Calvert’s especially known for her robot designs, a character that has been showing up in her doodles for years: “I was robot-y before robot-y was cool!”

Among Calvert’s best-sellers are melamine plates with her colorful original designs, ranging from a robot to a very assertive carton of milk. “One of the hard parts about being a small, independent designer is that you don’t necessarily have the resources to get better pricing,” she explains. “My melamine plates are really cute, but I hate they’re priced so high. And they have to be because I can’t order a thousand of each design from China. I’m hoping I can keep doing them, but it’s kind of an uphill battle with that sort of stuff.”

A graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design, Calvert has had experience doing art for websites and even for Osh Kosh B’Gosh—in, yes, Osh Kosh, Wisconsin, which she insists wasn’t really all that bad.

Liz Abbott of Leatherette Heart
Jennie Warren
Liz Abbott of Leatherette Heart
Jennie Warren

Calvert makes an assortment of items, including handmade aprons, archival prints, and graphic and slogan T-shirts, most of which are just inside jokes with her husband. “One of the shirts I do has a trolley on the front and ‘Ding, ding!’ on the back of it. The joke behind it is what I call it when the thong underwear hangs over the waistband of the pants and you just wanna go up and go ‘ding, ding!’ and pull on it! It signals your stop.”

Calvert will actually not be in attendance with the rest of the Mafia at Second Saturday—she’ll instead be attending the opening reception of her art show, “Coming Clean: Secrets and Stories From Catholic School” at the Kids Are Alright boutique in Belmont Shore; it runs through the end of the month.

She was inspired to paint her series of woodland creatures in compromising situations by from her days as a student at St. Bonaventure School in Huntington Beach. A bird flying upside-down as others look on was about the time she got in trouble for flipping the bird at the eighth-grade retreat. A bunny in a tartan school jumper whispering something to an adult bunny sitting on a tree stump? About how she used to make up horrible things she’d done to tell the priest at confession just to make things interesting. A smiling badger holding a tree branch atop its forehead tells the story of how she wanted to be a unicorn when she was 6.

Liz Abbott sits in the living room of her Belmont Shore apartment in a black skirt and a TSOL shirt she has modified into a tank top with safety pins. She calls the room her personal sweatshop, and it does kind of look like one: Along the walls, there are two sewing tables she’s carted back and forth between New York and Los Angeles, both draped in scraps of bold fabric. An old metal ’50s x cabinet with countless drawers and a large table is just around the corner, along with more cloth and supplies. Among the chaos are a few midcentury-modern pieces and kitschy gems: a pink plastic Hello Kitty camera, a Twiggy storage box, a baby-blue Barbie jumbo jet covered in pink daisies. She’s nursing a cold as she frantically prepares for Saturday.

“I don’t really have any surplus,” Abbott says between sniffles. “I shoot one thing for Etsy, and if someone buys it from me, I make it for them on the spot. And so now I have to get all this gear together. I make everything to order, so if someone has weird measurements, they can give them to me, and I can make it for them. Which, you know, would never happen at the Gap.”

Her clothing on her Etsy store ranges from unique silk-screened items (favorites prints include: the leather daddy, the Michael Jackson mugshot and the evolution of Britney print, titled The Good, the Bad and the Britney) to “rock & roll capris” with black chains sewn on, link by link, lining the outseam and the gifted halter dress, her flattering best-seller with a ruffled collar and a keyhole opening. She says being a part of the Long Beach Craft Mafia has helped motivate her to do more. “Coming to these meetings, I’m like, God, I have to get off my ass,” Abbott says. “These girls are doing stuff all the time; I got to do something.”

Abbott grew up in Brentwood—“Before it was super-nice,” she insists—where she started making her own clothing at the age of 12. She attended the Academy of Art in San Francisco before heading to New York to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology.

She’s done everything—she was a cigarette girl in LA and San Francisco, and she’s sung in a few bands, including the Roulettes, a “’60s girl group done New York Dolls-style.” She was also the go-go dancer previously mentioned. Abbott says the club, Stinky’s, was popular and remembers a time when Vince Neil and Tommy Lee came in. Michael Stipe visited once, too—but “just kinda stared from behind a pole . . . ugggh.”

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