Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Nutty Appley Parrotts?!

Yesterday I had a day's takeover at the Nutty Parrott Studio at Walford Mill Crafts. The studio is the shared space of Caroline Parrott and Wendy Nutt, who are both lovely and extremely talented ladies!
During my takeover, I (wo)manned the shop for them and was able to use the space to create some of my own work too. Here's me outside the studio:
Nutty Appley Parrott?
And here's the bug brooches that I was working on whilst I was there:
These will be available to buy soon from my Etsy store, or directly from me. They are designed from one of my original illustrative drawings, then laser cut onto specially chosen materials (wood and acrylic) in a fabulous colour pallet, then the bug brooches are hand finished with a hand painted, handmade bead and a handmade tassel all made by me! I also 'embroider' them a bit with patterns through holes in their bodies. These are really fun, oversized statement jewellery, not intended for the faint of heart!
But back to Nutty Parrott - it's a really great space to work in; calm and decorated by Caroline and Wendy with inspiring bits and bobs and all their gorgeous work. I had a few visitors who came to browse and chat, so that was nice. I'm scheduled for some more shifts there, which I will look forward to very much!

In other news I have also come across a very fabulous picture of me from Mardi Gras last weekend in which you can see my full outfit including the elusive feathered leg cuffs!
Photo by Graham Reading

Monday, 3 July 2017

Working at the New Carnival Company: Final Chapter: Carnival Time!

My time at the New Carnival Company has come to an end. I'm now back home in Dorset, feeling a little discombobulated after the Mardi Gras yesterday but very grateful and happy to have been involved in this incredible event!
On Friday we focussed on finishing Gina's elephant. When I arrived in the morning she had already made him tusks and eyelids:
Gina and George / Ellie / Bob
I started the day by making heck loads of ruffles from sequinned fabric:
We also had a make-up artist come in and test out face painting ideas on us for the next day. It was nice to have a mini pamper after we'd been working such long hours! Then Gina and I draped a headdress for him which was upcycled from a duvet cover:
And I used my sewing skills to sew that and the ruffles together while Gina finished the details and decorated him beautifully:
Later I finished a few little touches for my peacock costume (leg cuffs and final headdress adjustments) and was very surprised to be presented with a card and beautiful elephant necklace from the NCC staff:

I was even more surprised that they sang the happy birthday song since it wasn't my birthday! Heh heh! They did a lovely presentation and said very kind words and I'm very pleased and grateful that I'll have a treasure to always remember my time there.
Later we checked our to-do list for anything we had missed (nothing):
All finished!
So we had a little celebration with wine and a disco! We were joined by Zach who is a carnival regular and also currently doing some work with the NCC.
The next morning was the big day that we'd all been working so hard towards! When I arrived in the morning Gina had been at it again and created the most beautiful eyes for Ellie:
These were only made from a coppery foil and sequins, but what an incredible effect that totally brought the elephant to life! Next we loaded up the truck with all the costumes that we needed, along with tables, chairs, tools, equipment, gazebos and decorations for the site at Ryde school. Then Gina, Zach and I went in the carnival truck to set up, along with all the other staff and volunteers:
Carnival Truck!
When we arrived we had to prepare the site for everyone to arrive. This is the site beforehand, basically just a fabulous field with amazing views:
It was also the day of the Round the Island Race and we could see some of the boats sailing past as we worked.
We were split up into teams and my first team job was to erect the VIP tent. This was no mean feat as we were faced with a pile of poles that all looked very similar, but no instructions! The poles were numbered so eventually we figured it out with logic and process of elimination:
The next job was to unpack all the costumes from the big truck and lay them out ready for dressing up! Here's some of them ready to go!
Colour and Chaos!
After that it was lunch time and I must say the NCC's Alison put on a lovely feast for us, thanks Alison!
I don't really have any more photos of the event unfortunately, as I had to put my belongings in a safe place for later on... but I do have a photo of how my outfit turned out:
Photo by NCC
This was more or less it minus a few details. There's more great pics over at the Island Echo website, including one of Mary in the finished elephant and another of me in the distance accompanying the peachicks from Lanesend School! They didn't know I'd be walking with them until they turned up on the day and they were all very chuffed and excited and kept asking me if the feathers were real and how much they weighed and that sort of thing. These photos (and video) are great because if you've never been it really shows you the scale of the whole event, how many people from all walks of life took part and came to watch and all the costumes, colours, textures, excitement and fabulousness of it all.
I also had my face painted like a peacock princess by Lisa of the face painting team:
This photo was taken after the event so some of the make up has worn off including my blue lips, but you get the general gist, right? I loved it and felt very glam!
The actual parade part was very fun, I tried to put in lots of energy and dance moves and keep people entertained, casting a voodoo princess peacock spell on the crowd, letting people take pictures of me if they wanted to and waving to all the doggies and kids. Afterwards it was a quick de-robe, then loading all the costumes back into the big truck. Here's Coral and me inside the big truck:
Look at all the sparkle!
Then after loading all the gear back into Carnival HQ it was a quick goodbye and off I popped onto a ferry and home! I've had the most incredible time, been burnt (hotel incident with kettle), bitten (bugs) and bruised (clumsy) and am still exhausted and drained, but it was so worth it for everything I learnt and the great new friends I've made. If you'd asked me a couple of weeks ago whether I could design and make my own costume, dance in a parade and help other people do those things then I probably would have had doubts... but as it turns out I totally can do those things! Another big thank you to the New Carnival Company for having me and making me feel part of the team and an extra big thank you to Gina who took me under her wing, showed me the way of the carnival and was a great teacher, always taking the time to explain how and why to do things, even when we were sooo busy! How, where and when I'll use the skills I've learnt remains to be seen but as I'll be teaching quite a lot over the summer I'm sure I'll put my new knowledge to good use!

To find out more about The New Carnival Company you can go to their website or Facebook.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Working at the New Carnival Company: Part Five!

We've been pulling some early mornings and late nights at the New Carnival Company to get ready for Mardi Gras on Saturday. I've been making very good progress on my peacock costume, which is great as it means I won't be naked during the parade!!! Ooh er!

On tuesday we were all very happy and excited in the morning because the NCC were granted their creative programme funding from the Arts Council! Congratulations NCC! Here's Gina pouring out our celebratory breakfast:
Aw yisss!
Here's me enjoying it:
I worked on my headpiece, arranging the various feathers out carefully before the final Gluing:
Here's a rare photo of me enjoying the feathered headpiece:
In the end I trimmed down that very tall middle feather slightly as it was a bit obnoxiously long(!) and added an extra blue piece in the middle of the base structure. This is what they (in carnival-land) refer to as the 'Rio' style headpiece; e.g. an explosion of feathers!
Here it is finished:
Meanwhile Gina inspected Queen Vic's innards! Here's the giant Queen Victoria puppet lying on her operating table:
I love this picture because you can see all the detail that was put into the puppet - the eyes, inside the mouth and the trimmings and trinkets! Truly beautiful. This is what Queenie looks like inside:
A spider's web of tape, willow, wire and metal! While this was happening I finished off the peacock's 'wings' or backpack (as it's known in carnival-land). Here's a before picture:
And after:
Generally it looks a little more healthy and plumped out. It's hard to see because of all the background noise, so you'll have to take my word for it until I'm able to get a good shot of the full outfit that it looks great!
We also had a visitor on Tuesday in the form of this fella:
A baby pigeon that didn't seem to want to leave us all day!

Wednesday was mostly taken up with the refurbishment of the African Queen costume. Here she is looking a little sad before we started:
I worked with lovely Coral re-vamping her ears and hat. Here's some work-in-progress shots:
We used lovely sequins fabric and fresh foam shapes to replace the tired and tarnished old ones. It's amazing what a difference it made as you can see in the photo above - the old one being on the left and the new on  the right. And this is the African Queen when we'd more or less finished with her:
She looks a bit perkier and more colourful I think. Later on I made a waterfall style skirt out of this fabric:
Pictures to come!

Today (Thursday) I worked on my peacock while Gina and the Equals ladies worked hard on their elephant. First I worked on my codpiece and belt which I made from scratch:
And I also made a feathery tail to go with it (it's upside down in this picture for storage!):
Gina and the gang made fantastic progress with the elephant:
From this...
To this!
That's Mary modelling it who will be wearing it on the day. And all those decorations on either side were hand made today by the team; he's going to look absolutely incredible when he's finished. We'll be working on him tomorrow to finish bits and bobs including his facial features. Here's another picture of him from a different angle:
I can't wait to see him all finished and will be very proud to say that I was there when he was born and that I had a teeny part in making him! (I cut out some of those white and yellow shapes you see there!) I especially like the texture of his skin, the pink lotus flowers and the yellow feathery twiddles coming out of his sides. And his ears. His ears are fab.
That's it for now. I'm still very much enjoying my time at the NCC and want to put in as much work as I can to get the most out of my trip. I'm learning lots about costumes, carnival and Indian culture... did you know that chess originated in India? I didn't!

Monday, 26 June 2017

Working at the New Carnival Company: Part 4!

Today was the first day of the final push towards Mardi Gras day! With only 4 days to go, we'll be putting the finishing touches onto costumes and making everything fabulous and gorgeous this week. Today started by finishing off these spicy little numbers for the Viva Carnival Club that we started last monday:
After that it was time for a team meeting; starting to plan the actual logistics of carnival day. There's a lot to do; making sure everyone knows where they need to be at what time, decorating, entertainment and refreshments... as a carnival newbie it's all fresh to me but I shall do my best to keep up!

Next I finished the feathered friend I started on wednesday [for before pictures, you can click here]:

It looks gorgeous now that it's plumage is fully restored! And I made a new circular piece for another costume that needed a little touching up:
Shiny! Then Gina and I finished off the backpacks for the Equals ladies that go with the Delhi Durbar costumes we made last week:
It feels pretty good to be working through our list of jobs and be ticking things off. Later in the day we had a visit from a special friend:
Oh hai!
And even later in the day we went to visit the Viva Carnival Club themselves to finish off even more backpacks and bits and bobs of costumes and just to say hello to them because they're brilliant! No pictures of that event unfortunately as we were too hard at work!

Over the weekend I managed to whip up some extra fancy peacock shoes to go with my peacock outfit:
As well as cavorting with some piggies and also a mad wild horse at Quarr Abbey!

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Working at the New Carnival Company: Part 3!

On thursday and friday this week we mainly worked on a set of costumes representing the Delhi Durbar, including red, white, blue and gold tent skirts and a giant elephant puppet!
The main part of the skirts had already been made last week, so we just had to decorate and finish them with the Equals group (who will be wearing them next saturday).

The first part of this process was to finish the decorative side panels by covering them with fabric:
And cutting them out with the most ginormous pair of scissors I've ever seen!
Then goldifying them:
Then adding wire inside so that they can be bent into a 3D effect (this will make sense later):
After that they were all hand printed with a stamp Gina had made from foam and gold paint:
Everyone in the group had a go at printing which was another fine example of teamwork; I did the first couple of prints, then I showed the next lady how to do it, and she showed the next and so on! Then when they were dry, we stuck these panels onto the main skirt part along with the bunting that the Equals ladies had made and finished the whole lot off with plenty of gold braid:
Very tent-like and patriotic! A lot of work went into the making of these and they're going to look great on the day, especially accompanied by the elephant that Gina's been working on:
Ellie Skellie
For most of the week he was just a wicker skeleton but on thursday he started to come alive as his outer coating was added:
Here he is lying on his side - that's one of his ears sticking up in the air. This is his trunk, which is detachable:
I am very excited to see what he looks like when he's finished! Meanwhile, I am also making slow progress on my peacock costume. After using some of Helen's handmade embellishments for inspiration:
I created my own 'peacock feather eye' embellishment:
I'll be repeating this motif in other parts of the costume too. That's it for this week, I'm enjoying my weekend exploring Ryde and also doing some homework (watching Rio 2).