of purely gold and blue, so it wouldn't look so plain. Anyway, I hope you like my dress and I hope you try some Kilchoman expressions if you like smokey scotches!
Originally, I was planning to make it look like a modern business woman suit because I wanted it to represent someone working hard. They are in independent company, and I have the impression that when you're a young brand you have a lot of obstacles to push through. I remember sharing my stash with some folks and they said, "This tastes young and doughy." It was the first time I felt that I asked every single hot dude out and they all told me to kick rocks. Ha! I know at the end of the day it's a matter of personal opinion, but sometimes when I hear people say more negative things about the brand it makes me want to defend it. On a positive note, at least the PLOWED guys really love this brand. I think this company kicks ass and I feel strongly that this past year they've been producing stellar cask-strengh expressions. Anyway, I got rid of the collar design because I found some beads to make a necklace. So, rather than cluttering up the neck with a giant collar and necklace I decided to keep it simple.