Tuesday, 29 September 2015


If you follow me on Instagram you will have spotted this dress before when I excitedly posted about it a couple of weeks ago. It's got to be my number one charity shop find ever. I bought it a couple of weeks ago on a trip to Worcester on a trip to visit my Grandpa. I always love trotting around the charity shops in Worcester, there are hundreds so it takes an entire afternoon. We rarely have time to do them all. The shop I bought this in nearly got left out but I decided to nip in quickly. I spied this handmade beauty nearly instantly - the pattern makes it hard to miss! I turned over the label... £5!! I ran to the till extremely quickly, trying desperately to contain my excitement. It surely was the bargain of the century. I wasn't entirely sure it was going to fit, in fact I'd almost completely resigned myself to the fact that it wouldn't but thought I could refashion the fabric. Low and behold when I tried it on it was near perfect. 

I'm off to Berlin next Monday and I can't wait to waltz around the streets in this. The pattern reminds me a lot of GDR designed products so it'll fit in well against the murals and this shop selling former GDR products.

I hate packing so it's great having cotton dresses as they are ultra light, take up little space and leave plenty of room for all the vintage I'll be buying at Humana! I've been to Berlin once before but I didn't really get to do half the exploring I wanted to. This time I'll be visiting Potsdam one of the days I'm there and this amazing intact 19th century apartment alongside a host of other treats. 

I've always had a soft spot for Berlin. My favourite books as a teenager were Christopher Isherwood's Goodbye to Berlin and Mr Norris Changes Trains (often merged into one volume - The Berlin Stories), both are set in Berlin in the 1930s and wonderfully evocative of the period (including the terror). There are many scenes set in the Kit Kat Club (a supposedly fictionalised club - I thought it was real until I was researching this...). The cabaret scene was huge in 1930s Berlin and I can't wait to explore it. In homage to it I'm listening to a few of favourite Jazz albums in these pictures: Kind of Blue by Mile Davis and Pretty Woman by Duke Ellington.

The cactus lamp was a car boot find last year. I'd be searching for one for years and suddenly there were two! I've since found another. They are magic when they are lit; super kitsch and utterly perfect for almost all occasions!

I hope you are all having a great week and enjoying the sunshine (can you believe it finally decided to come out!) I'd love to know any tips you have for places to see, eat or shop in Berlin!  I'll see you all soon with snaps from Berlin.

Outfit Details

1970s cotton dress - charity shop
Suede platforms - Urban Outfitters


Monday, 21 September 2015

Gyllyngdune Gardens Tea Festival

This is just a very snappy post as I'm feeling exceptionally tired after a rather busy day at Gyllyngdune Gardens yesterday. As I mentioned in my last post, it was the tea festival. I along with my mum, Caroline and Sally Crabtree spent the day entertaining guests. My mum and I through the medium of tea bag fabric and buckets of fresh blooms, which we used to craft costumes and headdresses for an army of small children and Sally as a walking, talking, interactive tea table (see pictures below!) Luckily the sun shone for us and it was so popular that we ran out of everything! 

Here are few snaps of our day. I dressed in my finest tea gown and gradually adorned myself with flowers and ribbons as the day progressed. By the end of the afternoon the gardens were dotted with people carrying bunches of posies, flowers in their hair and a lots of children running about in tea gowns!

The tea festival is a lovely event, I didn't get to see all that much as we were working but I did slip out at the end to catch John Brolly's tale of the Horniman family performed in the atmospheric (but freezing!) quarry garden.

Linking to Visible Monday !

Outfit Details

1930s pink satin theatre gown - gift from my mum

1960s fake flower hat with gauze bow - charity shop

Butterfly brooch - Penny MacBeth

Turquoise jelly shoes - Juju footwear

Green silk kimono - my mums 

Monday, 14 September 2015

Pastoral Idyll

In my last post I mentioned that this weekend is the Gyllyngdune tea festival and that my mum and I will be whipping up dresses made from tea bag fabric. It was procured for workshop from the marvellous scrap store (they have them all over the country, they are a must for anyone working in arts education ). Mr Horniman former owner of Gyllyngdune was heir to the Horniman's tea empire, and his father invented the tea bag so it's extremely fitting to be using the fabric.

In preparation for the weekend, we spent yesterday (in between cooking lunch for 5) crafting an ensemble from the fabric. I have to say my mum was mostly responsible for this remarkable first try as I had to stand very still as she wrapped and taped it around me! 

The outcome brings to mind the concoctions of Charles Frederick Worth, master couturier and favourite of Empress Eugenie and various other dames, empresses and queens of the mid 19th century. The tea bag fabric naturally lends itself to Worth style frothiness; it looks wonderful when layered with tissue and shaped into soft folds. 

Empress Eugenie, Winterhalter, 1854
Source: 1

 These paintings are a little earlier but they bring to mind Worth's dresses, and Winterhalter is known to have painted Empress Eugenie in Worth.
Olga Von Wurttemburg, Wintehalter, circa 1856
Source: 2

The photographs will act as source material for the workshop hopefully inspiring an array of gowns and interesting postures for our Tableau Vivant. We'll also hopefully have a variety of fresh blooms to make corsages; just like the Hydrangea I have slotted into my sash.

 The setting of them reminds me of Hameau de la Reine in Versailles, Marie Antoinette's garden. Based on a scene of pastoral bliss it was filled with lambs, apple trees and baskets of flowers. I found that a giant fan purchased at a car boot and an ivy curtain were sufficient for setting the scene (although I wouldn't have minded at all if somebody had handed me a lamb!)

Lastly this ever popular and ever so slightly kitsch painting by Fragonard provided lots of inspiration for the postures. If you ever have the chance visit the Wallace Collection and see it for real, it's much nicer than the tea towel and tin reproductions (although I rather like them too...!)

The Swing, Fragonard, 1767
Source: 3

I hope you had a marvellous weekend and weren't too put out by all that rain. Amazingly we managed to snap all these in a howling storm. We managed to take them in about 5 minutes which has to be record timing! Astounding what can be achieved when you are cold and wet!

                                                     Linking up with Visible Monday

Outfit Details

Tea bag fabric dress & turban - rustled up by Penny MacBeth
Giant hand painted fan - car boot sale
Mint green duck tape - The Range (also available from Hobbycraft)
Jelly shoes - juju footwear


Friday, 11 September 2015

Shell Grotto

Over the past three months I have been working with my mum on a residency at Gyllyngdune Gardens. Gyllyngdune has a rich and fascinating history, it was once owned by Frederick Horniman: tea heir, MP for Falmouth, father of Annie Horniman and collector of interesting artefacts. He is perhaps most well known for founding the Horniman Collection in London. He bought Gyllyngdune at the end of the 19th century, saving it after several decades in disrepair and gifted it to the council who have run it since. 

Prior to Horniman's ownership it was in the hands of a very bonkers vicar who was responsible for much of the garden's amazing layout and foliage, and a tiny unconsecrated chapel that looks out to sea. His daughters are rumoured to have made the shell grotto and shell seats located in and above the quarry garden. After years crumbling away the shell seats were restored a few years ago. They are situated in the most magical spot, overlooking the quarry garden filled with ferns with a view right out to the sea. It is the most spectacular vista on a sunny day. As soon as I stumbled on these grottos I knew I wanted to snap some pictures in them and the residency has been the perfect opportunity to do just that! The gardens as a space are wonderfully theatrical, there are so many performative spaces including a pavilion, the grottos, the quarry and a rose garden which rather resembles an Edwardian promenade.

I hand painted a shell encrusted ensemble, very much in the style of the flamboyant Annie Horniman, who was renowned for her eccentric style and her liaisons with the theatre I wanted to capture the theatrical nature of the gardens and Annie because although Annie never visited I like to think if she had she would have enjoyed posing and lounging in the garden.

You may remember my tea reader post last year celebrating all things tea and the tea festival at Gyllyngdune Gardens. The tea festival is a yearly event and takes place this year on the 20th September. My mum and I will have an exhibition in the foyer of our work from the residency and we will be holding a workshop from 11-5 creating dresses, turbans and accessories from tea bag material. We will then invite select participants to don the tea bag ensembles and take part in various Tableau Vivant throughout the garden. The ensembles will be very much in the style of Annie Horniman's costumes, with heavy hints of Paul Poiret (he was after all the master of the early fashion parade) and early 19th century theatre costumes.

Fashion parade through garden, Paul Poiret
Source: 1
Source: 2 

Annie Horniman
Source: 3
I hope you all are enjoying the burst of sunshine, I certainly am! If you are in Falmouth on the 20th  do pop in to our workshop and say hello. 

In other news you can read about an average 24 hours in my on Old Tat Magazine's blog.

Outfit Details

First ensemble
Embroidered net top - Miss Selfridge
Sequinned shift dress - Topshop
Headdress - Penny MacBeth
Embroidered necklace - Penny MacBeth
Turquoise jelly shoes - JuJu Jellies

Second ensemble
Shell t-shirt - hand painted by me 
Shell Christmas ornaments (worn in hair) - charity shop
Tights - hand painted by me
Scallop shell necklace - charity shop
Sequinned hot pants - Topshop