Thursday, 7 August 2014

... summer break.....

With our first Open Studio event behind us, we have a couple or weeks to take a breath and relax before Jessie Chorley's Usable Treasures Workshop at the beginning of September, a time we are very much looking forward to (a place has become available if anyone can join us last minute).

Until then, here are few items that have caught my eye and might stir your interest.

I recently bought for my darling grandson a hand-made mobile of seagulls from a Japanese stylist and designer living in France, Masami Akatsuka
It currently hovers below the lamp in his bedroom and he absolutely adores it.  Masami has a website shop, Cocon, and her work is utterly collectable whether you are considering a gift for a young friend or member of the family, or just love beautiful things..
On Sunday 14th September, there is another Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair in London.  I am a complete sucker for most things 50s, and have been to a couple of these Fairs in the past where I managed to pick up some really fun (and very wearable) clothing and fabric.  Considering the quality and workmanship that went into most clothing 50 years ago, the prices are remarkably reasonable - definitely worth a visit if you are in town.
To be perfectly honest, I don't follow many blogs, but I am a great fan of Austin Kleon, whose book, Steal Like an Artist, was a revelation (I gave a couple of copies away to crafter friends who are now also fans).  In his last post he published a quote from John Green, whose most recent novel, The Fault in Our Stars, became TIME’s #1 fiction book of the year.   I think his words apply as much to artists and crafters as they do to would-be writers:
"Don’t make stuff because you want to make money — it will never make you enough money. And don’t make stuff because you want to get famous — because you will never feel famous enough. Make gifts for people — and work hard on making those gifts in the hope that those people will notice and like the gifts. Maybe they will notice how hard you worked, and maybe they won't - and if they don't notice, it may be frustrating, but ultimately that doesn't change a thing - because your responsibility is not to the people you're making the gift for but to the gift itself."  
A stitcher and quilter I have long admired, Cas Holmes, whose consistently beautiful work has won numerousawards rather than money (I'm guessing) down the years is currently visiting Australia where Glenys Mann of Fibre Arts Australia has organised various exhibitions for her, one at Warwick Art Gallery, Queensland - I suggest you get there to see it if you can, you won't be disappointed.

If can't travel to Australia for an exhibition  just at the moment but you're into things small and beautiful, you might like this tiny, vintage shirt discovered recently at a local brocante.  Made of finest voile and perfect in every detail, this is a shirt-maker's prototype that would have been shown to potential customers as an example of the finished, full-size man's shirt.  $40 (£29)

I'd like to buy this item

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

... a good yarn ahead.....

At the beginning of October we will be welcoming back the ebullient and irrepressible Marion Foale who will be here to lead a second knitting workshop for us (she only leads workshops for us!).  Such was the success of her first teaching event ever, that many participants from 2013 will be also be returning.  In the unlikely event that you haven't heard of Marion before, we thought you might like a little background on this vivacious, creative lady and her 1960s partner in crime, Sally Tuffin.

British fashion designers Marion Foale and Sally Tuffin were part of a movement known as “Youthquake”, a 1960s fashion, musical and cultural movement. It was the era of the Beatles, mini-skirts, trouser and jump suits (the world's first supermodel Twiggy who modelled some of their designs at the time, has been the subject of an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery), and Foale and Tuffin were the inspiration of people like Mary Quant as well as 70s shops such as Biba and Bus Stop.

Marion and Sally met in 1955 while attending Walthamstow Art School . They subsequently studied together at the Royal College of Art under Professor Janey Ironside and in the 1960s, the pair established their own fashion company, “Foale & Tuffin”, located in Carnaby Street, in London's West End with a budget of less than £200. Together with their contemporaries, Ossie Clark, Zandra Rhodes and Bill Gibb, all graduates of the Royal College of Art, they had a massive impact on the fashion scene of the 'swinging sixties'.

Their dress philosophy strikes a chord with the current passion for home dressmaking and knitting, as well as well as our enthusiasm for recycling clothing and accessories whenever possible.  As Sally describes in the definitive book about them, Foale and Tuffin:The Sixties. A Decade in Fashion by Iain R. Webb
"We realised there was a gap in the market.  People would make their own clothes, dress and style themselves with bits and pieces, and we just sort of jumped in and made the bits and pieces for them."

Forty years on and Marion is still renowned for her highly fashionable, highly collectable, classic hand-knitted and feminine designs, though now they are often inspired by the glamour and chic of the forties with her own exquisite range of yarns some of which she will bring with her to the workshop in September.

Marion Foale current designs

Marion Foale Yarns

"What a fabulous week we had…it was so great to knit alongside such creative people and spend time doing exactly what we love in such a beautiful setting.  Marian was inspirational!  The experience will long live in my memory and I'm so looking forward to coming back to Les Soeurs Anglaises to enjoy their beautiful hospitality next year,  And of course to learn more, share our year's accomplishments and enjoy another incredible week!!"  Dianna K, USA

Our favourite photograph of Marion teaching last year (hope she wasn't laughing at Carol's scarf!!)
Marion's workshop for this year is currently full, but if you would like to go on the waiting list (or put your name down for next year), please get back to us.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

...... open studio.......

Yes, we're all as busy as summer bees down here in the sun!  Designer and illustrator, Jone Hallmark, and bookbinder extraordinaire, Alison Kuller, flew in from the States last Saturday to head up a week of "Open Studio" in l'Espace.  

setting up the studio in a new configuration
This is a first for Les Soeurs and it's proving to be something quite special allowing participants an opportunity to experience thoroughly the life in this beautiful part of France.  Everyone has brought their own work (and dreams) and found themselves a perfect space in the huge, light infused studio in which to create. The hydraulic door stays open all day and there is always the possibility of a dip to cool down in one of the pools if a break from work is deemed necessary.  This morning everyone scooted off to a local brocante in search of treasures, but now it's noses back down to the grindstone for some more serious creativity.

sorting out tools and materials
Jone and Alison had originally planned to run a workshop for us at this time, but we decided to give the Open Studio a try this year instead.  It's a new idea which allows an intimate group of participants (no more than 8) to bring along their own work and create alongside wonderful crafter/teachers without having a set "programme".  Everyone is happy to pool their skills and support each other.  Meals and transport are not included but accommodation and essentials are, and there is a fully equipped kitchen where communal meals can be made and eaten together.  In fact this first group, who have flown across the Atlantic, and driven up from Spain, to be here have decided to set up a dining area within the studio to take full advantage of the stunning views from the terrace.  Essentials are provided, but food can be bought either at the local marche, the village grocery store or at a supermarket a little further away (we have bicycles if you decide not to hire a car).  There are also several moderately priced cafe's and bistros to eat out at.

      ready to start work
We'll be posting more about these events over the next few months and whilst dates haven't been decided yet for 2015 (that's usually in September/October for the following year) if you think you might be interested in joining us for an "Open Studio Event" next year, let us know and we'll keep you posted.