Sunday, 15 September 2013

Photographing people

What do you think about when you take a photograph of a stranger? This dilemma started for me a few years ago in Indonesia, when I was trying to take photographs of local villagers for my fieldwork research. I would see them clustered around a well, washing clothes, carrying firewood or sitting in a group, talking and smoking. But whenever I tried to photograph these scenes the villagers would jump up in a combination of alarm and excitement, insisting on changing their clothes and standing in a formal group pose. Unsurprisingly, I became frustrated with this! The 'natural' scenes I had envisaged, capturing villagers in their everyday lives, were being thwarted. Instead, I had roll upon roll of stiff family groupings.

Looking at these photos got me thinking, about how photographing a person is a two-way exchange between the photographer and the person being photographed. We like to think we can hide when we take photographs of strangers, so that the photographs are just images that we have already seen with our eyes. But the reality of the situation is that by introducing the camera into the environment, we are changing our relationship to the people around us.

So, how to get around the dilemma? One of my favourite photography sites solves the problem it by embracing the exchange with the subject, by talking to the person in the photograph and including part of the dialogue with the photo. The site is called Humans of New York, and sometimes I can't decide what is more compelling - the photograph or the story that goes along with it. Well, they are both pretty good!

From HONY: "I'm from the Ivory Coast."
"Why'd you come to America?"
He formed his hands into two imaginary guns. "Too much boom boom," he said. "So I run."

Saturday, 31 August 2013

News from simoneandginko land...

I've been busy at simonandginko over the past couple of months! Here's some of the things I have been doing:

A stylish capsule collection of the Lolly range of simoneandginko jewellery is now available exclusively at Lulamae. Check out the range at their Melbourne Central store! It features three spring fresh colour combinations - pink/maroon and white/green in chunky bangles, square and oval bangles and rings, as well as pale blue/dark blue in oval bangles. I'm really happy with these colours and I have been experimenting with more, such as yellow and white, for some summery action! I don't know about you, but I am really looking forward to breaking out the colour for the warmer months.

Four bangles and rings from the Dirty Pastels range are now available for sale at Some Like It Hot in the Degraves subway near Flinders St Station. Check them out in the window display!

Last weekend simoneandginko had a stall at the Makers Market at RMIT Brunswick campus, as part of the Craft Cubed festival. Haven't heard of Craft Cubed before? Check out the Craft Victoria page for more info. It is nearly over for the year but make sure you get in early to book next year's activities, including fabulous speakers and workshops as well as open studios.

As part of the Makers Market, simoneandginko jewellery was featured in the Arts section of the Age newspaper on Friday 23 August! This was a lovely surprise and I think the jewellery came up really well on the page.

The Makers Market coincided with my launch of a new colour in the Deco range - a classic black and white. These brooches would go great with an evening dress for some deco glamour...

simoneandginko also ran a competition as part of the Makers Market to win a free bangle. The lucky winner will be announced tomorrow.

And finally... simoneandginko has begun new mouldmaking and resin bangle classes with Candu at their purpose-built workshop space in Swan St, Richmond. Sign up and learn how to make a mould of your favourite bangle, and then cast a bangle in resin! Bookings are at Candu or send me a message on my contact page if you would like more information.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

A fashion manifesto

Recently I started studying fashion design. It is a really interesting course, very technical - we are studying how to sew, machine knit, pattern-make and draw, and eventually I hope to be able to make garments from my own designs, such as the paper dress above! It is all very fun, and interesting, but as I think about what part I'd like to play in the industry I start to have niggling doubts.

This is one industry I find that has major issues... for one, the wastage of clothing. Did you know that the most energy consumed by garments is not in their production (growing the fibres, production, dyeing, spinning, weaving, cutting, sewing, finishing) or even in their transport (from low-cost countries to high cost countries... and then sometimes back again)? The most energy is consumed in the disposal of garments. So next time you are thinking about buying a $10 t-shirt, or a $5 t-shirt, or whatever ridiculously low sum they cost these days, think about how many times you'll wear it, and then where it will go after you have disposed of it. Is it going to last for decades, like a great vintage garment, being passed from loving owner to loving owner? Or will it stretch out of shape after five washes and have to be discarded right then and there?

I dream of creating clothing that no one ever wants to throw out.

A second concern I have is the emphasis on particular body shapes. We are all shaped differently, and one thing I think is really important is to be able to design for all body shapes, not create a design based on an industry-determined size 10 of a particular height, and then adjust it. Maybe we could create beautiful and amazing things if we started to think about it differently...

Tell me, what interests you about the fashion industry? And what would you like to see change? No doubt I will continue to blog on this as the course goes on...

Friday, 5 July 2013

Getting custom-printed tights

Recently I put together a folio for entry to a fashion design course. One of my pieces drew on some fabric patterns I had designed to be printed onto tights. The theme of the designs was 1980s Berlin punk, so I titled the collection "Ein Berliner" after the famous speech that US President Kennedy had given to the West Berliners, where, by saying in solidarity with the audience "ich bin ein berliner", he had actually said "I am a doughnut" and not his intended "I am a Berliner". Fact or fiction, it is a great story! I took inspiration for the colours and motifs from spray paint graffiti colours and paste-ups, as well as images of punk and post-punk fashion.

I had simulated my designs onto photographs of tights, which looked pretty good, but I really wanted to see how they looked on an actual pair of tights. The particular design I selected was a spray painted stencil of lips, scanned and digitally coloured.

I found a site in Germany called Funnylegs that custom-prints your own tights. It is pretty simple to use, although a lot of the information is in German, and fortunately they send their products all over the world. Another site that also looked good was Digital Art Wear, which has a wide range of custom digitally-printed clothing, but unfortunately they only appear to ship products within the USA.

I had the tights printed at Funnylegs and I think they came up pretty well! My other designs included a digitally manipulated sketch of a doughnut, overlaid and coloured to look like an animal print, and a paste-up letter F that was duplicated and overlaid with checks to create a punk-like tartan.

If you're interested in getting your own design printed on tights, I'd encourage you to have a go! It is a lot of fun, and it is very satisfying to see your print on a final product. Of course, if you would like one of my designs custom-printed on tights for you, please contact me.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Working with resin: Making the Deco range

Just over a month ago I launched the Deco range of resin brooches. The concept behind this range was to pick up on the glorious, rich colours and larger-than-life jewellery style of the art deco era. The idea began with some pieces of an old chandelier I picked up at a market stall.

I started by creating silicone moulds from the brooches. It was my first time using silicone so I was relieved by how easy it was to work with. After telling myself "the first silicone pour will probably be a disaster", I was actually really happy with the moulds from first go.

Mixing silicone - these shots from my latest experiment...

From then it was a process of mixing colours and pouring resin. This is the fun part of the process - particularly the moment when you pop out the new piece from the mould, and decide that yes, you really are happy with it. I played around with colours a bit until I got some that I was happy with.

Then was the sanding process, smoothing all the rough edges and making them look pretty! This can be the tedious bit, but once you get into the sanding it can be quite meditative.

Finally I found a strong enough epoxy glue to secure the brooch backs to the brooches. So far they're holding strong! I also managed to glue several of my fingers together...

I've been really pleased with how the Deco range has turned out. From the first idea to the finished piece, it was really what I had envisaged all along. This might sound unsurprising, but working with silicone moulds and resin pours isn't always as easy as it sounds. I'm lucky that my first three collections have turned out so well, because it doesn't always happen this way.

Right now I'm experimenting with ideas for a new range, and oh boy they look pretty average right now. So bad in fact that I've had to throw out both moulds and resin pours - something I really don't like to do because I'm very conscious of the impact of it on the environment. Anyone who has heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch doesn't want to contribute any more waste than they have to! Experimenting is part of the creative process though, so don't let this put you off.

After struggling a bit with my latest range, it is nice to go back to my existing collections and feel some pride for my vision and for the final products!

If you've got any questions about using resin and silicone, including where to find supplies, leave a message on my contact page. Or join a class! Because it can be very rewarding once you know the basics.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

New Zealand: Land of the Fairies

There's something otherworldly about New Zealand. Particularly when you are from Australia, as I am, and you're used to crumbly red dirt and eucalyptus-scented bush (a term used to describe scrubby forest/grass areas), and also when you're used to thinking of New Zealand as being, well, almost like Australia. It's so close to us, and yet the landscape is so very very different.

Volcanoes push their way through rolling green hills, mud pools hum and spit, deserted beaches glow with white white sand and heavy dark trees drip with rain.

It make sense to me why New Zealand has been the site of fantasy films like Lord of the Rings - it is hard to believe this landscape exists, even when you're standing on it.

And really... there's nothing as fun as bubbling mud!

One thing I love about New Zealand is the Polynesian culture, and I had a great time at Waitangi learning about the treaty, and seeing some Maori performances in a traditional Whare.

Lest you think New Zealand is just a wild landscape, I took a few photos in some of its urban spaces...

New Plymouth 
The people are generally some of the friendliest and most welcoming I've ever met, and many of the towns of which much of New Zealand seems to consist, have a 1960s down-to-earth charm.

Looking for mussels, Whitianga