Seamstress Crystal Quinn is a maker of many things; in addition to her current project creating really fun house shoes, she and her partner David are starting a gallery/work space called the Dressing Room.
Photos and interview by Kelsey Johnston
Secrets of the City: Where did you grow up?
Crystal Quinn: I grew up in East Bloomington.
Secrets: Tell me about starting the Dressing Room.
CQ: My partner David and I have just recently started the Dressing Room. It is a space within our apartment for artists to use and work through ideas that they wouldn’t be doing so regularly. For the first few events that we are hosting before the new year we have asked 3 artist friends to show their work. We are going to be putting out a call pretty soon for artists to use the space for 2011.
Secrets: Would you be doing workshops?
CQ: The name of the space is Dressing Room so, we like to say that it’s a space to try things on. It’s about discussion and dialogue, visiting studios and acting on ideas.
Secrets: Sounds experimental.
CQ: Totally experimental in a really great way.
Secrets: How did you start with your shoes project?
CQ: I started making shoes after creating these felt booties. I’m not really selling the little ones. I was part of a craft fair with my sister and I sold some there but, I like giving them away. I attend so many damn baby showers. I then started taking apart my own shoes to find out how they were constructed. While constructing these shoes I used only soft materials so they are sort of like house shoes. Then I got a serger.
There was one day, well, I needed a sewing machine because I was going to make a few wedding dresses over the summer. I needed a sewing machine immediately and I had only $200 to spend. I picked up my mother to come with and she’s like, “Oh, you should talk to your cousin who has this serger at her grandmother’s house and you could probably have it, she never used it.” So, I called my cousin and drove over to the house and her grandmother carries up this beautiful serger that’s still in the box and she then says “well, I also have this sewing machine that I don’t use any longer if you want to use it”. I leave with two beautiful machines and still had the $200. I then made a decent amount of the house shoes for my friends online store Light Vision.
Secrets: Have you worked in other mediums?
CQ: I went to school for painting at the California College of the Arts. It was there that I found out I am not a painter, I’m more of a maker. After moving back home I went to MCAD, but for only one semester because I wanted to try everything out and I felt that they didn’t approve of that there. So, I didn’t continue but I recently just started going to school again to study apparel design. I sort of do a lot of different things whether it’s drawing, painting, making books, sewing.
Secrets: If you got to create a new school subject what would it be?
CQ: I was at Saver’s the other day and I came across the encyclopedia on how to do everything yourself. It was the do-it-yourself encyclopedia pre-‘D.I.Y.’. Growing up I would make and fix things by hand and I remember kids saying “wait, you can make that?” and I’d be like “Yeah! You can just make it yourself”. You can make things that machines can. I think that would definitely be it, a do-it-yourself class.
Secrets: What’s the best part about living in Minneapolis?
CQ: The thing that I missed most while living in California was the lack of season change but only because while living in California, where everyday it’s beautiful, it’s really hard to stay inside and get anything done. It was hard being a studio artist there because being from Minneapolis I felt like I had to take advantage of every nice day. We’re raised to do that and that’s sort of why I love is the shitty weather here because I love being a bit of a hermit.
Secrets: Childhood dream career?
CQ: I never wanted to grow up. I just didn’t want to become boring because that’s sort of how I saw things. That’s kind of how I’m living my life now. I’m trying not to grow up in the way that I thought growing up meant!