Tuesday 30 June 2009

Empire Line Dresses

In an alternate reality, I would love to live a Pride & Prejudice life. A life where I could dress up (or be dressed) everyday in long swishy Empire Line dresses – made from the finest silks in the most delicate of colours. I would swan around my mansion, drinking tea, reading novels, playing the piano and hand sewing little embroidered hankies and the like.

Because (as I have previously confessed) I am short and pear shaped, I find Empire Line dresses to be very flattering, as they create the illusion of length and skim the body (or should I say hips…) in the loveliest way.

When I got married – I took the opportunity to work with a fabulous dress maker to realise my design. We chose the most beautiful pale pink silk and lined the dress with cream antique wedding kimono silk that I had been given in my twenties. The dress took on many of my favourite clothing design elements – a cross over top, an empire line, bell sleeves and generous layers of fabric.

We got married during the Winter Solstice in a dusk ceremony in the Sherbrooke forest in the Dandenong Ranges. It was absolutely freezing but such an amazing and quite theatrical ceremony and a perfect excuse for me to swan around in my Empire Line dress and play ‘lady’ for a night.

Wednesday 24 June 2009

Dress ups

My Sister Kelly and I loved dressing up when we were kids and doing ‘performances’. Mum filled a basket with some of her old ‘pre baby’ cast offs – one of which was a very slinky, early 70’s halter neck mini dress with red, blue and gold stripes and a ruffle around the hem. Very Brazilian Mardi Gras or perhaps I should say 70’s disco, anyway that was definitely one of my favourites! I would love to know what happened to it!

I think life is in some ways like a big game of dress ups. Whether you are ‘dressing up’ to go for a night out on the town, or to a wedding or even just to go to work or to take the kids to the supermarket. Choosing and putting clothing on your body is the everyday ‘art’ of dress ups. When you don your ‘outfit’ you are choosing to present yourself to the world in a particular way (or fashion) and different outfits can allow you to behave in different ways or to feel different in or about yourself.

When I was in Tokyo I marveled at the girls who chose to dress themselves up as Manga like characters or Walt Disney meets Japanese punk rock characters – it was so ‘out-there’ and yet so refreshingly creative and brave. I admired them (and took photos of them!)

From the moment my daughter Kitty could walk and talk she has been a keen partaker of the big dress up basket I made for her. The thing I love about her dress ups is that she doesn’t hold back. Often she will come out in some amazing layered creation where she has a bit of everything on and sing me a song, tell me a story or just dance around. The photos above show just a small snippet of her fun dress up times and before I know it baby Milo will be joining in on the act! What fun to be had!

Monday 15 June 2009

Dr Seuss

When I was 3 or 4 I absolutely LOVED Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss. I must have asked my Mother to read it 100 times. So many times that I learnt which words went with which pictures and memorized it. Then I told my Mother I could read and sat her down and read her the story from cover to cover. I think I tricked her for about 5 seconds – then she worked out what I had done. Still it was the beginning of my love affair with reading. I think I just devoured anything I could get my hands on when I was a girl but Dr Seuss has always remained a firm favourite…..even as a grown up!

Now that my daughter Kitty is 4 she is up to the same tricks I was and there is a particular Dr Seuss book she loves called ‘Oh the Thinks you can Think’. I think this is because in it there is a bit that says – ‘You can think about Kitty O’Sullivan Krauss in her big balloon swimming pool over her house.’ As I read the book she pretty well reads with me and when we get to ‘her’ page…well…she definitely knows that one off by heart!

Over the years my love of Dr Seuss has meant that aside from the books I have acquired since a child I also have Dr Seuss Board games (one of which my Dad gave me for my 25th Birthday!), Cat in the Hat toys, plates, cups, videos, dvds, stickers , puzzles…the list goes on and on! I love sharing Dr Seuss with my children. What a clever man he was!

Monday 8 June 2009

Doll Houses

When I was a little girl we had a handyman called ‘Vick’ who used to come to the house to fix things. He would have been in his 70’s and was such a lovely man. While he was there ‘fixing’ he also made me a fantastic pair of stilts – which I absolutely loved, a guinea pig house for ‘Spike’ and a dolls house. It wasn’t a very fancy dolls house. Just four rooms and a pitched roof – but I LOVED it. When I think back though, it wasn’t so much the house that I loved – it was the decorating of the house, particularly the furnishings. Funnily enough as I grew up I studied not only interior design & decoration but also furniture design.

I painted and wallpapered that house and made little chests of drawers and beds from matchboxes, tables and chairs from toothpicks and corks, used scraps of carpet for the floor and raided Mum’s fabric stash for suitable curtain and bedding material. It was so much fun.

When I studied furniture design in particular – one of my favourite aspects was the making of mock ups or scale models of my furniture prototypes. There is something about ‘mini’ furniture that is so cute! Especially the designer classics you can get now. I’d love a mini Arne Jacobsen Egg chair – actually I’d love a big one too!

The photo above is by Canadian artist Heather Benning who transformed an abandoned farmhouse into a life-sized dollhouse. What a cool idea.

Anyway – all this talk of dolls houses is making me want one again. I have seen all these ridiculously expensive modern ones whilst searching for a good photo on Google and I’m all inspired……stay tuned – when I work out which one I want and where I’m going to put it – I’ll let you know!

Thursday 4 June 2009

Dinosaur Designs

My favourite shop in the whole wide world is Dinosaur Designs. Whenever I get a chance to pay them a visit I am like a kid in a candy store. The way they showcase their pieces in different colour groups really appeals to my sense of what is beautiful. I’d like a bit of everything and if I could I’d have a shrine set up in my studio showcasing their work….a place where I could sit and reflect on the direction of my own craft - I would surely be in heaven!

One of the reasons I think I am so inspired by their work is partly because they started off as craft market stallholders, molding their designs out of polymer clay and partly because they are well, just so bloody clever! There have been so many Dinosaur Design imitators over the years…but never have I once seen anything made from resin that can compare to the quality of design, texture or colour in their work. Also the fact that 25 plus years down the track with signature stores around Australia and their work sold in 40 countries around the world they still hand finish each piece. That is saying something.

Thankfully I have been lucky enough over the years to acquire a few pieces of my own…some as gifts and some I have splashed out and bought myself. These are mainly things that adorn my body but also some that decorate my home. If you ever have a chance to visit one of their stores I highly recommend making an afternoon of it.