I volunteered for a few weeks with the Cabasa Carnival Arts company, based in Mossley, Greater Manchester, on their Manchester Day Parade project. They certainly needed as many hands as possible and one by one more and more of my fellow students joined in – so there as a lovely friendly crowd of us all working together on huge butterfly wings which would be mounted onto backpacks for us to wear on the day!
Silk wings drying after a 3rd coat.
Adding lots of different colours to these wings was tricky and slow but well worth it!
The infamous peacock wings which stood out from the rest with their colourful eyes.
Last year I did a few days with them on a different project which involved huge puppets and lovely dresses but it was nice to see the project all the way through the designs being drawn up, the wax painted on top, painting the dyes on (often redoing these stages at intervals so no bleeding occurred), inserting wires and fitting the backpacks – this was what I was involved with, there was so much more going on that us volunteers had no notion of – we would just turn up and help, where as Emily Wood and her brilliant team planned, funded and sourced and oversaw all of it! These butterflies were also used in the RHS Tatton Flower Show along with even more costumes! Fantastic effort and skill on their part with outstanding results – it was a pleasure to be involved and to learn from their wide knowledge!
Can’t wait for the next one!
Around this time last year I was fortunate enough to be given a list of contacts from a family friend and Amanda‘s was one of them – I spent a week and a bit with her working on a design she had been sent for a film being made in Wales, about a mining town which gets a visit from a travelling circus. And she very kindly let me help her with the construction on a costume for a trapeze artist – therefore it was important to get the fit right, no straps slipping off shoulders, etc, no thank you!
The inside of the bodice.
But to also make sure that the actor could move and perform comfortably which was a bit of a challenge as the dress, a period costume, was supposed to be quite fitted around the bodice and shoulders, so there was a bit of fiddling needed to get the shoulders sitting comfortably but that is all part of construction; nothing is always straightforward and problem solving is a good skill to rely on!
I feel I grew in confidence after my sessions with Amanda because the way she worked and went throughout the construction process was almost identical to the way we were being taught in 1st year – I learnt different techniques and tricks of the trade and experienced what it would be like to be a freelance costume maker/designer; and I have to say I loved every minute of it!
The finished costume!