The Way to Women’s Wellness Foundation

Victoria Adams Brown © 2004

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In October 2003, inspired by photographs of embellished bras, I thought it would be great fun to use a bra as a base for embellishing. Emails were sent to friends inquiring if they would like to embellish a bra just for the challenge. Their bras would then be photographed for calendar purposes here at the studio. With a calendar I thought we could enjoy each other's artistry all year long. A deadline of March 2004 was set in order to meet printing requirements.

To begin the project, guidelines were crafted with one rule, that being "no rules". To create a bra around the selection of a month seemed too limiting. Once all the bras arrived at the studio, I knew it would be easy to assign each bra a month, even though I had no idea what type of bras we would receive.

I mailed each designer a 36C lightly padded bra. The size of the cups allowed enough area for surface design and the padding meant the bras would hold their shape when photographed. As the project developed, more definitive guide-lines were created and a request was made that the bras be lined on the inside with the designer's name attached to the inside of the bra.

During the design process, none of the designers divulged to the entire group how they came about their theme or what they were creating. Martha Green had just been to Santa Fe and she knew she wanted to use fabric and trims from her recent trip. She created her "Day of the Dead Cups" bra and had it finished before we created the WTWW Foundation. The rest of us did not even have themes or had begun to stitch. Kathleen Glynn created her beautiful Asian inspired "Double Happiness" bra with an Asian fabric pack she had received for Christmas. Every designer enjoyed the added design challenge of working on a bra surface. A highlight of the design process was a breakfast meeting at a quaint New Jersey country bistro with Stephanie Novatski and Kathleen Glynn. It was a treat to be a part of the unveiling process as we admired each other's creations. For many of us, without having any theme-based project or guidelines, the creative process required additional thought and planning.

As the process continued, the designers were asked to name their creations and supply inspiration details. Shirley Bentsen thought we should create a bit of whimsy by creating a small story on who might have worn the bra. Check out the month of July bra designed by Mary Anne Griffin and you will discover that Marie Antoinette wore her creation. Inside the bra is the inscription in English and in French "Let them eat Cake"! Several designers have created personal journals tied to their designs. Barbara Blankenship designed a beautiful journal dedicated to her sister-in-law Diana, and the courage Diana has exhibited during her bout with breast cancer. Martha Green has written an inspiring story about her Grandmother and her experience with breast cancer. Julie Yonge has crafted an eloquent journal that will inspire all women. These journals and descriptions of each bra will appear on The Way to Women's Wellness Foundation website at

As the months progressed and the project continued to grow, my husband and I thought we should print extra copies of the calendar and sell them through our company, RibbonSmyth, as a fundraiser for breast cancer research. At the same time Shirley Bentsen sent an email asking if we could donate to breast cancer agencies through the sale of the calendar. The designers agreed that the calendars should be used as a fundraiser.

My husband began to formulate the details with the purpose of using an annual calendar as the major fundraiser for the foundation. If we were going to create an organization, my desire was to create one that would encompass women's physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness. The Way to Women's Wellness Foundation was born. The foundation has been incorporated and met the qualifications for 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit status. Our plans are to target a different area of women's health each year and to continue to design a collector's calendar. We believe the calendars will offer on-going inspiration and benefit women today as well as future generations.

The 2006 calendar theme will be heart-related. All monies raised from the sale of that calendar will be dedicated to women's heart health.

As the project developed, quilting venues were contacted and exhibits were booked for the ArtBras. Without exception, everyone contacted has been most enthusiastic about this project. With exhibitions now a part of the program, we now needed more bras! Thanks to Stephanie Novatski, Anne Spennachio, Barbara Blankenship, and Willa Fuller, these designers agreed to create more bras for the Exhibitions. Additional designers were invited to design ArtBras for the exhibits. The exhibits will currently feature 35 ArtBras.

The techniques used to create the ArtBras include crazy quilting, painting the bras, machine embroidery, landscape designs, appliqué, applied bird feathers and burnt silk appliqué.

January - "Purple Mountain's Majesty"
Designed by Willa Fuller

This ArtBra was selected for the month of January and involves machine and hand piecing. Seam treatments are hand-stitched on purple dupioni silk fabric. Embellishments such as sequined appliqués were applied with fabric glue and hand stitching. Materials in the ArtBra include: Dupioni silk, hand-dyed velvet, pewter charms, RibbonRuffles, purchased beaded fringe, shisha mirrors, sequin appliqués, glass beads, perle cotton and Kreinik threads.

Rissa Peace Root designed a lush, sumptuous bra that appears in the traveling Exhibitions. The name of Rissa's ArtBra - "Laissez les Bon Temps Roulez" " Let the Good Times Roll".

The ArtBra was deconstructed from the original bra sent to Rissa. The bra was covered with a shimmer rayon fabric, and tassels added to the cups surrounded by silk flowers. The cups have been covered with red hydrangea petals. The sides and back of the bra have been constructed in organza fabric. Sandwiched between the fabric layers are pastel color-coordinated hydrangea blossoms. The ArtBra ties in the back with an organza bow. The straps are covered in 4mm silk ribbon with hundreds of French knot roses in a color that coordinates with the hydrangea blossoms. As the finishing touch, beaded fringe was added to the back and sides of the bra to create balance.

A selection of ArtBras continues to be displayed in the RibbonSmyth booths at various quilt shows. These ArtBras have brought smiles to thousands. Inspired by the WTWW ArtBras, groups in several countries as well as US quilt shops and organizations have begun to embellish bras. We hope you will continue to visit The Way to Women's Wellness Foundation website as additional bras are loaded onto the site.

Calendar Front
2005 ArtBra Calendar Cover

To date over 3,000 WTWW 2005 ArtBra Calendars have been pre-sold. The Calendars will begin to ship August 2nd and are available at Quilt venues where RibbonSmyth is exhibiting. They also can be purchased through the WTWW website at for $14. 100% of the net profits will be donated to research facilities involved in breast cancer studies.

Front and back covers of the ArtBra Calendar can be seen at The Way to Women's Wellness web site at Beginning in August, quilt show attendees will be able to purchase calendars at the RibbonSmyth booths. Participating ArtBra designers attending the shows will be autographing the calendars.

Please be sure to visit one of the ArtBra exhibits when the venue comes to your area. Exhibitions for the ArtBras have been booked into the year 2006. Please check the exhibit schedule located on the WTWW website.

Our mission is all about women helping women. We hope you will be a part of that process.

For contact information please go to  or contact Victoria Brown at 215.249.9096 or

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