November, 10, 2011

Completing an ORCA Grant

A sketch of the dress

In fall semester 2010 I saw some ads for ORCA grants. It was exciting to think I could get money for a project that would give me experience while boosting my resume and portfolio.

I teamed up with a good friend who also was applying for a grant. She had a contact at the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers museum in Springville who found a woman—Marilla Lucretia Johnson Miller Daniels—whose story connected to Utah pioneers, Relief Society, and Woman Suffrage. Although an important woman in local Utah history, Marilla is not well known to modern generations. We decided to recreate her dress and the structural underclothing of it, doing extensive research on dyes, fibers, and sewing techniques used in the late nineteenth-century.

To my surprise, my proposal won the grant; unfortunately, my grant partner’s proposal was not chosen and she became too busy to continue with the project. I struggled to condense our large project into something one person could complete, but I still wanted to achieve two goals: (1) to demonstrate the clothing construction of the era, and (2) to bring Marilla’s history to light. Although I was excited, I was also unnerved because I had never made a historical reproduction before and I wasn’t sure if anyone would be interested in my project.

To complete the grant I needed:

  1. A project that had value and educational worth.
  2. A faculty member to be an advisor.
  3. A place to display or present the project.
  4. A timeline of what would be accomplished and when.

The best advice I can offer prospective ORCA grant writers is to be specific from the beginning about the details of your project and be sure to allocate your time and energy wisely.

My project will be on display in the basement rotunda area of the Education in Zion Gallery in the JFSB from November 8 to December 15, 2011.

Melissa DeGuire, Theater Arts Major