Thursday, 18 December 2014

373. Wishes to be challenged

 'Nothing is unique. Nothing is new. Not even this. So why do we bother?'

I inked those words 4 years ago in a diary, but they'll often drip into my every day in some quiet way. Those words encapsulate a problem that probably everyone considers. Often I've lazed deadbeat on my bedroom carpet silently shouting - What is the point? - What is the point? - What is the point? Why do or say anything if its all been done and said better before?

A soothing argument for those moments on the carpet is the importance of repetition. What we have to say may not be new, however our audience - whether that be a friend or a host of readers - may not have considered it before. What we have to say may not be unique however our voices are and thus our method of expression may connect to certain individuals. And finally the more an idea is repeated, the more likely it will gain acceptance. One voice in a crowd is obscure, but many voices become the crowd.

This argument has helped me on many occasions, reminding me that, whilst what I have to say may not be new, there's still a validity in saying it. The argument has had its uses, but there's always a flip side. Does repetition of ideas help us see clearer or does it blind us? Do you ever feel (particularly when browsing the internet) as if you're only seeing one version of an argument, just tweaked in slightly different voices? Do you feel comforted in seeing your own views repeatedly represented or do you, like me, feel a little uncomfortable?

Do you ever wonder what demographics you're missing out on, such as those who don't use tumblr? (tumblr is interesting itself as a space often used for repetitive reblogging). I'm reminded here of a conversation at the family dinner table. My brother, a 25 year old wizzkid who earns a living as a web developer didn't know what LGBT stood for until I recently informed him. How is it that a young person who spends each day avidly using the internet has not come into contact with the term LGBT? To me, the tumblr user and reader of the likes of rookie this came as a surprise. What circles do we keep to and what are we all missing out on? My brother, sure seems to be missing out on the voices of those I'm so accustomed to hearing (then again maybe this comes back to the white straight male missing out on the voices of those marginalized in society?). But likewise, I'm missing out on the voices my brother reads- whether I'd agree with those voices doesn't matter. I'm also missing out on lots more- other marginalized groups, people who don't speak English, people of an older generation, and people who don't  have access to the internet.

So what can be done? Here's my suggestions for carpet and tumblr moments. Question my suggestions. Question everything, especially if you keep hearing it. Consume a variation of media, both online and offline. Discuss with your brother at the dinner table if you can. Discuss with the people you wouldn't usually discuss with- your real-life friends and enemies are great resources. These discussions can be more radical than the reblog. About to make something? Consider how your meditations on a topic can go further. If you feel like you have nothing to add to a discussion, that's also cool too. Repetition ain't inherently a bad thing. Keep going with the writing and the making, but always keep considering the writing and the making. And don't resolve the discussion you had with yourself.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

372.Wishes to see this happen

The world is a pretty difficult place to live in and stylelikeu are not going to 'fix' that. I am not donating to or promoting stylelikeu because I believe they can 'fix' things or even because I fully accept their ideas of authenticity and “whats underneath”. This post is more a quiet thank you. A thank you for entertaining me and enriching my life over the past through years. A thank you for teaching me a little more about the world and how others view their existence within it. A thanks for showing me people I can identify with and whose footsteps I wouldn't mind stalking. A thanks for showing me creative people who are killing it and who have given me hope to kill it as a creative person. Basically, a thanks for providing me with some models of existence and a wealth of inspiration.

If you haven't heard of stylelikeu, then the what's underneath project is a good place to start, before finding yourself addicted to their closet videos. If you like what you see, then maybe you'll want to either promote or donate to their kickstarter as I have. And maybe we wont be 'fixing' the world, but doing something tiny to say thanks. Amongst my ongoing sense of uselessness, I can only try to find ways I can be useful. A bit of money and time given to a project I like are only starting points, but starting points are always better then never seeing the line painted on the ground.
Hope you are all doing well.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

371.Wishes for a new set of fairy lights

A reader once requested me to do a bedroom tour, a request I intended to honour before I packed up and left for a new uni bedroom. Unfortunately, my videoing equipment was kinda defunct when it came to filling those boxes and so, in an aim to honour the request I decided to take some photos documenting myself in my room the week before I left it behind.  I'm slightly sad I never got to tell you why I nicknamed the ceiling Voldemort or how my bedroom wall collages evolved or how the mirror was my grandmas or about my handmade magical bookshelf. And I'm slightly sad that I currently have no fairy lights to read under.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

370.Wishes to get my hands on needle and thread

So after writing a little embroidery 'how to' guide on this blog, I thought I'd give you guys some added embroidery inspiration by showcasing some of my fave embroidery artworks/artists. I discovered most of these artists whilst doing an school art project, but they're by no means an exclusive list, especially as embroidery has becomes ever more popular.
                                                               Jenny Hart

 Harts work is nearly always very detailed, and inspirational from a stitching point of view. Yet there is also something very charming about her odes to iconic figures like Piaf, alongside embroidered pencil sketches of students.


Franko B's series 'I still love you' is incredibly different to Jenny Hart's work, most obvious in the bareness of line. Yet this bareness is incredibly effective, giving a poignant air to his imagery. Sure Franko could have drew these images conventionally, but the connotations of embroidery- of romance and delicacy alongside the actual violence of needle puncturing fabric- are so befitting of the images.  

The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago is a triangular table  made of up 39 place settings each with an embroidered runner and accompanying crockery. Each place celebrates a 'significant' female in Western history. The scale of this piece is immense and understanding it as a project that took 5 years from conception to production always impresses me. It's hard to find good images of each runner  but if you can get the chance to look in a book (or in person!) it's well worth it to see the high level of technical ability and the glorious imagery of the runners.

I can never find much on Barboza, except her seemingly defunct blog which archives a variety of her works. It's a great place to go back to and be inspired by a good variety of textile works that combine the pretty with the brutal. 

Amer works in paint, sculpture, print, topiary, pencil, crayon, thread and often all at once. More striking than that is her recurring subject matter- female sexuality, pop culture, satire, and love. I find all her work really thought provoking, but I particularly like her selection of large thread pieces that when looked closely at often reveal sexual images.

Monday, 25 August 2014

369.Wishes for a little Berry

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4

What comes to mind when we say fashion? A blurry word we use to describe a whole host of  changing undefinable things- an industry? clothing? a style? an art piece? a movement? Or the dictionary definition of fashion as 'the popular style of dress, customs ect at a given time'. Nothing  really encompass the multitudes attached to the word, but the concept of time seems important to them all. For me fashion has meant various things at various times in my life. At 9 it meant gel pen designs drawn for my imaginary fashion company S.S Styles (S.S being my initials, and alliteration my new favourite thing). At 13 it meant Vogue magazine and learning the lingo; It's GABRIELLE 'COCO' Chanel, Fashion HOUSE, ALEXANDER Mcqueen, Fashion Week, THE SATORIALIST. At 14 it meant bloggers and writing out my fashion wishes, whilst still dreaming the fashion designer dream. It also meant learning to sew seams and learning, re-learning my personal style. Now at 19 I'm surprised that I held onto the fashion designer dream for another 3 years. I'm surprised because that dream feels as if it's been defunct for a very long time. 

Day 5
Day 6
Day 7
Often tales of dreams are struggles, the dreamer battles obstacles until they finally succeed. What about the tale of changed dreams and drifting dreamers? I haven't given up on dreams, I'm just not interested in the fashion one any more. Nor would I use the word dream, instead I'd prefer goal. Dream suggests an uncomfortable sleepiness whereas goal suggests an awakened realization to the plausibility of the dream. A wake up has stirred in me the past months, oddly inspired by the fictional character Rachel Berry. I didn't expect to be stirred by the flawed but addictive T.V programme Glee, but then again I didn't expect a lot of things. Rachel's conviction to be a Broadway star has found me saying 'what would Berry do?'. Sure the programme and her character are outlandishly flawed, but there's something quite inspirational in the idea of trying every day to work towards a variety of goals. My goals are less fashion based these days. They're more varied, focusing on doing and finding out the things I love, rather than sticking to on one dream that no longer suits.

My wishes are still written here, the lingo has just changed. Dreams are out, goals are in.  Yet fashion, whatever it means is not completely defunct to me. I still sew seams, though I'd prefer to read WORN journal than look at Vogue.  And in the most obvious sense, I wear different clothes each day of the week.

Friday, 1 August 2014

368.Wishes to teach embroidery

Almost 2 years ago I took it upon myself to learn how to embroider for an art project. After I grappled with the basics myself, the internet became a great resource for stitch tutorials and inspirational artistic embroideries; Yet I never did find an informative piece that threaded together those simple basics I taught myself. And so, let us begin.

Embroidery is fairly simple, and whilst can be time consuming, it doesn't have to be. For example it took me 1 hour to sew the words 'You spin me right round baby' onto my dancing skirt, whereas it took closer to 10 hours to sew the skirt itself (dramatically increased by the fact that I don't have a sewing machine). Embroidery doesn't have to be about precise measurements or neatness, instead it can be more about quickly adding an element of fun decoration to something. Yet for the more ambitious it can also be used to create intricate artwork, like that of Ana Teresa Barboza. Either way, both use the same set of tools and skills.

What you'll need (from left to right)

Fabric- Start with a cotton or polyester, rather than a heavy fabric or a delicate sheer fabric that might tear. With experience you can begin to experiment and even try working on non-fabric surfaces (eg paper)

Scissors- Fabric scissors are extra sharp, but are totally optional for embroidery.

Needle- I just use a normal one with a large eye (the hole at the top), though you can invest in an embroidery needle.

Embroidery Thread (also known as Floss)- Other thread can be used, but investing in embroidery thread is highly recommended. It's softer, gives a much better finish, comes in a great variety of colours and most importantly can be separated, which will become clear in the next part. You can buy one colour from 25p or bundles of 50 colours for around £6 online and the stuff with last you a long time.

Embroidery Hoop- These come in various size and the quality doesn't really matter. It's probably best to start with a small or medium sized hoop (19cm) for about £1.50.

Setting up

Once you've got your equipment, there's only 2 basic things you need to know about- the thread and the hoop.

The Thread- Embroidery thread is generally made up of 6 threads twined together. You're probably going to want to separate those threads otherwise your stitches will look bulky and won't lay tightly on the surface of your fabric (like the lettering I did above in a rush). So first cut yourself no more than an arms length of thread and then rub your fingers on one end: You'll easily see the separate strands. With your fingers you can separate the thread into 2 sets of three strands (you're best bet at first) or three sets of two strands. Thread you're needle with one set of strands, no need to tie a knot.

The Hoop- Your embroidery hoop is made up of two hoops- an outer one with an adjustable screw and an inner hoop. 
1.Start with a piece of fabric with a width at least 10 cm larger than the diameter of your hoop. 
2.Fully loosen the screw on your outer hoop, then lay your fabric on top of the hoop. Then place your inner hoop on top of the fabric, inside the outer hoop, to make a sandwich. 
3.Now tighten the screw till it's almost fully screwed. 
4. Now tug at the edges of the fabric all the way round the hoop, then tighten the screw a little. Repeat this process a few times until your screw is fully tightened and the fabric is flat and taught within the hoop. 

It's easiest to embroider onto a flat piece of fabric than a finished garment, as garments are harder to get taught in the hoop. So if you're having difficulties, you can always embroider onto your separate piece of fabric and then sew this onto a garment like a patch.

Embroidery Stitches (FINALLY!)

There are many different stitches that can be learned, but you can create all sorts of designs just by knowing one stitch. So here I'll introduce you to a few basic ones.

Straight Stitch- So this is basically the stitch most people know if they've ever had to sew anything before. So you probably wont even need to learn how to do it, and even if you do, you'll have figured it out in 2 secs. Heres a tutorial. You can use this to 'fill in' shapes a bit like colouring in (and like colouring in, it's easier if you draw your shapes onto the fabric in pencil first) and you'll never have to use another stitch.  I've used it above for the waves, sea and eyes. 

Split Stitch- This one is great for outlines or writing neat letters, like the ones on my skirt or the ones above. Here's a tutorial. The above design was done using only a straight stitch and split stitch.

Lazy Daisy- The name says it all. Great for daisy petals but could be used for anything, tear drops, raindrops, snot drops. Heres a tutorial.

French Knot- This ones a little more complicated, but it's nice for the 3D effect it gives. I used it to make the centre of my daisy more interesting but it's also great to know this one for tying off the end of your thread. Heres a tutorial.

You can find many more stitch tutorials online, but hopefully this has threaded those basics together for you. If you're still puzzled you can ask me any questions below, and if you still need some embroidery inspiration I'll probably be writing up something about that soon too.

Monday, 21 July 2014

367. Wishes to stop envying bloggers

In the week that I almost finished the laborious production of this simple skirt I saw stylikeu's profile of Ludovika Koch. I felt slightly defeated, but more so bewildered, excited and inspired by the 15 year old's sewing talents. Unfortunately this reaction to a young talented person on my computer screen is quite unusual. The usual reaction stops at defeat, even when I'm searching for inspiration. Googling for inspiration, but sucked into questioning. Why does no one notice my tumblr? Why is my writing not read? Should I get a twitter to promote myself? Why is my voice not being heard? And most importantly, why does this even matter?

Sadly these questions are often directed at those young talented bloggers I've loved and admired for years. That love and admiration still holds strong and its why I'm still clicking onto their sites- yet the experience is tainted by a faintly obsessive envy. Interestingly this envy is directed at those specific bloggers that I see myself in. They'll probably be the my age, live in the UK, have similar interests and experiences to me. The consensus is that,  if they have found 'success', then why haven't I?

The internet helps us find people we find relatable and accessible, and it lets us access them. Access their tumblrs and twitters and instagrams and blogs. Poking, scrolling and clicking for ever more information, ever more reasons why 'THEY' are more successful than 'ME', frantically searching for a scrap of information that tells me they are wealthier than me, have more opportunities than me, live in a nicer area than me ect. Sometimes I may find the answer of privilege I hoped for, but it'll only ever be an assumption based on that tiny scrap. Just like our idols before the web, our "internet idols" (I use internet in no way to disregard these peoples work, and understand the internet is not some separate sphere ) are mythic. All that access, all those words and pictures still do not give us the full picture, only a very small version of the human behind the screen. We may feel we know the blogger personally, but really we only get an edited image, not much different to the edited versions we get of people in our every day lives.

It is not necessarily negative to have idols, and in no way am I suggesting the internet is to blame for the human  phenomenon of idealisation. I'm just suggesting there's definitely use in trying to remember that unlike in the everyday where we don't always get to choose who we look at, the internet lets us pick and choose our 5 favourites and forget the billions of others. There's also use in remembering that there are all kinds of 'success' and you can make your own meaning for that term. And finally, there's use in remembering that those pixels on a screen are flawed in ways you may never know, as well as wonderful in ways unshared. My skirt is not double hemmed. It frays underneath, but I don't mind because I didn't need it to be double hemmed. It's just as good as any other skirt. And someone might even look at it somewhere and be impressed with my skill.

Friday, 4 April 2014

366.Wishes for that feeling

Ask me who my favourite poet is and I'd say Kate Tempest. Maybe I'd wanna give you a learned, rational response based on years of reading and grading but thats not what it's about. It's about feeling, and Kate makes me feel in tenfold.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

365.Wishes for street food suggestions

A few unrelated notes...

1.Today my eyes were kinda killer, an emerald modification of this tutorial here. I find this site really useful for good make up tutorials, and powerdoom has to be no 1 for makeup inspiration. Make up, amongst a mulititude of other things is on my writers mind. So I thought it'd be useful to note down some of my recent post ideas, things I'm hoping to write soon:-
  • Embroidery pt 1: tutorials/basics
  • Embroidery pt 2: examining resurgance of embroidery/ artist inspiration
  • Diary writing changes linked to blogging mishaps/naiveity/mistakes
  • Sexuality and language
  • Love of Cabaret and drama
  • "Masculinty"/"Femininity" in clothes and feeling like a warrior
  • Handmaids Tale and red

2.These 2 songs need to serenade you all. My remedy for sadness is badly singing 'I believe in the power of love!'.

3.I have  a rather large collection of post, and having so many letters and cards makes me so happy. Yet I'd kinda forgotten about this little colection of cards that I got through postcrossing (which I wrote about here), and today am reminded to get involved with the postcrossing community again.
4. I semi regularly read rookie, and think this recent article on internet burnout was really important and helpful.

5.The two books above are really great for any literature nerds like me.
6. I'm heading to LAAANDEN (London) next week for a univeristy open day, and was wondering if anyone knows a good place to get your hands on some street food? Please let me know in the comments below.