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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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.