Inlight Glass Fusion Workshop

A couple of weeks ago, my mum and I had the BEST DAY EVER(!!) at an ornament making workshop held by Chantal of Inlight at her studio in Hove.  

I found the workshop on Groupon and got it as a Christmas present for my mum – I had to tag along of course, just to make sure she was enjoying herself. My mum is like me, and loves anything crafty or creative. She’s also always happy to have a nice day out. We were joined by another mother and daughter combo, these ones had both received the workshop for Christmas from their daughter/sister. 

The three hour session started with cups of tea, and an explanation from Chantal about the basics of glass fusion, what we could do with our glass, and what effects different decorations would have on the finished product. Before we went, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but I was quite worried about serious burns from molten glass, and the effect that those might have on my life. 

I needn’t have worried, as it turns out that you start with a solid sheet of glass, which you cut into the shapes you want. First of all, we drew out some templates and practised cutting them out on sheets of cheaper glass, then, once Chantal had checked our work, and explained how to avoid any of our mistakes in future, we were set loose on our allocated bit of nice glass.

The technique used involved scoring the shape you want into the glass, before snapping the excess off with some pliers. This was a bit scary at first, but it all worked out fine, and we were soon cutting out squares, icicles, owls and birdies to our hearts content. Once cut out, they were decorated with small bits of glass, copper wire or foil, special paint, and silver glitter.

There were so many ideas floating round, not to mention Chantal’s beautiful work hanging above us, it was hard to decide what to do!I settled on a crazy-eyed red owl, an abstract square and a blue bird, while mum went for a partridge, a blobby rectangle, and a kitty cat (modelled on her own cat, Hank).  It’s funny how we both work in such different ways – she’s much more abstract in her designs, whereas I like everything to line up very neatly (strangely, I’m the messy one). You can see my designs after and before cooking at the top, and mum’s below.

Chantal took our creations away and cooked them in her kiln, before we picked them up a few days later. I was really pleased with how they turned out, and I loved the opportunity to try out a different craft for the day.

I’d love to go back and try another of the workshops – the jewellery making one really caught my eye!

To Do…

…in no particular order. 

Beachy Tunic

My first proper vintage creation is cut out and ready to go! The fabric is the grey stuff which I got in France, but my God, I wish it was skunk print. I got the ribbon in Fabric Land (do NOT click on that link if you have epilepsy), and it’s not exactly what I wanted, but it hurts my eyes a little bit, and that can only be a good thing. 

Jiffy II
I love this dress. I love this dress so much. I got this cotton for about £3/metre in Fabric Land (surprise!). I’d planned to make a different dress with it, but I need a dynasty of Jiffys in my life. I’m going to try out my alterations from Jiffy I, leave off the collar and buttons, and I’m wondering about including the additional excitement of an exposed zip. 
Growing up in the woods, I used to live opposite a girl called Kelly. She was a few years older than me, but she’d come to my birthday parties and stuff. Her family had some ferrets and a dog called Piper. I wonder where she is now.
This skirt doesn’t have any ferrets, more’s the pity, but it does have some polyester/nylon blend corduroy (guess where that came from). I need a winter skirt and it’s time I learnt to make buttonholes.
I was planning to make this for my friend’s wedding last summer, but it never quite happened. The design is absolutely beautiful, and I love this fabric (John Lewis), so I think it’s time to do something about getting the two of them together to form a meaningful relationship. 

Lumberjack Shirt
This is, I think, literally the last piece of plaid brushed cotton available in Brighton and Hove (thank you C and H Fabrics). It is also, according to the pattern, not big enough, but if I have to live with one sleeve, I have to live with one sleeve.
The original idea was a shirt for Ben, but the lack of man-fabric caused too many problems, so I changed my plans to an Archer for myself. Then I saw this pattern in my sewing bee book, and decided it was close enough to what I wanted. Who needs cuffs, anyway?

Pierre Balmain
Oh, Pierre. How you intimidate me. I had to take my mum and auntie shopping to finally reach a decision on the fabric to use for this. I left my flat with plans for a light wool with some kind of pattern, which, somewhere between Fabric Land and C and H, turned into maybe a plain crepe in rust. But my refusal to pay more than £10/metre led me to this pink jersey with grey flecks through it.  Having never sewn anything stretchy before, I can’t help thinking I may have bitten off more than I can chew. On the plus side, it is so, so soft, so if the dress doesn’t work out very well, then at least I shall have an excellent nightie.
Here’s a close up of the loveliness:

Animals of Farthing Wood Dress

I just need to put this out there – THIS IS THE HAPPIEST I’VE EVER BEEN WITH ANYTHING I’VE EVER MADE!!! You can probably tell that from the big old sulk on my chops, not to mention the fact that I forgot to iron the dress, and may have potentially forgotten to brush my hair as well.

Initially, things were going quite well with this dress. I bought this massive blue sheet in a charity shop for under a fiver, ordered the Jiffy 1609 pattern online after spending about four hours browsing the Simplicity site, decided to use up some scraps on the collar, and then became overwhelmed with insecurity about which scraps I should use. 

Along came Ben, who declared the red floral print I was holding up against the blue to be too obvious a choice, and asked why exactly I hadn’t already decided to use that deer print fabric I had hanging around.

Work commenced. I drove to my mum’s house every day while my sewing machine was being repaired so I could get the dress finished in time for a party, I used Gertie’s tutorial for making the collar, and everything was going swimmingly. I’m not a big fan of scalloped edges, but I decided to give them a try in order to make the dress a bit more exciting. I’m still not entirely sold on them, to be honest. 

Then I got sick, and then I christened it the Animals of Farthing Wood Dress, and then I remembered how sad that book and TV show were, and how much eight year old Laura cried over every death. Oh, yeah, and then I tried it on without the back seam sewn up and it looked like a tent (surprise!!). A tent of death!

So it sat on Alan, my dressmaker’s dummy, for a few weeks. An important fact to note about Alan is his ability to make any garment look disappointing. For someone set up to my measurements, he sure manages to take the form of nothing human.

Eventually, I decided to just get on with it. Anything was better than looking at it every day! I sewed up the back and put a zip in with relative success (for me). At least it isn’t so dreadful that I felt the need to redo it. Then I held it up against myself and it looked tiny. I wasn’t sure it was going to fit. I didn’t want to try my new dress on if it wasn’t going to fit.

Yeah, fits almost perfectly. As this handy picture shows, there’s a bit of gaping around the back of the neck, which I reckon could be resolved by increasing the size of the neck darts, and I think future versions could benefit from a sway back adjustment, or possibly I could just use a shorter zip which would get rid of the bum bump weirdness (it just gets a bit tucked under whenever I move). I’m kind of working with the ‘give my improvements a try and see what happens’ process at the moment.  What a good job Ben didn’t take the nice picture of the back looking all nice that I’d asked for! 

The only other slight disappointment is that, despite my best efforts, the deer are not quite symmetrical on the collar. However, nobody else seems to notice, even after it’s pointed out to them, so I guess I can live with that. My step dad has even commented on how much he likes the deer collar (well, that’s his Christmas present sorted). 

The shape of this dress is absolutely my style. Look in my wardrobe and you’ll find a line of shop bought dresses in the same shape. This is already a firm favourite in my wardrobe, and considering that it is really not season appropriate, it’s already been worn out of the house twice! Just think how much use this bad boy’s going to get come summer.

We took these pictures in the grounds of Hove Museum & Art Gallery. I’ve yet to go inside, but the small garden is lovely and peaceful. Apparently, the inside contains toys, pioneering film ephemera, local history and fine art displays.

The thing I’m leaning against is the Jaipur Gate, which was at the entrance to the Rajasthan section of the Colonial and Indian Exhibition, held in London in 1886. It was donated to the museum in 1926, although I don’t exactly understand why, or what it has to do with the rest of the exhibits. Maybe I should go inside and see if I can find out?

As photoshoots go, taking pictures by a local landmark on a busy road is probably a good way to crush any shyness out of your system. PEOPLE STARED!! A VAN DRIVER STOPPED TO WATCH!! I think I will continue this trend, working my way around Brighton’s highlights. Maybe we’ll have another nice day for dressing up and taking photos before the West Pier falls completely into the sea??!?

I Have Been Shopping

Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge
I’ve given in and bought a couple of vintage patterns. I’d been avoiding it for a while, as I can’t start buying patterns because they’re pretty and then not making them. Thankfully, Marie from A Stitching Odyssey came up with the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge. Now I’m forced to sew these babies!
So, during 2014, I will sew both of these patterns. What patterns? Let me show you. I got both of them for a fiver, which seemed reasonable. Hopefully all the pieces are in the pack! 
First, I have Very Easy Very Vogue 7808, ca. 1970. I’m planning to make view A in a light grey cotton with some nice fluorescent ribbon to cheer it up. The grey cotton was purchased in the shop where I resisted the skunks, and honestly, the skunks would probably have been used more quickly. The grey has been languishing in the bottom of my stash like a raincloud for a year. I want this to be something to throw over my bikini while on holiday, and I think the style will be perfect for that. 
My other purchase was Vogue Paris Original 2794, a Pierre Balmain design from 1971. I’m not sure if I’m a long dress person; I’m actually struggling to work out whether I’ve ever worn a long dress. I do know that I’d like to be a long dress person, and I’m fairly sure that this little beauty is going to be the right pattern to test my long dress wearing out on. My birthday is in April, and I’m sure I can think of something fancy enough to do which will involve wearing this dress.

2:365 ucki ood Book

Last year, my friend Missy, part of ucki ood, set herself the ambitious project of painting a small canvas each day for a year. Seventeen years ago, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and this project has been part of her opening up to friends and family and speaking publicly about the condition for the first time. 
I’ve seen glimpses of the work throughout the year, including the first 120 pieces displayed in Brussels last year, and have been impressed at every step by the range of the work, and the effort which Missy has put into the project.
Now, ucki ood are in the process of turning this body of work into a book. They’re looking for funding through Kickstarter, and are offering fantastic rewards in return for support. In return for just $10, supporters will receive a bundle of five high quality postcards with selected images from the book, with higher levels of support being rewarded with anything from calendars to oil painted reproductions of the work, as well as signed first editions of the book.

Not only is this a fantastic piece of work, but anything which breaks down the stigma associated with mental health issues is fine by me. If you’re interested in art, would like to welcome more public awareness of bipolar disorder, or just have some money burning a hole in your back pocket, then head over to ucki ood’s Kickstarter page and have a little look.
One day, I hope that everyone will feel able to open up about their mental health if they want to, knowing they will be supported by family and friends. My friend is bipolar, and she’s perfect to us, the people who know and love her.

All pictures: ucki ood