A truly beautiful Minxy mix of charm, inspiration, practical advice, and pretty projects to simplify and beautify your life and home. - Jane Brocket, The Gentle Art of Domesticity
I’ve been researching illustrators recently for a new project I’m working on, and happened to come across the work of Sonia Hensler. Sonia’s work incorporates traditional drawing, mixed media and photography which is so modern and very now, with commissions including magazines and fashion brands such as The Wall Street Journal, Coco de Mer and TopShop, amongst others.
These are some of my favourites which I thought I’d share - loving the carnival atmosphere and opulence of her dreamy concoctions.
Behold the latest Prada campaign. Is this gas station chic or what? Totally mesmerised by the Pink Ladies-meets Betty Page-meets To Catch A Thief feel of Miucca’s new collection, which appears to be shot in out-takes from the drag race scene in Grease. Check out the flame-rider shoes, won’t you, paired with all that bling from the new jewellery collection.
Somewhat more than inspired.
If the craft material of choice for winter is woolly yarn, for the sizzling days of summer it must surely be paper. I’ve long admired the cool, modern style of Sydney-based artist Anna-Wili Highfield’s paper sculptures, having seen them in various magazines and window displays over the years. They have the still-life fascination of taxidermy but the abstract details of torn paper, hanging threads and hinted-at forms make them more lively and desirable than any stuffed animal.
Currently working with paper and copper pipe, Highfield’s paper pieces are constructed from archival cotton paper which is painted and sewn together. Her commercial clients include Carla Zampatti, Bianca Spender, Anthropologie and Hermès, with client commissions from across the globe. One day I would love to purchase one of my own. Perhaps a paper Pegasus, or one of her many fine owl studies.
Today’s tip for vintage fashion and fabric hunters, and indeed anyone interested in sourcing rare, high-quality vintage items is don’t overlook the auction houses. Especially if you prefer true antiques to vintage or retro (remember: 70s-80s items = retro, 20s-60s = true vintage, and anything pre-1920s or over a hundred years old is considered antique). Most auctioneers list their items in online catalogues and allow absentee bids, so you can buy from anywhere in the world providing the items are compact (and the auctioneers willing) enough to pop them in the post for you. Ebay’s great of course, but its popularity means bargains are few and far between.
I’m keeping my eye on this clothing and textiles auction, to be held next month by Theodore Bruce. The catalogue should include historic, vintage and designer fashion, accessories, lace, needlework, samplers, textiles, sewing tools and related items. One to watch. And when it comes time to bid, just another hint for auction novices: decide what you’re willing to spend and stick to your guns. Start small by bidding on inexpensive items, build up your confidence noting the forecasted price versus real price items sell for, and you’ll hit your straps in no time. Go forth and plunder.
I went to see this at the Open Air Cinema a few nights ago and anticipated admiring the recreations of 1920s and early 30s-era screen style, but was unsure about a silent, black & white film enthralling for the full 100 minutes. But I adored The Artist, the new French film nominated to win a Golden Globe tonight, which is pure delight from start to finish. Featuring one of the best tap dance scenes in cinema history, it also gets my vote for best film ending ever.
But back to the vintage-look threads: costume designer Mark Bridges previously styled Mark Wahlberg and Heather Graham (aka Dirk Diggler and the memorable ‘Roller Girl’) as 1970s porn stars in Boogie Nights, and Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz’s as 60s drug dealers in suits and maxidresses for Blow. A good part of my enjoyment in each film came from soaking up the era-appropriate set design and costumes, and The Artist is no different. I was in danger of missing some excellent sight gags while off on a brain-tangent admiring the painstakingly-detailed frocks and embroidered cloches in this charming, clever film. And who knew a top hat and tails could be so very appealing?
Vintage lovers, you must watch this. Then opt for a spot of real-time fashion, forties-style with The Maltese Falcon and Notorious, two of my favourite old-Hollywood b&w flicks, which I’m currently digging out of the DVD cabinet. Watch the film trailer for The Artist here, and feel free to comment with your own favourite costume films. Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris was another recent favourite.
This is Mabel. Mabel’s mother Alison came along to the handmade gifts workshop at Surry Hills Library just before Christmas, and knocked up this oilcloth apron in an hour or so following instructions from my book, The Crafty Kid: projects for and with children.
These aprons have to be one of the simplest and most gratifying craft projects to create. Excellent gifts, the oilcloth also renders them perfect for little ones in the kitchen because they’re so utterly food-proof – simply wipe clean. I even made a grownup’s version for myself.
For an apron fit for your favourite five-year-old, a 35cm wide x 45cm high piece of oilcloth
2 metres ribbon
2 metres bias binding
2 colours embroidery thread; one to match bias binding, one in a contrasting colour
One round saucer or small plate
1. Take your rectangle of oilcloth, ruler and pen. Measure and make a small mark 10cm in from the top right hand corner of the oilcloth, and 15cm down.
2. Place one quarter of the saucer on the spot where these two lines will intersect, and use your pen to draw around the outside, directly onto the oilcloth.
3. Use scissors to cut away the excess fabric beyond the line you have made.
4. Repeat the above two steps on the top left corner of the oilcloth.
5. Take your bias binding, apron-shaped oilcloth, and fold the binding over the edge of the bottom left-hand corner. Secure in place with a couple of small, firm stitches, then use a running stitch to affix the bias binding around the entire border.
6. When you reach a corner, fold the bias binding under itself and keep stitching. You might want to insert another stitch diagonally at each corner, just to be safe.
7. When you get to the end, leave a few millimetres and chop off any excess binding. Fold underneath at an angle and stitch firmly in place.
8. Place one end of the shortest length of ribbon to the top right corner of the apron, at the back. Use your contrasting embroidery thread and needle to affix with three small, ‘x’ shaped stitches.
9. Close the loop by securing the other side in place as well.
10. Secure the remaining lengths of ribbon to either corner just underneath the armhole with the same ‘x’ stitches. Et voila, you’re done.