But don’t worry! It’ll all be ok! You can STILL keep in touch with news, updates, sewing classes and special offers over at Reddskin.
It’s been a blast! Don’t go changing.
But don’t worry! It’ll all be ok! You can STILL keep in touch with news, updates, sewing classes and special offers over at Reddskin.
It’s been a blast! Don’t go changing.
Sydenham Visual Artists Trail runs as part of Sydenham Arts Festival – a two week celebration of the Arts in and around Londons fabulous SE26 that runs every July. This year there are over 150 Artists taking part in Open houses across the Sydenham, Penge, Forest Hill and Honor Oak Park area. I’m only one of them!
You can meander through Sydenham using our handy Map of Artists available in shops around Sydenham but especially at our wonderful Kirkdale Bookshop.
The Visual Artists Trail runs this weekend 11am – 5pm on Saturday 4th July and Sunday 5th July and the following weekend 11th and 12th July where I will join forces with Twisted Vintage Jewellery. We promise to create a relaxed and friendly atmosphere for you to browse, chat or purchase at your leisure with a refreshing glass of Pimms should you desire. What a lovely way to spend your weekend!
Did I mention Pimms?
I sat at my kitchen table, wearing stained sweatpants, an old T-shirt and raggedy headscarf and idly watched Georgia, my designated make-up artiste of the evening, prepare the tools of her trade. I pondered the mammoth task she had before her.
Ah! Such optimism in youth.
Georgia produced all manner of pretty confection (including a bag of cutesy baby pink cotton wool pads I coveted) then set about my face. No mean feat as I was so excited I couldn’t keep my mouth shut! No change there then.
Various Reddskin creations and different ‘looks’ were experimented with. I even managed to rope/con my youngest diva into taking behind-the-scenes photos with my own groovy new camera. It all went rather smoothly and photographer Kim was graciously patient with me as I posed and tried not to giggle.
I should probably explain…
Nubian Nights Out are a ” group of young professionals working in various creative industries including, fashion, photography, music, film and PR”. In December 2014 they founded their collective “looking to connect with like-minded people interested in learning more about Black history and identity”. They are a dynamic bunch of people who have already put on several events through their meet up group
Kim and Georgia have been spending most, if not all, of their spare time (they both work in demanding jobs) running around London photographing many women from a range of backgrounds. Images highlighting the diversity of Women of Colour not seen enough in mainstream media. It’s SUCH an exciting project so I felt honoured when founder member, Relle, who I had the pleasure of working with at Forest Hill Fashion Week, approached me to participate.
Then I thought “Free Make-over? Where do I sign?”
This photoshoot is part of a series that will form the basis for their launch exhibition celebrating Women of Colour. The exhibition will launch on 23.07.15 and run for two days for public viewing at a boutique gallery in South London.
NNO are currently also fundraising to produce a book of the event. You can read more about these exciting plans and donate here. Every little helps I promise you!
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Remember…you heard it here first.
Photo credits: Maheni Short.
I remember sitting in my local Craft Emporium, Stag and Bow, during one of their legendary Friday Evening Socials having forgotten my sewing project (but remembered the wine…go figure). I was watching Big Daddy Cyrus juggle feeding their baby daughter Bertie whilst simultaneously hand sewing teensy hexagon shaped pieces of fabric around card. It looked fascinating (the sewing not the feeding…) I wanted to have a go. So Cyrus instructed me in the basics, whilst Bertie covered herself in hummus. Then he left me to it. I purchased a pack of small Quilting templates the next day and began in earnest. This was April 2014.
I cleaned out an empty icecream tub – an excuse to buy some more – and filled it with fabric, templates, scissors, thread and a needle. Sewing Warrior ready, I took my Crafty Quilting container almost everywhere. I quilted on the Tube and on the Overground. I quilted in cafes, in parks and on the beach. I quilted whilst watching House of Cards, Breaking Bad, Masterchef (two series) and The Great British Sewing Bee to name a few. I quilted in Banbury, Nottingham, Helsinki and Barbados.
My growing quilt never failed to spark a conversation. Others became fascinated by the colours, patterns and skill. They marveled at the tiny hand stitches and my patience. Complete strangers wanted to know what I was making. Many shared treasured memories of family or loved ones who had quilted or other types of sewing. Some said they wanted to go home and finish (or start) a crafting project. I loved those journeys.I quilted from heavily stressful times into hopeful ones. My quilt allowed me to move slowly but steadily through uncertainty and ill health to strength and encouragement. It grew and it spread and gathered momentum just as I was forced to make some major decisions about my own life. Every scrap of cotton reminds me of something I made, or a memory of the person I created an item for, or where I was when I bought it. The abundant variety and stunning colours never fail to lift my spirits. Each piece has significance, however small. I often wonder why I chose, for my first EVER quilting project, to attempt something so vast and potentially so daunting. Why didn’t I just make a very simple cushion cover…or a placemat? It didn’t actually occur to me. I just thought ‘patchwork’ and then ‘quilt’. That was that really. I focused on the process, not the end product. I really loved watching my quilt grow, create its own space, until it almost developed a personality of its own.
It’s now May 2015 and my Quilt of Wonder is complete. It took fifty-six weeks. Had I know this when I started I would probably never have done it. Over a year to sew something together? Bonkers! But I’m SO glad that I started. Not only has it been my therapy, its an absolute, all-encompassing beauty. And I made it. ME. *grins*
Credit: Cushion and lamp (just seen) by Arhinarmah
A little Forest Hill Fashion for y’all.
The second is a short featuring my designs by Media production company IndieVisual
Picture the scene. A skinny ten year old girl lying on the floor in her mothers bedroom. Underneath her slight frame a brightly patterned length of folded stretch chiffon in purple and pink. A borrowed felt pen in hand and an oversized pair of forbidden dressmaking shears nearby. She wriggles as she hastily tries to draw her rough outline from ankle to underarm on either side of her body. Stops briefly to listen to sounds of her mothers soft footsteps – just in case she is caught in the process of fabric butchery – especially as said fabric happens to belong to the unsuspecting adult. Reassured, markings complete, the excited youngster carefully cuts a hole for her head on the centre fold of the fabric and threads a needle with novice hands. Finally, rough back-stitch and half an hour later, The Most Beautiful Kaftan In The World is born.
Ok so it wasn’t perfect. I (yes the youngster was me – how did you guess?) had completely overlooked the fact that I would need to actually move around in my creation so it was a little tight on the legs. But, oh, when I raised my arms and shimmied (hobbled) down my mothers bedroom catwalk, I felt like the most celebrated fashion designer slash model alive!
Fast forward 40 years. Having rejected ‘Fashion Designer’ as a viable career (too competitive for my inherently ‘lazy’ nature ) I chose Dance instead. Go figure. I continued to design and sew clothes for myself and later, my family, whilst a pursued my teaching career.
In February 2013 the first Forest Hill Fashion Week (FHFW) took place and I was lucky enough to become involved with my business Reddskinbags. September 20th – 25th 2013 saw our second event, it’s bigger, brighter and altogether more glamorous sister.
A Live catwalk show took place at The Horniman Museum and Gardens in Forest Hill. The evening kicked off five days of talks, demonstrations and workshops related to craft and fashion. On the evening of Friday 20th September a magical Horniman conservatory was alive with vibrant stalls showcasing the creations of local talented designers, most of whom also had their unique designs in the show.
For my part, I had (finally) taken the plunge and designed a tiny collection of four pieces to accompany my bag designs. Undoubtedly, THE best decision I’ve ever made. It was a fan-TASTIC evening. The Forest Hill area exploded with Fashionistas and their friends eager to find out what the fuss was all about and support a wonderfully exciting event.
So much energy and enthusiasm converged to display a warm community spirit that was a pleasure and a privilege to witness. A huge thank you to Penelope Else, the visionary and driving force behind Forest Hill Fashion, and to the human dynamo Charlotte Cameron who organised the Catwalk Show and Cherrelle, bubbly stylist extraordinare.
These photos are a teensy snippet of my part in Forest Hill Fashion Week. There are many more pictures of the designers, characters and their work by London Photographer Sara and Belle Studio. Have a look. Take your time. Is ‘history in the making’ too grand an observation? Who knows?
How FHFW will evolve only time will tell. It wouldn’t have been so successful without the time and efforts of many brilliant volunteers – take this as a Big Fat Thank you! *holds applause card up for a very long time*
What are the next steps for Reddskinbags?
As usual … watch this space!
Over the past few months I have met some really interesting crafty (verb not adjective) people. This year I have made a concious decision to seek out new creative ventures whenever time allows. So when I stumbled across Penelope Else asking for local people with sewing skills for a new venture she was starting I emailed her straight away.
Frockcycle is an event that takes place at Canvas and Cream, a brand spanking new Art gallery slash workshop space slash restaurant in Forest Hill, Sarf East Londinium. The main premise is to up-cycle your old unwanted items of clothing in to fashion desirables with a fresh eye and a handy pair of scissors. All you need is enthusiasm – no previous sewing experience is necessary! Penny runs the show – the first part has involved trying clothes on upside down or backwards – mad fun!
Helpers are on hand to transform the clothes into new fashionable creations. If you need extra crafty items then Pascale from local ‘purveyors of craft haberdashery and history’ Stag and Bow, is there with her array of goodies. Oh and did I mention that you can buy cake and there’s a bar? Perfect.
During the last session Paulina Palian brought along a pair of bright orange trousers and an old orange vest then practically grabbed and pointed me in their direction.
She knew full well that I wouldn’t be able to resist their vibrant colours (clever woman that). It was her suggestion that I play with the idea of combining them both to make a bolero jacket. In between helping clients I started the venture but ended up taking it home where it sat on my mannequin for a week whilst I pondered and got on with the business of ‘life’. Once I’d started again, after a lot of pinning and tacking it finally began to take shape.
I added some vibrant African batik cotton with a golden overlay to the edge.
I used the same fabric to create a semi-Cape effect to the back of the jacket.
Next I cut the sleeves, added elastic and pushed them up my arms. Now I was on a roll! Finally I cut a length and sewed it just inside the pockets for a little definition – although sadly my photos haven’t picked this up *tiny sob*.
I was so pleased with my efforts I test drove the outfit the very next day!
The next Frockcyle event is on Sunday 28th July. You can book here. Come along, bring your old fashion faux-pas, meet some new interesting people and most of all have some FUN!
Do YOU have any fashion regret-tables?
Or have you turned an unwanted item into an object of desire?
Oh go on, DO tell!
What’s under that cherry red hat I wonder…?
I LOVED reading your reasons for celebration so much that I wanted everyone to get a gift… but as you know…there can only be one WINNER!
So I enlisted the help of my lovely assistant who closed her eyes excitedly, shuffled the folded named pieces of paper eagerly and generally took her sweeeeet time making a great deal of fuss! Until finally…
*RAPTUROUS APPLAUSE and HAPPY DANCING!*
CONGRATULATIONS to the lovely Elaine of Ellies Treasures!
Two metres of colourful Reddskinbags bunting will be on it’s way to you just as soon as you send me your Terrestrial address.
You’ll get it just in time to hang it up for your celebrations!
Happy First Date Anniversary Elaine and Paul!
If you had told my 19 year old self that, 30 years on, I would enjoy taking pictures of boring buildings I would have stared at you incredulously. And then if you had continued to say that I would actually enjoy walking around gawping up at said buildings and snapping photographs with not one human-being in front of them…I would probably have dismissed you as delusional…and backed away slowly yet determinedly.
Is this was age does to you? (stumbles as the walls shudder to a reverberating chorus ‘YES!!’)
Nevertheless I found myself in Seville for a few days last week with my darling dotty mother. I have visited Seville once before and I do remember loving the place. So much, in fact, that I vowed to take my mum there for a holiday. Umpteen years and a poor memory later, stumped for an idea for her birthday present, I suddenly remembered my vow. Eureka!
I booked a impressive hotel – Las Casa de la Juderia – in the heart of the historic quarter Santa Cruz. Impressive only as I chose it using the internet equivalent of pinning the tail on the donkey blindfolded. But my mother doesn’t need to know that, does she? After a horrible flight (RyanAir. Never.Ever.Again) we landed in the heat and vibrance of Seville.
Aaaaaaand b r e a t h e.
The hotel was the perfect choice (sshhh!) for my nature loving mum as it is a maze of quaint old buildings and courtyards adorned with lush gardens. Mum insisted on pointing the various flowers and fruit out to me and telling me the names. Hibiscus, Jasmine, pomegranates and, erm…well lots of jasmine (I’m not a keen gardener – can you tell?) I was impressed by the orange and lemon trees that lined practically every street though. Different ones you understand – oranges and lemons do not grow on the same tree even in the magical land of Seville. Silly.
So we walked, talked, laughed and got totally lost on the streets of Seville on a daily basis. I took pictures of buildings and flowers and tiles (Seville does like a cool tile…for obvious reasons) and sometimes I even let my mum stand in front of them. Madness. Must have been the heat.
When I had told friends that I was taking my mum to Seville I got ‘In August? It’s very hot there!’. Well I can tell you we LOVED it! Admittedly 32 degrees centigrade can make one flag a bit, but what with the air conditioning and the shaded plazas and the meandering and the pretty scenery…and the cold beer and tapas breaks we were just fine thank you very much.
And did I mention the colours? Sunshine makes everything seem so much more alive! Time away from home, a chance to recharge in the sun and to sleep without my head racing. It’s amazing what a few nights in a different space can help you achieve.
I love to work with colours and patterns so it’s no surprise that I feel so inspired by the shortest of times in Seville. I’m glad that I took all those pictures of buildings and flowers. Maybe my 19 year old self wouldn’t think I’d lost it after all.
So what about you? Have you altered your viewpoint as time passed? What might your younger self think of you now?
I woke up early on the morning of Saturday 16th July with that unmistakable feeling of mild hysteria. This accompanied by a fatigue that only a week of late night sewing, early starts and full-time working can produce effectively (although, carers of small humans, I salute you).
My first Open House with Sydenham Arts Festival was imminent! It’s not that I hadn’t held an Open house before – my first one in March last year was a modest affair that I had agonised over for weeks.
Too many questions…Would I have enough stock? (Yes)
Would anybody turn up? (Yes. Lots. In fact they stayed long after I ‘shut’ shop)
Should I serve alcohol? (No. Well, yes. Afterwards. So *that’s* why they were reluctant to leave!)
THIS Open House was different because I had been invited to participate and I couldn’t quell the feeling that I had entered a special club. Perhaps I would get a badge? (P’rhaps not).
Sydenham Artists are a long standing and talented bunch of creators. I relished the thought of being part of a wider artistic community but…would I fit in? It was also different on another important level.
My solo Open Houses have started at 3pm until 7pm. This has given me enough time in the morning to complete a ritual that involves lots of tweaking, tea, panic (there’s a theme here) and a very calm and organised teenager who eventually takes over.
In contrast, Sydenham Open Houses start at 11am (!) and finish at 5pm and runs over the weekend! That’s two consecutive days, people! Lawdy! Anyway some of you will know that the weekend before it had all gone a bit Pete Tong so some of the same questions were going through my tired little head – mainly – Would anyone turn up?
In the midst of my mental mayhem, the organiser Annabel turned up to do a Risk Assessment. As I answered the questionnaire – under ‘pets’ I wrote ‘two goldfish’. I don’t think that’s what they meant – Annabel whizzed around my house adding black and yellow hazard tape to steps and a liability poster for insurance purposes. You know the ‘if you slip and fall don’t say I didn’t warn you – Have a nice day!’ kind that really welcomes you inside. Annabel was upbeat and optimistic, giving me lots of encouragement as she left.
Then it started to rain. Heavily. In fact I may even have shaken my fist skywards at this point.
So I wasn’t expecting anyone to bother if I’m brutally honest. What with the rain and the mixed up dates and an uncharacteristic peppering of realism/pessimism….and I mentioned the rain, right?
As I popped a mellow Dwele CD in to the player and pressed ‘play’, I jumped out of my skin (metaphorically, you understand…yuck) when the doorbell went at a quarter past eleven! One friendly face after another started to arrive.
I made tea and we chatted and I sold some bags. I should confess here that it was my mother, on an impromptu weekend visit, who sold the first bag enthusing about one I’d made for her to an unsuspecting client. (I mention mum in passing ,but she deserves an entire blogpost or two. Hold tight)
Then the Pimms came out courtesy of a worryingly proficient teen and the next thing I knew it was almost 5pm! Not only had I survived but I’d had a good time too! The next day was just as much fun with a similar mix of visitors, less rain and more Pimms. WIN!
So what did I learn? The list is a long one but…
I learnt that rain doesn’t necessarily stop play.
I learnt that it’s not just my friends and family who love what I do.
…and I learnt that yellow and black tape isn’t easily removed from pvc door frames.
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