Friday, 13 May 2016

Finn's Rag Rug

My fabulous nine year old assistant Finn has a real eye for style!

He came up with this brilliant idea for a rag rug hat - which I might just have to steal.
See the video below of Finn making a rug - which proves just how easy it is!

Thankyou Finn.

Rag Rug Tutorial 2

The second part of my rag rug making tutorial.
You can either make one big rug - or sew together lots of smaller ones.
Ideal for kids!

Let me know how you get on!

Rag Rug Tutorial 1

How to get started on your weekend rag rug

Make a weekend rag rug with Mary Jane

Use your rug to add a splash of crafty colour!

When I approached the Imperial War Museum in Salford about working with local schools in connection with their new Fashion on the Ration exhibition which opens shortly, I was sent a series of quotes from local people about their experiences of making-do and mending during WWII. One man remembered weaving a carpet using old clothes and sheets, and it provided the perfect inspiration for this project. Now, there are lots of rag-rug making methods out there already but not many are suitable for young children. So after consulting Finn, my cousin's nine year old son, we devised this method which I'd like to share with you. I've made the rug above which is 70cm in diameter by doing a couple of rows a night over the last week - but you could easily make this in a weekend - especially if you employ child labour! See below for start-up instructions and cost-cutting ideas. Then take a look at the videos by myself and Fin which will follow next on the blog to help you get started. I'd love to see what you make. Please get in touch if you'd like to do a workshop with the Mobile Makery. We'll travel far and wide!

First you need to gather your supplies. To make your upcycled rug, you'll need LOTS of old clothes, pillowcases, sheets etc. To give you an idea of quantities, the blue jeans stripe in my rug is made out of one pair of old jeans. Don't use anything that you think will fray too much, although some fraying is inevitable. You'll need sharp scissors, a curtain ring, and an old dolly clothes peg. Tape up the end of the clothes peg as shown. It will act as a giant needle.

I love a bit of creative serendipity - and when I realised I needed lots of  old curtain rings for this project - they came from totally unexpected sources. A friend gave me a few that she'd had lying around for ages and then I also enquired at a local charity shop. Hey presto - I was given a huge bag full for a small donation. It's always worth asking! However, worried I'd still not have enough curtain rings for some 150 children another friend Philippe suggested cutting a plastic pipe into slim circles. Et voila! Here he is doing just that. What a star! Obviously only attempt this if you know what you're doing. 

Sand the rings down and you've got yourself a bargain. The pipe only cost £5.75....

So now you need to prepare your fabric. Cut it into strips that are around 3cm wide and no more than a metre long (any longer and the children will get tangled up) and make a small hole at each end so you can thread the strips together. This joining technique will be demonstrated in my first video.

Now it's time to get started - so have a look at the videos which follow next on my blog. Rag Rug School Help 1 & 2. There's also a video of Finn using the technique. I now employ him on a regular basis and pay him in jelly beans!

In a weekend - you'll have made yourself a rug! Good luck! 
We'll see how the schoolchildren do when I work with them next week in Manchester.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Street art or vandalism?

I recentIy had an animated discussion with a friend about Banksy. It was the thorny old question about whether he's a talented artist or simply a vastly overpaid vandal. We talked about art in public spaces and the issues of permission, protest and skill. It was a timely exchange as it seems that graffiti is the 'look du jour'. Everyone's doing it. Liberty of London has erected a graffiti wall in its cosmetics department encouraging shoppers to scrawl their thoughts down for public perusal.

And Somerset House has just finished an exhibition entitled 'Graffiti and the Everyday Utopias of the Street' featuring the genre's emerging names.

I couldn't help but wonder how the curators at Somerset House would have felt if the artists concerned had decided to scrawl on the building's walls rather than in the permissible spaces they were given for the show.

I rather liked the post-it-note 'graffiti wall' which featured in the concurrent exhibition about graphic art....a playful take on what some regard as the threatening cityscapes that graffiti can create.

The thing was, that after all this exposure to graffiti, I kept seeing it everywhere! A stroll along Brick Lane was like a trip to an unofficial gallery....

I rather liked this quiet piece of removable art.....

Not sure what my conclusion is...but I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Vintage millinery workshop in Montrose

I was thrilled to finally offer a hat-making workshop in my Mum's hometown Montrose on the North East coast of Scotland where regular readers may know I've been living for the last few months. Bambi (aka The Mobile Makery) is almost ready for summer - but not quite - so I was teaching with all mod cons available in an actual house! A group of six novice milliners set out to make one of the projects from my book The Modern Girl's Guide to Hatmaking - and they did fantastically well.

I was demonstrating three main skills on this workshop - two vintage techniques (one pleating ribbon and the other making flowers) plus a simple way of making a birdcage veil. Oh yes - this is where you come to learn the tricks of the trade!

First to be tackled - the pleating technique - which I teach using Petersham ribbon - or grosgrain. It's a great material to use as it takes the pleat well and can be dyed. On this workshop many people elected to use the tea dyed grosgrain which I'd prepared earlier.

Next - we made flowers using cotton organdie (you can see a tutorial for how to make these flowers in an earlier blog entry) which I show people how to colour using pound shop felt tip pens and a wash of water (yes, there's always a chic on a shoestring angle to my work!) Here's a really lovely example of some flowers made by Charlotte - my fabulous chocolate-making friend who also turns out to be a pretty nifty milliner-in-the-making!

Everyone worked really hard - fuelled by homemade soup and a continuous supply of tea and coffee - naturally! 

If you're interested in arranging your own vintage millinery workshop then please get in touch. You too could make something like these ladies. Perfect for those summer weddings and parties! 

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