First Frost is coming!

martinandlaura (4).jpg

So the leaves are falling and the evenings are definitely drawing in and although we haven’t had the first frost of Winter 2018 it is surely on the way! With that in mind I am launching my new toasty tweedy scarves on the 1st of November but visitors to Handmade at The Thumb will get a sneak peak on Tuesday 30th of October – find out more about this event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/304167306836574/.

The 10 day count down to launch starts tomorrow! And I’ll be revealing a little more about the collection in the lead up to the 1st of November!

Sculpture – Performance – Millinery

 

I recently had the pleasure of working with Nicola Dale as part of her film, Close Readings. At the end of March, it was shown as part of See What I See, a collection of films by artists, curated by Nicola at Manchester Art Gallery.

My involvement came out of a chat about current projects over a cup of tea and a bourbon. Nicola was describing the performative walk she would be doing between The Portico and John Rylands libraries. She would be filmed walking across the city centre with a book on her head. My immediate question was, “How is it going to stay on?”

A few weeks later she asked me if I could come up with a millinery solution. I jumped at the chance of making something where function was so important. I instantly thought of rolls of fabric which I’ve seen women around the world use to balance water containers and baskets on their heads.

I set about making a prototype for Nicola to test. This worked so I created a donut of fabric from strips of white cotton – tightly bound and stitched together. During the make, I really liked the how the strip of fabric was falling and really liked its veil like appearance. There was something very Queen Victoria about it. The edges were left raw and started to fray which gave this a really interesting quality. The film also showed it moving beautifully in the wind. And it served its purpose – she was able to walk quite fast with confidence that the book she was carrying was not going to fall.

Nicola has described herself as and artist first, sculptor 2nd and performer 3rd. These are the elements of millinery that I am interested in and perhaps these worlds are not so far apart. Working with an artist who comes at it from a completely different perspective, forces me to continually, rethink the how and why of my own work. Its always exciting when that happens!

Find out more about Nicola Dale here: www.nicoladale.com

Exploring the Potential: vegan leather

One of the most interesting things I did in 2017 was a project with Jane Wood, a textile technologist from Manchester Metropolitan University. Jane’s research concerns the development of sustainable bio-fabrics and I got the opportunity to experiment with sheets of vegetable leather she had grown in vats of kombucha tea.

It was so exciting to be working with a new material particularly because it is grown and therefore has a very low environmental impact in its manufacture. Not only is 100% bio-degradable but can also ‘come back to life’ if submerged back in the vat and fed!

I happily spent hours applying the principals of millinery; steaming, stretching and blocking to see how this wonder fabric behaved. Out of this a workshop session was born and we offered the general public the chance to have a go at Hat Works Museum as part of Manchester Science Festival. And the participants did not disappoint! They really embraced the element of play to explore exactly how this fabric could be manipulated and created some amazing sculptural headpieces and brooches.

The general feeling among the milliners who attended was that this fabric definitely has potential as an alternative to traditional millinery materials – I can’t wait to do more on this.

Follow Jane on Twitter: @fashfutures

 

 

Exciting Times!

I can honestly say that 2017 has been a complete whirlwind, and I have really missed taking time-out to reflect on what I’ve been doing.

Between organising the HATstock festival in Stockport, Wear A Hat Day,  a studio move, developing workshops, delivering talks, joining a new crit group, working with bio-fabric, doing courses in flatlay and working with straw as well as meeting my friend Katie’s Alpacas – its been totally full-on!

Thanks to the fantastic Sara Auty of SAZmedia, I also fitted in a photoshoot too! The pic of me in the scarf half-hat / percher is one of hers!

I’ll be sharing what I’ve been up to over the next few weeks and revealing whats to come – no spoilers but I’m working on lots of exciting projects! In the mean-time, get a flavour of the great time we all had at HATstock here.

 

OPEN STUDIOS 10th- 11th Dec 11am-5pm

Pop in – Have a chat -Try on hats – Revamp your Hat – Make a Headband – Shop Local

Emma Fozard and I are throwing open the doors of Studio 5 as part of Open Studios at Marketplace on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th December 11am – 5pm.

Bring along a hat that needs some TLC and we can have a go at giving it a new lease of life. Drop-in to make a fabric bow headband with Emma between 12noon – 2pm.

A selling exhibition of work made by makers at Marketplace in our gallery space on the ground floor will be open and the last Vintage Village of the year is also happening on Sunday so Stockport really is the place to be this weekend!

made-at-jpeg-marketplace-poster-10-11thdec

Sharing Hatting Success – Part 2

So following on from my post earlier this week, I wanted to mention the first ‘Hat Share’ hosted by Hat Works Museum of Hatting that took place last Saturday. This was a celebration of the achievements of all the people who have undertaken a millinery course at the museum in the last year. It was a great way to finish off the ‘school’ year and say thanks to our tutors Lorna Young, Marie Thornton and Sue Carter who have given so much of their creative energy to the programme since it began 2 years ago.

Over 90 people have undertaken a  course at the museum in that time – myself included. They offer a mixture of evening classes and weekend courses as well as Open Blocking where you can use the hat blocks and work room for the day. You can read a great write of of the Open Blocking sessions here by Sohpie of Imogen’s Imagination. The event also launched the new programme starting in September which has been inspired by style icons.

Everyone was invited to bring along a selection of hats they have made using their new found skills and an impromptu exhibition was created. It was fantastic to see how everyone is developing their own style and experimenting with the techniques they have learned at the museum.

It was great talking hats over a glass of fizz! Hopefully this will be an annual event!

Sharing Hatting Success – Part 1

The last 2 weeks have been a total roller coaster, full of millinery milestones! I exhibited in my first selling show as part of the Sale Arts Trail. My stand was in the bar area of the quirky Masonic Hall venue. It was great to exhibit alongside embroidery artist Julia Jowett, textile designer Annabel Perrin and jeweller Jo Lavelle. I couldn’t have asked for better company!

Encouraged by Julia and Jo, I got my hat steamer out and did an impromptu blocking demonstration. People enjoyed seeing the process and it helped to illustrate the amount of work that goes into making a hat.

Hats really only come alive when someone tries them on and although I do like trying my hats on in my studio, it just can’t beat the feeling of fitting a hat on a customer and seeing the effect. They hold themselves differently, adopting the posture of an elegant figure from a fashion illustration of yesteryear. The head tilts and the pout comes out as they look in the mirror to see a person transformed looking back. Watching this happen again and again as the weekend progressed was a total thrill. So thank-you to all the people who came, tried on and purchased hats – it was lovely spending time with you.

Watch out for Part 2 of Sharing Success in a few days!

 

 

Summer in the Studio

IMG_0787 IMG_0794

It has been a very busy time here in the home of hatting! I’ve had visitors a plenty and have been working on a quite a few projects which have either just been completed or are due to finish soon so its a good time to draw breath and take stock. I had the pleasure of making 8 sinamay headpieces for a dance show. They were for the Adult Beginners tap class from  the Alison Gallacher School of Dance. I caught the final performance a couple of weeks ago. The group were dancing to a song from Mack and Mabel and I have to say I was very impressed with their performance. The tapping was super and all the dancers looked like they were having a really good time on stage! Thanks to all the tappers who carried off their headpieces with true applomb!