Friday, 28 April 2017

Catching up, Coffee and Steam Punk

Last Month, I met up with Jane aka Breaking the Angel. We have been promising to meet up for ages but life gets in the way. Jane suggested meeting up at the Discovery Museum, so I could finally see their Steam Punk exhibition.

Both of us donned with black high neck collars, looking very demure, I guess great minds think alike. It was so lovely seeing Jane again, I adore meeting with her for a coffee, it alway great conversations, great company and a fellow goth gal, a rarity in both my area and life.

I commented on her last post about wanting to see the Steam Punk exhibition she offered to show me the exhibition, despite previous seeing it. 

After seeing the exhibition I understand stood what she meant by her comments to me the exhibition felt disjoint and bit odd in places. For example, there was a selection of local artworks that were recreated with figures with animals head, I've seen similar pictures have become fashionable. Personally, I couldn't see the purpose of them or the reason it related to the exhibition, perhaps, I'm missing the point like usual.

I preferred the refashion exhibition where the local fashion student made original garments inspired by the Victorian meant from modern times. This exhibition was more effectively executed and organised Yet, I did have my favourites including the range of "Steam Punk and Gothic inspired outfits". The outfits ranged from the Victorian garments from the archives and modern clothing, emphasising how the Goth and Steampunk scenes take inspiration from historical costumes, particularly from the Victorian era and combining with modern day interruptions to creates the distinctive unique aesthetic.

My favourite was the beautiful morning gown, I absolutely love the floral jacquard weave, I was almost ready to steal this off the model,



Jane's favourite was the purple outfit; I 've got to admit this was probably my second favourite outfit, I do love purple.  To me the outfit look like more of day outfit to take high tea in. 













I don't think this exhibition was best or most well-executed exhibition to Steam Punk or Gothic Cultural it felt rather disorganised and sporadic.However, I do admire and appreciate their attempts at celebrating Steam Punk and their nod to the Goth cultural. I think it was a nice little exhibit to look through and I've been enjoying their refashion series. It's a lovely gesture of Northumbrian   University students and the Discovery Musem collaborations creatung a small tribute to alternative cultural.

We had a quick browse, we went for a browsing and ogling the Victorian costumes, along with the black beaded jewellery.









I was incredibly surprised to find the Enigma machine on display.  I haven't seen much advertisment for it. When Jane showed it me I was in complete awe to see this piece of history. This strange looking contraption looks as though it should have been included in the Steam Punk Exhibition. It's actually, part of the reason the Allies won the War against the Nazi's saving numerous of lives. Through an array of British code breakers deciphering the German signals and intercepting their communications. The British Government established Ultra Intelligence at Belchy Park, they recruited Manhattan's and general problem solvers. The most infamous were Alan Turning, now, hailed as the Grandfather of Morden Computing' and the boyfriend's personal hero. Turning built the "electromechanical machine" supercomputer of its day known as the "Bombe" the purpose was meant to break the Enigma code far quickly. 


We grabbed some lunch and a coffee to have a good chat to catch up, we both order a couple of cheese toasties.


We decided to pose for a couple of fun photographs. I love the style of Janes dress and the ruffle collor and buttons were so cute.








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It was amazing seeing Jane and I had a fun time catching up and visiting the Steam Punk exhibition. We have planned to meet up in a couple months time. I am looking forward to it.   

Monday, 24 April 2017

DIY: Vamping Up Lampshades,

One of my bedroom light shades broke, and it's been annoying me, it's a shames, as I love them. So, I've searched everywhere to find the matching lampshade, but to no avail. I purchased two small lampshades from Wilko's for £3 each, their not quite what I wanted but will suffice. I struggled to find lampshades to fit my lamps, particularly in black. I like the fabric's sheen but felt it was bland.    




I decorated them using one black beaded lace to add a bit of interest. 




I used a glue gun to stick the trim to the edge of the shade this was easy to do but a bit fiddly. I  took my time by glueing a small bit down at a time, I needed to work quickly since the glue dries fast and so, I could adjust the fabric in place to align on the edge of the shade. Be careful as I burnt my fingers serval times. I would recommend starting from the seam of the shade, as it was easier to hide the seam of the trim. 







This is the finished result I love them. 



P.S If you're looking for a glue gun. I purchased this one from Asda for £6 and refills are only 60p. This is great for paper, fabric crafts and other small craft projects but not suitbale for jewellery making or glass. It's a handy tool for any crafter.


  

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Life Update.

It's been pretty quieter over here in my little corner of Blogosphere, I haven't left blogging or intend to leave. Life has been busy busy, and I have lost my mojo and inspiration to write.  I thought I would do a life update post includes everything I've wanted to write about.

General life


About a month ago, I've started doing a teacher course for the long learning sector, which has occupied most my time and energy. There is a local community organisation who seem to be excellent at finding funding and asked if  I wanted to do the course, so I agreed not realising the full implications. So far, I've found the course difficult and struggling to understand the concepts; The combination, the course criteria being ambiguous, my dyslexia affecting my processing abilities and me overlooking into much depth.  My tutor has commented on my personal qualities seem ideal to be a tutor and seem a decent standard of course work. So, we'll see what happens I may consider becoming a tutor.







I've said bye bye to Sunderland Rd Library. The library has closed down and my last day was on the 31st of March, everybody knew this was coming; it's sadly the consequence of Government's cuts in funding. I'm nostalgic about the library and will miss it along with silly red hippo and a tatty teddy bear in the kid's sections. I pleased to say both have found good homes.




 I am also pragmatic we knew it was coming just before for Christmas and everybody agreed to close at the financial seemed the best time. Service users have dramatically dropped with within the last year and some shifts we have only one or two people attending. Personally, I feel as though the Library has become a burden since  I walked three miles and with often nothing to do. I miss working with the other volunteers, as I loved the Friday shift volunteers and the interesting conversations with customers. We had a fair well party for the loyal supporters and the volunteers, lovely to see so many people show their appreciation. The Friday volunteers all went out to the pub for a final celebration. 



Teddy had a good time but partied too hard. 


My last photo of the library.
Volunteering Crafting Workshops.

I have been facilitating craft workshop at a local community centre. The first session I planned to upcycle old jars and everyone loved the first session. For an example, I made butterfly bell jar My first attempt was based on the recent trend for bell jars where I used an old jar, some sticks and butterflies. 


Image may contain: plant and indoor

These some of the crafting products produced.  


  Source

However, my second workshop was making paper flowers this one didn't work out very well after discussing with the organisers of the centre, they said it could have been for various reasons. I've decided not to do this one again. So my next workshop is in May. I am going to ask what people want to do. 




Thrifting


Well, I knew  I would fall flat on my face avoiding charity shops, to be honest, I haven't been shopping as much. I am now going visiting between once to twice a week, this may sound like a lot but I used to go in at least serval times a week,. Recently, I've had some amazing finds that I couldn't resist them.

I was so happy to find this blouse, as I 've been searching for one like it for a while.  I paid £3.50, I think it was slightly overpriced since it was a Primark top, but still bought it.  




This is the most recent find, at the moment, I am in love with buttoned up blouses and I've been searching for a few this was my latest find for £3.50. 


I found this amazing skirt it has three layers of mesh. It has the fifties and lolita vibes to it so I could not resist it.  The skirt is actually a size 16, but fits quite well on my hips, due to its construction it would be a nightmare to take in. For, £3 I am defiantly not complaining. 



I found this style bag it reminded me of Mary Poppin's carpet bag and I love the fabric and print, even if it's gold, but it's more of a brassy colour than gold, I paid for £4.50.  



I found two retro sewing patterns I think both are the seventies. At the moment, I am loving the whole seventies fashions of pussy bow blouse and bishop style sleeves, without the garish seventies colour or patterns. Looking at the size I need to enlarge the patterns.  






Sewing 



The dress, I recently was sewn, it seems not to be as fitted.  This is with fault on the sewing pattern I used Simplicity  6323. Also, the shoulder seams don't lay flat and seem to bulge on my shoulders. I am going to wait till and asks for assistance from my sewing tutor to resolve it. I mastered a new technique with reverse applique. 




I've current making a top and using an old sewing pattern,


I got inspiration to make from this top  I intend to make with a double flounce cuff.  

Lola Loves Peach And Black Top With Ruffle Sleeves Medium | eBay:




Upcycling 



I found a chair in my back lanes, I thought it needs a paint job and a quick reupholster but the seat base was mouldy, gross I know. I need a new base since the straps have seen better days. I need to get some thick ply board or wood create a steady seat base and form to recover; it's a bigger job than anticipated but doable for my limited Diy skills. This my project so far. 


  

Thursday, 6 April 2017

A Night of Make Do and Mend

Last month, I was invited by the Cultural Vulture to attend a historical discussion, on Make Do and Mend during the First World War at Gateshead Central Library. 

The night was a brought alive by the passionate and wonderful Meridith Towne


The discussion celebrated the forgotten contributions of women in the home, and these women kept the home fires burning, morale going and even the country operating, while their menfolk fought in the trenches.  It seems only fitting since it was International Women's Day that week. 


Like many, I am aware of the concept of Make Do Mend and how the British Government endorsed it during the Second World War. Also, any good Victorian Lady never wasted anything. And of course, the Social classes reused everything because of a lack of money. I was surprised to learn about how prevalent Make Do and Mend was practised in the First World War.   






The lights dimmed, and Meredith entered, greeting all the audience and introducing the topic. She asked the group whether anyone was a knitter and sewer many of us nodded and raised our hands. She explained it was every women's duty to the contribute to the war effort. Ladies were expected either knit items for the army and sewers would make uniforms. 


                                     

Meredith highlighted how dismissive the British Government's attitudes were of women In the case of Dr Elsie Maud Inglis, who went to the Miltary offering her services and supplies ready to establish a field hospital; She asked the military where would they like her to go, and they responded "go home and sit still". Elise was shocked, and refused to stay at home; she offered her services to the Belgium Government, who were only too happy for the assistance.

We were taught at that time women had a limited education, which focused on learning domestic skills. Often, they would produce a sample book of their work to show to potential employers. The only occupations open to women at that time was dress making, sectoral work or service. 


The first part looked at the contribution knitting played in the war effort. Before this discussion, I would never have considered the importance of the humble knitted garments had on morale. Women originally began knitting items to send their to menfolk, while in the trenches, as the war continued, supplies started to run out. 


The Red Cross and Army asked women to knit in the military colours. Pamphlets were published on how to knit particular items like rifle mittens, hoods and amputee covers. Women were knitting at every opportunity during meetings, churches and even on public transport with the vast amounts of knitting being produced lead to women organising sorting groups. 


Many of the knitted items varied in quality which lead to odd socks and mittens needing to be paired together and removing ineffective items. This lead to knitting groups being established to teach women how to improve their knitting skills.  Often women were mocked by the media but in reality, the simple items meant the difference between life and death for the soldiers in the trenches. 






Meredith read some examples of personal letters from the soldiers, who received these care packages. Each letter had a sweet charm describing their appreciation for the packages 
which, offered great comfort and morale knowing ladies were thinking of them. 

The was a dress from 1914
Next, the discussion celebrated the contributions of women and their sewing skills. I personally found this part most interesting, since I'm a sewer. 


An interesting point was how the Red Cross and women were fighting for sphagnum moss, known for its absorbency properties. Like knitting, The Red Cross issued books instructing ladies to make bandages and basic night shirts for soldiers, that even the most basic sewers could complete.


Meredith explained that many seamstresses lost their jobs as dressmakers and had to resort to other means to make an income, with many women becoming prostitutes. As the war progressed the country started to become almost bankrupt and the Government started to encourage women to shop, which meant seamstresses found work, again, Many women adopted a make do and mend ethos.  During the 1914's dress hems were slim and narrow and they expanded, as a consequence of many women up-cycling their Granny's Victorian dresses.


 At the beginning of the war, soldiers uniforms were of higher quality as the war progressed and subscriptions were introduced the quality deteriorated. As the war progressed many of the uniforms were reused and the job was left to rag women who sorted out the uniforms since soldiers were issued them. Meredith vividly described the horrors the women encountered dealing with the uniforms; some were covered in bodily fluids, holes from bullets, metal shrapnel, some record even accounting for limbs still being attached. She emphasised at this period nobody knew what was happening, BUT, these women knew exactly what was happening. The were working long days and were paid very small amount of money for their efforts. Meredith explained offers bought their own uniforms and often were sent back to their families. One personal account describes the personal stories of one mother had the uniform burnt.           


                        
After the historical talk,  Meredith invited the audience to look closer at the items. Personally, I was mostly fascinated about the Edwardian clothing that had survived for over a century. My favourite was the old Victorian gown that was converted into a dress which still retaining the bodice jacket.  









I even learnt a new skill of combining knitting and clipping matting, consists of knitting scrap fabric together to create a rug,  Meredith's  mother made the skill look incredibly easy but I found arduous. 




Meredith brought the night alive with horror and humour to give the audience a sense the realities at the time. The touching personal letters, antidotes of women involved, contemporary artefacts of clothing and manuals from the period enhanced the human elements often lost in academia. For me Personally, it is wonderful to see younger generation becoming enthralled in history saw these memories can be carried on for the next generations. 




Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Bye bye Community Photography Class

On Saturday, my community photography class ended it was not an accredit course so there is no certificate but I assumed that. I think it's was an interesting way to bring the community together and learn some new skills. So, it's nice to have my Saturday afternoons free but I'm going to miss it , particularly the banter and the great jokes.

I am so happy I attended,  it meant I got to meet some of the locals and improved my photography skills. It gives a better understanding of the principles of photography such as light, shadow composition and how to bring emotion into my photos. The most important thing, I've taken away is perspective and how to adapt my own position to take a photograph that captures the most impact. During the course consciously, I never thought I had learnt anything until I went to Glasgow I realised subconsciously; meaning I taken fewer photos but they all seem more aesthetically appealing and a superior quality.


Here are some of my favourites.













At the end, we had to produce a small theme of three to five photographs. I chose to birds of the park. Each seems, to sums up the various emotions that the wet and damp weather can stimulate. My favourite is the one with the bird in the tree it has an eerily atmospheric the reminded me of Hitchcock's The Birds. I think this is my preference for more darker and ominous darker images. I've slightly edited the pictures with Instagram filters.






I heard mentioned a potential for community photography event to promote what we have been doing and chance for people to showcase their favorite pieces. 

Catching up, Coffee and Steam Punk

Last Month, I met up with Jane aka Breaking the Angel . We have been promising to meet up for ages but life gets in the way. Jane suggested...