Pretty Paper

LCC reboots its continuing education courses in fashion with an emphasis on recycled materials and textiles

Newspapers aren’t dead (ahem, you are reading one). They’ve just been repurposed. Case in point: Turn to the cover of this issue and find the peacock-like ensemble Ariana Schwartz custom-crafted for EW’s 2015 Summer Guide.

Look closely — Schwartz used EW’s recent Big Bird cover story to create the summery getup.

Ariana Schwartz at LCC’s downtown campus.

“There is a lineage,” Schwartz says. Sitting in a sunny LCC classroom overlooking the downtown bus station, Schwartz chats about the trend of disposable paper clothing in the ’60s and the iconic 1967 shot of mod-era supermodel Twiggy modeling a newspaper dress. “It has a lot of potential to be accessible to students.”

Schwartz teaches ReFashionLab, a new continuing education class at LCC that launched fall of 2014. The class is sponsored by Materials Exchange Center for Community Arts (MECCA) and, last term, Schwartz advised a handful of students how to make designs from recycled material, or how to “transform everyday objects into wearable art.”

Among other found objects, Schwartz gathered back issues of Eugene Weekly. “Some were more skeptical,” she says of the students. But, “they realized it was easy to create texture and shape with newspaper.”

The results are impressive. Students used the unforgiving material to make dresses featuring eyelet lace, bustiers, pleats, ruffles and even some chic adornments on a pair of heels. The students will present the designs, which will be modeled during the First Friday ArtWalk June 5 at Studio Mantra Salon.

Left: Erika Weist modeling dress by Ariana Schwartz.
Right: Katrina Jones modeling dress by ReFashionLab student Brittaney Wilson.
Hair artists Gwynne McLaughlin and Ericka Weist of Studio Mantra Salon, make-up artist Marisa Shute.

The ReFashionLab is part of a reboot that LCC started last fall for its continuing education fashion, textile and costume courses. Registration is now open for a slew of summer courses taught by Schwartz and Anna Szmit. In addition to the lab, classes include: Fashion Design and Illustration, Creative Fabric Design: Fabric Painting for Designers and Crafters, Creative Fashionista: Day Camp for Tweens and Teens and Kiddies Knitting Day Camp.

Schwartz notes that courses in coming terms will continue to evolve depending on demand and necessity. Eventually, she would like to add sewing and pattern-making courses.

“Fashion is coming into itself in Oregon,” Schwartz says, pointing out the growth of Eugene Fashion Week, Portland Fashion Week and Oregon State University’s apparel design program, as well as the rise of local indie designers made possible by outlets like the e-commerce site Etsy. “It’s a great moment for there to be resources in the city.”

Schwartz, a Eugene native, brings a lifetime of experience to her instruction. As a little kid, she dabbled in design with her dolls, and she was surrounded by textiles and belly dancing costumes from her parents’ local import business. She learned to sew at 6 from retired sewing teacher Liz Deck (the 1992 SLUG queen), whom she calls a Eugene institution.

And Schwartz has racked up several design degrees: a BFA in fiber arts from the UO, an associate degree in applied science in fashion design from New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology and an MFA in costume design from University of Texas.

But, she says, “there’s no fashion program in Eugene.”

The continuing education courses, while not a degree program, are meant to help students interested in pursuing careers in fashion and design “develop portfolios for design schools.”

Or, she says, you can just take courses for fun, as is local multimedia artist Lori Macedone, who’s currently enrolled in the ReFashionLab.

“I’ve always been a recycler, which I learned from my mom,” Macedone says. She saw an announcement for the class through a “snail-mail” flier from LCC. “ReFashionLab — this is what I need,” she says.

Macedone will have several designs from class on display for First Friday ArtWalk, including a flapper-style dress made from a chain-link silhouette and vintage pastel-colored hair rollers she had collected, and a pencil skirt and crop top created entirely from shirt collars sourced from MECCA.

MECCA provides materials for the course, and it gives each student a $10 voucher to buy additional supplies at the MECCA store.

Schwartz crafting newspaper ensemble, modeled on the cover by Savannah Weatherford.
Photos by Trask Bedortha

“We receive an overwhelming amount of donations from the community,” say Katey Finley, MECCA’s material exchange manager. “Fabric and sewing stuff in particular was beginning to build up to a ridiculous degree.”

After hearing about ReFashionLab and the course’s emphasis on upcycling materials, Finley says she reached out to LCC and Schwartz, who she calls a “creative genius.”

Finley adds, “It turned out to be this really perfect fit beyond what I even thought.”

In addition to MECCA materials, the downtown LCC classroom houses 18 sewing machines and four large fabric-cutting tables. Schwartz says as the program grows, they will add more equipment and build more community relationships — currently, she’s trying to partner students with downtown shops to help create art ensembles for storefronts.

“The Eugene art scene is blossoming,” she says.

ReFashionLab designs will be modeled on the second stop of the First Friday ArtWalk at 6 pm Friday, June 5, at Studio Mantra, 40 E. 5th Ave. The summer 2015 LCC fashion, textile and costume classes start at the end of June and throughout July. For more info, visit

Comments are closed.