Friday, December 27, 2013

hemp dress

It's been a quiet year with the blog as family has taken centre stage. We also bought a house half way through the year and started renovations, which would be a wonderful creative topic to blog on. However I felt a strong urge to keep my home private, so I'll just say that choosing paint colours is a real treat!

Revisiting 100% hemp cloth I've worked with before, I savoured tailoring this simple dress that I recently included in a photo shoot with dear Ishna Jacobs. What you see is version 1, not a perfect fit on me personally, but special enough to always get comments from strangers when I wear it. I call that a success as the form and material are very understated, just in the way I intended. And the photos are simply otherwordly, conveying a strong mood, magic seen by Ishna's eyes. I've been very inspired by Anton Corbijn's photography and that was our only starting point. We were looking for a location that would strike a balance between natural and man made, we needed complex light on a brightly lit summer's day. The goal was more portrait than fashion photography and I must say it was a thrill to relax and trust being in front of the camera, as it's something I'm quite scared of.

Monday, July 1, 2013

winter warmth - Arctic Spell

I brought some old stock with me from my recent trip to Finland. I made these tops and vests when I still lived in Finland as part of a collection called Arctic Spell.

The material is 100% wool, short furry pile with a knit base. The textile was made by a Finnish company and I've never seen it anywhere else. The buttons are thin disks of oxidised silver coloured metal.

Ville Suomaki worked his camera magic on the wintery Ruissalo beach just outside Turku. Kaisa was the perfect model, getting changed outdoors while it kept snowing... cool in every sense of the word. At least these garments are warm!
I'm setting up a shop at Felt to sell these and other garments, so you can soon click your way there to get your own!

Monday, June 24, 2013

from the archive: Smirnoff International Fashion Awards

When I was sorting through boxes of old stuff while visiting Finland, I came across this wearable arts creation from my design student days... 
It might have been 1995 when I drew three sketches to enter the Smirnoff International Fashion Awards and was one of the ten that got accepted to the national final. The jury chose this design out of the three (it actually wasn't my own favourite) and I had a couple of months to make it. I called the ensemble Verso (Sprout) and made it out of little wooden pegs. I spent my summer holidays drilling a hole in each peg lengthways, stained them darker and then threaded them together into a net-like structure... 

I loved the way the structure made a wooden "textile" that draped well. By the time it came to making the metallic undergarment I had run out of steam and never really liked the way that part turned out. I still love the wooden shoulder piece and should really keep it and maybe take some photos of it worn with a simple dress.

The whole competition was a wonderful experience in itself, with trips to the capital with a wonderful fellow student Tytti Thusberg who I still count as a good friend and who ended up winning and travelling to South Africa with her felt creation to represent Finland in the International event. The jury included some well known journalists and other fashion folk, including the then Marimekko CEO Kirsti Paakkanen.
I was already upcycling and made myself a dress out of an old curtain found in a Kuopio charity shop. For some reason it ended up as part of our graduation show in Helsinki about a year later, where someone from the audience bought it. I wonder if the pattern in still lurking in my stash, as I made a nice job with the neck/shoulderline!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My oh my it's been quiet here this year. Not a peep since January *blush*.

To bring the blog to up to date I'll have to start by a little follow up on the Black Nightshade experiment, where I used ripe berries to dye a fine silk scarf. The good news is the scarf has had quite a bit of wear since then. The very pale pinkish colour from Pineapple Sage got a deeper slightly bronzy hue, which happens to go very well with my natural hair colour. I've seen that many times before: when plant dyed garments match your own colouring, they can be unusually flattering and very easy to combine with other colours in your wardrobe (providing they suit you too). It's quite baffling how a basically boring beige scarf can do anything for you, but you never know until you try it on!

I was taking a short leave from blogging, but I totally dropped the habit when my previous laptop gave up the ghost. It's amazing how you can keep yourself connected on a little fruity gadget, but eventually I was very relieved to move on from mini-size.

Another distraction was going for a quick dash overseas...
To visit family in Finland. It had been almost 5 years from my previous visit and the jump from late summer straight into a snow flurry was quite an experience. I picked up a rental car from the airport and headed straight into the traffic on snowy roads, on the other side of the road... Thankfully I wasn't particularly jet-lagged, so I got myself to the destination all safe and sound.
During my brief stay I feasted on sights of Marimekko and Arabia designs, planning what to purchase on my next visit, which will be very soon! There's so many cool colours to choose from (Iittala Kastehelmi)...
Not only revisiting the design heritage I grew up with, I had many boxes of things from my design studies to go through. Sketches, cloth, garments and patterns got sorted and packed and what wasn't thrown away, I shipped here! More on that later.

After travels I've been busy with preparations to buy the house I've been living in for a couple of years. Ooh I love making plans for improvements! After lots of budgeting and getting reports and quotes the process finally reached the settlement day, which means we've got our house! The kitchen upgrade plans have come along nicely. I look forward to showing you some before and afters in a couple of months! 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

withches brew - black nightshade

I started this year with preparing for a withces brew... Some black nightshade plants had gone under my radar hiding beneath the feijoa bushes. Now the plants were tall and the berries ripe for picking. Yes! Let me explain.
I found a book on natural dyes at the Founders book fair some months ago. I was browsing through it with the intention that I might discover something new that I have easy access to. I was quite sceptical when I spotted Black Nighshade (Solanum nigrum) berries among sources for purple. It is generally considered poisonous, not as dangerously so as Deadly Nighshade, but not one to mess around with. It's also a nuisance in gardens as it self seeds so readily, as the ripe berries fall when you disturb the plant.  
I had just discovered that some young plants had appeared along my back border = handy supply of material for testing. But I was concerned about the health and safety when being exposed to the fumes from the dye bath and also possible skin reactions when wearing items dyed with said plant. After an afternoon of Googling I had discovered that Black Nightshade might not be such a meanie after all. Both the young leaves and ripe berries are used as a food source in some parts of the world. Some daredevils who had tasted the berries reported them delicious and some had even made pie or jam with them... Now as I don't have any desire to turn this into a cautionary tale, I didn't taste any, but the berries smell nice when crushed. You've got to keep in mind that there are 1,500-2,000 species under the solanum genus and many different varieties of nightshade, only some of which are edible, according to Wikipedia. Which particular variety I have growing in my NZ garden is not known to me, but I'm suspecting it's unlikely to be exactly the same as the kinds commonly eaten in Africa or South America. Take care and be sure what it is you are tasting if you are keen! And then share with others how that went. My mission is to find out if the plant is of interest as a source for dye, and I handle it with gloves on in the process.

The first lot of plants got culled by a gardener who was not aware of my intentions. But as is the nature of nighshade, the second generation is alive and kicking.
 Here's my first harvest. 
Hapa zome on silk previously solar dyed with pineapple sage.
 The jury is still out, but I'll let you know how it goes.
Have you tried dyeing with this plant before?

new year - together

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and abundant 2013! ♥♥♥
If you want to go fast, go alone.
If you want to go far, go together...

The quote and picture above really stopped me in my tracks today. Together would be a natural theme for the coming year, as that was what I most enjoyed about 2012.  I'm reminiscing working with Strands, the photo shoot with Ishna and Noa and my lovely colleagues at Playcentre. Thank you all for being in my life! I feel a little sting in my heart knowing how often I have chosen to go my own way at various points in my life. I suppose I'm learning when it's the right time to do that and when it's better to stick together. I so look forward to what this year will bring for us all!
A year ago I was thinking about Durga and Kali. Integrating the full feminine power was a strong undercurrent all year and it inspired me in my work as well, not as blatantly as I planned it to, but it was there nevertheless. 
The festive season has been full of quality time with kids and late nights by the computer. I discovered Pinterest some months ago but only started using it now. OMG it's so much fun! Hours of fun! It's dawned on me how the variety of social media caters for different styles. Twitter has never interested me, but as you can't get more visual than Pinterest - I'm in! While sifting through photos I've been sorting out my music collection at the same time. And making plans for a website! Shopping for a font is such a treat, like trying on different personalities.
Bring it on 2013!