This week I had the opportunity to spend another day greeting visitors to the National Trust Property, Rippon Lea. This year the exhibition was of costumes from the popular ABC television series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.
While I was there I had the honour of meeting Marion Boyce, costume designer for Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. She was every bit as vibrant and pleasant as this video indicates and was happy to answer my questions, even though I was just a lowly volunteer.
I spent part of my volunteer day in the accessories room, guarding Miss Fisher’s pearl-handled pistol which was required to be under supervision at all times there was a visitor present, even though it was secured in a glass case. The rest of my time was spent out with the garments, mostly in the room set up to look like Marion Boyce’s work room. She told me that each episode must be put together in 16 weeks, so her work room must be a busy one. The exhibition work room was a popular part of the exhibition that inspired many of the visitors to remember the hat boxes and dresses in their own family histories.
Here are a few photos of the costumes. All were constructed to a very high standard. Godets and bias cuts featured strongly in the dresses and boas and scarves accentuated most garments.
Photography was permitted (no flash) so I took may chance after the exhibition closed.
I bought an inkle loom at the Handweavers and Spinners Guild Textile Bazaar a year or so back and at some later stage I got my hands on a copy of Inkle Weaving by Lavinia Bradley. It’s not a bad book but it could be improved by taking a detailed step by step approach to key elements such as warping the loom.
I decided that this morning would be a good time to have a play. The power was out at home so it was a perfect time to sit down by the window and try an off-grid experiment.
First I made my leashes – single loop string heddles, made by making a circle between two of the pins on the inkle loom and tying them off with a knot. I used surgeon’s knot rather than a reef knot and an ashamed to report that my knot work was so poor that one of my leashes came apart in the first 15 minutes.
For the warp I used a linen that was uneven in thickness. It wasn’t a great choice and for my next attempt I’ll probably grab some cotton or wool, something that’s a bit thicker than the linen. I found that the sheds were hard to open as the linen was a bit slubby. The knots on my leashes didn’t help either and I should have placed them out of the way.
Next time try a thicker warp
I tried three wefts, a very fine one cotton one, a slightly thicker cotton one and then a thicker woolen one. This was the only weft that gave an even remotely satisfactory result.
It was a good start and I learned a lot. With a different warp and weft selection I’m hoping the result of my next experiment will be at least be usable.
The inkle loom is simple technology, and easy to learn, but mastery clearly takes more than a couple of hours. That’s a lesson I have to re-learn frequently.
Forgive me, dear readers, for the long break between posts. Life got in the way rather badly and there have been very few opportunities for creative output this year so far. In fact there have only been limited opportunities for that poor substitute– buying craft books and supplies. I did make it along to the Handweavers and Spinners Guild Textile Bazaar in early May, where I found a fantastic Handwoven magazine from the 1980’s with a technically detailed write-up on twills which was well worth the $1 investment.
Life got in the way in terms of three funerals in the last 6 months, one of which I officiated. It is truly surprising what you can do when you have to. I would never have thought I could run a funeral service but I had had enough recent exposure to bereavement to be able offer to officiate as a service to the bereaved husband.
Back to the business of crafting, I transported a framed family photograph in a suitcase recently and the glass shattered in transit. Intending to replace the glass, we removed the backing on the frame and found hidden treasure.
Hidden Treasure Revealed
The photograph I was transporting was taken in the 1940’s or 1950’s I believe and by that time this souvenir weaving from the 1909 Stockholm Craft Exhibition must have been so old-fashioned, so my ancestor flipped the sturdy cardboard around and used the souvenir silk weaving as a backing board for the photo. According to wikipedia the exhibition featured all kinds of interior design, crafts and architecture, and had a restaurant illuminated by that great new invention, the electric light. The photos on the wikipedia entry show that the weaving is of buildings erected for the exhibition, possibly the main entrance or what is called the terrace in the photo below, licensed by under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
“Konstindustriutst 1909 terrass” av Svenska Slöjdföreningen – Svensk Form, Stockholm.
As an additional bonus, the weaving was made by Almgrens weaving works that we visited in Stockholm in 2013.
This one has been a long time in the making, even by my standards. It was intended for a male friend’s fortieth birthday and that friend is now 42. It’s a good thing he got an interim gift to tide him over.
The quilt is made using a Robert Kaufman Roll-Up, comprising 40 strips and equivalent to 2.8 yards, according to the label. I was disappointed at how ‘thin’ the strips were – they barely measured 2 1/2″ wide even at the pointiest bit of the zig-zagged edge and I had to adjust my cutting to allow for this. I wasn’t happy about that.
I used the Mineral Mining Colorstory (RU-182-40) and feel happy that it looks manly. The blue is homespun from my stash, bought originally at Spotlight. Next time I’d make the blue frame a little narrower. The Pam & Nicky Lintott pattern didn’t call for a border but I wanted to make a visual separation between the batiks.
My friend has a black leather couch, which is why I chose the black batik border and used the same for the backing. I hope he likes it.
No crafting for us this weekend. Instead, we went to Hobart, Tasmania to admire the handiwork of a very large number of highly skilled boatbuilders and designers at the Australian Wooden Boat Festival. The festival was huge, drawing some 200,000 visitors and what felt like almost as many boats, ranging from tiny tenders to massive tall ships.
To keep the theme of textiles, the photo below shows one of the crew of the Yukon doing an emergency sail repair.
Sail Repair on the Yukon
Posted in Journal
Soumak, packed fleece, the Sehna knot and twill in opposites (also called shadow weave, I believe – leave a comment if I’m wrong) were the techniques presented in Advanced Rug Weaving workshop at the 2015 Handweavers and Spinners Guild of Victoria Summer School. We also learned a clever and speedy technique for making clasped weave. This two day workshop was led by the remarkable Gerlinde Binning, an experienced weaver with masses of in-depth knowledge of the craft and her highly skilled friend and assistant Pat Jones. Both women did an excellent job of explaining and demonstrating the techniques and were available for questions and problem solving at all times.
Class sampler – day 1: Soumak. Sehna knot and clasped weave still to come.
Gerlinde told us that her objective for this year’s workshop was to have fun, and we did have fun. The pace of learning was just right with a couple of hours to learn and practise each technique but with the option of continuing working on any earlier technique that we particularly liked. Most of us had attended the rug weaving summer school last year so there were a few familiar faces.
I’m ashamed to say that I still had the warp on my table loom from last year’s class and I decided to press on with that, even though I didn’t have a long warp left. I’m a slow, deliberate learner so was pretty confident it wouldn’t run out. And it didn’t.
We covered a couple of finishing techniques and I’m hoping to practise those now that I’m back home from the workshop.
It’s a shame summer only comes around once a year.
I spent a day volunteering at Rippon Lea House and Gardens in Melbourne recently, taking tickets, providing directions and chatting to visitors at the Love Desire and Riches exhibition.
The display of 50 famous and rarely seen wedding gowns and accessories was a popular one, with almost only women coming along. The house itself is magnificent, with beautiful polychrome brickwork and stunning stained glass. I love the way the veils appeared to float in the stairwell.
One room was dedicated to wedding gown design and construction. That was a disappointment with very few items on display and those seeming quite randomly selected, and a mixture of old and new. There’s an interesting story to be told about wedding gown construction and the many steps along the way but this room failed to tell it. That was particularly disappointing when you consider that one of Melbourne’s leading wedding couturiers was a major sponsor of the exhibition.
Of greatest interest to me was a mauve toned dress that is part of the Trust’s Costume Collection. I don’t have a photo unfortunately but it was a beautifully made Victorian gown and I learned that mauve, as the colour of mourning was often worn by a bride marrying a widower, though this did not apply to the bride in this particular case. Maybe she just liked mauve.
There was also a couture gown worn by Princess Marie Chantal of Greece on display. Apparently it’s a popular item because it was worn by a ‘real princess.’