Sunday, 28 September 2014

S E V E N _ W A Y S

This is what I've been working on this morning - working on creating them. 
I will now work on applying them.

Monday, 8 September 2014

The Pepper Weave Experience

I started writing a blog post about my dressmaking experience. The Kafka Dress, I have named it, due to its metamorphic realisation. The post has been written, but all posts are a little flat without images that are both relevant and appealing.

A relevant and appealing image.
The above image is relevant because for the past eight days or so, I've had a migraine. I first started getting migraines around the age of 13, so I know how to handle them (head stands, dark sunglasses and coffee work best for me). But they have got in the way of finishing my blog post.

I want to try on the dresses, model them, to give a proper report on the outcome of my project.

Part of the report, though was the fabric shopping trip my sister and I took while in London. I've decided to write about that now, using images borrowed from the net.

After the decision had been made to shop for fabric, Mandy made a preliminary search, and found a shop that has really good reviews, Dalston Mill Fabrics. Highly recommended!

Now, Dalston Mill Fabrics is on the same road that hosts Ridley Street Market, or Dalston Market as it’s also known. We arrive to find the most bizarre collection of market stalls and shops, selling freshly caught mackerel, strange vegetables, bunches of dried grass and freshly baked naan bread (3 for a pound!). 

Some of the 'stalls' are shipping containers that have been bisected and lined with chipboard. Some of these shipping containers have been furnished with a conference chair to become a weave salon. (For those who aren’t sure what a weave salon is, it's where women, primarily women of Afro-Caribbean origin or descent, have their hair braided with hair extensions).

One such weave salon also offers plastic bowls filled with bright red peppers. Honestly. It's really hard to explain the extreme curiousness of the place. I should have taken photos, but I’m not one hundred per cent certain that I wouldn’t have been accused of stealing someone’s soul.

We soon find the fabric shop, staffed with jovial, helpful employees and stacked from floor to ceiling with bales of every type of fabric imaginable (although, strangely, no viscose?).

Again armed with my colour fan, my heart is eagerly seduced by the linen. Having learnt my lesson with the first two dresses I made, with white thread, I ask for thread to match my purchases. The shop assistant disappears to the back of the shop and we wait.

While we wait, we explore the back and upper annals of the shop, to find a dizzying selection of wool, silk, buttons, zips, ribbons, braiding, etc.

A picture of a Bale, though not a bale of linen.

We return to the front of the shop, and still we wait, entertained briefly by an argument over a piece of lace trimming.

Our shop assistant reappears. She has matched the thread with our fabric so expertly! All but one, Mandy's dark, petrol blue linen. She confesses to Mandy that she couldn't find the exact match and Mandy tells her a close match would do. She disappears again and soon returns with what looks to us like an exact match!
I say again, Dalston Mill Fabrics, Ridley Road, Dalston, London E6. Highly recommended!

A conference chair.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

The Reality of Minimalism (or The Acceptance of Imperfection)

Reading this article from The Art of Manliness was a joy. It states clearly many of the points I’ve thought of addressing myself, and many I have addressed already. But I had a nagging concern which prompted me to write this post.
The one aspect of minimalism not addressed in the piece, is for me the most relevant. That is the spiritual aspect of it. Now, I don’t like the word spiritual because of what it conjures up. I like to hold to practical, solid notions that have tangible effects. By spiritual, I mean the Zen aspect of minimalism, the act of respecting space and objects.

Yes, modern minimalism can be nothing more than a show of wealth, ironically. I think the minimalism in the McKay’s article is the consumerist minimalism, which conjures up lots of white plastic and smooth concrete, glass and untreated wood, which, yes, requires a great deal of wealth. The character depicted in the piece who travels with nothing but a wallet, buying whatever they need as they need it, is far from what I would call a minimalist.

I was raised poor, wearing my sisters' and brother's hand-me-downs and jumble sale clothes. After my husband and I divorced, I lived in a rented two bed house with my daughter and no job. I still had no money. I desperately wanted to move to be closer to friends and family and finally found a small flat, a little white box, open plan, lots of light… It took me six months to pack and sort through the junk of the house and, when I finally moved, I had only the minimum of belongings. I didn’t hang on to things in case I needed it later. I didn’t buy in bulk. We lived an impoverished, minimalist life. I worked on respecting the objects that came into my possession. I cared for things that were worthy of it and discarded things that weren’t.

This is similar to my old flat.

It's an easy mistake to make, to think that minimalism is about high design and newness. A true minimalist, in my opinion, travels with one or two expertly designed and made objects/products/devices, which he cherishes and takes care of, to ensure that no harm comes to them. They last for years and don't need to be replaced or upgraded often, thus the 'purge of the old' isn't necessary. It's not a fashion to be subscribed to or a trend. It's much deeper, more abiding.

The Japanese art of kintsukuroi, 
repairing broken ceramics with gold.

Objects have souls. The idea that one can purchase a thing only to discard it later is the antithesis of true minimalism. The Japanese term Wabi-sabi centres on the acceptance of imperfection.

While the dream for many of us may be to live in one of those superior white environments, the reality of imperfection is much more likely and, in a way, much more rewarding.