Our portrait sewn up by Harriet Riddell

Last Sunday we had the absolute pleasure of meeting artist Harriet Riddell at the Hepsibah Gallery in Hammersmith. I love having this little gallery so close to home and I love art and I love sewing so you can imagine how heavenly it was to be sitting with my nearest and dearest, chatting with the artist herself whilst she effortlessly drew us with by means of a sewing machine!

Harriet Riddell portrait

Harriet is a performance mixed media artist specialising in observational drawings in stitch. Which means she won’t copy a photo – only live subjects need apply, and therefore each and every creation is an original. Oh, and she doesn’t do dogs!

And for someone who graduated only a year or so ago, she has a pretty damned fine back catalogue already. I found it tempting to sit on the face of Jeremy Irons who was beautifully stitched into the seat of a chair and mesmerised by the Mexican dancers with their intricately decorated dresses, on the wall. One of her brilliant projects involved sitting outside in the streets of Birmingham, stitching people sat on a bike whilst they pedalled to power her sewing machine. Just how cool is that?

Of course I quizzed her:

Q: What kind of thread do you use?

A: Just the usual 50p kind from Peckham market!

Q: What is this fabulous fabric you are using?

A: Heavy weight canvas from Goldhawk Rd!

Q: Do you ever get stressed from the queues that build up on your event?

A: Sometimes!

Q: How long without sewing can you go without getting ‘scratchy’

A: About a day or two!

Q: What do you love most about what you do?

A: Travelling the world and meeting wonderful people.

Q: What fancy stitch did you use to create the detailed embroidery on the Mexican dancers’ dresses?

A: Oh I never use those. Just do it freehand!

(I can honestly vouch for her being the coolest person ever!)

Even the reverse of this artwork is beautiful. I need to source a frame with double sided glass so it’s not hidden. Any ideas?

Harriet Riddell reverse

Of course the only downside to this wonderful sitting was that now I am hugely inspired by this lovely lady and I want to venture more down the ridiculously wonderful road of freehand embroidery too. Of course I have plenty nuff hours to fill, don’t I?

You will find plenty more examples of Harriet’s fascinating creations over at Institchyou.

And I leave you with some lovely shots that Mr O took whilst our youngest daughter took the first sitting:

Harriet Riddell Harriet_Riddell_2 Harriet_Riddell_3 Harriet_Riddell_4 Harriet_Riddell_5 Harriet_Riddell_6 Harriet_Riddell_7 Harriet_Riddell_8

Two lovely awards from two lovely ladies…

Forgive me blogworld for I have been a bad blogger. It has been 15 days since my last post and still neither a newly sewn garm nor a promised tute for a Roman blind do declare themselves done. I can hear the tongues wagging and I can see the sideways looks and I feel guilty as charged, believe you, me!!

But I must be doing something right. For I have been nominated for two very pretty awards by two very lovely ladies.

very-inspiring-blogger-award-2

one lovely blog award

The first thank you goes out to The Couture Academic. I was drawn to Kat’s blog pretty much from the day she started. She’s all about quality, with lots of lovely detail in every post. If you’ve not met yet, then hop over and grab yourself a lesson or two in ‘how it should be done’! There should also be an award for fastest ever quilt made up by a total beginner. Check this out!

The second and no less equally amazing thank you goes to CherryPix. I love this blog. Such honest posts, from the heart with makes to match. You must check out the Holy Batwings dress. Great choice of fabrics, so original and stylish. I keep meaning to shamelessly copy her Red Arc Skirt too but we’ll keep that to ourselves! 😉

There are rules of course:

1. Thank the person who nominated you
2. Add The One Lovely Blog Award The Very Inspiring Blogger Award to your post.
3. Share 7 things about yourself.
4. Pass the award on to 10 nominees.
5. Include this set of rules.
6. Inform your nominees by posting a comment on their blogs.

Seven Things about Me!

1. I’m a freelance graphic designer by day. Mostly working between publishers and media companies. Designing covers and insides for lovely books and DVD covers. I sew by night, obvs!

2. My family consists of three lovely children and a fiancé whom I am very proud of. Oh and two crazy cats to add to the mix.

3. I’m rather partial to a G&T but it’s got to be Gordons!

4. I am a devoted David Bowie fan. Ever since I was about 12 years old. And especially when I found out that he wrote a song called ‘Janene’! 😉

5. I am addicted to collecting vintage patterns and fabric. I will never in my lifetime achieve all that I want to make. But I’m ok with that and will try nonetheless!

6. I live in West London and am quite happy about that, especially with the Goldhawk Road fabric heaven being a stones throw away!

7. I have recently found out that I have hypermobile joints. Might explain why I can still do the splits at my ripe old age!!

And my ten nominees are…
(In no particular order)

http://bellemegan.wordpress.com/

http://zosews.com/

http://beebeesvintagedress.blogspot.co.uk/

http://sewbusylizzy.wordpress.com/

http://jotsfromasmallapt.wordpress.com/

http://fashionforlunch.wordpress.com/

http://www.melissafour.co.uk/

http://quietvintagesewing.wordpress.com/

http://www.trashplanetdiy.com/

http://paunnet.blogspot.co.uk/

And just as an aside. I would very much like to thank all who come to visit ooobop! and leave lovely comments and everyone in blogworld who has inspired me. The above list is just the tip of the iceberg. Scary how many I do actually read! I am truly grateful to you all because you have all contributed to this path that my life now follows and to all the joy it brings. I’ll stop now!! 🙂

Post War British Textile design

fashion and textile museum

Today, I took full advantage of my freelance status, ditched the children for a couple of hours and headed off to the Fashion and Textile Museum, near London Bridge, to see Designing Women: Post War British Textiles exhibition. What a totally self-indulgent treat!

The intro to the exhibition:

“Britain was at the forefront of international textile design in the 1950s and 1960s. The art of textile design radically changed after the Second World War and three women artists working in England in the 1950s were pivotal in this artistic revolution. The drab days of the War were transformed by the fresh, progressive designs of Lucienne Day (1917–2010), Jacqueline Groag (1903–86) and Marian Mahler (1911– 83). Designing Women: Post-war British textiles showcases their work beginning with Lucienne Day’s ‘Calyx’ pattern of 1951, featured at the Festival of Britain, and moving through textile commissions of the 1960s and 70s. The exhibition features more than 100 works.

Original artist designs with bold abstract pattern, as well as the use of saturated colour, marked a dramatic departure from conventional furnishing fabrics. This new wave of bold textile designs, helped to bring the influences of the art world, in its most recent, refreshing, and largely abstract forms, into the contemporary home.”

The influence of modern art is so strong in all the designs of this period. Its very easy to spot some iconic inspiration from Joan Miró, Alexander Calder and Kandinsky.

Lucienne Day, wife of Robin Day, was the most prolific and successful of the designers having kick started the ‘revolution’  with her ‘Calyx’ print in 1951.

'Calyx', Lucienne Day  1951

'Calyx', Lucienne Day 1951

Heals, though at first very sceptical, was her first client. The work was considered too modern but the risk proved to be a good and profitable move for both parties. Lucienne Day was the first artist to be credited on the fabric itself.

'Diablo', Lucienne Day, 1962/3

'Diablo', Lucienne Day, 1962/3

'Apollo', Lucienne Day

'Apollo', Lucienne Day

'Good Food', Lucienne Day

'Good Food', Lucienne Day

'Trio', Lucienne Day, 1952

'Trio', Lucienne Day, 1952

Lucienne didn’t limit herself to fabric, wallpaper and carpet design…

Tea/coffee set, Lucienne Day

Tea/coffee set, Lucienne Day

Jacqueline Groag was born in Czechoslovakia and emigrated from Vienna to London in 1939. She is one of the key designers in Mid Century Britain having worked with some of the foremost  textile manufacturers and retailers, including John Lewis, Associated American Artists and David Whitehead Ltd. She also produced laminated surface designs for British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). The same company my mum used to make pilots suits for!

Untitled, (Traffic Lights), Jacqueline Goag, 1952

Untitled, (Traffic Lights), Jacqueline Goag, 1952

Untitled (Bottles), Jacqueline Groag

Untitled (Bottles), Jacqueline Groag

This ‘Pebbles’ design by Jacqueline Groag is so nostalgic for me. As I stood in front of it, it took me back to my home in the 1970s. I can’t be sure that it was exactly this design but similar enough to generate some serious flashbacks!  My mum had great taste!

Untitled (Pebbles), Jacqueline Groag, 1952

Untitled (Pebbles), Jacqueline Groag, 1952

Marian Mahler was Austrian and emigrated to Britain in 1937. As artist and illustrator she combined both skills to generate designs for the younger, yet sophisticated clientele who were looking to create a stylish home. The fabrics were mostly rayon or cotton and the roller printing process made for fast production and an affordable end product. I just love the birds!

'Bird Chair', Marian Mahler, 1952

'Bird Chair', Marian Mahler, 1952

The temptation to ‘touch’ was too much!!!

'Linear Flowers', Marian Mahler

'Linear Flowers', Marian Mahler

'Mobiles', Marian Mahler, 1952

'Mobiles', Marian Mahler, 1952

Untitled (Sails), Marian Mahler, 1952/3

Untitled (Sails), Marian Mahler, 1952/3

Paule Vézelay was a painter and her skills transferred beautifully to fabric design. So much so that I think a certain Ms Kiely looks to have drawn some serious inspiration, don’t you think?!

'Composure', Paule Vézelay, 1967

'Composure', Paule Vézelay, 1967

'Crescents', Paule Vézelay, 1956

'Crescents', Paule Vézelay, 1956

And I wasn’t expecting to see any of these fabrics in dress form but just look…

Marian Mahler, Linear Flowers dress

Marian Mahler, Linear Flowers dress

dress

I hope you have enjoyed this little preview. I do apologise for the quality of the photos. No flash photography was allowed so they are a bit grainy and really do not give any of the fabrics the justice they deserve!

Well, best I get on with my real work now… the downside of freelanceness!

There is absolutely something about Mary!

Well the ‘Kats’ out the bag. I can hold it in no more. I am truly in love with Mary Katrantzou! I took my son to the Design Museum today for a touch of innovation inspiration at the Designs of the year 2012 exhibition but didn’t expect to be blown away by a MK dress in the flesh, so to speak.

opus mixtum dress

Opus mixtum dress, autumn winter 2011

I didn’t manage to convince the boy-wonder that a dress would have any standing up against a ‘cool’ carbon fibre wheelchair or the ‘sick’ design of an opera house in China or indeed some ‘gotta have’ bluetooth speakers but I did come out of that closet and realise that she, with her gorgeous creations, has been mostly on my mind and in my dreams for at least a year.

It’s such a no brainer to quote Viv, Alexander and JPG as divine inspiration and that is an underestimation. I certainly don’t profess to be a devout follower of designer fashion but when something hits me like this I just get a bit over excited.

Its the all-powerful combination of structure and print, charged up to blow everything else in its path on the catwalk away -package what does it… methinks.

Mary Katrantzou spring 2010

Spring collection 2010

MaryKatrantzouFall2011LampshadeSkirts

Lampshade Skirts!

Mary Katranzou 2012 collection

Mary Katranzou 2012 collection

Mary Katrantzou 2012 Collection

Mary Katrantzou 2012 Collection

Having dipped my toe into the world of garment construction in an oh-so basic way in just short of a year I am in awe. But at the same time so inspired to challenge myself more. There I was, crying over a welt pocket this afternoon, and now I am all the more determined to master all that there is about design, dressmaking and tailoring for as many years as it takes.

Funnily enough there was an article in the Independent Newspaper yesterday which reported how Primark was ‘copying’ one of her latest designs.

Primark copies Mary Katrantzou

Primark copies Mary Katrantzou

Clever media reporting perhaps? Do you think Mary really cares or is even a little bit worried about the competition? I’m not entirely sure there will be too much confusion! The fashion editor at Grazia thinks its completely ‘shameful’. Purely a timely piece of publicity just before London Fashion week don’t ya think?

I find it really interesting that she separates herself from her work by mostly wearing black and claiming to have a complete lack of print in her own wardrobe! But according to Wiki, and despite how young she is (born 1983), her career so far has been more than colourful:

“She moved to the United States in 2003 in order to attend Rhode Island School of Design to study architecture. She then transferred Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design where she completed both herBachelor and Master. During her studies, she managed to sell some of her prints to Bill Blass. Graduating from her Bachelor course in 2005, Katrantzou switched her focus from prints for interiors to fashion prints. Whilst collaborating with Sophia Kokosalaki in 2006, Katrantzou managed to build up a portfolio for the Central Saint Martins Master Fashion Textiles course. In 2008, she opened the Saint Martins graduating show. Her collection was nominated for the Harrods and the L‘Oreal Professional Award. Supported by a Newgen (talent identification scheme created by the British Fashion Council in 1993) sponsorship for six full seasons (S/S 2009 – A/W 2011), her first Prêt-à-porter collection was shown at the autumn/winter London Fashion Week in 2008.

Her collections are now available worldwide in over 60 high end fashion shops. A collection for Topshop launched for London Fashion Week autumn/winter 2010 and was available in shops in February 2011. Katrantzou‘s work has been featured in publications including Vogue, Dazed & Confused, and Grazia. In 2010, she was awarded the coveted Swiss Textiles award, succeeding Alexander Wang who won the award in 2009. She is one of the designers of Città dell’arte Fashion. Hannah Holman is one of the better known models who recently walked in one of Katrantzou‘s shows.”

Mary Katrantzou

Mary Katrantzou

The Mary Katrantzou website is launching soon but you can still download the press book here. It takes a little while to download but is so worth the wait. I hope it opens your eyes as wide as mine and give you as much joy and inspiration as it did me.

Now… on with my jacket!

Vintage Festival, Southbank 2011

vintage festival cake

Vintage festival cake!

So here we are . . . better late than never!

Last Sunday I attended the wonderful Vintage Festival on London’s Southbank. The Festival is the brainchild of Designers Wayne and Gerardine Hemmingway, original founders of Red or Dead. I have to say that I did spot Wayne walking around the fringes of one of the fashion shows but I wasn’t brave enough to approach him for a photo. He seemed to go unnoticed for the most part but I wish I had plucked up courage at least to have congratulated him on such a fabulous event. So here is a photo I have ‘borrowed’ from the V&A!

Wayne and Gerardine Hemmingway.

Wayne and Gerardine Hemmingway

It is unlikely that this ‘party’ captured the same spirit as the original Festival of Britain, which was hosted in 1951 as a post war celebration to promote a feeling of recovery and progress in in Britain, but there was indeed an amazing vibe of creative appreciation and social interaction. All things art, music and fashion wrapped up in 6 floors of the Southbank Centre surrounded by sprawling vintage market stalls, nostalgic fairground rides and side shows.

I have since found out that the original Festival of Britain was in itself a celebration of the centenary of the 1851 Great Exhibition But going forward . . . !

We set off at midday after I gave up a whole morning of trying to convince my 7 year old daughter and fiancé to dress up a little for the occasion. 7 year old girls, if you ever have the pleasure, would normally jump at the chance but I have one who is far too contrary and managed to convince me that Tweety Pie t-shirt was from the ‘olden days’. Mr Ooobop had plans on going ’80s metal’ but that somehow jarred a little with my plans on 50’s day dress!

Me and Daniel en route to the festival

Me and Daniel en route to the festival

On arrival we were met with an amazing village of vintage stalls. Free to Joe public. Packed with all things nostalgic, retro and vintage. Lots of people dressed appropriately which in turn had lots of people smiling. Not least of all Mr Ooobop who was already  incredibly distracted by the sea of seamed stockings!

Cherry hats and lingerie

Cherry hats and lingerie

Vintage hats

Vintage hats

There were not as many stalls with fabric and notions as I expected but that was probably a good thing as the tickets weren’t cheap and a day of drinking and eating was going to cost a pretty penny!

Notions

Notions!

We stopped off at the little pop up tea house which was a hit with Samaria. The simple pleasures of 2 lumps or 3 (of sugar) brought immense joy to one who was already beginning to flag under the sun and the annoyance of two parents who were behaving like pigs in muck!

Samaria loves a tea scene

Samaria loves a tea party!

We could have spent all day here, honestly. It was like a treasure trove. But we ditched the temptation to head into the Southbank Centre instead. The festival covered all things vintage 1920’s to 1980’s (although I would personally consider  60’s to 80’s to be more retro than vintage!) The main feature on the first floor was Hot Shots night club. A gorgeously lit dance floor with the most amazing girl band I have ever seen, The Bombshellettes. They were so glamourous as were the people dressed 40’s on the dance floor.

Torch club

The Torch Club

The fabulous Bombshelettes

The fabulous Bombshelettes

ladies on the dance floor

Ladies on the dance floor

Beautiful dresses

Beautiful dresses everywhere you looked!

We supped G&Ts whilst watching the dance lessons and quaffed more than our fair share of Haagen Dazs ice-cream served by 50’s ‘cigarette girls’.

haagen dazs girls

The Haagen Dazs girls

Art was everywhere. Gorgeous photography and a mini Peter Blake Exhibition. The contrast in music styles between rooms was quite incredible. From the glamourous and charming 40’s we swanned past a Pearly King and Queen at the doors of an 80’s disco to get to the Balcony of 70’s soul and then down to the Cotton Club for a proper timewarp and some amazing jiving.

70s soul on the balcony!

70s soul on the balcony!

70s balcony with seams

On the 70s balcony with obligatory seams!

On route of course I couldn’t be in too much of a hurry to leave the craft room. A display of handmade dresses lured me into a long chat with a lovely teacher from Fashion Antidote, a fashion school in East London, a crochet class was in action and a there was place where you could sew your own souvenir vintage bunting. There was an art school too where you could learn printing techniques and sketching. I so wish I was more brave at taking photos of strangers. It really was a wonderful place.

Fashion Antidote

Fashion Antidote

Making souvenir bunting

Making souvenir bunting

It was difficult to cover all aspects of the day. I think we skimmed the surface of most of the events but when I go next time (and I absolutely will go again at the drop of a vintage hat!) I will be sure to spend more time in each area if it means missing out on some. I guess we were a bit too excited. General ‘people-watching’ was definitely the order of the day. In every direction there were stunningly dressed ladies, holding themselves in a way that oozed glamour, but probably because underneath those amazing dresses they were ‘trussed up’ in lingerie, corsetry and suspenders that forced them into straight lines! Im telling you, even with what little effort I made, I have never spent so long in the bathroom to go out for the day. Those ladies of the 50s must have had time on their hands or got up really early in the morning!

We did hop back out to the markets to buy some cool shades but also I was feeling a bit bad that Samaria was duly tagging along. So luckily for her there were some vintage fair ground attractions too!

Helter Skelter

Helter Skelter

The Carousel

The Carousel . . . those Victorians were very clever

One last stop before we left led us to the Pink Bus. A fabulous art installation by artists Victoria Brook and Caroline Fletcher. It is quite literally a pink bus filled with all things nostalgic and retro, cherished, saved and rescued from a landfill. Samaria loved sitting in here and you’d have to sit in there for a very long time to see everything!

Pink bus

Pink bus

Pink bus front end!

Pink bus front end!

Pink Bus back end

Pink Bus back end!

And even on our way back home, the vintage theme continued on the green. How absolutely delightful and British! Roll on next year!

A vintage picnic

A vintage picnic

Dotty shawl jacket

Today was a lovely spring day and perfect weather for wearing my new jacket. It is made of 100% wool using both sides of the fabric to get the contrast on the shawl. Fully lined with handmade buttonholes. I think my beloved machine found the thickness too much to cope with when I tried the buttonhole feature! The 3/4 length sleeves are a perfect excuse to wear my favourite leather gloves too! The free pattern was included in a copy of SEW magazine, given to me as a gift from my lovely neighbour. Very easy and quick to put together and I would definitely sew this again.

Dotty shawl jacket in wool

Dotty shawl jacket in wool

Dotty shawl jacket in wool front and back view

Dotty shawl jacket in wool, front and back view

Our mission today was to seek out the Anish Kapoor sculptures in Kensington Gardens. We found the first – Sky Mirror – and the second – The C-Curve – but were disappointed to find out that the others had been removed for exhibiting in Paris.

C-Curve Anish Kapoor

C-Curve, Anish Kapoor

Sky Mirror Anish Kapoor

Sky Mirror, Anish Kapoor