From an inspirational idea to reality
Just over 12 months ago when I was researching other jewellers websites I came across a page which really caught my eye. A jeweller in Herefordshire was offering workshops for couples, to make their wedding rings. Wouldn't that be a brilliant thing to do, I thought. At the time I had just started to run silver smithing classes at my own workshop, the Rocks Jewellery Workshops. I was nowhere near ready to offer such "fancy" courses like I was reading about.
The basic silver smithing workshops have taken off now and the local public are getting to know about it. As I was increasing my confidence in leading workshops, my thoughts turned again to the wedding rings idea. This year in spring a friend of mine got married, she asked me to make their rings. I used this as a starting block to create wedding rings, and I have made one more pair since, and a replacement ring. In September I took part in a brainstorming workshop, and used the time to discuss my wedding ring course idea. The other participants were all very enthusiastic, and helped me with great ideas and suggestions. One particular point was to make the day a real 'unique experience' with a luxury feel, and a very personal, romantic approach.
I also arranged for a couple of meetings, one with a wedding supplier and someone who could make a video with me. These meeting were really encouraging, and I soon had the plans written up and a video shoot done. At the same time, a new website meant I could have completely new pages on my workshops and particularly the wedding ring course. With a special collaboration with a local hotel, I was able to include lunches and afternoons teas (including champagne) in a variety of packages.
One wedding show later, I've had plenty of interest, and I am positive that some bookings will come out of this. However, the very first wedding ring course has been booked up, and it is to take place in Germany next spring.
The 3P’s of bespoke picture framing
Simply put bespoke framing acts to Present, Protect and Preserve the artwork/subject.
Well-presented imagery is a complete joy, its uniqueness, freshness and identity cannot but help evoke emotion in people.
As Art is not of a standard size, and different media vary in depth, clarity and properties individual tailor made frames are necessary.
A bespoke picture framer will enhance the art work by designing and constructing a creative well proportioned frame using techniques most suited to the project. The choice of mounts and mouldings is enormous and one can always be found to suit the customer and project.
Photos of cat good and bad - see separate photo x 2 (click on pics to enlarge)
Protect and Preserve
The longevity for artwork comes from a combination of proper framing and protection from environmental damage whist on display. Damage will devalue artwork and documents.
Artwork, particularly paper, is primarily under threat from the following:
Ultra violet light
Humidity and damp
Extreme heat and cold
Insects and mould
Air bourne pollutants
The quality of materials and techniques used by the framer.
Fine Art Trade Guild (FATG) framers aim to slow the rate of natural decay and damage from these threats by using best practice techniques and best quality materials, and framing to a conservation level where possible.
Whilst ready made, of the shelf, frames are initially cheaper they often do not aesthetically enhance the artwork, and in the long run often cause irreversible damage.
‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ N Bonaparte, it stands then that ‘The memories framed are priceless’.
"What to do with 19 ties and a yard of knicker elastic?!"
Well make a dress, of course!
I have a collection of ties, mostly donated from a year ago when I was making waistcoats out of them, but some bought in charity shops. I was having a tidy up in my fabric stash the other day when I came across this tie collection. I fancied using some of them but didn't really know what to make.
I had a rummage and found that I had a dozen or so in a soft silky fabric so thought I'd make a skirt. Ties are cut on the bias so drape very well. So having selected the softer ties I took them all apart, it's amazing how much fabric is in a tie when it's pressed flat.
I then arranged them in a pleasing sort of order, keeping bugs bunny away from the pub frog! and proceeded to stitch them together along their length keeping the bottom front edges together. This gave me a big panel that was wider at the bottom, ideal for a skirt.
Having set my dressmakers dummy to my size I started draping this panel on the dummy to see what I could so with it and came up with a strapless sundress affair. Looking good so far but quite liable to fall down in an embarrassing manner so another rummage found a quantity of pink knicker elastic ( you have to acquire these things when available and cheap!! I have about 10 yards of it!!) ideal to stitch around the inside of the dress to hold it up.
Elastic stitched in and a halter strap made from another tie later I have a slightly, OK very, eccentric sundress to wear when the sun comes out. It's not quite finished yet, a few loose ends to thread through and the hem to finish but then the sun isn't shining is it?
It's amazing what you can make from scrap fabric when you have a needle and thread to hand.
Of course I also do conventional dressmaking with fabric and pattern for those of you who don't have 19 ties and a yard of knicker elastic!
Find my details on the CAP Business Clubs member listing.
or at www.fashion-revived.co.uk
Caroline Jones, dressmaker in chief at Fashion Revived
There are pearls - and then THERE ARE PEARLS!
A recent enquiry led me to find out more information about the world of pearls, and it became an investigation into a particular kind of pearl, the Tahitian Black Pearl. The only pearl in the world which is naturally dark, other kinds are coloured - something that was new to me - it comes in sizes of around 6mm up to 14mm.
And the colour can vary from pale grey through mid grey to near black. These stunning cultured pearls are only grown on Tahiti and in the South Seas.
What do these items cost? Well, anything from £10 - £3000 each! The price depends on size, evenness of shape, thickness of the nacre, which is the covering of mother of pearl the oyster puts around the impurity inside its shell, colour evenness and (lack of) blemishes.
The pearls only come from one type of oyster, the Pinctada margaritafera mollusk. It takes two years for an oyster to mature enough to produce pearls. The cultured Tahitian pearl comes in various shapes, sizes, and colors; shapes include round, semi-round, button, circle, oval, teardrop, semi-baroque and baroque. Because of their darker hues, Tahitian pearls are commonly known as "black pearls". However, Tahitian pearls have the ability to contain various undertones and overtones of green, pink, blue, silver and yellow.
It would be lovely to work with these beautiful pearls one day....
I get a lot of enquiries about alterations to evening, wedding and bridesmaids dresses bought online. Often the dresses are bought very cheaply from websites which although may seem to be English, actually source their dresses from the Far East either that or the websites are blatantly Oriental.
Some of the cheap dress websites, and there are many, are better than others, but as a rule you need to be very careful about the sizes you order as it can be very difficult to return dresses or get any compensation.
There are a few rules of thumb which it is best to go by when ordering a cheap dress online.
1. always use a site which allows you to input your own measurements.
2. always actually input your measurements, don't just buy the dress in your usual size. Most of the sites use American sizes which are about 2 sizes bigger than ours so if you order a size 16, you'll receive something approaching a UK12!
3. get a friend to take your measurements and don't skimp to make the number seem smaller, it is better to get the dress a little too big than too small as there is much less scope to let a dress out than to take it in.
If you do decide to go down the cheap online dress route don't expect perfection, the dresses can be very good but they won't be as good as something made to measure in this country and just occasionally a dress will arrive and be a big disappointment. In this scenario don't panic just take the dress to a good dressmaker and she will be able to alter it to fit perfectly and to modify any design details you don't like.
The picture shows just such a dress. The dress was a bargain, much cheaper than similar seen in a UK shop but when it arrived it was badly made, being unevenly stitched with asymmetric seaming which should have been symmetric and it didn't fit at all well. The bride was in her words 'distraught' when she brought me her dress, but a lot of work later she had the perfect dress and looked lovely on her big day. And she still saved money on the UK dress price after paying my fees to sort the dress out to her satisfaction.
So buying special clothes online can be a big money saver, but buy the right size according to your measurements and expect to have do some work on it.
Caroline Jones, Fashion Revived, your friendly local dressmaker in the Forest of Dean.
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