Monday, 13 November 2017

This is where I am in stitch terms at the present. The historical costume side has been absorbed more or less in to the landscape work!  I tried to explain this in a podcast interview published this week-

I have grabbed some text from the textile art blog I write, so apologies if you read both!

England is a very lived in landscape. It wears the past up front, it has been altered, adapted,  scarred, as needs and fashion dictated.  This isn’t the romantic wilderness but a  work place.WHERN K WELL

I have spoken before of  tenuous thoughts of how to combine the different strands of my work, the flat work and the historical costume, of how they should entwine,  and this may be the most successful  attempt so far.
I want this to be made of parts, remnants and fragments of things,  a landscape of layers and ghosts, of things half seen, half understood.
It is worked over a found piece of crewel work, a chair back. The style has roots in the Jacobean designs, even the idea of a chair back or antimacassar is an old one ( They were to protect the furniture from the late Georgian’s hair oil!) Some will be unpicked leaving  holes to mark the pattern. Some will be exposed, some painted into the background.
On top of this are the usual lines and divisions of a landscape, but these are muted in colour and are worked across with text from an 1840 publication. And in this piece a dismembered garment is going to be embedded into the background and then the fabric plucked away in places to reveal the crewel work and the base fabric beneath.  Over the surface will be a landscape from Givendale in the Yorkshire Wolds.  My main job is going to be balancing these elements, not letting one dominate and trying to end up with a coherent whole...  I can try!  At present the work is about half way, garment is attached, most of the text done, plucking and fraying partly completed and a start made on the landscape. Does look most unpromising, but then a frockcoat half way through is like wrestling with a fabric octopus.


Thursday, 11 May 2017

Northern College of Costume Exhibition

ncc flyerThink you are not interested? markterry_170509_8660cropThe latest group are putting their efforts on display this weekend and it is worth taking a look.
This is good old fashioned history based theatrical costume making.
Never wondered how many component parts go into making one Tudor "dress"?  Well, now is the time to start wondering and also have the opportunity to find out.  At the same time you could take a peek inside  a Teddy Boy's pockets, or ask the ladies about their 1940/50s evening wear.
I went along as a dresser for the Tudor photoshoot in our local Tudor Barley Hall. Those big skirts over farthingales and the stays can take quite a lot  effort to get on and then to manage. It was so atmospheric in there - I can't wait to see the photos.
The Teddy Boys stayed in the city centre down one of the seediest side lanes. No romantic Tudor beams for them. The final shoot of the day was at a Neo Classical chapel. A rather busy day.
Take a look at the complexities of the makes, see what can be achieved with some  ingenuity, hard work  and a lot of know-how and guidance. And then think - this was all achieved in 15 weeks!
I did the course a few years ago, and survived with battered, stitched fingerends and a lot more skills than I started with.
If you are in York, do drop in.
markterry_170509_9194cropallPhotos : Mark Terry

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Advance notice -  York Open Studios - Last 2 weekends in April.   Will have my machine embroidery on show and for sale, as well as small scaled elements of costume and  some of the 'words and dress'  series.

 If you are unfamiliar with the Open Studios idea then definitely come along, you get to see a whole range of  artist/ makers in their native habitat with an open invitation to question and chat!  If York is  not do-able then check out locally, most areas and towns have their own  version.

Monday, 6 February 2017

A Tangent- but still costume and history based!

I spent part of the Autumn exploring the idea of clothing and words being linked at very particular times. This developed in response to my father's illness and the desire to wrap him the words he couldn't hear us say, to tuck them into the creases, seams and pockets of his pyjamas for him to find and hang onto as he woke up.
This became a textile installation  currently on exhibition in York, but also lead to other ideas.

What would result from combining primary sources with appropriate costume ?  One way to find out.

 Finding documents written by the mill workers proved difficult so contemporary  documents arising from their lives - a newspaper report and official factory accident report had to do as start points for the experiment.

National Archives is a great place to get lost in, virtually and really, but the first find was a newspaper report following an inquest  in Bristol 1860 on Elizabeth Davis, a 16 year old textile mill worker. She been injured at work and later died.

 The mill and the area was quite well documented with photographs from the era, so these were the start point for a simple work dress loosely based on a quarter scale version of a day dress in Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion. The account of the accident was embroidered across the bodice and around the skirt.

Martha Appleton was the small dress, 18cm high, and around the hem are quotations from her accident report. She had been injured at work, losing fingers on her left hand.

Made of cotton lawn to keep them delicate and light,  they were dipped in glue to set it into 3 dimensions. Martha was dip dyed but Elizabeth has been rubbed with graphite powder to age  them.

I still haven't made my mind up about them. There are things I would change, scale, the lettering, complexity of the make, but they are also in the exhibition along with extracts from the documentation. The initial responses have been very positive, even emotional.......

Wednesday, 20 July 2016


I' m feeling guilty for not doing more on the costume side - I spent most of the Spring working on the full sized costumes for the York Mystery Plays and apart from this have had very little time to do anything other than my textile-arty-stuff.  One day .......

If you would to see more of this  try, on facebook or google my website.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Is there anyone in historical costume land who hasn;t  at least heard of Janet Arnold? 
Museum of London has some of the extant garments she worked from for the Patterns of Fashion series and has put a lot of information on line.

 I have always found this museum  very approachable and helpful, and they do a pretty thorough  photographic record once they get going.
 I am going to take the time to do more than browse a little - who knows the next inspiration may be lurking there.

Hope you find something of interest too!

Thursday, 25 February 2016

A Victorian inspired Return!

Long time, no write, but it seems that the technical issues have been resolved. Well, we can hope!

This is one of the costumes made since the last blog. It is  a little Victorian walking ensemble of short tailed jacket, apron and asymmetrical  back overskirt over a polonaise  style skirt. It was made to fit the cat so some proportions may be rather odd! It is based on a V&A 1868 promenade dress, drawn by Janet Arnold in Patterns of Fashion 2 ,but as the over all length is  9", the jacket is 3", many  modifications have had to be made.
The jacket has a hook and eye closure underneath the fake buttons, but all of the shapes  and seaming
of the bodice and skirt panels  are as faithful as possible.  The elaborate cuff treatments were an adaptation due to scale  but I hope it kept the  idea of the original= they were certainly menace to do - I do need smaller pins and smaller fingers  too.  The flaps at the front of the jacket, collar and other decorative details were also sacrificed for reasons of sanity. The stand collar was borrowed from other extant jackets, it worked better with the cat  proto-doll.

The underskirt is drawn up on loops sewn into the seams to create the volume - the problem was always how to keep the hem level-ish and convincing. After all of the fiddling on the apron and rear panel I prefer it without. The fabric is too bold to carry the details, it becomes confusing. Another decision to regret was the inclusion of the premade roses - they look too mechanical and perfect. And of course there is the perennial cry about buttons - they may be the right diameter but they are too thick!  Some things never change.....

On a different note I am opening my work room as part of the York Open Studios event in April  2016- although the focus will be on my freehand landscapes these little costumes will be out and about - so come along if you want to see them or to chat!