Gemma Sangwine

Unique and bespoke millinery and hair accessories


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Parkin Roadshow – a sort of convention for Milliners!

This weekend I took a rare Saturday off to visit the Parkin Roadshow in Bristol.

Parkin Fabrics are a family firm based in Lancashire. 14484959_1327825540569693_7383953612802224056_nThey sell mail order, so the roadshow is a great chance to see lots of millinery materials and supplies up close in real life and quiz the team about any technical issues regarding using them.

I also learnt more about the history of the company and the lengths they go to to source materials from the UK and around the world. For example, in 1993 renowned milliner Mitzi Lorenz gave Parkin a small sample of woven fabric which she said was called Cinnamon, and asked if they could source it ….this turned out to be Sinamay, which is made in the Philippines from the Abaca plant. weaving-sinamay

Parkin work directly with the Filipinos who harvest and process the Abaca leaves to make a fine, strong yarn which is knotted together and hand woven to make sinamay. This is an incredibly laborious process, all done by hand, and is a craft which dates back centuries. It also ticks the eco-friendly box as Abaca is a renewable resource and the production process is carbon-neutral – completely fossil fuel free!

But it’s not just about sourcing materials from overseas, at Parkin their Buckram is 100% cotton and is woven, bleached and starched here in the UK, in the North West of England.

So, all in all, I got to go shopping and learn a bit more about the craft I love. Being able to label my millinery products as Made in the UK, or carbon neutral is a great bonus too!

 

 


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Making a Recycled Vintage Diamante Hair Pin

Earlier I showed you how to make a vintage diamante side tiara. Next up is a hair pin made with a recycled vintage brooch. These pins look great added to an up-do and work well in thick or curly hair.

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Here I have used an old 1920’s brooch,  two hair pins joined together, silver knitted wire and silver 0.2 wire.

Firstly cut a length of the knitted wire, long enough to cover both the pins and be doubled over. Sew this in place using 0.2 wire.

 

 

 

 

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Next undo the clasp on the brooch and pin it through the knitted wire.

Close the clasp and use pliers to squeeze it permanently shut. Sew the brooch pin to the knitted wire.

 

 

 

 

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I have added a scrunched up piece of knitted wire into the gap at the back of the pin to help keep it securely in place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Finally, line the back of the brooch with a piece of knitted wire to hide all the messy stitching and give a nice professional finish. Use an over stitch with the o.2 wire to do this.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_20151113_112351251These pins are a great way of recycling antique brooches which have old fashioned clasps – which are not as secure as modern wheel clasps – and so are prone to coming undone and falling off.

 


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Wiring together a Vintage Diamante Side Tiara

I have been making these side tiaras for a while now, but it all started in 2013 in response to an enquiry from a bride-to-be….montage

Paula loved vintage marcasite brooches and wanted a statement bridal headpiece made from them. I experimented with different techniques and ended up using silver plated wire to bind all the pieces together and fix them onto a blonde coloured headband.

Since then I have made many more of these headpieces (and learnt that they are called side tiaras!) and I have refined the way that I make them.

Here I will take you through the process I use to make a wire frame to hold the pieces of vintage jewellery together.

To start, bring together the jewellery you want to use and decide on the layout and composition. Think carefully about the size, weight and balance of the piece. At this stage I usually have lots of brooches and earrings piled up and I try out different compositions and different pieces, taking a photo of each one on my phone, and then scrolling through the photos to see which looks best.

JpegHere I have settled on a design made with 4 brooches and a pair of earrings, all gold tone with red diamante. Next I take some 1.0 gold plated wire and make a frame which will be the main structure that the jewellery will be wired onto.

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JpegThe jewellery will sit on top of the frame, but check that it will be as hidden as possible and that each piece of jewellery can be securely wired onto it – hence the little wings on either side for the earrings to attach to.

I have used 0.4 wire to bind the ends of the frame where they overlap.

Next take a length of about 40cm of 0.2 wire and thread it through a needle, use it doubled over and knot it at the end. The 0.2 wire is fine enough to sew with and strong enough to hold the jewellery in place. Cast it onto the frame and sew on the first piece of jewellery. I usually start with the last brooch at the bottom. You can also keep the clasps intact and use them to help secure the brooches to the frame. Use the needle to bring the wire up through the small gaps in the brooch and back down to catch onto the frame. At this stage I should point out that this technique only works with jewellery that has gaps between the diamante stones for you to sew through, some pieces are totally solid and are only good for glueing onto feather or fabric bases.

Once all the jewellery is securely fixed to the frame, go round with teflon pliers to make sure all ends of the 0.2 wire, where you have cast it on, are smoothed over.

Now you can fix the diamante onto a headband. I prefer to use ribbon covered bands in a colour to match the client’s hair colour, then they disappear in the hair and all you see is the diamante.

Model -Stephanie Hazel Poole •  Photography- Kayleigh Adams Photography

This is a great way of recycling vintage jewellery, especially odd earrings and brooches which have broken clasps. You can also incorporate heirloom jewellery and pieces of sentimental value.


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Two Make – What happens when a milliner and weaver work together?

Way back in April last year my friend Nick of Leto & Ariadne approached me about working together as part of the Two Make collaboration project organised by the Gloucestershire Guild of Craftsmen (of which Nick is a member) and the University of Exeter.

So, at this point I should mention that I have known Nick for about 20 years, we met on the first day of our Textiles & Fashion degree course at Winchester School of Art and quickly became firm friends. We both specialised in weaving and have a similar ordered and analytical approach to pretty much everything! (And sometimes unintentionally colour co-ordinate our outfits – see photographic evidence below!) We have stayed in touch over the years, and when Nick relocated from London to Stroud a few years ago we, along with my sister Victoria of Studio Vee, took on a shared studio together .

Gemma & Nick, photo by Camilla Reynolds Photography

Gemma & Nick, studio portrait by Camilla Reynolds Photography

During this time we have considered teaming up, but, due to time constraints, have never quite managed it, so this project was a great opportunity to finally produce a collection together as part of a structured collaboration.

We wanted to do more that just combine our crafts (millinery and weaving) and used the opportunity to explore new materials and techniques, something we don’t get the time to do in our day to day practice. For me this has meant trying out thermo plastics for the first time, and for Nick it has been a chance to use a mix of fibres, including cotton, paper and carpet yarn. We have also used social media to help us collaborate and plot the progress of our project – you can see more of this on our shared blog Spirit of Kinship.

You can see what we, and the other makers (there’s 20 of us altogether!) have been up to as all our work has been collated and curated into an exhibition which opens at the Corinium Musem in Cirencester on the 6th of February – on til the 28th February, after which it goes on tour round the UK.

Two-Make-Invitation-1-252x300The full list of collaborators are; Bella Peralta & Jenny Bicât * Matthew Tradgett & Sarah Pearson Cooke * Valerie Michael & Tim Blades * Karen Hansen & Rowan McOnegal * Susan Early & Sarah Cant *  Derek Elliott & Faith Ristic * Trevor Lillistone & Su Trindle * Stephanie Kemp & Alison Dupernex * Nicholas Ozanne & Gemma Sangwine * Tess Wakeling & Kristian Pettifor

The project is curated by Miranda Leonard in partnership with Dr. Nicola Thomas, University of Exeter and the Gloucestershire Guild of Craftsmen.
The exhibition is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Arts Council.


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And Finally….here’s the last one I made!

So….the last two blog posts have been about pieces I made for a collaborative photo-shoot….well here is the 3rd and final piece!

The dress was made from 8 metres of pure silk taffeta with a lace-up back and flower corsage at the waist.

I wanted to make a Pre-Raphaelite style floral crown to go with it, and Emmie was able to save some of the off-cuts of fabric for me to make the flowers with.Sally montageI had recently been practising making fabric flowers and was keen to hone my technique and make a finished floral head-piece, so this really was the perfect opportunity!

To start with, two layers of fabric are bonded together, this works best if one of the layers is cotton organdie, but in this case I used two layers of the red silk (I did a small amount of the red silk bonded with black chiffon for a bit of variety!). Then I cut out the petals in a range of sizes, pressed and manipulated them into shape and stitched them together around a fabric covered ‘bud’ to make a natural looking rose.Sally WIP montageI found some green silk (gifted by a friend who popped by the studio and saw what I was up to!) which was perfect for making some leaves and also to wrap around the headband.

The finished piece is asymmetric with a mixture of different sized roses, and includes some made with black chiffon for a darker feel.Sally final montageOn the day of the shoot Harriet did a great job sweeping Sally’s long hair into a romantic style up-do, with braids on one side, emphasising the asymmetric look of the floral crown, which she positioned off to one side, and which also echoed the corsage on the waistband of the dress.

The dress is the ‘Josephine’ by Emmie Miles Bespoke Dressmaking & Design, hair by Harriet’s Organic Hairdressing, make-up by Aine Thomas. And of course the photos are by the very talented wedding and portrait photographer Camilla Reynolds.

The photo-shoot was a lot of fun to be part of, everyone enjoyed the day and Camilla did a great job of recording it all;

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Here’s Another One I Made Earlier…..

In the previous post I introduced the collaborative photo-shoot I worked on recently with Emmie Miles Bespoke Dressmaking. The second dress Emmie designed was a 1930’s style silk satin gown with a train and feature embroidery on the waistband at the front.

It had a soft, regal and feminine feel to it and I decided I wanted to make a vintage diamanté tiara to go with it.

Anne montage

I don’t usually do sketches for my work, I just respond to the materials and play around with mock-ups, trying out different compositions with a variety of different pieces of vintage jewellery, until I find one that feels right.

Anne mockups

The first piece I made featured vintage 1920’s and 30’s jewellery but it was not quite right for the dress, too heavy and geometric. So I tried again, and picked out a selection of diamanté flower brooches that reflected the softness of the embroidery, and had a slight blue/pink tint to some of the stones which worked well with the soft pink silk of the dress.

Anna final montage

For the photo-shoot Harriet styled and set Anne’s long hair in a 1930’s movie star do. Overall, once the dress and tiara were on, Anne looked like a glamorous screen goddess!

The dress is the ‘Vera’ by Emmie Miles Bespoke Dressmaking & Design, hair by Harriet’s Organic Hairdressing, make-up by Aine Thomas. And of course the photos are by the very talented wedding and portrait photographer Camilla Reynolds.


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Here’s One I Made Earlier…

I was contacted earlier this year by fashion designer and dress-maker Emmie Miles to provide hair accessories for her to use in a bridal photo-shoot. Emmie was in the process of designing and making samples for her latest bridal wear collection, I saw the sketches and loved what she was doing, and instantly envisioned what hair pieces I could make to compliment them.

Photo by Camilla Reynolds Photography, dress by Emmie MilesPhotos by Camilla Reynolds Photography

There were 3 dresses, and the first to take form was an ivory silk 1950’s style wedding dress, with pearl and bead embellishment on the front.

I wanted to make a 50’s style pearl bead and crystal fascinator with veil, to compliment the detailing Emmie had done and fit in with the vintage feel.

Pearl & diamante fascinator...step by stepI made the frame first, to the shape and size I wanted, and covered it in knitted wire. Next up I sewed on the biggest pearl beads and crystals. I wanted to cover the entire piece, but to keep it a random mix of different sized beads – I was using vintage pearl necklaces, which varied slightly in colour. It soon became apparent this was going to take a long time! So I spent a few hours a day on it, and……15 hours later…….it was finished!

Photo by Camilla Reynolds Photography, dress by Emmie Miles, Fascinator by Gemma SangwinePhotos by Camilla Reynolds Photography

So here it is modelled by the beautiful Uta, looking every inch as elegant as Grace Kelly!

The dress is the ‘Emma’ by Emmie Miles Bespoke Dressmaking & Design, hair by Harriet’s Organic Hairdressing, make-up by Aine Thomas. And of course the photos are by the very talented wedding and portrait photographer Camilla Reynolds.