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.
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!
Why hats? I have NO idea. I think that, as usual, I wanted to set myself a challenge…push a few boundaries. I don’t know whether I had heard of Katty Janneh or whether I was browsing for courses. But either way suddenly all roads seemed to lead to Katty. I was powerless to resist!
Lets be clear here. I knew (know) nothing about hat making and, if I’m honest, I completely underestimated the time and effort it takes to make just one simple creation. I had no idea what I was letting myself in for.
Katty Janneh is a extremely talented milliner who makes fabulous bespoke creations and whose stockists include Selfridges in Londinium.
Katty was uber-organised and spent time and effort compiling a list of items to purchase and bring along to the first session. So, naturally, I spent 4 weeks ignoring it and only looked on the day. BIG mistake. Already at the bottom of the class and I hadn’t even started yet!
Luckily Katty is an accommodating soul with a generous spirit (I’ll have my payment in cash please) and magicked up some sinamay; a natural fibre from the Philippines, to make a fascinator from. There were some techniques, like attaching the wire to help keep its shape, that made me swear under my breath.
And there were sublime parts where Katty showed me how to make sinamay bias strip. Seriously cool! Anyway I’m pretty darn proud of my first attempt!
Katty is an amenable soul with a wonderful sense of humour. Lets face it, you’d have to have a huge one of those to teach a gaggle of women with a mixture of abilities and personalities. Katty is definitely a natural.
So for my next trick, I decided a hot pink trilby would be the way forward. Clearly, subtlety has never been my forté.
I purchased a parisal cone (check me out with my millinery jargon!) then had to treat it with a concoction that looked suspiciously like skimmed milk although I’m assured that it wasn’t. Next I had to wrap cling film around a wooden block in the shape of my hat and stretch the cone over it, pinning in place as I went.
Now, I consider myself as having decent upper body strength. Pah! Katty came along – removed most of my pins (that had taken eons to push in!), re-stretched a portion of my Trilby-to-be with the combined strength of the Williams sisters and reattached the pins with a “now do the rest like that!” flourish. She is GOOD. *completely impressed face*
I have always respected creatives. Obviously. Having a vision and making it REAL is a skill that many, sadly, find hard to appreciate. But I now have a new found REEEEE-spect for milliners. Hats off to you all!
And thank YOU, Katty, for putting up with me and allowing me to enrol on the second millinery course! This time it’s bright red wool. I can’t wait!
Have you taken up a new hobby or challenge recently?
A couple of months ago I was approached by Joanna at Canvas and Cream, our new Art Gallery in Forest Hill, to run a craft workshop for a hen party. The bride to be and her friends and family were due to descend upon this gorgeous space for bubbly, tea and baked deliciousness one Saturday in September. Corsage making was to be the icing on their proverbial cake.
Crafty parties are an original way to celebrate any occasion with friends or family in the comfort of your home. The best part is that you don’t need to have any sewing experience, just a willingness to nurture your creative spirit and some mates to share it with!
So let me see…crafting….AND cake? How could I refuse?
Now many of you already know that I have been a teacher for a looooong time so you wouldn’t think that this kind of gig would daunt me would you? WRONG.
Teaching a class of 30 pupils, whilst extremely challenging at times, could no longer be described as daunting. Teaching a room of your peers, some of whom will probably have consumed at least one glass of a bubbly beverage is an entirely different matter.
My lovely daughter gave me advice on the drive over: ‘Mum, you’re fabulous! It’ll be FUN!’
I needn’t have worried at all.
The lovely ladies were seated, fairly sober and eager to get started. Some ladies were avid sewers and some had little experience but all wanted to find their creative side which was the most exciting part!
I gave a short demonstration and before I knew it they were reaching frantically to choose from colourful scrap fabrics and embellishments.
I was impressed by their enthusiasm and the combinations they all came up with and I think that they surprised themselves too! I hope that they all had a great afternoon…I know that I did!
Oh…and the cakes were delicious too!
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!
Anyone who knows me will be more than aware that I have a Very Important Birthday coming up. Next month I will reach the vibrant age of fifty! I can hardly believe it myself! Of course in my mind I’m barely past my 30’s…although my eyesight begs to differ. So when I decided to have a party…and I wanted to make my own invitations I came across a slight dilemna? Erm…HOW?
Then in skipped Lovely Lucie resplendent in sequined cape and armed with a glittery truck load of screen printing knowledge.
‘Easy!’ she exclaimed.
Lucie is a talented artist specializing in beautiful screenprints. Together with fellow artist, Mark, they run Studio Luma , a small screen printing studio in East London with a growing list of clientele.
And I’m the lucky woman she agreed to help!
So one not-so-sunny sunday, accompanied by my mother and my own A4 design, we ventured to deepest Hackney. We ate a hearty breakfast (it’s hard work, screen printing – all that arm action), checked that mum had her mobile in her bag and switched it on. We pointed mum in the direction of Columbia Road flower market (she wanted to go, we weren’t trying to get rid of her!) and then set to work. Over the next couple of hours, fuelled by tea and cake, we produced a batch of beautiful party invites – even if I do say so myself!
In return Lucie and I have a few sewing lessons planned. Back in my comfort zone – I can’t wait!
We had a great day and I experienced such a wonderful feeling of accomplishment once we had finished. Looking back I can’t believe I even questioned myself!
Have you ever doubted your abilities and been pleasantly surprised?
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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