Fashion flurries for Thelma

... a stylish fit found at the Milano Senior Center -- thanks to Carol Nelson

by Debbi Collar and Don Norris ...

Fashion statement for autumn

"Thelma" proudly stands at the top of the staircase, silently greeting visitors
at the Milano Senior Center in Melrose.

Her  dress of choice this past season was a colorful blend of  brown, red,
gold, green and orange. She was wearing her "autumn dress," according to
creator Carol Nelson. Her winter wardrobe now glistens during these chilly
months. Currently, "Thelma" is being fitted to her dress and will model the
new attire soon after the New Year.

"Thelma," Nelson explains, "is a dress form that was purchased several years
ago, "from a Main Street dress shop in Melrose that went out of business."
She gave the dress form its name, its wardrobe of creative outfits and
eventually its voice. "I've made 18 (dresses) in five years and they were all
shown at the Melrose Public Library with permission of Dennis Kelley, the
last director." "Thelma" has now taken up residence in the Milano Center and
has been welcomed by Senior Center Executive Director Dawn Folopoulos
and the Center's visitors.

A trip to Ireland ignited and inspired her imagination into giving voice to the
dress form. It was during that trip that she "noticed a pub sign that said "The
Silent Woman" and "there was a picture of a woman with no head." Nelson
added, "my own favorites (of the dresses she has made) make a statement
like the one for civil rights or the one against war."

They give voice to the silent woman. "That "silent woman," now called
"Thelma." Nelson shared additional thoughts she had of the statements
"Thelma" would help her make as she fashioned several of the styles she put
on the dress form in past years as well as currently. "This season's fashion
for "Thelma, "she says is "Nature dressing in autumn leaves" As to previous
collages on the mannequin, she says of her anti- war creation, it was pieced
together, "using real photographs from Life Magazine."  Another outfit she
designed told of "the terror against blacks in the Civil Rights Movement that
took place in the 60s."  As to her 1830s creation," it is a tribute to all of our
ancestors from all over the world who are now gone."   

Models do not walk the runways wearing any of Nelson's creations which are
usually made of paper and pinned or glued to "Thelma." There are, however,
occasions when Nelson uses materials other than paper, such as the silk
leaves pictured above or silk flowers. None of the dresses are sewn.

Nelson, who is also the mother of six and grandmother of 14, also enjoys
teaching ESL (English As A Second Language) for a group formed by Melrose
Human Rights ...conversation in English, help for wonderful visitors to
Melrose from other countries. "I love it!" She also finds time to knit caps or
organizations every winter.

A member of  The Melrose Mirror, Nelson has written for the online
newspaper for the past 10 years and continues to do so today.

Take the time to say hello to "Thelma" on your way to any of the activities at
the Milano Senior Center. Past garments made by Nelson over the years,
whether at the library or the Milano Senior Center, have included:

Seasonal dresses
Anti War
Civil Rights
Images of People in the 1830s
Victorian Christmas
Turkish Wedding Dress
Korean Wedding Dress
Butterfly Ballet

More creations are soon to come. This time, will Thelma's attire be that of a
Springtime theme or will she be making a silent statement?

Only Carol can answer that as she continues to designs the next dresses for

December 5, 2014



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