Wednesday, December 10, 2014

*Bergdorf Goodman Holiday Windows 2014, Bette Midler's Hulaween Party, and More!*

Summer vacation came to an abrupt halt in mid-August when I got word that I would be assisting ‘Biak’ Kerdkan- a master paper sculpture being imported from Sweden, on the fabrication of an ornate lion and griffin for the Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows. Yes, Christmas in August. That is my world. My days in the Bergdorf studio with Biak and assistant Tate were spent meticulously cutting paper into thousands of layers of fur and feather. All of the paper was gorgeous custom shades of blue to emulate blue prints for the architecture-themed holiday window. We worked along side artists Jay and Gloria who had already been in the BG studio for many months crafting a city of paper skyscrapers. The level of detail and layers was truly unbelievable. The atmosphere in the studio vacillated the extremes of ultimate zen to steaming pressure cooker. Biak became my 'Russian coach' who enforced utmost speed and precision. After five weeks I thought my hand was going to fall off. #carpeltunnel. The end result is beyond worth it, and am very grateful to have worked on this stunning holiday window. 

                    'Architecture' Bergdorf Goodman Holiday 2014. Window director - David Hoey
                                 On display at 58th street and 5th Avenue thru January 4th.
      Click here to see behind the scenes action in a NY Times video about the creation of this window.

After an extended stint in the Bergdorf studio, my season took on a more diverse, independent tone. I did a few days of painting props for another BG 5th ave holiday window, a few days of window installs, and then started doing more work out of my own studio.  One of my favorite projects was a commission of 5 crystal encrusted masks via Abby Hertz of AHZ Concepts for a notorious fashion world 'A- list' Halloween party. This collection of masks required hand application of more than 15,000 crystals!!!

Most days I was doing a combination of teaching, making crystal encrusted masks, fabricating a stone sculpture for the Bergdorf men's store, and coordinating props, labor, and crafting decor for Bette Midler's Hulaween party. This was my fourth year working with art director Douglas Little on the decor for Bette Midler's annual Halloween party at the Waldorf Astoria. This years theme 'Fellini Hulaweeni' was an ode to the surrealist Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini. Many of the decorative components were crafted from Italian newspapers, and based off of bizarre characters from Fellini films. 

                                               Fellini Hulaween 2014. Art Director- Douglas Little

'Hulaween' is the annual benefit for Bette's Midler's non-profit organization 'New York Restoration Project.' NYRP plants trees, revitalizes parks and gardens, and facilitates free arts culture in NYC's green public spaces. Bette is a true inspiration for me in the way she uses her influence to cultivate stewardship, while being oh so fabulous. Thank you Divine Miss M <3 

My hallowed holiday production season culminated with a project very dear to my heart. In 2014 my manager/mentor of nearly 10 years in windows, Shane Ruth got a mega promotion and became the Visual Director of the entire Bergdorf Goodman's men's store. Bravo!!! Early in the season Shane commissioned me to make a stone encrusted sculpture for the Archeology themed holiday window. Earthy, masculine, organic, and glamorous. He quickly earned the name: 'G of D' AKA 'God of Display.' We worked in collaboration. Shane built the base, I picked and applied the stones. Titanium treated Quartz, Agate, Pyrite, Druzy, tile, rock candy, and glass. The 'God of Display' is a demanding and expensive god, but oh sooooo beautiful. During the homestretch, I was working around the clock at the Sparkledome studio. Fingers perma-stained blue, a landscape of stone, glass, and glue forming on my gold studio floor. It was such a proud and happy day when I got to carry him into the store. It felt good to join my teammates, do finishing touches in the men's visual studio, and then watch Shane place him in the display case inside the window. Moments later our whole team gathered across the street for the official window unveiling. There was songs, speeches, and massive fireworks were shot off of the iconic building, illuminating the night sky. For most bystanders it was the week before Thanksgiving, for me it was New Years Day :)

                           Tada!!!! 'God of Display' designed by Sarah Sparkles and Shane Ruth
       'Archeology' Bergdorf Goodman Men's holiday window 2014. Window Director- Shane Ruth
                    Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows at 58th St. and 5th Ave thru January 4th.

                                                        Happy Holidays everyone!!!!!!!
   Utmost gratitude for a deeply inspiring, creative year.  Cheers to the next, and many more <3
Also a special thank you to the amazing art directors and visual teams I worked with this year. All of these projects are huge collaborative efforts. It is a privilege to work with all of you. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

*Summer Art Adventures, Mystery Land Festival, Mermaid Parade, and More!*

After a much needed vacation, I have returned to tell the tale of summer art adventures starting with my job installing decor for the Mysteryland Festival at Bethel Woods with the Winkel & Balktick crew. Days prior to the Memorial Day weekend, our crew piled into a technicolor R.V. and road up to the lush upstate festival grounds, home to the original Woodstock gathering in 1969. Winkel and Balktick designed an environment called “Birdhuisje" (an audubon homage to the festival's Dutch origin), with life size books and birdhouses for the festival goers to explore.

During the Mysteryland install there was heavy rain that caused mud so strong it could easily suck a more fashionable boot right off your foot. Our days were spent hauling, building, painting, decorating, hitching rides on crew golf carts, exploring art installations, sleeping in a tent with a bed and electricity, and eating 3 healthy catered meals a day. I love the Dutch belief in social services, it makes the hard work extra fabulous!!! Once the party started, we had to do our finishing touches amidst some of the loudest techno music on earth. My favorite part of working at Mysteryland was exploring the festival grounds while the event site was still closed to the public and watching the installations being built. I am so grateful for this festival experience that aligned with my intentions to travel more doing art-based work :)

Every summer, thousands of decked out sirens, pirates, and sea creatures hit the streets of NYC to celebrate the annual Coney Island Mermaid Day Parade. It is one of my most beloved holidays of the year. In the days leading up to the parade, I work around the clock on my costume: new jewelry, headpiece, bag, and sparkle bra. My apartment becomes joyously covered in layers of blue glitter, sequins, jewels and shells. Many of my closest friends are also kindred fairy mermaids. On this day we all dressed up in glorious celebration of summer, the spirits of the sea, art, and enchantment. <3

Mermaid Day Costume Design by Sarah Sparkles 2014

                                                           HAPPY SUMMER!!!!!! <3

This summer in between trips to the beach and the woods, I birthed a 2014 Mermaid jewelry collection and put it up on my new and improved etsy store. The Sparkles Etsy is the one stop shop for stone & crystal mermaid jewelry, Vintage Glamor feather hair accessories, and signed copies of Parades, Parties, and Protests.

                                        Mermaid Jewelry design by Sarah Sparkles 2014

The past few months have been a time of regeneration after finishing writing a book, followed by six hardcore fantastic months building out the set of Queen of the Night. This summer I enjoyed quality time with friends and family, partying it up at festivals, swimming, beach, mountains, and luxurious amounts of sleep. I craved more quiet and open space to be intuitive about whats calling me. Now the Fall is just around the corners. This week I start holiday window production at Bergdorf, (Yes Christmas in August), and next week is Fashion Week Windows. The upcoming season I will be juggling projects in props, windows, theater, film, and high-end events. I'm ever grateful for my rejuvenating mermaid summer vacation, and for the dynamic fall art season that is to come. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Queen of the Night, Christian Dior, NOLA Carnival, More!

So far 2014 has been nothing short of an art marathon. When I began working on the show Queen of the Night at the end of September, I had no idea I would be building new installations in the scintillating netherworld of the Diamond Horseshoe through March. Just when I thought the venue couldn’t get more opulent (or decrepid- depending on what room you are in)- set designer Douglas Little says ‘It needs MORE!’ Over the course of the winter months, I worked diligently with my seasoned cohort Jessie Flynn. We built bizarre sculptures out of champagne glasses lined the spiral staircase. The venue staff watched in horror as our flute towers grew. How could these seemingly precarious glass towers withstand the impact of the drunken masses? Never underestimate the power of precisely placed Loctite epoxy- and prayer... So far, so good!! We styled a rope tassel installation for our beloved mascot Luisa the Jaguar, revamped the ‘coral’ columns in the main ballroom, (changed the color, made larger, and sculpted dozens of golden jewels onto the fa├žade,) and began an overhaul of the Mad Distillery bar. Next week I will be back on set to touch up a hot wax installation. Every time I step foot inside the Diamond Horseshoe, I am grateful for the life experience of getting to be an artisan hand in creating such a beautiful and unusual place.

In between jobs on set at Queen of the Night, I worked on a few installations in the Bergdorf Goodman windows. It is my 9TH year as a freelancer in the BG visual department. In March, we did an uber ornate tropical rainforest Christian Dior spring extravaganza. My favorite aspect of working in the windows is when we are creating over the top surreal environments, that then become the ephemeral, bizarre backdrops of my life. I found myself at midnight in the spray booth, painting and glittering life size tropical plants and had a moment of satisfaction acknowledging that this is what I love to do and am especially grateful for the times I get paid to do it. 

                              Fashion by Christian Dior, Window design by David Hoey

Shortly after installing the BG Christian Dior windows, I found myself in another ultra surreal environment- styling decor for the Black Party at Roseland Ballroom with the team from ARCH Productions. This job was especially bittersweet because it would be the last time, I’d ever step foot in this hallowed venue. I fondly remember Roseland from my teenage years of going to massive raves and concerts (hanging out backstage with cypress hills!!) and as an adult working fetish events and tattoo conventions. This month the historic venue shuttered its doors and will soon be demolished to pave the way for yet another god-awful high-rise luxury condo. As a native New Yorker and an artist this trend is excruciatingly painful for me. My history has been paved over to the point that none of my coming of age landmarks are left. NONE. At times this makes me downright venomous. However, working on the new Diamond Horseshoe venue was healing in creating something new and beautiful in the heart of NYC that also paid tribute to my showgirl past life. As I spent my final day in Roseland setting up a sensual harem in the VIP section for the most epic gay sex party on earth, I thought maybe I will come back and help build a futuristic leather daddy rave club in my next life. R.I.P Roseland Ballroom. I will always love you.
So while the NYC I love is being gutted by ravenous developer vultures on a daily basis, leaving town and visiting other inspiring cities is great medicine. In March, I went down to New Orleans during Carnival for a fantastic adventure with my dear friend, costumer designer Charlotte Lily Gaspard. This talented maven can be found working in the costume shop at Julliard, the Public Theater, and the Delacorte for Shakespere in the Park. Our entire trip to the Big Easy was a whirlwind of decadent parades and parties, that required a minimum of three costume changes a day. Within two hours of stepping off the plane, I was at the 9th Ward Marching Band parade and realized that for the denizens of New Orleans, costuming is SERIOUS. It is a visual representation of status and cultural pride. Charlotte brought me to a bonafide ‘Ball’ in Chalmette that featured a few enormous costumes she had been commissioned to make. The scale of the costumes was nothing like I have ever seen before!! Many were the size of a NYC studio apartment. Thus the term ‘costumes on steroids’ was born. I left New Orleans so deeply inspired with visions of getting wayyyyyy more ambitious with my own costume designs. Charlotte is currently teaching me how to make more sculptural headdresses and is taking orders for her unique custom designs.  Cheers to new inspiration, and a life of art adventures!!

The stars are on the ground in New Orleans!!!
For more pix from our epic New Orleans Carnival adventures, check out the full album on the Parades, Parties, and Protests page.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

**Queen of the Night @ The Diamond Horseshoe**

Deep below the bustling streets of New York City's Times Square theater district, in the nether regions of the Paramount Hotel lays a glittering world that pays tribute to the ghosts of theater and showgirls past. In its hey day, the Diamond Horseshoe was the "It" caberat club of the 1930s and 1940s that catered to New York City's fashionable set. The club shuttered its doors in the 1950s and remained dormant for 60 years until NOW. After many months of extensive renovations the Diamond Horseshoe has been revived and transformed into a labyrynth of spectacle that is home to an exciting new show. *Queen of the Night* is brought to you by a powerhouse team of internationally renowned producers and creative directors from the immersive theater, subversive nightlife, and fashion world. The cast of characters include playwright and producer Randy Weiner of the smash hit 'Sleep No More', Tony winner director Christine Jones, Thom Brown costume design, fashion maven Giovanna Batagllia as art director, and Douglas Little set design. The show boldly weaves theater, circus, fetish, and fine dining, while guests are immersed in opulent decor and sensual experiences. The evening is presented as a “dark debutante ball” given by the Marchesa, played by the striking Martha Graham dancer Katherine Crockett, with a supporting cast headed up by the Montreal circus troupe 'Les 7 Doigts de la Main.' Set designer Douglas Little brought me on to work as a scenic artist on his specialty installations at the Diamond Horseshoe. He is my creative soul mate, a very compatible blend of Scorpio glamorous, macabre, sex, magic. Executing his concepts is currently one of my greatest passions. My days were spent covered in beetles, butterfly wings, crystals, shells, glitter, and hot wax. I am deeply grateful for this dream job experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.

When I went on a site visit to the Diamond Horseshoe back in September it was not much more then a dry wall construction sight. I spent my first few weeks working out of a sprawling design lab on Park Ave sourcing materials, making samples, and hitting the pavement. HARD. There I was happily reunited with one of my favorite art partners in crime Jessie Flynn, who spent the last year building out the set for the highly acclaimed show ‘Sleep No More.’ As production got underway, the fabulous corset designer Paloma Soledad took on the role of Douglas’s daily assistant, and Jessie and I were sent over to the Diamond Horseshoe to work on the first of many secret rooms. We spent nearly 3 weeks COVERED in hot wax. 2013 was the year of the HOT. WAX. SITUATION. Just when I thought we might actually die from hot wax poisoning, our boxes containing 15,000 butterflies arrived from Thailand. Let the mandala’s begin!! Jessie and I took turns managing a small team of artisans, while simultaneously executing our own intricate butterfly wing mandala designs. I had fantasies about creating art with these delicate wings in a silent monestary on a mountain top, when in fact we were doing a site specific installation in the middle of high traffic construction site. The process was extremely arduous, but the final outcome is divine :)

2013 held a shocking revelation in that hot wax rivaled my love for sparkles! Nothing has ever rivaled sparkles before... Set design by Douglas Little


 My teammate Jessie Flynn is one of the most talented, hardworking gals that I know. She has a sharp eye, a steady hand, and she is NOT afraid to get dirty.

 The 'power gingers' Douglas and Paloma working through the wee hours, conjuring magic in the Park Ave design lab.

Upon finishing the wall of butterfly wing mandalas, we took a 2 week hiatus while Douglas went on a design job in Korea. I took that time to recover from severe sleep deprivation and a self imposed latte withdrawl. When Douglas got back from Korea, I embarked on another round of specialty installations. This time without the other assistants. My role morphed into the next level of personal assistant, project manager, and art installer. The ability to multitask reached unprecedented levels! My projects included extensive work on three of the secret rooms, embellish a sirens lair laden with thousands of iridescent shells, the Queen's molten wax chamber, adding beetle wings to compliment the butterfly mandala wall treatment, jewel encrusting columns in the main room, styling a dilapidated crystal chandelier installation, and numerous other extravagant details. While managing the different teams of freelancers, I would remind the new people that a big part of creating the magic is the installation must be seamless. Nobody should be able to tell whats underneath it or how you did it.


A Sparkles and Jessie Flynn collaboration on the first butterfly mandala template and team leaders of the installation of the wall treatment. So grateful for our solid comradery and good flow. Thank you Jessie Flynn!

                               Custom bejeweling by Sparkles for column in main ballroom

After the Bergdorf holiday windows went up, my teammate of the last 8 year Sean Slaney joined us at the Diamond Horseshoe to style out multiple specialty installations including the 'Mad Distillery' bar. Sean and I have collaborated on a few wild installations so far this year, including this vintage chandelier falling through the champagne tower.

                              Sparkles heading up custom design beetle treatment for dining table.

Fabulous beetle table assistant Cherish rocked it!!!

With the show scheduled to open on New Years Eve, 12-15 hour days became the norm, often starting with 7am call times. At this point everyone involved was pushing themselves to the max, pouring their entire being into creating this show. The performers rehearsed so intensely. All the designers, directors, and producers were in meetings around the clock. The carp and scenic team hadn't seen daylight in weeks. It was exhilarating to be surrounded by people who are so deeply passionate about what they are doing. It became very clear to me that this line of work is an endurance sport. It takes just about everything you have, so you do it because you love it. As the days went on, everything was becoming increasingly surreal. My ability to concentrate on making very meticulous, detailed art was supremely tested as the performers were running tech, contorting, tumbling, writhing, and hanging from the ceiling, the director periodically yelling “orgy from the top!” being invited to try newly designed pearlescent cocktails at the Mad Distillery bar, or being tied up and whisked off by the performers so they could practice their one on one encounters with me. On  the final day before opening night, the director Christine excitedly pulled me up on stage to test out the audience participation elements. One minute I'm meticulously gluing beetle wings to the wall (40,000 of them!), and the next I am on stage being robed with rubber gloves, goggles, and a mallet... All in a days werk! Such a dream job, so very grateful!! The show is now open in previews getting great press, including New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Architectural Digest, and more. If you are interested in attending the show, tickets are available on the Diamond Horseshoe's website.

                                                              TADA!!!!!!!! <3 <3 <3
                                       Installation by Sarah Sparkles, Jessie Flynn and crew
             Set Design by Douglas Little for 'Queen of the Night' at the Diamond Horseshoe