Little Maine Dress

photographs and text by Nikki Millonzi

The inspiration for my “Little Maine Dress” came on a dreary, slushy day when I first read about The Maine DoorYard Festival slated for mid-summer at Poland Spring Resort. As part of the festival there was a Little Maine Dress Competition. I fantasized about all the things that make Maine the wild, wonderful  state that it is. I love our turkeys, deer, moose, herons and chickadee. There is nothing like a summer evening on a lake, canoeing or fishing or gathered around a campfire; and no summer would be complete without at least one lobster cookout surrounded by family, friends and rustling fir branches. As fall approaches blaze orange appears on country roads as we pull on our boots and tramp through the woods.

These thoughts took the form of a dress. I sketched and I was transported. The next day, however, the sketch began to get covered with other things. Over the ensuing months it was nearly forgotten. When I did think of it, the pieces didn’t come together. I didn’t have the requisite dress form. I tried to get lobster claws from our local fish man but that didn’t work out. The pine bough, duct tape skirt  just didn’t flow right and the needles browned and fell out. I asked a dear friend to collaborate but she didn’t have the time. It looked like the fantasy was not going to materialize.

Then I went on a painting retreat to Bailey Island and things started to change. We had a lobster feed and friends carefully cracked their lobsters and  gave me their claws. I had a whole dozen of them to figure out how to dry. Coming home a friend had dropped off a funky dress form. I could place it on a kitchen stool and make things work. For the pine bough skirt, why not take apart that holiday garland in the basement? Maybe things would come together after all!

And they did. On July 27th at Poland Spring Resort the beautiful Joanna Reese catwalked my camoed creation in the first Little Maine Dress Competition. People liked it and it was a winner! It now can be seen at the Coleman Burke Gallery at 504 Congress St. in Portland. It is a 24/7 gallery so the dress can be seen any time during the month of August.

The DoorYard Festival was a first time collaboration between The Western Maine Art Group of Norway, Maine and the Poland Spring Resort.

My current show In Praise of Water is on exhibit at  The Reading Room Gallery at The Maine Bookhouse in Oxford. The show is of paintings, photographs and ecological information provided by the Maine Natural Resources Council.This show can be viewed during  the month of August, 10-6 daily.