Trinkets

I'm not a fashion blogger by any stretch of the imagination (as the photographs below illustrate), but I do have a fondness (well, more than a fondness) for fashion, as my ever-expanding collection of vintage and thrifted frocks attests.

When it comes to clothes, I try to shop second hand (with the exception of hosiery and underwear!), partially for the good of the planet, but largely because it allows me to cultivate a more individual look. 

Cardigan: Charity shop
Dress: Vintage
Shoes: Juju
Brooch: Poptones
Hair clip: Poptones

When it comes to accessories, however, I try my best to support independent designers like myself, many of whom sell their handmade wares via craft vending website Etsy.

My most recent handmade goodies come courtesy of the wondrous Marlena Pope of Poptones, who sells her products via her proper good fashion blog.

Marlena has a wonderful sense of fun and colour in both her outfits and her handmade accessories. When I clapped eyes on her sweetheart barettes, I knew I had to snap one up. I wore it to work today, and every time I turned my head I caught a scent of sugar.




My collection of witch-themed brooches also appears to be ever-expanding (and as a committed Stitch Witch, how could it not be?)

I already have a sparkly number which spells out "WITCH" in beads from the cryybaby Etsy, which my fellow Stitch Witch Hannah Hill gave me (thanks Han, I wear it with pride). Mimi's shop is brimming with riot grrrl sparkle and sass, and she's trade friendly!

My other witch brooch is similarly riot grrrl inspired; also from Marlena's shop, its glittery design is based on a Hole fanzine.




As a self-proclaimed femme, sometimes I need something a little creepy to offset the sweetness of my outfits; and when that's the case, I turn to the fabulous Jen Johnson's Etsy, hoodratroughdiamond. Jen has bags upon bags of wicked cool style, and she comes up with the most wonderfully surreal, disco-morbid badge and barrette designs. Among my favourites are her new moth collar pins:


And her Halloween bone hair barrettes:


My very favourite purchase from Jen, however is the wonderfully witty tombstone pin that reads "Live slow, die whenever". It's a sentiment I live by!


Truly I could spend all my hard-earned pennies in the hoodratroughdiamond shop; there's such a wonderful plethora of naff 90s memorabilia, creepy cute kitsch, and twee, all aesthetics I endorse heartily.

Today's present to myself was a pair of cute ghostie earrings (ghostie is one of my favourite words and definitely one of my favourite things) from ginettepomette, who makes many adorable things which threaten my bank balance. Jen of hoodratroughdiamond alerted me to their existence; thanks a bunch, Jen!


I do love ordering independently designed/manufactured products through the post; when they arrive, it's like getting a little present from yourself that you needn't feel guilty about!

I will always support independent designers whenever I can, which brings me to the last (but certainly not least) designer of this blog post; Hanecdote, aka my good friend and fellow Stitch Witch Hannah Hill.

Hannah has recently reopened her Etsy shop with a ridiculously cute new product; the Ghoul Guides patch. These collectible patches range from "Halloween Queen" to the hilarious and pertinent "Donut Touch Me" (I ordered two; one for me, and one for a friend!)




And the best part is, if you order three badges, you receive a membership badge free of charge! I just know I'm going to have to collect them all!

That's my haul of my favourite indie designers! I'd love it if you could share yours, I'm constantly on the lookout for new trinkets handmade with lots of love.






An interview on the origins of Poesie Grenadine

Recently I've been contacted by a number of different students wanting to interview me on my practice as it relates to feminism, writing, and fashion. It's a real pleasure to answer their questions (not to mention immensely flattering!), and it wasn't very long ago at all that I was bothering artists Joetta Maue and Iviva Olenick with a plethora of nosy questions for my own projects.

This interview was with a fashion journalism student who is creating a literary magazine which focuses on the marriage between poetry and fashion. I'm very excited to see the finished publication.

What came first - your love for writing or your love for sewing?

Writing came first for me. I struggled with literacy at school, but after receiving my first "proper book" (with chapters!), Horse Pie by Dick King Smith, in my stocking, one Christmas when I was seven or eight, it was like turning on a tap; the writing just poured out of me.


When did you start doing each?  Why?

With the writing, the more I put in, (in the form of novels, poetry, non-fiction, plays) the more continued to pour out of me; this continued from the Horse Pie incident and hasn't really stopped, although my writing is a lot more pared down and concise now, as it often has to be embroidered, and embroidery is a very time-consuming medium! Aside from GCSE Textiles, when I embroidered a dress I'd hand printed with unfurling fern designs, I began embroidering in earnest after a very debilitating period of mental illness three years ago, as both an occupation and a form of therapy; I found the meditative, repetitive process soothing; perhaps I was stitching my ego back together again. Occupational or art therapy, if you will!

Are there any themes (in your writing and sewing) that you constantly use in your work?

As the above may hint at, I'm particularly concerned with public (mis?)conceptions of mental illness, notions of romance (and romantic notions), pop fem(me)inism, flora and fauna, the tortured artist cliche, sickness and recovery, the English national psyche, and art which is soft, twee, delicate or "girly" as a foil to darker subtexts.



Where do you get your inspiration from?

The online embroidery and feminist art communities are a constant source of inspiration and support, and I am very grateful to them, and to the web for making them so accessible. I try to take in as many exhibitions as financially possible, and, as it did in my formative years, my reading material continues to inspire me in wonderful ways. Being in nature is, in my opinion, also really important for the creative process, and helps me breathe.


What's your creative process like?  I.e. Do you find yourself writing first and then applying that to your stitch work?

The seed of an idea for an embroidery often begins as a scribble in a notebook, or, more often than not, as a note saved in my phone! There's always rather a lot of writing and planning done before I "commit to cloth". Documentation and reflection is a very important part of my creative process, and I do this by blogging over at http://poesiegrenadine.blogspot.co.uk


What is the significance of words on clothes/accessories for everyone to read?

Words on clothing will always make a statement about the reader to passersby or the general public. Why else do people buy branded clothing than to broadcast their affluence and sophistication to the world? Similarly, my brooches convey pride in oneself and allegiance to a feminist (or femme) cause; a pride in one's womanhood.




So far, which item that you've sewn has been your personal favourite?  Why?


 It's very difficult to pick an absolute favourite embroidery I've sewn; of the embroidered accessories I've created, my "Thunder Thighs Are Go" heart shaped brooch, with its play on the Thunderbirds catchphrase and body positivity, has proved a firm favourite with the Tumblr crowd and is a favourite of mine too (I may have to make myself one to keep!). I'm also rather fond of my Stitch Witches rosettes, created for my collaborative project Stitch Witches, which is soon to culminate in a zine celebrating contemporary and subversive stitch craft, curated and created by an embroidering girl gang of two.

CUSTOMISABLE Stitch Witches Rosette


Is there one in particular you believe to be most powerful?  If so, why is it?

People have really embraced "Thunder Thighs Are Go" as their own phrase to celebrate their bodies, and I'm moderately proud of that. I think that makes it quite powerful. Some of my embroideries on the subject of mental health, created in bitter and knowing irony, have been taken literally and reclaimed as a badge of honour, and I think either taken in this reading or in the spirit they were originally intended, they are powerful statements of defiance.



Describe some of the word play you use. 

My work is always underpinned by the written word, whether that be by beautiful etymologies, dreadful puns, or linguistic philosophy (though it is a little heavy on the puns!)

Currently, how many different projects do you have going on?
 
I'm currently taking a break from my most ambitious project yet; a hand made quilt on the subject of the stars and fortune telling, based around my character Polly Kettle, an occult siren. Whilst I'm ruminating on that, I've embarked on a blackwork series of turn of the century childrens' book illustrations. I'm also working towards bringing out the first issue of Stitch Witches zine with my collaborator Hannah Hill (http://hanecdote.tumblr.com/)

When you created your first piece, what were the reactions like from other people?

The people to see my first piece of embroidery were my parents, and I think they were tickled by the playful wordplay and clumsy stitches! Considering how amateurish it is, it's received a surprising amount of attention on Flickr.



What are your hopes for your creations in the future?

This September I will be starting the tutor training course at the Royal School of Needlework in Hampton Court Palace, to learn, practice and teach hand embroidery to the highest possible level. In addition to and because of this, I would hope to exhibit my work more widely, and expand my practice of participatory performance embroidery workshops, social events where I use embroidery as a tool to open up conversation on a theme in a fun and performative setting.

By the way, where did the name Poesie Grenadine come from? 

Poesie Grenadine is a French phrase which translates roughly (and very broken-ly) as "purple prose". As much of my earliest embroidery arose out of re-workings of terrible teenage love poetry, it seemed most apt. I'm also somewhat of a florid, pinkish person, so it's suitable in that way too!

A Christmas Message from Stitch Witches


(Or one half of them at least.)
scan0088
A very Merry Christmas to you from the moveable feast that is Stitch Witches headquarters. As I sit, stuffed as the turkey I’m stuffed with, glass of red in hand, I ponder how to make the glitter-covered (a Stitch Witches must) festive season just a touch more… ghoulish.
Possibly with the addition of a Stitch Witches rosette, printed with an illustration by Hanecdote and adorned with spiders, scaredy cats, or spluttering slime green candles?
scan0081
Or an otherworldy Stitch Witches loveheart brooch, decorated with ghostly green and lavender gems and sequins?
These and more will be available to buy (or perhaps even win) in the run up to the release of Stitch Witches zine #1. The zine is coming on apace; here is my most recently completed page for it; I won’t give anything else away apart from to say that Polly Kettle is an artistic alter-ego of mine, and certainly lives up to her “mystifying” tag line.
scan0093
Hannah is something of a one-woman stitching machine, constantly churning out occult-themed t shirts and accessories (but only of the highest quality), many of which are inspired by Stitch Witches, or will appear in its pages or in other merchandise.
We’ve both been featured (or are about to be featured!) in other zines over the past couple of months. Hannah’s “CREEP” patch above will appear in OOMK zine, along with (fingers crossed) a piece by me on putting on an exhibition in my parents’ bay window this summer.
We’ve also both had art featured in the most recent issue of Girls Get Busy zine. Girls Get Busy is “a non-profit feminist collective supporting female writers, musicians and artists with a monthly zine. Based in London, UK and curated by Beth Siveyer“. My piece, “Hysterical Woman“, is on the very first page (I can’t pretend not to be a little bit proud and smug about that):
scan0089
I made my fellow Stitch Witch a little Christmas package of witchy goodies, which arrived at the same time as her copy of Girls Get Busy. Hannah took some great photographs of her swag, and I’m glad she liked my silly little gifts so much (and that they, and the zine, coordinate with her nail polish!):
sw1sw2
One thing’s for sure this Christmas; Stitch Witches are certainly on the up. I’m looking forward to 2013, and all the creativity it will bring, immensely. All that remains to be said is, once again, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good ghoulish night.
Snapshot_20121225_1