An Interview with Be My Jazz Baby vendor, Sharon Crawford, of Creations by Crawford

One of the things the organizers of the Be My Jazz Baby weekend are most excited about is our Vintage Vendor area at the Jazz Baby Ball on Saturday, January 21, 2012. I had the good fortune to be able to talk with Sharon Crawford, of Creations by Crawford, about the custom and hand crafted fascinators and men’s lapel pieces she’ll be exhibiting for us.

Welcome Sharon. I want to start off by asking how long you’ve been making vintage accessories and custom fascinators?
I’ve been producing custom fashion accessories since 2002. I started while studying jewelry design in college and began creating custom fascinators for swing dancers in 2010.

How did you get into it?
The same type of self-expression that I find in dancing drove me to create unique vintage-inspired fashion accessories for myself to wear at dances. Those were noticed for their distinctive style and people began asking me to make pieces for them. Before long, event organizers began inviting me to help promote a more fashionable atmosphere by vending at their events.

How would you describe your style?
Fashionably, I think my pieces tend to stay in the realm of vintage with a modern twist, but really my style is eclectic and individually unique. Like a diamond, I’m multi-faceted, so versatility is really key to me. One day I might feel shabby chic, the next day vintage, and the next punk.

I like to cater to my changing moods and be able to create for everyone with no limitations by any one style.

How much work goes into a typical piece?
Each accessory I create is one of a kind, so unless I’m making a custom piece, I’m faced with a blank canvas. Sometimes ideas and inspiration come relatively quickly, but it usually takes at least 2 hours and can take up to several hours to compose and construct a piece that I feel is complete enough.

I consider custom pieces to be collaborative art. When it comes to creating them, I strive to understand the wants, needs, and personality of the wearer. You might think that having some parameters might make my job easier as a designer, but it usually takes that much more time to make sure all of the components capture the essence of the wearer.

Since most of what I do is custom work, the time frame varies greatly. I had a bridal customer that wanted me to create a bridal veil for her using her grandmother’s wedding headdress and the netting that was used for her mother’s 15ft. long train on her wedding veil. I spent several hours with her exploring the elements that she found important and hashing out ideas that came to my mind. I spent several more hours scrupulously hand sewing pearls, crystals, and tiny seed-beads around the perimeter of a 5 ft. long train. From start to finish it took me 26 hours to create a piece that she adored. On the flip side of that, I created a custom fascinator for her maid of honor that only took 3.5 hours from start to finish.

Where do you get your inspiration?
The little details inspire me. It could be a feather, a button, a piece of vintage jewelry, a scrap of fabric or flowers in a field. People also inspire me. I love to create pieces based on what I know of someone and what I think they might wear.

Do you have a favorite piece… one you had a hard time letting go of when it was finished?
I usually work a piece until I love it. With that being said, I have a lot of favorite pieces and parting is such sweet sorrow.

It seems like you’ve created custom pieces at a good number of shows now; does that mean the dance community has been good to you?
Art is really subjective, so it’s been very fulfilling that so many people in the dance community connect to my work and continue to be very supportive of it.

Care to tell us about any favorite moments?
Well, the expression on the face of international blues dance instructor Heidi Fite when she first saw her fascinator was pretty awesome. She then approached me about vending at the nation’s largest Blues dance workshop and competition weekend, BluesSHOUT! and that felt pretty phenomenal.

Another very touching moment happened as I was showing a bride the fascinators that she wanted made out of her heirloom jewelry for her bridesmaids. She opened the box and she just began crying. I wasn’t sure if she liked them or thought that they were a disaster. I always get nervous giving people their custom orders, because you’re never sure if you have captured what they envisioned until you see the smile on their face. It took her several minutes to compose herself, then she told me that she loved them and was so happy that she had me create something so special. I felt very touched, but more than that, relieved! In all honesty, these moments have been very special to me, but anytime someone sees their piece for the first time, or I’m asked to create something special for someone or vend at an event, or someone wears a creation that I made, all of these have been and will be favorite moments for me.

You’ve also recently branched out into pieces for men; can you tell us about that?
To be honest, I have been inspired to create items for men because of the dapper gentlemen that I see somewhat frequently at dance events, such as you (Bill Speidel), Victor Celania, Michael Quisao, and others. I mean, who doesn’t love a well-dressed man?

I feel that dressing up, at dance events in particular, adds to the ambiance of the evening and men deserve to have a little fun with swank in their wardrobe too!

I’m super excited about the new line of men’s fashion accessories that I’ve been producing. I have designed pins that can be worn on the lapel, vest, or hat, but what I’m most excited about is the pocket accessories that I have been producing. The creations are designed to replace the pocket square, but keep the classic feel of it while showcasing the wearer’s distinctive style.

Are there any tips or suggestions you could share to help people pick out the right piece for themselves?
As with all of my creations, the materials used for custom pieces would depend more on the collaborator, but most of my current inventory is made with feathers, fabric and other accent items.

I say find something that you simply fall in love with or expresses your personal style.

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Sharon. We look forward to seeing you at Lindy Focus and then our Be My Jazz Baby.

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One Response to “An Interview with Be My Jazz Baby vendor, Sharon Crawford, of Creations by Crawford”

  1. Prabha Mani Says:

    Great interview. I wish all the very best for Sharon’s creations. She is a truly a creative with loads of talent and passion to make it.
    Good luck Sharon.

    –Prabha

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