Rising from the Ashes Wearable Art Show

Hi Friends,

The “Rising from the Ashes” fashion show last Saturday night at the Museum of Ventura County was awesome! Thirty-one artists created wearable art outfits and accesories depicting their feelings about the Thomas Fire here in Ventura last December, and modeled them for a sold-out crowd.

Here’s a picture of all of the models in front of the two huge paintings that artist John Robertson created for the event.

Rising from the Ashes" wearable art fashion show VenturaPhoto courtesy of Ashley Coates

And here are the pictures of the outfit I created for the show. It depicts the confusion and terror I felt during the fire, and the strangely beautiful aftermath. Fire takes life, but it generates life as well.

The dress started out solid black, and I painted it with fiery oranges and reds, smokey grays and browns.

Cassandra Tondro fire fashion show

The garland on my head is wrapped in yellow caution tape and adorned with burned twigs, pine cones and other blackened seed pods from the fire.

Cassandra Tondro fire fashion show

I fashioned the necklace from a stone that burned in the fire and was turned jet black by the flames.

Cassandra Tondro fire fashion show

And I created a wrap using strips of torn cotton fabrics that I painted and wove together into a shawl because I knew it would be chilly on the courtyard for the reception at the end of the event.

This shawl has a little weight to it, and feels comforting when I wear it, like a cozy security blanket.

Cassandra Tondro fire fashion show

Coincidentally, the Thomas Fire was declared officially out earlier that same day, nearly six months after it started. More than 440 square miles were burned and over 1,000 homes and other structures were lost.

What a difference six months makes! Here are a couple of pictures I took of the burned hills this week. Many of the plants and trees did not survive, and the wildflowers are taking advantage of the newly opened space and putting on a magnificent display.

Thomas Fire wildflowers Ventura
Thomas Fire wildflowers VenturaCreating art helped me to get through the trauma of the fire tragedy, and I’m happy to put that chapter behind me.

How has art helped you? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share them with us in the comments section below.

With love and appreciation,



  1. Dear Cassandra, Thanks for sharing your experiences of the fire ravaged area over the last 6/12. Only short TV news items here in Queensland, Australia. alerted us to what you all suffered. It’s good to share your journey. Love your dress and comfort shawl expression, and your other art of your experience. The rejuvenation that comes following traumas is great to experience isn’t it.
    Art has helped me so much…my embracing art practice at first, was a therapeutic time filler following a stressful time in a toxic nursing workplace. Endeavouring to be a patient/client advocate/ whistle blower, took its toll on my health. I was glad to leave nursing ( something I never thought was possible). Since then, with family support, just over 10 yrs ago, my art journey has led via China painting! Water colour, soft pastels, Acrylic, various Calligraphy to (since 2015), what I consider my Art Destiny: Encaustic Fine Art. I love its inclusiveness of so many natural products. I this not so well known as in America and Canada. But many fall in love with the medium. A client of my Husbands framing business brought in two small pieces and I was hooked. Anything seems possible. It sure expanded my art and expectations. Currently I am doing a tryptich, on “ Cherish Refugees” for a “Visionaries” ( faith in God, based group) I’ve joined.
    Fond regards. We are all in this journey together. In rejuvenation, Liz.

    1. Thanks for sharing your journey, Liz. I enjoyed hearing how art helped you recover from a bad work experience. Sometimes I feel like I want to retreat from the world and do nothing but art. Maybe you know the feeling! Life and relationships can be so complicated, and I yearn for something easy and more simple.
      I have a couple of friends here who do work in encaustic, and you’re right — it’s a fascinating medium. Keep up the good work!
      With love and affection,

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