Chair for Amy

Homeware, Textile work

So…my first solo upholstery commission and I am very excited. It came from Alex’s family again, in the shape of a beautiful old chair covered in gorgeous, albeit faded, brocade with a pretty trim…

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It was a bit heartbreaking to rip it off, but very interesting seeing all the layers that built it up originally…

But now it is just the frame – looks edgy and arty…but not very comfy yet!

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So I started with a new webbing which was really fun to do – I end had a special tool to help me!

I then secured the springs in a similar position as they originally were…

Then I flipped the chair over and added more hessian on the underside to give it a really nice finish…

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Next came, yep you guessed it, more hessian over the top of the springs to squash them down and create our chair silhouette – I found this but really tricky as it was hard to know how much to squish them by…if I did them too much I would loose the shape of the chair, too little and the chair might be wobbly!

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Next step was to start building up the horsehair on the hessian…

And some wadding to soften the horsehair…

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And then my favourite bit, stretching the calico over all the layers and finally seeing the finished shape of the chair!

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The calico made it easy to smooth the final fabric over the top and adding the lovely trim picked out by Amy…

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And I am so so pleased with the finished item! Hope Amy loves it as much as I do!

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For the Love of Homeware!

Homeware, Textile work

So, some more home improvement projects to share with you!

An anniversary on a budget is one I can do very well! Especially since my boyfriend does not throw anything sentimental away! There is an old hoodie which he loves and used to wear constantly but it is now looking like it has seen better days – so I commandeered it and decided to turn it into something special which he can keep!

I bought a large tapestry embroidery hoop off eBay and used it as a template to cut around the design on the back of the hoodie, which was peeling from countless washes, and stretched the hoop over it creating a frame for the design and a handy way to hang the finished item on the wall.

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I then started working into the design using wool in tones that I know Alex likes and which will compliment our flat! I simply stitched around the Chinese lettering and blanket stitched the name tag on as well!

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I then moved on to the main dying and yang style design…I started from the outside circles and worked in using tapestry stitches and a few made up as I went along!

I love the raised effect the wool gives – it makes me want to stroke the pattern, even on the photographs!

I decided to blend grey and blue in the centre of the design to add a little more interest and finally it was done! And I am rather proud of it! I hope he likes it xx

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Another shelf…? Yes please!

We got some more shelves donated from Alex’s parents for our study which are now completely full…of mostly my things I have to admit! But we still need more!

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Another weekend project for Alex was to build some shelves for our numerous DVDs! We counted…excess of 200 and counting! We went about it in a similar way to the shoe rack but Alex had the brilliant idea of adding brackets to each shelf to strengthen them. We also chose thicker chipboard so it would not split as easy when we nailed it together.

I painted the outside edges of the shelves with the same colours as previously used for the stamping of the shoe rack and our drawers – so for once in our flat, a few things actually match! It really lifts the wood and makes it more oo arh!

I also want to paint this handmade item with the stencils and maybe some free hand pictures on the side nearest the sofa, as when one sits there it looks a bit bare! So I did some sketching and decided on scenes inspired by the ‘Hobbit’!

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I bought some manga shading pens and a brush pen to make them look like proper illustrations! I split up the section in to five and started sketching in the ink brush pen. I the used the others to bring the sketches to life!

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Overall, I am very chuffed with the outcome and would now love to do another one!

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Graduate Show ’16

Construction, Textile work, Uni Work

As part of my university course, we end our final year with a Graduate Show, hosted by the Laurence Bately Theatre, displaying final costumes from across final and second year students.

Working up to this show, we have collaborated with music students from the university and I was lucky enough to get to work with Sebastien Lavoie (check him out through the Sound Cloud) whose composition added a futuristic and mysterious edge that only a talented musician can create!

We also had the help of Alex Beldea taking fantastic photos for each of us – you can really get a feel of the characters and their history. Matty Holgate and Julia Blair were complete stars at the photoshoot, coping with my flustered attitude, the business of the hair and make up sessions and getting into their characters!

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Together they contrast through the colour and textures on their costumes, but, as costumes, they work well when see together, which is exactly the kind of juxtaposition I wanted to achieve between this couple.

I am also impressed with how alike the final costumes are to my original designs:

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I can get a real sense of how the other costumes would have turn out too, shame we did not have more time, but I am thrilled with the outcome of Cabal and Rowena!

We also got to collaborate Tom Perrin ,an extremely talented choreographer, to help our mini-perofrmances flow with polish and attitude to develop our characters on stage. He was so enthusiastic and proficient at thinking on the spot our 15 minute slots with him really flew by but managing to achieve so much that my performers felt comfortable with their roles and movements for the show.

We had a few rehearsals with tutors and the choreographer and then it was on to the show day – 16th June!

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It was a jam packed day but everyone, designers and performers alike, gave it their all! What a way to end my time at Huddersfield – with music, lights, colour and applause! I know we have graduation to come but this was celebrating all we had achieved together over the 4 years! There will be a DVD coming soon but for now take a look at Sebastien Lavoie’s video for the full effect – with the music and the different shots the whole piece really comes together!

Here are some pictures which Holly, Julia’s daughter, kindly took that really give an idea of how the lights and the look of the show really worked to add atmosphere to the 2 min slot!

It will be strange leaving, but I have so many happy memories and have met some many amazing people, and had the opportunity to work with some many too – I feel extremely lucky to be able to come back to the real working world with confidence and a passion for what I do.

Thank you Huddersfield! And thank you to the Costume with Textiles tutors and technicians who helped me find my feet, teach, advise, and inspire me!

Pretty Disturbia, Manchester

Construction, Textile work

Through one of my University friends I was put onto Leesa O’Neil who owns Pretty Disturbia based in the heart of metropolitan Manchester. All about high quality and unique styles, it looked right up my street with edgy fashions, fun detail and an original take on personal style. So I got in contact with her through her website and set a meeting.

It went very well and even though it was a short interview I felt we got along very well and had a lot in common – she showed me how she works, where she works, the processes she uses and did the same for oo arh! and she offered me as long a placement as I wanted! So I leaped at the chance to do as much as possible without restricting myself with my WOMAD makings – however, this will not be a problem as the work is 10-5 Monday, Wednesday and Friday as she has a small child to look after.

Perfect! I am off 30th March to 1st May and am so excited about seeing more of Manchester and learning from another fellow designer and maker!

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My jobs whilst working with Leesa and her team were varied and exciting – for example, one of my first jobs was ‘Street Styling’ which I had never done or heard of before but Leesa sent me and one of the other girls out with a camera and a notepad to find people with an alternative and interesting style, photograph them and take down some information about where they get their clothes and what is their style. It was good fun but a bit nerve racking going up to random strangers in the street and ask them about their fashion choice. We found some really great examples and I then had to write them up on Leesa’s blog –manchesteralternativestreetstyle.blogspot.

Each of us also got the opportunity to create an ‘Outfit of the Day’ which gave me a chance to look through her collection of fab clothes and compile a fun and funky outfit…like this one!

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A hot pink net underskirt with a gorgeous white satin skater skirt over the top. Coupled with a cute ant print vest top and a punk velvet tail coat!

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As part of Leesa’s business, she uploads pictures and information of clothes she has made and vintage items she wants to sell onto ASOS Marketplace where she has a ‘stall’ and she has taught me how to ‘list’ items, edit the posts and ‘re-list’ items which have expired but not sold. Now I have the hang of it the process is fairly easy and I actually enjoy doing it and getting through the items of clothing one by one, in fact Leesa said I was ‘a natural at it!’ which I was very pleased with! I did not realise how much she has to keep up with online as well as the accounts and business side of ‘Pretty Disturbia’ so I am glad when I can help her with the load.

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I got to see the garments from the start of their ‘Disturbia’ life and to the end when we pack them off in tissue paper, with heart stickers and other nice touches to make it a nice experience when the packages are opened. It was great to experience all sides of her company – I even got to do a bit of making and designing!

Leesa threw me a pale blue hoody saying ‘Here, go wild!’ which was a great start to the day! I dove into her boxes of scraps and bits and bobs to see what I could embellish the item with…

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IMG_2287 I went for this superman printed fabric which used to be filled with all the other superheros but now only scraps were left so I layered them up like a photo montage so that it made a disjointed yet funky pattern – I hand stitched it down to give the design more texture. I also added a stripe of blue net with white spots and stitched them down with some beads to add sparkle to the otherwise quiet dull jumper!IMG_2289

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I also got to make for Leesa’s new collection based on co-ordinates, 60’s/70’s style, festival feel and pastel colours.

So I dove into the plain clothes box and found this long red sleeved t-shirt and wanted to make a classically hippy top…and possibly a skirt out of the cropped bit but that is in the pipeline…

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I cropped the top to the waist and cut vertically up the shirt a couple of inches so that produced a frayed/ tasselled effect which looked fab! I then cut up the sleeves four times so I coIMG_2312uld insert four sections of lace, thus making larger hippy sleeves!IMG_2313

I also added a few buttons around the thick collar because I felt it needed a bit of lift to the block of red cotton.

I am very pleased with the outcome and am looking forward to doing the matching skirt!

I made it out of some red satin, layered over some gorgeous purple chiffon which I gathered, stitched together, then machined onto an elastic waistband…very simple but oh so pretty!

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The slit up the front left is sexy and sophisticated. I also hitched up the skirt by sewing on the inside and bringing the layers up in a relaxed yet elegant drape.

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IMG_2330The next item I had to alter was a Pretty Disturbia printed dress, which needed to fit in with the co-ordinate theme…so I opened up the side seams and inserted three panels to give the dress a floaty feel, very 70’s.

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I also hand stitched some lace around the neckline, just to lift the pink and make it a tad more feminine! Quick but really fun to do!

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Overall, I feel I have learnt a lot of new skills, and feel privileged to have been able to see how Leesa built up this unique business, how she deals with her orders, creates new stock, lists items, sends them, designs new ranges – it was very exciting and I now feel more confident in my making and design skills but also my business skills!I was sent away with a pair of Leesa’s unique leggings and the promise that I would always be welcome back, and she even offered to write a reference for me, check my CV, or portfolio in the future – I have found a real friend, and will not forget the kindness she has shown me – I wish her ever luck and happiness for the future!

Royal Shakespeare Company Placement

Construction, Textile work

I followed the process online, sent off my application and sort of forgot about it until this morning when I opened up me emails, expecting the usual spam and instead found a invitation to an interview at the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon in February!

I was so excited I emailed back straight away saying how much I was looking forward to meeting them!

I think I was particularly ecstatic because just the day before my mum and I had a day visit to Stratford to see firstly ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’ and the ‘Love’s Labour’s Won’ in the evening! It was so fantastic, beautifully and seamlessly produced and so magnificent to watch! Especially with the addition of music, dancing and singing!

So, I went for an interview which lasted a whole day and was extremely enlightening and fascinating! If anything it made me long to work there and learn from all the talented people behind the scenes making the magic that we see on stage happen.

We were divided into 2 groups to go around and have little talks form all the heads of departments into how they work and the processes they use. Then lunch and then split again into 5 smaller groups to go around and complete a few exercises to give us a taste of what each department does and to give them an idea of how we work and where our strengths and weaknesses lie.

It was good fun – if not a little nerve racking – most of the exercises were simple enough but we were all so nervous it was tricky to even thread the needle let alone hand sewing a label!

Nevertheless, I loved every minute of it and cannot wait to hear back to see if I have been honoured to get a 2 week placement! Is it bad to be really hoping I do?!

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I had a really lovely couple of weeks working in the Ladies Costume Department – unfortunately due to confidentiality I cannot tell you exactly what I worked on, however, I have some pictures of what I was helping with!

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A farthingale for rehearsal practise…

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It was heavily constructed and something I had never done before, so that was an exciting task to start my week off with! I learnt how to insert plackets for fastenings which will not be seen, making a bum pad and creating a strong drawstring fastening so anyone can wear it in the future!

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A little chemise to go under a corset, adding decoration to the costume.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was lucky enouIMG_3468IMG_3467gh to be let loose on a corset! I have made one before but it was nice to be able to try my hand at it again – I was not able to finish it as I forgot how much tacking and prep went into it! But feel I have left it in a good place for someone else to pick it up and finish it if needed.

I had such an amazing time there – and even got to see some shows! Everyone was very friendly and it was fun to be in and around Stratford as it is so pretty there! I cannot wait to go back and see another show – great to think ‘yeah, I did that!’

 

 

 

 

Gifford Circus

Construction, Textile work, Volunteering

I have been to see Gifford Circus a few times now and love the traditional feel they have to their shows – it is like stepping back in time; with simple sets, gorgeous historical and colourful costumes, sweet animals, a live band and a proper story! A brilliant family day out and I would recommend it to everyone!

I found out that they were looking for a team of art students to help them paint their set of this years circus and I applied straight away – it is not strictly costume but it is sort of theatre and, to be honest, I am just desperate to be a part of such an original and exciting project!

So, I pinged them an email before Christmas and am off for an informal interview on Friday 20th Feb!

I went for the quick informal meet at their new base in Stroud and was welcomed and given the opportunity to work with them! The lady I met also said that she would talk to the costume team to see if they need anymore help – I feel I would be more useful there, however, I just want to be a part of it!

I am off to camp at their farm just outside Stroud in mid April and am so excited about the prospect of getting stuck into the creativeness! I have been emailing Lousia and she has kindly offered for me to work between the costume department and the sets and props so I can get a feel for all the different processes and exciting things going on!

I do not want to be a one job kind of worker; I like the idea of being able to turn my hand to many different things, that way I can be more helpful and useful but also get the most out of my time there and learn as many different skills as possible!

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Mid April came around very quickly and I enlisted my twin’s help in putting up my tent – Fennell’s Farm is a working farm but also the hubbub of the Gifford scene with building work, costume and rehearsals going on all the time. The Gifford’s were still settling in to their new home, so the farm is a work in progress but it is in a beautiful part of the world with amazing views, especially where we were camping.

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This year the theme and title of the circus is ‘Moonsongs’ – an interesting idea, and completely open ended which gave the creative team plenty to research and develop. In the end they settled on the idea of replicating a Victorian circus or freak show feel…

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Here is one of the key references we have been using to create our very own throwback theatre! Everything was to be glittery, sparkly, exciting, theatrical and eye-catching! Apparently this is the first year which set has been used so heavily, and I can see why, because the feel of that age old circus was all about the visually exciting and stimulating.

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I felt very lucky to work with such a wide range of people, all doing amazing jobs, all different and all important – the acts were also around for the meal times and in rehearsals, so it was amazing brushing shoulders with the stars of the show!

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A typical day at the circus:

7:30-8:30 – Breakfast (porridge with yummy toppings and tea)

9:00-1:00 – Work

1:00-2:00 – Lunch (varied a lot but often baguettes or jacket potatoes which we could fill to our own individual tastes!)

2:00-6:00 – Work

6:00-7:00 – Dinner (which was always different, I never had the same thing twice, plenty of it and the chefs catered for all dietary requirements!)

7:00-? – Down time (I spent a lot of it relaxing and chatting to the others, but once went to a gig outside Stroud!)

Towards the end of my month there it got a bit crazier, what with all the rehearsals and panic to get things finished for 15th May. Long days, but always different and exciting!

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So, what kind of stuff did I get up to…?

One of the first things I had to do was to help one of the other girls finish up the seat ends for the walk ways into the circus ring, featuring characters and animals from this year’s show…

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ThIMG_2346e wood was primIMG_2351ed, painted with this gorgeous turquoise blue, then the images glued on or designs painted and finally varnished three times! So, a long old process but I think you’ll agree that they look fabulous and they will hopefully last the multiple moves the circus does.

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Leather Roses….roses, roses, roses…

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A new theme arose, which I do not think Nel, Louisa or Cal had any idea about but the more roses we made, the more they wanted on the set and in the costumes…and I do agree, it draws the whole production together nicely, gives it that handmade feel which Gifford is so renowned for…but my fingers are stiff, sore and tired from all that sewing! They were fairly easy to sew but just very time consuming and tough, since they were mad out of leather, some real and others fake. Notwithstanding this, they look fabulous – used for the first time we see the horses, attired like carousel horses!

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To decorate the entrances of the circus and the audience blocks by grouping a few together with leaves and using them as the drape points on some swags which had a lovely effect as they were made out of similar colours. They spread across parts of the set too – which meant more work but, wow what an effect they had!

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I also helped out doing odd jobs, such as making curtains, adding Velcro to a dummy which needed to be decapitated and separated, adding embellishment to the swags, painting, sanding, priming wood, elongating the black out lining of the tent and other such random jobs which were fun to break up the day and helped me to get a feel of just how much work and prep has to go into each show they do!

IMG_2406In additionIMG_2405 to the velcro on the dummy, I was called upon to whip up some trousers for it’s replace costume of Jolly Jack’s (below) which was a fun and quick job, but gave me an injection of costume construction – it was a bit of shock to the system, having to think about how trousers are made after weeks of hand sewing and painting!

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I was also able to have a hand in the costume department as well – they also had roses to make but I was able to help with other alteration jobs as well which was right up my street! It was amazing how comfortable I felt back at a sewing machine with seams, needles and pins in front of me!

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Another skill I have learnt from Gifford was how to make curtains…sounds silly but I have never had cause to construct any before so took on the challenge willingly yet confusedly!

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This fortune tellIMG_2397er booth needeIMG_2396d a curtain all the way round the left hand side, mad out of gorgeous velvet…which I was very proud of when I had finished them, I had a bit of help with the tricks of the trade from one of the other art interns so I got it right! And the booth on the right needed magnetic curtains as they have to be ripped off dramatically at the start of the show; so that was fun to do as well! And to see them used in the performances! There is also a simple black divider curtain between the two booths…so a lot of sewing but I really enjoyed doing it! Oh and the little blue flounce around the bottom of the platform which the booth it stood on….I did them too!

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All in all, it was a fab experience and I really feel I have grown in confidence – I always tried my best to do the things they asked of me, if I didn’t understand, I asked and learnt from them. I enjoyed meeting all the amazingly talented people behind the scenes and on the stage, spending time with them and being part of the creative for behind this year’s ‘Moon Songs’…!

Here are some sneaky pics to wet your appetite! If you have never been…what are you waiting for? And if you are a regular…what are you waiting for?

See you in the ring!

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2nd Year Project

Construction, Textile work, Uni Work

For our 2nd Year project we researched and designed for an operatic version of Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’. We were asked to focus on 6 characters, making sure we studied a range of classes and a mix of fairies and humans. I chose Oberon and Tytania (the Fairy King and Queen), Theseus and Hippolyta (the Count and Countess of the human world), Puck (Oberon’s goblin right-hand man) and Snug (one of the amateur dramatics who perform for the Court). I then went through our design process creating mood boards, rough designing, then polishing them into design developments and finally into the final designs (combining the characters in a cast line up in order see what the production would look like on stage).

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Taking the designs into our chosen textile area, which was embroidery in my case, I developed individual textiles and colour palettes for each character; for example, I used red for Tytania (the fiery, passionate Queen), blue for her husband (because he is mysterious and ambiguous), green for his henchman Puck (as he comes from the forest and is a bit of an outcast), orange and brown for Snug (because he plays the lion in the play and is such a gentle character), I also used light pink and blue for Hippolyta and Theseus (because they are muted tones of the colours seen on the Fairy King and Queen – I felt this reflected their characters well. The humans are confused and selfish, not looking where they tread in life and hurting the people they care about; they, like their colours, are washed out and boring!

Finally, we got to actually make one of the costumes we had designed! Th100_4654is is what I had been waiting for since first year! I chose to make Oberon’s because I have never really made anything for a man before and thought it would be fun to have a go at tailoring.

I found a model, Alex Brown, and started making toiles of all the pieces of his costume – loose undershirt, traditional fall front breeches, a cropped waistcoat and a long, heavy jacket. Whilst doing this, in textiles I made larger samples of the character’s patterns and textures in order to see how they would work on the actual costume. So lots to do but slowly the whole thing started to come together.

It was amazing to experience the complete construction process – once 100_4400I had made the toiles for each item of the costume I organised a fitting with Alex to see how it fitted him and where the shape needed editing and altering. It was so exciting to see the calico come to life when put on! Once I had made the alterations and documented the changes on the patterns, I could move on to the main fabric which had to be dyed and embroidered with my designs and chosen colours. The most tricky aspect was dying 3 meters of white cotton drill to the shade of dirt blue which I wanted – I spent a lot of time in the dye lab and had to leave the fabric in the tub for ages to get the deep blue – in the end it did not matter as much as I had first thought because I used heat sublimation to transfer one of my drawings onto the fabric which actually made the fabric darker so I finally got the shade I desired by accident!

Once I had this top fabric I could start making the textures and embroidery which would really bring the costume to life…

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Printed and bought fabric folded into squares and stitched onto the shoulder seams in large clumps to add height and colour to Oberon’s silhouette.

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I painted this design onto a larger piece of paper and heat transferred it onto my fabric for the front panels of the waistcoat.

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Reverse appliqué on the bottom of the breeches, using similar fabric as the shoulder texture to tie the costume elements together and break up the blue cotton drill with an injection of colour and pattern.

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Teaselling effect used for the large cuffs of the jacket – layers of fabric stitched together with lines which were then cut and brushed with a teasel brush to create this frayed effect.

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Machine embroidery using 4 different thread colours extending down the centre back seam on the jacket.

I tried to keep the fabric consistent throughout my costume and use as many different techniques and shapes as possible so that the end product would look interesting and textural. The progress really made the garments come to live.

Another addition was that of breaking down the items to make them look old and worn, exactly what I needed for a fairy who has been roaming through the woods – I had never done it before so it was a bit of a learning curve to have taken so much time over making the construction neat and then to go at the seams with a teasel brush, a cheese grater and sandpaper was sad at first, but then I got into it and I feel the effect over the costume was one of age and wear – perfect!

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I added some rosco paint on the inside of the collar where Oberon’s neck would have rubbed, and frayed the edges of the lining suggesting the age of this garment.

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I also added rosco paint around the buttons and button holes where dirty fingers may have rubbed and attacked the buttons with sandpaper to add wear.

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I added wear and tear to the edges of the pocket and around it to suggest usage.

 

 

 

We also had the opportunity to make accessories for our characters, even if we didn’t design them our tutors thought it would be nice for the models to have something to use in the photo-shoot – so, since my character was a fairy who did not need shoes or a hat, I found a large stick and added stripes of fabric which had been used on the costume to it and carved a similar design as on his waistcoat around the bottom – I thought the actor could use it, as Alex has done in the photos, to alter his movement in order to make him look stranger and mysterious! Also, when banged on the floor, the stick adds a sense of foreboding hen the character enters and exits the scenes.

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The Photo-shoot was in a floor of a local warehouse with a white screen for us to bring to life our costumes with our models – I did the make up for Alex as I knew exactly how I wanted Oberon to look, dark and mysterious, which I think I managed to achieve with eyeshadow and eye liner. It was amazing to see the whole costume together and moving – I was honestly astonished at how good it all look and how well it fitted Alex.

Alex Beldea was the photographer our tutors brought in to take these fantastic professional photographs which he kindly edited and sent back to us! It gave us all a polished end product along with the opportunity to experience what our final year will be like.

Cabasa Carnival Arts

Textile work, Volunteering

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.

Silk wings drying after a 3rd coat.

Adding lots of different colours to these wings was tricky and slow but well worth it!

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, painstakingly painted by Stephen Finn.

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!

Brilliant official photo from the Manchester Day Parade -http://www.cabasacarnivalarts.com/left-navigation/projects/rhs-tatton-flower-show.aspx

Brilliant official photo from the Manchester Day Parade – http://www.cabasacarnivalarts.com/left-navigation/projects/rhs-tatton-flower-show.aspx