Sunday, August 29, 2021

Capes Created By Polly Anderson

 Polly Anderson has turned her expert sewing skills into something that's a continuing hit at regional science fiction and comic book conferences: the making of unique one-of-a-kind capes to fit with any costumed character.

The number of costumed characters at comic book conventions is considerable, so there's no shortage of potential customers. She has been sewing these special costume accessories for more than 50 years, taking orders on the first day of the convention, then working on them overnight and delivering them in the next day or two to appreciative participants.

Years ago Polly was working at Carol's Jahncke's bookstore in Covington, selling books, maps, and paperbacks, when a customer friend of hers walked in and found her hand sewing. "Oh, you sew," her friend said, and Polly showed her some of the hand-stitching she was doing.

Polly had quite a bit of material on hand, since she sewed quite often for her family. The offhand remark  led to an invitation to attend an arts and crafts convention in Baton Rouge, and she hesitantly decided to attend, just to see what it was all about.  However, that first effort didn't work out.

The Convention Circuit

Not long afterwards, another customer, someone who frequented the science fiction section of the bookstore,  saw her sewing and also mentioned how she might want to go to one of those conventions. "I think you'll like it there," she was told. "It's all science fiction."

At that point, Polly explained that she specialized in making capes, and her friend thought that was a great thing to bring to the convention. So Polly made 20 capes to show at the event, and she also took her young son with her. Her first venture in the world of convention costuming got her hooked.

 
Two of the capes

Polly gave each cape a different look, with different design and fabric flourishes, because she wanted her capes to be unique, one of a kind accessories, something that personalized it. "It was fantastic," she said. The first convention was Coast Con in Biloxi, and she loved it.

"Met a lot of weird people, and I do mean weird. From there I have gone to conventions in New Orleans, Houston, Lafayette, Gulfport and Hattiesburg.


She sets up her sewing machine in the booth in the trade show, brings a bunch of patterns, and stacks and stacks of material piled on her tables. "They would pick out what they wanted, decide on a size, and I would have it for them next day. It is so much fun," she said.

Over the years, she has met many well-known science fiction personalities at the conventions and even wound up making costumes for some of them.  One of her favorite memories is the time she met two guys who had published a unique superhero comic book, and she has a signed first copy of their comic, something she treasures to this day.

 
Polly Anderson has always been interested in sewing and costumes

She made a costume to go along with their superhero character, and it was a hit at the convention as well. In fact, over the years, she has put together numerous specialty costumes for her friends at the conventions, and many of those have won the various costume contests held as part of the festivities.

Her sewing skills have also caught the attention of local newspapers who attend the conventions, and she has been written up a few times for her fanciful work and creativity in costuming.

No Two Are Alike

She feels that a key to her success is that she never makes two capes or costumes alike. "Anyone who has one of my capes knows that," she says. When she's asked to make a cape for a young person, she gives them the best deal possible because she knows that at future conventions, that person will grow up and bring in repeat business, as well as their friends.

Some of her previous customers may even come to her and ask her to make changes in capes she made at earlier conventions for them.  At some point, people started calling her and ask her for capes for upcoming special events, staged battles, and that ever more popular "cosplay" activities.

"It grew and grew," she said, noting that her son, the same one who went with her to the first one, got more and more involved. "He was a big help," she added. And he also took part in some of the costume contests, winning from time to time. This led to his friends also attending the events, and they started winning costume contests as well.

She's done pirate outfits for local Renaissance Festivals, and a never-ending variety of capes and costumes for the never-ending variety of costume-oriented special occasions.  The CovID pandemic lockdowns put somewhat of a damper on the big events, but they are gradually returning.

Fitting The Cape To The Person


She shares the secret of her success.  "The key is to find out what kind of costume fits a person's personality, not so much what they want to buy, but what's going to work for them," she explained.
"I really enjoy matching the cape to the person," she said. Her photo scrapbook contains many pictures of very interesting people, very interesting costumes, and interesting conventions.

She was going to two or three conventions a year before CovID hit, so as the conventions were postponed/rescheduled/cancelled, she kept busy with the other components of the sewing world.

The growing number of local and regional Comic Cons, the world of comic books and graphic novels, has expanded her market as well, and the new Star Wars events, featuring battles between the good guys and bad guys, has kept her busy. She is well known for her unique designs, blending traditional costumes with new takes based on the expanding universe of fictional characters. Styles range from beautiful to startling, and sometimes a mixture of both.

The World Of Movie Characters

Each year new movies tap into existing comic book genres, and they also generate dedicated costume contests. It sometimes seems there's a costume demand for every new movie. The Disney flick "Frozen" generated a wealth of new costumes for female characters. "I had glitter everywhere," she said, after trying to produce a Frozen worthy costume.

She even offers "reversible" capes, one side with one kind of design and the other side, a different design, to better fit the mood and imagination of the person wearing it. That's another fun part of designing costumes, to see how people, especially kids, put them on and suddenly imagine themselves as the character, acting out the parts, speaking the more memorable lines.

 
Cape photographs by Marie Cobb

She has made many friends going to these conventions. Even though these conventions can attract up to five thousands people (and up) she sees the same people over and over again, as they all attend the same conventions, as well as the new conventions, and the specialty events in-between conventions, not to mention the new all-consuming live action gaming.

They have adopted her as one of their own, a seamstress who helps them live their dreams in the costumes and capes of their dreams. "It's a little odd," she admits.

 



Saturday, August 28, 2021

Eye on Ida's Eye

 


Hurricane Katrina 16 Years Ago

 Tomorrow, August 29th, marks the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall in Louisiana. Here are several articles from one of the first newspapers to be printed after that disaster, the St. Tammany News, Slidell Sentry News, and News Banner, as published on September 6, 2005.

Click on the images to make them larger. 






 



 See also:

Friday, August 27, 2021

100 Years Ago This August 27, 2021

What was going on 100 years ago this week? CLICK HERE for a link to the St. Tammany Farmer Issue of  August 27, 1921. The link is provided by the Library of Congress and its Chronicling America service.

Click on the sample images below to see larger versions. 


 
Rapid Transit Fast Boat Proposed



 
Driving Courtesy


 
Madisonville  Restaurant, Water

 
Covington Post Office To Be Enlarged In Southern Hotel


 
Slidell Picture Show Opens


 
Society News

 
Water, Sewerage Systems Considered


Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Teacher Planning

 An old photograph of a teacher planning period at Lacombe Elementary, year unknown, but pretty long ago. 

 
Click on the image to make it larger
 
See also:
 


Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Mandeville Grammar PTA - 1925

 In 1925, some ninety-six years ago, these were the women who were members of the Mandeville Grammar School Parents Teachers Association. Click on the image to make it larger. 


See also:

Mothers Clubs Started Long Line of PTO Activity

Monday, August 23, 2021

Bayou Lacombe Celebrated Over 50 Years

 Fourteen years ago, in 2007, Bayou Lacombe Middle School celebrated its 50th anniversary, hosting a number of former students, teachers, and friends in the community for a special program.

Student tour guides took visiting alumni around the school where they could see displays of photographs and yearbooks from across the years, beginning in 1957.


Here is the video of the occasion produced by Channel 13, the School System's television cable channel. Click on the "play triangle" to see the video. 

 
 
Click on the Play Triangle above to see the video or
CLICK HERE to watch it on YouTube.com


Special appearances in the video were made by Patrick Woods, Dr. James Stafford, Jimmie Ann Thompson, Willie Jeter, Genie Simpson and Pete Jabbia.

 
Bayou Lacombe Middle School 


Sunday, August 22, 2021

Sunset/Moonrise

 Every so often I go down to the Mandeville lakefront to take pictures of the sun setting, but last night was one of those special occasions when the sun was setting in the west and a few minutes later the moon was rising in the east. A two for one sort of photographic exercise.

Here are the pictures from last night. Click on the images to make them larger. 





 
Lots of people and kids at the Mandeville harbor park

 
The watercraft start heading for the harbor