Paolozzi

Saturday we visited the Pallant House Gallery which was exhibiting works by Eduardo Paolozzi, it is well worth a visit. Paolozzi created a beautiful mural for the Tottenham Court Road Underground station. His work seems to be mainly influenced by the space era of the 1950’s with mechanical shapes and collages of 1950’s American advertising. Like many artists his work is not limited to just painting, textiles, and Wedgwood plates, film as well as sculpture. He experimented with wax casting, creating heads out of cast metal it was interesting to see the process unfold.

The poster prints are a riot of colour and mechanical shapes, that I found it a little busy there was so much to attract the eye, but it reflects the colour explosion of the 1950’s so well – this was a time when vibrancy was an reaction to the deprivations of war time Britain.

The mechanical drawings and prints remind me of the Steam punk imagery that is a subculture of today, where steam and monster structures combine with robotic implants on humans. These have been recurring themes throughout the ages, right back to the luddites who saw machines replacing jobs.

It reminded me of a period of drawing I did a few years ago, when I discovered some old engineering stencils – I loved the technical aspect of drawing and used them to create an imaginary machine of my own. Sadly the original is lost, but this is a photocopy – the tones have been lost from the original pencil but it gives a flavour.

My two favourite objects from the exhibition was a gold porcelain piece – it had been cast from impressions and then made from porcelain which was then covered in gold. I think the structure would make the light reflections absolutely beautiful.

I really liked the gold version of the Wedgewood Plate, mostly because I can follow the pattern and texture more easily than the colourful version. 

The combination of blue tones and pattern is gorgeous, and very inspirational.  Well worth a visit if you can it is running until the 13th October 2013. 

Style with a smile?

I was reading Afua Hirsch’s article in the newspaper this weekend and I was completely in agreement with her, in this country we all try and alter our body shapes to fit clothes that often don’t flatter or simply distort our shapes and accentuate our least loved features. What madness is this?

Where did we get to this position where women really struggle to accept their bodies and love who they are? I have to admit I often visit clothing stores when the season’s change, just to keep up with what is on trend and often I leave without spending a penny. I look around and see women wearing ‘this season’s colour’ or ‘this seasons’ look’ without giving it any regard to whether it enhances her or not.

I am not bashing women and what they wear, I feel saddened that we all have pressure to fit in, I remember my svelte daughter wearing low slung jeans and a teeshirt that exposed a middle that did absolutely nothing to enhance her beautiful shape, it just made her look like her body was spilling over.

Thankfully the current trend for retro styling has allowed women to express their own sense of style – even if it is the vintage forties with victory rolls, rockabilly chic or fifties flair. There never is a better time to sew because not only can you chose your clothes and fabric that reflects who you are, but you can make clothes that don’t make you feel like you are ‘too big on the hips’ or ‘too busty!’ which is often why I have to return lovely summer dresses, they simply make me look trashy!

The great thing about making your own clothes is that you can choose everything right down to the cut or the weight of the fabric. It takes me back to the dressing up box and the most favourite item of all, a circular elasticated waistband skirt – the waistband moved with me, and it was simply glorious to spin and feel the fabric flow around my legs. That is how clothes should make us feel.

I am just back from Austria and came across shops full of dirndl dresses when I put one on it was like a childhood dream come true! I finally had a dress that I spent my childhood drawing after reading Heidi!  Not only that the blouses can solve my summer dress difficulties, they look gorgeous and feminine without exposing more than I am comfortable with.

My daughter got married and had a ‘steam punk’ wedding it was terrific fun, everyone dressed up in what they wanted to wear and I have never seen so many broadly smiling faces! We all went to the park after the ceremony for the pictures and many people thought we had come from a film set. Dressing up is fun!

If there is one thing I am passionate about it is the desire for every woman to dress to please herself and we can all take part. Next time someone is dressing ‘outside the norm’ encourage her confidence! it might just be me.

My little girl gets Married!

 My daughter Lucy, got married in July – they had a Steam Punk themed wedding which all the guests dressed up too. It was a superb day in the midst of the hot weather!

Last minute preparations!
Lucy with my son Will who did all of our hair styles on the day! 

Her brother did a fantastic job of her hair

Her best friend made the hat – and I made the button bouquets

Arriving with her Dad
I made the bustle for her dress.

Me and my son Will waiting for the Bride

Luckily the dress was silk and cool in the hot weather

The groom, Clive, Cassie and I chatting outside the church

She looks stunning!

Scott and Clive 

Scott and I – you catch a glimpse of my bustle!

Bill Sykes and Nancy! I created the hats to be similar with card themes – together with paper flowers

A rogue ! 
The married couple in the park – people thought we had come from a film set!
Such a lovely hat!

Strolling through the park on the way to the reception. 
I was so proud of them. 

Paper flower bouquets tutorial

My daughter is having a Steam punk wedding so I made these little bouquets for her bridesmaids. They are made from an old card games book! I have to admit I had to overcome a lot of hesitation to actually tear out the pages of a book, but the paper was a dream to work with. 

To make your own bouquet you need, 
1 old book with parchment type paper
I flower punch 
11 Brass buttons
1 dried flower cone
Florist wire
Florist tape
Matching ribbon

Wire cutters 
Round nosed pliers
Glue gun


I have a wonderful clutter bug which made the cutting out of the flowers very easy but any flower punch will do or you can just use the template on this tutorial and use scissors. You can stack the pages to make it easier and cut a few out at a time.

Then take a button and place it in the centre of the flower and pass the wire through the back of the flower. There are two types of button the ones that work best have a shank at the back that makes it easy to pass the wire through. If you have a normal two or four holed button then pass the wire through two holes and then push the wire through the centre of the flower from the front to the back. 
Using the florist tape wind the tape around both wires to secure the button, work up slowly until the tape has secured the button to the flower. Cut the ends of the wire to size. 
Gently fold the flower petals upwards so they curve gently round the flower. If you are using wider petals (like roses) you can use an embossing tool to gently smooth the outer edges of the flowers which gives a realistic curve. 
If you want a more aged effect you can gently brush the outer edges of the petal with some distressing ink. 

Once you have made your eleven (or any odd number) of flowers, press them into your cone, start with one in the middle then add three in equal parts around it, then fill in the spaces with other flowers until you have a pleasing bunch.

It helps if you put the cone in a tall glass or vase to keep it steady and upright while you work. 
Finally cut out the leaves, using the template and attach one half then using the cut, shape the leaf and glue the other half so that the leaves are curved. You can use more leaves if you wish but four makes it look fairly even. Use a paint brush and distressing ink to age the leaves if you wish. 
Wrap the ribbon round the stem of the holder, gluing as you go. It might help to start with a small strip across the end, then use a sharp angle to wrap the ribbon along the base finishing just under the leaves. 
Templates for flowers and leaves can be emailed on request. 

Steam Punk

In case you haven’t read it several times in this blog, one of the things I really enjoy is dressing up.
I was going to a Steam Punk Party, and my dear friend found this wedding dress for me. The bodice was red velvet but the skirt was cream silk.
I managed to dye the silk and it came out a lovely red, but it took quite a few boxes of dye!

I added the lace overskirt, which had a bustle on the back, and the jacket was already mine and has seen a number of different lives!

It was an absolute dream to wear, especially with my red rock boots!

I bought the top hat from a fancy dress shop and it was completely plain. Having researched a little about Steam Punk I was wondering how to create some of the cogs and wheels of the gadetry that goes with the Victoriana, then I happened across an old spyrograph box, the wheels were perfect, once I had sprayed them silver.

A good hour or so with my trusty glue gun and a box of metal beads, and I had created a few items for the hat and a brooch. The feathers were a lovely touch and I had some silver ribbon in my stash. (I love it when you find just the right thing in your stash, its like all the hoarding is finally justified!)

I had an old watch that wasn’t working and a broken necklace, it all looked great on the dress and was fantastic fun to make.

My daughter is very into steam punk and since she is getting married next July has decided to have a steam punk wedding!

I will have to think some more about what I am going to wear, dressing up is such fun!