Ronalee Wear. An intriguing combination. A highly skilled, detail-oriented dressmaker/ designer and crazy-free spirit who can turn the most surprising ingredients into something magical. Ronalee is constructing the costumes for Whim W’Him artistic director Olivier Wevers‘s new IN-spired piece Brahms and Tights (Jan 22-23 and 29-30 at Cornish Playhouse). She works as a costumer and interior designer on her own,
does real-estate staging for Toll Brothers (whose motto is “America’s Luxury Builder”)…
… and puts up holiday decorations with Visionart at the Space Needle, the Tulalip Casino and other businesses and private houses, among other activities. At any given moment she might be found hunched over a sewing machine, participating with her grown kids—Devin and Dakota Wear—in a medieval fair, or up on an 18 foot ladder, hanging garlands. She grew up here in Seattle, and her unusual background plays into her current pursuits with the lively serendipity on which she thrives.
At a young age, Ronalee says, “My mom taught me how to work a sewing machine and follow a pattern, but I never could stick to a pattern.” Then from 2nd grade through high school, she lived with her eccentric dad who fostered and burnished her native ingenuity. Finding stuff in alleys or thrift shops to refine or re-purpose, thinking up wildly imaginative schemes, “He was,” as she says, “super-creative.” He taught her, by the way he lived, “what you can do with what you have, despite no money,“
At times things could be tough, but sometimes a check for $1000 for one of her dad’s workshops might arrive in the mail . “He always made even bad stuff into a story.”
If it snowed at 1 or 2 in the morning, he would get the kids up and take them out for a memorable walk. When there was only a rack of mismatched glasses and cups in the kitchen, he would ask, “How do you feel today? Like a goblet? A plain mug?”
No couch in the living room? He put together a pillow corner from discarded remnants the fabric store was about to throw ou.. And when the heat got turned off, he constructed big furry snugglies for his children—like blankets with their corners tacked down into sleeves—and called them “eskimo kimonos.” Her dad died of AIDS when her son was 3 months old.
Ronalee maintains that growing up she never thought of their situation as poverty,
but instead was excited by all the occasions to be risen to with ingenuity and humor. When they couldn’t afford art supplies, she learned to use the phone book for paper. Years later, raising kids of her own, she has been reluctant to buy pre-made stuff.