Let me take you to my happy place.
Loud music is vibing from the speaker towers, caressing my cocheals. Everyone is having a good ole time- smiling, laughing, and moving to the rhythm. I am swerving and grooving around the music festival on my roller skates- just tossing and twirling my favorite pair of scissors. A crowd encircles my live model and I as they look on with curiosity- being inspired by the interactive fashion art happening before their very eyes.
For the past decade, my prominent creative passion has been cutting up used t-shirts and other rescued garments. In my life, Scissors* = Happiness. With the help of my handy dandy scissors, I have cut out my own path to happiness by creating a career that ticks all my boxes.
Art, Environmentalism, Body Positivity ,Human Connection, Travel, and sometimes Music,.
To be honest, I wasn't always this happy. I graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Environmental Science. Learning all about how severely humans have disrupted the planet and continue to pollute and strip it of its natural resources was quite depressing. Very depressing. To make matters worse, it seemed as though the general public of the US did not even care. We are the largest consumer market in the world but only have 330 million people. The average cotton t-shirt requires 716 gallons of water to create. Yet, they get tossed out so easily at the first signs of wear or stain only to be replaced with the newest of fast fashion. Instead of pointing fingers and criticizing others to guilt them into changing their ways for the sake of saving our only planet, I started communicating through a more positive method. Art. With scissors (and only scissors) I am able to breathe a whole new and stylish life into an overlooked and often ill fitting shirt. I have cut up over 7,000 garments in my decade of snipping. That would be conserving more than 5 million gallons of water.
This artistic process is definitely interesting to watch. Any person that wants their shirt transformed puts it on and takes center stage. I am roller skating around them with sharp scissors in hand, observing the fit, the graphics, and their body shape. My mind is already swirling with many ideas. Some people let me just go to town with my shears but I always encourage collaboration. I say “It is your shirt after all! I want you to feel good in it and love it forever!”
I will prompt the design process by asking a few questions- Do you like sleeves? How do you like the length? Would you like me to take out the collar? I have noticed that 80% of my live models actually let out a relieving sigh when the choking collar of a crew neck is finally removed. You would think more people would be nervous with sharp scissors near their jugular, but the amount of trust people have in me is truly heartwarming. I’m sure you are wondering now if I have actually drawn blood from any of these people. Anticlimactically, no and thank goodness. Gross!
I like to ask which part of their body they would like to show off and if there are any tattoos under here that you would like to show the world! I honestly believe that anyone can rock a cut up shirt. I have cut shirts for big and small, old and young- I love the challenge of making something appropriate for anyone.
Besides talking about design, I get to know the human wearing the shirt. At this moment, we are really the only two people in the world. I like to give each person special attention and care to create an unforgettable memory with a stylish souvenir. We bond and it is beautiful. It is amazing how a t-shirt can tell such a story. I am always honored when someone sends me a shirt that belonged to a loved one that has passed.
With COVID, it's obviously been a lot harder to have this interpersonal encounter. I’ve been lonely and struggling financially. At the same time, I have been blessed with the support of the people who mail me their shirts for customization- it has kept my head above water and kept my happy meter high. Instead of working on a real and amazing human, I resort to one of my many mannequins. I will not disclose the number of mannequins I own. The conversation is boring and usually one sided- but I’m still happy making something from the heart for another human. I tell them that everytime they put on their snipped shirt, they are being hugged by me.
Thank goodness festivals are coming back to our lives! We can once again, unite in real life and not over the zoom screen.
I am rewarded everyday by taking the giant leap to follow my passion and become an artist and small business owner. It did not happen overnight. In fact, a very serious life obstacle pushed me to this point. In 2012, I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. Such a medical threat to my existence was a wake up call. While going through chemo, I decided to finally teach myself music (my name is Melodie afterall!) and also to put my all into the thing I love doing the most- that ticks all my boxes. That love fuels me and scissors are the only tool I need to make it all happen.
*A nice pair of Fiskars that have known ONLY the feeling of fabric