Friday, 29 October 2010

Mummy’s Scissors: A blogging experiment in viral, DIY style

 Well hello blogging world - I'm back on my laptop and out of hospital! Although it's a slow moving Roz for the time being. I have been catching up with reading your comments and also my favourite blogs for a few days, but this is the first time I've felt up to posting.
I've now got through the worst of the recovery after my operation. I had a slight complication called 'cast syndrome', which meant I couldn't keep any food down for about 30 hours, and ended up back on a drip and lots of other nasty things. I'll be very happy if I never see another hypodermic syringe in my life... However, since then I've been convalescing. It's small steps, but every little helps and each day brings new challenges and achievements.
I'll write a more detailed account of my experiences soon, but for now I want to launch a project that I originally devised over the summer.

Some of you out there may already have heard of it, if you follow the completely wonderful Jill who,with her big heart and generous spirit, decided to kickstart the initiative for me while I was in hospital. What a totally fabulous surprise for me - I was completely blown away, not only by HER kindness, but then also the lovleiness of those who responded so quickly by making and posting their own versions and spreading the word. I can't tell you how much it cheered me up!

And another thing: readers, you're all just unbelievably lovely. All those supportive comments and emails over the last week and a half have been incredible and have made me feel much-nurtured and full of gratitude. Anyway, onwards, onwards...
Fortunately I prepared the text before the operation (in true 'here's one I did earlier' fashion), along with the images which my parents took a few weekends ago. All the clothes are from the usual  ramshackle range of sources. If I described them all, I'd be here until sunday, as I'm still typing relatively slowly.

What? (the product)
‘Mummy’s scissors’ is an outsize, statement pendant, designed by me last year, from recycled materials: mini scissors ‘mummified’ in tiny silk bandages.

What? (The ‘campaign’!)
This is a DIY, make-your-own, wear or give away ‘product’. I’d like to see if it’s possible to ‘market’ the concept of an unusual but easy to make piece of jewellery that is made and worn, but NOT sold.
Why? (For me)
Among other future aspirations, I’m very interested in fashion design. While beginning to think and learn about the design of individual items or collections, there is also the concept of creating a recognisable ‘product’. Obviously, I’m not in a position to actually make more than a handful of ‘Mummy’s scissors necklaces. But then I thought, “Hmmmm…outsourcing! I made this myself, so why not outsource the ‘manufacture’ of further pendants to anyone who wants to make their own version? Easy!”

Why? (For anyone else).
I’m simply curious to see how far through the blogosphere this idea might stretch (if at all), so I’d love to see examples of any other, home-made ‘Mummy’s Scissors’ pendants being styled and worn.
So, tell me in a comment if you feature a pair on your own blog, and I’ll then choose my favourite images to post on my blog, along with a link to each one.

Additionally, you can enter my first ever give away - I have 2 ready-made ones to give away to two readers. If you comment, stating what you would wear/ style a pair of my mummy’s scissors with –my two favourites will receive a pair each.

Take some thin strips of fabric or ribbon, and wrap them around a pair of small, blunt craft or nail scissors. If they are not already blunt, then encase the sharp tips in masking tape first to stop any nasty injuries whilst wearing! If needs be, stitch the fabric ‘bandages’ in place with a similar coloured thread.

WARNING: Don’t try and wear these while going through airport security! They’ll probably be confiscated...

Here are some examples of pairs I made...

 And this is the lovely pair made by Jill! I tried to feature some of the others already made, but am having trouble saving images to my desktop. However, take a look at these bloggers for other unique and beautiful interpretations:
Please let me know if I have missed anyone off,and I will put you up ASAP!


Thursday, 21 October 2010

She'll be wearing silk pyjamas...

Well, Roz is not quite wearing silk pyjamas.... yet. (She is still confined to what I'm sure she would describe as a deeply unflattering hospital gown). However, hopefully she'll be progressing back towards those pyjamas sometime soon.
The spinal fusion surgery seems to have gone well yesterday. She  spent 18 hours in intensive care but is now stable enough to have been moved and all the initial signs of post-operative recovery are good. If things continue well, she'll be in hospital until next Wednesday. Lots of small steps every day... right now she looks like a sleeping Pippi Longstocking with her hair in two braids to keep it out of the way and hospital compression stockings instead of stripy ones. She said to say a massive thank you for all the wonderful comments and words of support on her previous post. They really meant a lot to her. The next post will be when she is up to it herself. She has asked that any comments for this post are left for her to read first and then publish so please be aware that the comment number will probably stay at zero for a while. We are all wishing her good healing, strength and speedy recovery.
ps: these photos were actually taken by her dad one lazy sunday morning a couple of months ago.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Twisted Embrace - In homage to the late Alexander McQueen

Clothes and cameras - both can be used either to conceal or reveal …

When London Fashion Week started recently, most fashion enthusiasts and bloggers were either heading on down to Somerset House, or maybe tuning in to to see coverage of the latest shows. However, I was doing neither of these things - instead I was sitting in a hospital waiting room, ready to have yet another x-ray. Having said that, LFW was still playing on my mind - I was perched there in my red silk vintage gentlemen's dressing gown (and yes, with matching lipstick!) over the rather nasty, and much less stylish blue hospital robe. The reason for this visit to an Orthopedic hospital? Scoliosis.

Right at the end of last year, I discovered that I have a medical condition that affects my spine, called scoliosis. Put very simply, it means my spine is twisted, for no other reason than ‘it happens’ during growth spurts, when one side of the spine grows faster than the other. Instead of looking like an exclamation mark, my vertebrae now form a lopsided question mark. Having been diagnosed, I spent the first half of the year getting to grips with accepting that these unexpected, rather different curves and shifted-sideways shapes of my body were the new me that I’d be inhabiting for the rest of my life. I was pretty much told by that first consultant that I’d just have to get used to it. Mostly, I didn’t really notice, and given that I’ve never been one for clingy, scanty or revealing clothes, neither did anyone else. I was also able to control my increasing back pain using the Alexander Technique and Cranial Osteopathy and to conceal the more obvious mis-shapes with careful clothing, wide belts, my long hair and good camera angles. But, like Jack’s beanstalk, I continued to grow… and, though I was ignoring the signs, by the end of the summer, we began to suspect that the curvature had worsened significantly. It had - and when a spine twists further, it forces ribs and shoulder blades into ever more buckled distortion and begins to squeeze rather important bits of insides.

And I’m still growing, so if not operated on, my spinal curve will continue, as it has done, to grow ever more pronounced and my ribs, hips and shoulders will rotate, contort and compress even further. Being told I needed imminent spinal surgery to straighten, fuse and pin my spine was a shock that took some time to sink in. And then I was given a date for the operation. It is scheduled for 3 days time, on Weds 20th October - providing that nothing happens to postpone it

However, I've used this imminent operation as a reason to finally create an idea that has been lurking at the back of my mind for a while... This is a dress I have designed in homage to Alexander McQueen that I’m calling my ‘scoliodress’. I have used X-rays of my own spine to depict the current line of MY vertebrae, using McQueen’s design concept of a spine print that fits against the spine of the wearer (created a few seasons ago). It’s an ‘inside out’ dress: what’s inside featured on the outside. I made the vertebrae out of raw silk (scraps left over from the making of my mum's wedding dress), and attached them to a little black dress - charity shopped, obviously! The process of turning my problem into something creative has been very cathartic. I also did some photographic self portraits of my back, but if I feel ready to share them, that will be after the operation.
This is my backbone, my spine externally represented and revealed.

And to just follow the rest of the normal blog format - The shoes are my newest acquisition, bought with my Next voucher. This is the last time I'll be able to wear heels in a while, so I'm enjoying them while I can! The vintage pearls were family inherited, and so is the little pearl clutch. My hair is a new variation on the 'up-do', now having become a fully functional topknot.

My dad took the photos up in the hills, and we tried to contrast the shape of the dress with stright things (such as the road and horizon) as well as the twisted elements of nature.

Sooo, this will be my last post for a while. I’m told that if the surgery is straightforward and there are no complications, recovery is in the region of 6-8 weeks in the first instance. I’ve been stockpiling outfit shoots and other photographic projects of my own, so once I’m able to sit up and use my laptop again (or even if I have to recline in a melodramatic manner on a chaise longue and dictate to a willing helper) I’ll be back to blogging. One of my biggest concerns is actually the length of time it will be before I can use my camera again! I think it should be permanently glued to my side. But it’s all one step at a time.

One thing I’ve really begun noticing and being fascinated by are twists and turns and sinuous crookedness in nature - especially trees. I love the way that branches contort and wrap round and bend to the force of the wind. Trees have a natural twisted beauty. So do the curves and coils of shells. My back is just another example of one of nature's anomolies.

So, if I have seemed a little unresponsive of late in replying to comments and if my rate of posting has slowed recently, this is the reason why.

P.S. I’ve asked my mum to put up a quick post on my blog a few days after the operation, just to indicate how things have gone

I also recently did an interview on the website LadyM presents here:
I enjoyed answering the thoughtful questions she asked, and love the way she presented it!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

"Storming the hilltop"

Another post, another poetry quote - I have to blame it all on my Faber and Faber Poetry Essentials book set. I like thumbing through Seamus Heaney or, in this case, Sylvia Plath when I've got a moment. The title is taken from Plath's 'Berk-Plage', but my all time favourite poem from her 'Ariel' collection is 'The Moon and the Yew Tree' - such vivid descriptions.

Anyway, it seemed to fit well with the photos here. As is often the way, the best locations turn up when out on a family walk, without a 'planned' outfit. So I suppose this is the closest I'll get to casual wear.. And even then there's a value added furry hat involved!

These are my Tommy Hilfiger jeans, that I appropriated from my mum (they were from that hallowed institute, The Charity Shop, to begin with) a while ago, and they're one of the few tomboy style items in my wardrobe! For the walk I added a silk jersey shirt and my grey Jaeger blazer (both thrifted), belted with a 50p charity shop beauty. The great thing about Autumn, as I have probably already mentioned, is the re-appearance of my hoard of faux furry hats. They may look like small animals, but their hibernation patterns are the reverse of most wildlife - sleeping in a hat box atop my wardrobe for most of the summer, before groggily crawling out the minute leaves start falling.
The silk scarf is Charlotte Taylor - I featured it a few posts ago, and am still very much enamoured by it. The ring is vintage, and the lace up walking/ granny shoes were from a charity shop - releasing  my inner nerd one step at a time.

The sky looked like it had its own polarising filter, such was the the intensity of the blue. It was a magical place to visit for a family day out, full of rocky outcrops and plenty of wild bilberries to eat - and, of course, cake at the end of our walk! My dad and I had alot of fun collaborating on these shots, with me scrambling around like a child exploring the wilderness. Days like these are the ones that really make me love living in the countryside. I will definitely miss the scenery when I move to a city, which I suppose will inevitably happen at some point. However, my long-term plan is to work my way back to self employment in the rural parts of Britain eventually. But enough of the rural romanticising, if it carries on I'll sound like I'm being paid by some tourist board!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

"To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees"

Keats knew what he was talking about when he immortilised autumn in his ode beginning "Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness". Yesterday we were lucky enough to be part of a wonderful celebration of autumnal small-village-living. There was an apple press at the local village hall, so, armed with tub-trugs of apples we'd picked, my family headed over to turn our fruits into apple juice - along with half the village! Highlights included taking monochrome portraits of everyone taking part, drinking the best freshly made apple juice ever, getting hit on the head by several plummeting apples as we were picking them (not such a highlight), eating a humungous slice of home made chocolate cake and coming home with numerous green glass bottles of something that looks a little like liquid gold.

 So today's post is themed on all things apple related. My dad took these photos of me last weekend, in a neighbour's perfect tiny orchard - what great timing for this post! There was a wonderful window of evening light last Sunday for about fifteen minutes, which we just managed to catch.

The idea for this outfit started with the cape, purchased at the St Michaels hospice charity tent/ shop at the Big Chill for a mere £10! It served me well while watching the bands at night. I may be, well, slightly obsessed with capes this season - one of my favourite of the current trends.
 From there it was grey, grey and umm.. more grey! The dress underneath is kind of my equivalent of a comfort outfit (no tracksuits for me thank you!) - it's incredibly soft and easy to wear. I customised it with the blue/ turquoise edging around the neckline while on work experience. The grey ankle boots were from Topshop, and both the silk scarf (in my hair) and striped gloves were inherited from my great-grandma.
The necklace - a new pair of grey 'mummy's scissors' made by me - is a little hint towards a project starting soon (it has been pushed back and back).
I love the colour grey - reminiscent of typical British weather, and it goes with everything - not having the stark-ness of white or the bold-ness of black. In fact, the alternative title for this post was 'Fade to grey', taken from the eighties Visage song. However, it didn't really go with the backdrop!

One way to describe those apples might be perfectly 'rotund' - a word I particularly like! I'm always trying to extend my vocabulary, and I take pleasure in words. At the moment other favourites include 'conglomeration' and 'evocative'. I think a love of words might be why I enjoy the process of analysis in English literature so much! Do you have a particular favourite word?

To finish, thank you for your lovely comments on my last photography post. Soon to come on the blog are the project I've been building up to, and a round up of London Fashion Week.
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