Sunday, March 11, 2018

Pink Lemonade: James Bay, SNL, and Coach Boots

If these Coach boots could sing, they'd sound just like James Bay on SNL last night.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Colour Blocking: Stanley Hudson from Project Runway and Marine Serre

I really enjoyed the recent Project Runway All Star episode where the designers saw an exhibit of Isaac Mizrahi's work at the Jewish Museum. The exhibit is long over, but I loved seeing some of my favourite pieces, like his simple t-shirt over a ball-gown skirt and his totem pole dress.

And I also loved the winning design by Stanley Hudson--both for its silhouette and its colour combination: aqua and pink is so very striking.

So, then, when I saw the this dress by Marine Serre today, my pulse quickened. It's a "Stanley-via-Issac" look for day, perfect to wear while "blocking" anything that strikes your fancy--trolls, newly knit sweaters, shots to the hoop. (Maybe.)

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Insider/Outsider Artists: Vanessa Bell, Maud Lewis, and their Painted Houses

When I moved into my new university office a few years back, I was determined to fill it with pattern.  I wallpapered a thick foundational pole with William Morris-inspired paper from J. R. Burrows; I covered a tall filing cabinet with brown and cream "zebra print" (a surprisingly good "neutral"); I papered the interior of my 7-foot-tall vintage bookcases with more Morris-inspired paper; I made bunting for two walls; I hung an Amish-style quilt I made, as well as four large fashion watercolors I'd painted; I posted Anna Sui paper dolls from her staionery set around my door frame; I made a Chanel-inspired white paper headdress and affixed it to my embroidery of Sasha's 3/4 profile and placed the frame abobe my Mexican blue-and-white tile mirror; I hung embroidery hoops filled wth Liberty fabric down one length of my window; I colored in the fashion-world figures outlined on Barneys' Disney holiday window tissue paper and hung it above my window for a valence; I rested Laduree boxes decorated with dancers on my top windowsill and solar figures of the Queen, her corgi, and a Mountie on the bottom one. And then I added framed artwork to any remaining wall space. In short, I tried to cover every surface possible with colour and pattern.

If I could have painted my office, inch by inch, I would have, but not in one color; rather, I would have followed Vanessa Bell's Charleston lead, and followed up by conjuring someone closer to my Island roots--Maud Lewis, subject of the recent film Maudie, starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke, and filmed in Newfoundland.

Bell, a Bloomsbury insider, and Lewis, a Digby, Nova Scotia outsider, have both created painted homes--one the sophisticated, knowingly primitive Charleston; the other the naive, exuberant saltwater box in the Maritime provinces. The lives of these artists were quite different, though both suffered greatly, and I wonder whether their painted exteriors were a way to surround themselves with beauty. I also firmly believe that the process is more rewarding than seeing a completed object, be it a quilt or a painting, and Maud, who did not always have something to paint on, could turn to her walls, or stairs, or shingles to create new canvases. Her house is preserved in the Nova Scotia Art Museum, above and below.

My own house is old--it was built in 1876--and has a fireplace that was added in the 1920s. I would love to paint or tile it, and maybe somewhere in between Bell and Lewis I can find my own vision. I'd call it firesider art.

And by the way, as I was looking up to see whether anyone had written about these two "house painters" (noone has, as far as I could see), I discovered that Bell designed a fabric called "Maud." It's fitting:

Friday, January 5, 2018

Miss C on Toogood Clothing for Selvedge Magazine

I've just received PDFs for my Selvedge Magazine story on Faye and Erica Toogood, British sisters who "make" (not "design") a smart line of unisex, utilitarian clothing for their Toogood label.

The outerwear, for instance, is named for different workers--there's the beekeeper, cheesemonger, photographer, etc.--and all garments are made from "honest," authentic fabric like waxed cotton or parachute silk (their grandmother used to stitch her own lingerie from such silk during World War II).

 What truly captured my imagination was the Spring 2018 silk J-Cloth print (from the "Domestic"collection; not pictured). Did or do any readers use J-Cloths to clean with? I remember them well from my childhood on Prince Edward Island, and wearing that print would bring back fond memories of my mum and grandmother's countertops.

And I really, truly did resist a pun while writing this story until the very last line, but, well, it was Toogood not to use. Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

An Embroidered Handmade Pillow for Christmas

Now that my final exams are graded and my senior daughter has been accepted to the college of her dreams (yay!), I can relax and settle into some textiles.

I like to give handmade gifts for Christmas whenever possible, and made this last night for one recipient.

The embroidery is adapted from Alicia's book Embroidery Companion. I drew it freehand on fabric, as I prefer the freedom of not following a pattern. The rest of the pillow I measured as I went along.

The blue is Liberty of London and the othe two fabrics come from Purl Soho, but I do not remember their manufacturer.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Rumour with a View: Meghan and Harry's Marital Home?

I've said on this blog many a time that I'm not a wedding person (I love marriage, though!), but I've got a case of wedding fever over Meghan Markle's impending nuptials to Prince Harry.

I'm mentally assembling the ingredients for my May trifle, which I'll serve to my students, and which I've made only once before, for Kate Middleton and Prince William's wedding.

But at the risk of getting ahead of the wedding party, today I'm thinking about the "news" that the young couple may have purchased Luckington Court, a home in the Cotswalds. This home has a cinematic lineage, as it was home to the Bennets in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice TV series.

I'll be teaching a class on Jane Austen in a couple of months, and might take a virtual visit to Longbourne (oops--Luckington) then.

Until then, isn't it a truth universally acknowledged, that a young couple in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a house?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Fiona: Hippo Prima Ballerina

Long-time readers will know that I adore English bulldogs. Mr. C and I had two--Marilla and Bossy--for ten years each, and loved every minute with them.

It should come as no surprise, then, that I am equally smitten with the bulldog of the water: the hippo. Or more specifically, Fiona.

Yes: I've followed her birth and development every step along the way, and have loved seeing how gracefully she moves in the water. My first thought was to the Disney ballerina hippo (whom the NYT takes to task here), but I realized that there's an even more timely hippo dancer.

In a complete coincidence, about a week or so after Fiona was born on January 24, 2017, Lincoln Center mounted its own hippo ballerina, on temporary display, resplendant in her Degas-esque tutu and eyelashes. The Danish sculptor Bjørn Okholm Skarrup made her.

I have my own 6-foot ballerina getting ready for this year's Nutcracker performance, and it would be lovely to see her dance alongside Fiona. There is some footage of Fiona twirling in the water set to classical music on the Cincinnati Zoo's Fiona Updates blog on October 26, 2017. You'll have to scroll: I couldn't figure out how to embed the video here without linking to my own Twitter account.