Sparklewren

aesthetic art corsetry

A week in the life...

What a topsy turvy week it's been. Last Saturday I was volunteering at a stables just south of the city, as I do every weekend (sadly not yesterday though, due to the rest of the week going slightly bonkers). That was a joy, as ever. Sunday was resting and home stuffs, then Monday was my 33rd birthday! All good so far. 

Tuesday was a regular studio day for myself and assistant Holly, in which we worked on both the bespoke Bloom corset (part of the Falling Blossoms curated corsetry collection) and samples for our Winter Sale. Items will be listed online from the 14th I think, but will be available in person on the 11th at our Winter Party (see Facebook for event details)! 

The first layer of lace for Bloom, a bespoke duchess satin corset of deep red. 

The first layer of lace for Bloom, a bespoke duchess satin corset of deep red. 

On Wednesday, we got the train up to Barrow-upon-Soar, there to meet some friends for a trip to the Leicestershire County Council's collection resources centre. Bit of a mouthful. This wonderful place houses much of interest, including a wealth of antique corsetry. And since Snibston sadly closed, the collection is even bigger as all the display corsets have come back to storage. Sad times for the museum, but with a silver lining for me courtesy of Sarah Nicol and Alex Davy, curators at the centre... It meant that I finally got to study the original Birds Wing corset off the mannequin and in my own two hands. Only what... four or five years after first seeing it? And so I finally got to properly see how it was made. 

If you've followed my work the past few years you'll know that I went through numerous tests and ideas in a bid to reinterpret the Birds Wing. On a mannequin, behind glass, in rather dull lighting, one could only guess at the construction. So the question is, did I figure it out correctly? Did I match the original construction, create something different, improve upon the original methods or merely mimic them? I'm going to write this all up at some point, so you will have to wait and see...  

The original Birds Wing corset, made in 1900 and held at the Leicestershire County Council's collections resource centre. 

The original Birds Wing corset, made in 1900 and held at the Leicestershire County Council's collections resource centre. 

But do you know what I didn't do? I didn't think to take one of our contemporary Birds Wings with us, to compare side-by-side! And now that I have retired our Birds Wing and sold most of the samples, I don't really have anything appropriate to do this with. So perhaps the Birds Wing will have one final hurrah after all... It would be lovely to show them side-by-side, after all. Though I can't decide whether it would be most fun to show an accurate replica or a super-glossy example of our contemporary take on it. Maybe both?!  Ting photographed by InaGlo Photography, in the Antique Bird corset. This was our most similar recreation of the original Birds Wing. 

But do you know what I didn't do? I didn't think to take one of our contemporary Birds Wings with us, to compare side-by-side! And now that I have retired our Birds Wing and sold most of the samples, I don't really have anything appropriate to do this with. So perhaps the Birds Wing will have one final hurrah after all... It would be lovely to show them side-by-side, after all. Though I can't decide whether it would be most fun to show an accurate replica or a super-glossy example of our contemporary take on it. Maybe both?! 

Ting photographed by InaGlo Photography, in the Antique Bird corset. This was our most similar recreation of the original Birds Wing. 

Whilst there, I also saw a non-corset garment with a touch of detail that reminded me of a design idea I had back in 2010... And it has somewhat grabbed me, so perhaps we have found the starting point for our Autumn/Winter 2016 Curated Collection! A tiring day though, we all got a bit too excited and worn out by all the quirky and interesting antiques. 

On Thursday, all thoughts of corsets and shinies were put to one side... For those not in the know, I live on a narrowboat with my boyfriend and our cat. The latter has gone on his holidays this week (kitteh-ry) as we were scheduled to dry dock our boat for blacking. We're doing the work ourselves, so this whole week coming will be a bit topsy turvy too. Anyway, Thursday was the day for travelling. A few hours boating out from the city centre and hey presto, we were back where we actually first viewed the boat a year ago. Thankfully the weather was breezy but mild, so it was a lovely trip. Boat life does slow you down though, in a good way. The effect must be even greater if you are a Continuous Cruiser (someone who moves their home every two weeks), we largely stay in the one place as we have a home mooring. Anyway, knowing that it will take you over four hours to make a journey by boat that would take half an hour in the car, well... It makes you adjust your expectations and exercise some patience. It calms you. Which was exactly what I needed after a day of fizzy corset-studying excitement. We spotted five herons along the way, braved the darkness of one of the country's longest tunnels, squeezed through one of the lowest and tightest, and enjoyed the wind whipping our hair whilst steering with one hand and drinking tea with another. I started out thinking, "I've too much work to do, no time for this!" and ended up feeling like, "things will happen when they happen." 

Friday was then absurdly stressful. The boat was slipped from the water in the morning, all well and good. We then did battle for the rest of the day with mis-sold tools and more. We felt behind schedule and a day that I was meant to spend in the studio ended up being spent covered in flakes of blacking until nightfall. I dragged myself into bed with aching arms and wobbly knees and a hope that my hands wouldn't be too tired for all the hand-sewing I need to get through this week. It meant that I felt I had to make the decision to spend the weekend in the studio instead of volunteering at the stables, too much work to do this month to lose that time. Which then made the whole weekend feel stressful and made me feel guilty for not being there to help shift horse poo. 

So eek, what a week... Highs and lows and now I just feel exhausted. These days I don't push myself like a used to. Well, I didn't realise I was even pushing myself back then, but I used to think about work nearly every waking second. Not ideal. And what I've found helps prevent that is to have a decent work/life separation (physically I mean, not working from home and the like), combined with a weekly (though flexible) schedule which makes it easy to work *at work* and switch off elsewhere. When the schedule goes to hell for too long, it's a challenge. 

But hey ho, this is only one topsy week. Normally they're less bonkers and I'm sure it'll all be back on track soon. This week coming will involve painting the hull of our narrowboat, preparing for the Winter Party on Friday night, and continuing on the embellishment of gorgeous Bloom. More to follow!