Sunday, 27 October 2013

Outside The Frame

I'm not as organised with my Christmas stock as I was last year (when I began in July...) so I've been racing through a few new ideas to get them into my Etsy shop and to other stockists as soon as possible. Yesterday I whipped up a batch of these kanzashi flower decorations;
When it comes to my product shots I have a go to set up of:
  •  Big A2 sheet of off-white paper blu-tacked to the wall so it falls into a curve against the dining room table.
  • Sheet of white foamboard to bounce back light and reduce shadows.
  • Camera set on 'macro'.
  • As much natural light as possible, but not too much, and only from a certain direction, and not too bright. 
  • Everything else can be fixed in Photoshop. Usually. Unless I've done a really bad job.
After a brief forage around Etsy this morning for Christmas decorations generally I came to the conclusion this category, more than any other, is full to the brim with shabby looking photos of what may or may not be shabby work. Determined not to fall into this trap I did the only sensible thing and snuffled round the shrubbery outside the flat for a goodly sized twig.

I know decorations are best shown hanging up, obviously, but I've not had any photos 'in situ' for any of mine for the past couple of years. Why? No idea. What I do know is that I don't like product shots of ornaments hanging on an actual Christmas tree, I know it should make sense, but I think it looks too heavy and cluttered, and a plain white or grey background will always win you brownie points with treasury curators.

Keeping my set-up much as I would use normally I rested my branch at either end on a vase, with my paper backdrop where it usually is, and Catsby where he usually is, right in the f***ing way.
Pesky felines aside I'm quite pleased with the results, not perfect but a good starting point. You can see how there is still a lot of space around the ornaments so it doesn't feel too busy, but it adds a wintery feel and shows them off as they would look on your tree. Having many branches gives lots of options for hanging things so you can create some depth in multiple shots.
I tried it out on a few of my old designs too so I can keep it consistent across the shop.
For muffs, a slightly different/precarious arrangement;
So, a multi-purpose twig, what every Etsy seller should have to hand, perhaps you know someone who might need one too? It's a budget friendly gift idea!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

I Can't Believe I Forgot About Laura Ashley

I realised earlier this evening that I had clear forgotten to tell you about the Laura Ashley exhibition, which is ridiculous as it was one of the most amazing exhibitions I've ever been to.
For a very long time I was completely opposed to anything Laura Ashley, on account of the unappealing wallpaper that I was not allowed to get rid of when I moved out of the shared bedroom and into the old spare room at my parent's house. It was a large repeating print of some exotic looking fruit bushes with a lot of white space between and it matched the table cloth in the dining room. Eventually I got my way and painted the walls bright yellow and orange, which they still are, though this is by the bye as 'my room' is now the model railway room. It took me a while to realise that the origins of Laura Ashley were something else entirely, and not until I went to the Assembly Rooms in Bath this summer did I fully appreciate just how different they were.
Laura Ashley The Romantic Heroine was staged to mark the 60th anniversary of the company, which began when Laura and her husband Bernard built their own screen printing press in the kitchen of their Pimlico flat and produced small printed textiles like tea towels and oven gloves. By 1961 they had relocated to Wales and were beginning to produce fashion garments, like shifts, smocks and loose dresses. By the 1970s they were a high street staple and favoured by women in villages and cities for their trademark nostalgic, pastoral style.
The purple shift on the far right is an early design and really shows how different the company was in those days, it's obviously a very young, fun piece, made to be noticed. All four of these dresses are notable for their daring colour and length, quite a contrast to Laura Ashley womens wear of today, which is very nice if you are 35+ with a bit of cash to spare, but not exactly ground breaking. I went in to the exhibition expecting to be drowned in pastels and was proved very wrong.
The cut of these two dresses is classic 1970s Laura Ashley, full of historic references and construction details, like the pin tucked hem on the right, and the cut of the sleeves on the left. It's the colour and the print that makes them so striking though, that lime green is almost painful to look at. These weren't easy designs to wear, and I think it would be easy to under estimate how much of a statement you'd be making in them. 
They might be demure and feminine but in no way would you blend into the background. These were BIG dresses, full of bold shapes and daring patterns. When you're covered in that much fabric you can't fail to be noticed. The influence of historic costume was everywhere, so many of these dresses I could have put on stage in a 19th century play and I don't think anyone would have questioned it, though perhaps it was the opulent surroundings fooling my senses.
The exhibition itself was so simply designed, with just a single 'island' full of the dressed mannequins. Every time you stopped to look at a dress you caught a glimpse of another hidden behind and had to stop yourself racing around to see what it was.
The explanatory notes shared the stories of people who had bought and owned the dresses in the 60s and 70s, some for weddings, some with their first pay packet, some as a treat when visiting other cities with the luxury of their own Laura Ashley shop. Even when we were walking around other visitors were talking about their experiences of Laura Ashley at that time (apparently not always brilliantly made, quite often on the wonk) which I think shows how the attitude to buying clothes has changed. Are we going to be recounting stories of that t-shirt we bought in Primark in 40 years time?
This skirt was made out of fabric remnants, hand stitched together over one summer while the owner was working as a nanny in Spain, and is still being worn by her daughters. Stories of buying the Laura Ashley prints and making or altering existing garments were numerous, it seems at that time that women in particular had the necessary skills, and that fabric was cheaper and easier to get

For me it's the prints that made this exhibition. There is no doubting how the company began life, and it's a crying shame that they seem to have moved so far away from these beginnings, in the fashion lines at least.
I would love to see a revival line featuring some of these early prints, because there is just nothing like it on the market at the moment, and they are all so beautifully intricate and unusual.
I don't know if I'd be brave enough to wear one of these dresses now, but I'd like to think I'd try. There were some much simpler styles I haven't shown here, but you can see the whole set of photos I took over on my Facebook page. I'd love to hear if any of you have tales from Laura Ashley's golden days, or are harbouring some vintage gems in your wardrobe! Unfortunately the exhibition is now over so I can't urge you to go and see it yourself, perhaps it will return one day, who knows?

Monday, 23 September 2013

Back in the Swing of Things

After a month long immersion in the theatre world, followed by my sister's wedding and then a stinking cold, I have emerged on the other side, ploughing ahead with new work. Coming back to a studio with nothing but Christmas decorations in stock and having gotten to the end of all my 'good' fabrics (by no means the end of all my fabrics, that will take a few years yet) was more than a little disconcerting. It reminded me of Phillip Pullman's writing habits;
"I write three pages every day (one side of the paper only). That's about 1100 words. Then I stop, having made sure to write the first sentence on the next page, so I never have a blank page facing me in the morning."
I had come home to the BIGGEST blank page, and it took me bloody ages to write anything on it. For the first week I was just scribbling pictures in the margin and underlining the title 4 or 5 times, and the week after that I'd lost the page under a pile of snotty tissues. Thankfully I had some non-design tasks to get on with over the weekend, workshop planning and so on, which has given me a bit of momentum to get my act together today.

One useful thing I did achieve in my first week back was to choose a palette and shortlist some new prints to choose from for my A/W collection. I started with the colour trend report from Pantone, just so I wasn't trying to narrow down from an infinite selection of colours.
I have a feeling Etsy might reference the Pantone colour reports when they set the front page treasuries so it's a handy thing to keep an eye on. The other source I was working from is a still from a fantastic film by Wes Anderson.
If you haven't seen Moonrise Kingdom yet you really must, and if you have you should go and watch it again! Somewhere between these two things I have found my palette, and after much trawling of the site where I get my Tana Lawn I have chosen my prints.
 This first one is Tatum, a classic Liberty design that I haven't used before, the contrast between the dark purple ground and the acid yellow leaves is nice and fresh without being too summery.
I've been desperate to use Capel for a while now, I thought it would be good to have something a bit more solid in the mix and I think it'll really show off the detail in the knot jewellery.
This is a Betsy Ann, a smaller, less brash version of Betsy, full of nice stormy, autumnal tones.
This is a Claire Aude, another Liberty classic, but in a colour way I haven't used before, it's a bit softer than the other prints with some nice orangey leaf tones in it, I'd agree with my friend JM that it's a bit 1930's, no bad thing!
This last print is Nina Taylor, it's a seasonal design from the A/W 13 collection and was a last minute pick as I was searching for something with a bit more orange in it to tie the whole collection together, which this does perfectly. You should search the Nina Taylor print as there are some other beautiful colour ways available.

So now I'm waiting for everything to arrive before I can get making again, but if you are interested in ordering a piece of jewellery in any of these prints I am now taking orders over on my Facebook page at slightly discounted prices for the next two weeks. Just message my on FB with your contact details, the print you'd like and the style of necklace or bracelet and I can get started on it as soon as everything arrives, and it'll arrive in it's own Handmade by Bunny Bosworth gift box!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Two Weeks in Wardrobe

Rebecca Lee's costume designs, safely stored on the floor.
How to sort costumes when you don't have rails but you do have an entire lecture theatre at your disposal.
Petticoats obligatory.
Order restored after the first round of costume fittings.
A detail from my favourite suit in the show.
Lucky enough to have been in beautiful Kingston-on-Thames in the summer.
Not so lucky with our accomodation on campus; damp and beige, thank God for £1 bunting.
Slightly ropey phone photo of the spider web shaped lighting grid at the Rose Theatre. An incredible venue, well worth a visit.

Sunday, 4 August 2013


I'm back in that hut at the bottom of a garden in Oxfordshire again, this time for a production of Great Expectations. I'm going to share a few of the costume highlights so far (a trip to Bristol Costume Services is on the cards for next week, I LOVE hire companies).

 First up, fabulous military jacket covered in braid, mmmmmmmm braid.
Next, a couple of delicate embroidered blouses. The first one is commercially made (as opposed to being made for theatre or by a costume company).
The embroidery is really fine, in a pale blue variegated thread on the latte colour silk crepe.
I haven't got round to doing the ironing yet.

The second blouse is possibly a one off, there are no labels to be seen, so I don't know if it was a theatre make or a home make that has made it's way into the costume store.
The scallop detailing on the cuff is incredible, but what had me most intrigued was the embroidery on the body of the blouse.
It looks like a simple running stitch outline, with a trellis pattern in the flower centres, but the leaves and petals look more opaque than the surrounding area. At first I thought it was an incredibly small and neat applique, but closer inspection of the reverse shows that this is not the case.
It's not very easy to see in the photo, but the running stitch on the outside is actually the back of a herringbone stitch that has been worked over all the petals and leaves, which is what's making those areas more opaque. I've never seen this technique before, does anyone know if there's a particular name for it? Clearly it's only effective with sheer or semi-sheer fabrics, but it's so clever!

Finally it's this late Regency velvet and damask gown. There are so many details in this dress that I love.
Narrow braid over the curved bodice seam.
Pleated front section, gold piping and a crepe chiffon contrast.
MASSIVE puff over sleeves.
I fully expect to see more of this kind of thing next Friday as I'll be in Bath to see the Laura Ashley exhibition at the Assembly Rooms, expect many photos.
Blogging tips