Be Hands Free
Idle hands may be the devil’s plaything, but they are also a key ingredient to your enjoyment of Burning Man, and by extension, life! There is so much to see, hear, and explore in this otherworldly environment. And, with that journey comes all the holding, hugging, climbing, offering and receiving of things, and yourself – which will be oh-so-much easier to do if you are hands free! At what level do you want to participate in your own life? There are so many aides for your success, from utility kilts to carabineers, from backpacks to purses.
One functional and beautiful solution you’ll see are the many versions of shoulder and hip holsters in use on the Playa. They hold everything from accessories to wet wipes and booze to band-aids. As with most items you’ll find endless options for style, color, and general function. Before choosing one for yourself, consider your likely uses for such a piece.
Will you want to store water? (yes, somehow.) A camera? (likely.) An empty mug dangling freely for those gifted refreshments from your new neighbors? (for sure!) Pens to get the digits of your 50,000 new best friends? Do the pockets, snaps, or zippers support gaining easy-access to your frequently used items? Is it constructed such that if you are left or right handed the openings are not at an awkward angle for use? (A big one for us southpaws, or lefties, as we are called in other parts of the world.) Many of kinds items can be found in an Army Surplus, resale, or charity shop. Here, we’re also highlighting one of our local Burners. In the spirit of California and Burning Man, this wonderful woman repurposes discarded leather goods into amazing utility belts, holsters, and other bad-ass looking functional accessories!
Ahni Radvanyi has been producing garments since she could hold a needle and thread. As a very young girl, she made miniature dresses and outfits, as holiday ornaments to hang on their family tree. As she got bigger so did her clothes, assuring that all her stuffed animals were at all times well dressed in her tiny couture clothing. In high school she stepped up her game again, creating her own ensembles for wear during her day. Though not risqué, in a revealing sense, her fashion-forward threads were a little too much for her mid-west local high school principle. She soon found herself required to stop by the office before school each morning, but only if using herself as her own test model that day. Knowing her own drive and passion for creating beautiful clothes, dealing with the ‘fashion police’ was an unpleasant, but unavoidable step in her journey.
One afternoon realizing that she had enough censorship and critique from the administration for that year, the principal’s cover-up shirt (the oh-so-attractive extra football team jersey) was found returned to their desk in only the way that Ahni now returns things to clients. She’d completely pulled it apart at the seams, re-designed, then masterfully reconstructed it along with a note reading, ‘civil disobedience’. This also marked the last day that Ahni was required to check in with the front office on her choice of threads. A nice gesture on their part, I think, though a little late. Having won the battle thus far, and now well on her way to winning the war for freedom of self-expression, she also altered her graduation gown (without too much protest) as a final wave to her first foray into the market. Now attending fashion school, diversifying her exposure to the history and depth of fashion, even in the post-public education system, she was ahead of her time. After enrolling, she was a bit shocked to find not a single class on the vast subject of manipulating leather. Luckily, one professor seeing her passion and noting the lack of opportunity for mentoring in her niche, they directed her to a chain of domestic boutiques who welcomed her with open arms. She credits them with most of her formal education and access to opportunity, given the differing influence of each location she visited within their organization. There she found the tools, methods, and mentors who would help further her self-made education in creating unique and beautiful leather works.
Many of our Burner friends already own one or more of her pieces of art. No matter the style or length of ownership, they’ll all agree that it serves the stated hands-free purpose for utility, but also, Ahni’s work is sturdy enough to withstand years and years of regular Playa use and general abuse. She hand crafts and tailors each piece after speaking with the client about their personal style, potential uses, color choice, and inclusion of any requested personal touches.
Many times friends, or those with a strong sense of timeless fashion have asked her to mass produce these amazing works of art, but that’s just the issue isn’t it? How does one mass produce art? When your passion is bringing the spirit of the wearer into the garment, how would it work to be mass produced? Well, it wouldn’t. That’s why, if you also want one of these amazing gems in your home it’s a tad more involved than walking into a store which carries various sizes of utility belts. You’ll need to make a connection with the artist, give her some of your time, a little story about your soul, and enough time for the story of your garment write itself using her hands, so your belt will not only fit your waist, but also your personality.