An introduction to how FLOOF Collage pARTy! came about: I am Corinne Stern, self-taught “outsider” artist who has been making art since I was old enough to doodle. In the last ten years, I have been making little hats that started out as Gippot Headcoverings: for the Renaissance Woman. They quickly morphed into fascinators, as they are called in the UK, Australia and New Zealand – little decorative hats worn askew and decorated with wild feathers and beads. “Gippot” was a word I invented, an amalgam of Kippot (Yarmulkes is the Yiddish) and the word for woman (Giveret) in Hebrew.
I traveled around the country, wholesaling my little beanies to shops in synagogues and temples, and in Judaica shops in 22 states and Canada. The first gallery where I showed my work was called Spirit and Kitsch, owned by Alice Mulbach. It was originally on the Ithaca Commons in Ithaca, New York, where my hats were hung from the ceiling! Later, it moved to a bigger space on Old Elmira Road. I also dabbled in sculpture, making walking sticks and other wood carvings, as well as tiny character studies from polymer clay mounted on writing implements, which I called Pencil Heads. My work has been displayed at restaurants, banks, bed-and-breakfasts, and art schools in the surrounding towns of the Finger Lakes. Some of my little cocktail hats are on sale in the gift shop at AVAM (American Visual Arts Museum) in Baltimore, Maryland.
After a few years, Alice moved out of the shop on Old Elmira Road and Liz Tilley took over the space, naming her art and antique shop “The Kitschen Sink”. For Liz, I made jewelry and headbands out of recycled high-heel shoe parts. I drew much inspiration from other artists who showed their work at The Kitschen Sink, and from Liz’s creative and cheerful spirit.
In 2009, feeling I had outgrown Gippot, I renamed my business Floof Designs. Alice had once said said “I love the way you ‘floof’ things up,” and at that moment a light bulb had gone off in my head. Besides, no one could pronounce Gippot or understood what it meant. I started showing the digital photography that I had been working on for years at many other venues in Ithaca. After two cross-country trips and an adventure in Alaska, I had thousands of fascinating photos to share.
I have had very few traditional art classes. These include painting lessons from Mr. Floyd Berg of Cincinnati, Ohio, when I was eight years old, an Art History course at Washington University in 1967 when I was 19, and a class taught a few years ago by former Ithaca artist Benjamin Marlan about Seeing Color. Most of my artistic knowledge comes from hanging around fellow artists and picking their brains. When I was sixteen, I wanted to be a fashion designer, but my parents put the kibosh on that idea when they refused to fund Art School. “A rat race”, they said. “You’ll never make any money as an artist”. When I was 22, I worked for a year for a commercial artist in Nashville, Tennessee. There I developed a portfolio in an attempt to get a job in Ithaca, but I spun around in that Catch 22 where one has to have experience to get a job, and the only way to get experience was on a job.
So, at the age of 62, I am finally doing what I believe I was meant to do from the beginning. I am happy to share my newest stage of growth with you.