After just over 13 years of Deco 22, I finally organised a photo shoot WITH models just over a year ago today….yes yes I know! To begin with I was a bit overwhelmed with everything I had to plan. Good old internet to the rescue. I searched for tips on planning a photoshoot and was able to come up with a plan. I basically googled “How to plan my first fashion photo shoot”, used the advice that worked best for me. One of the blogs I found very helpful was Fashion Angel Warrior Before the shoot I had a schedule of the order of the shoot and listed what items would need to be ready for each "look". I also had an estimated time of how long each “look” would take. I discussed with the photographer what backgrounds I wanted and sent him the schedule before the shoot. I knew I wanted a studio fashion shoot because when I thought about a location shoot the overthinking gremlin popped into my head and freaked me out! I knew I wanted images for the website and for social media platforms. My research for what type of “Looks” I wanted was basically seeing what others have done and choosing images that I thought would work for me. This bit of the planning the shoot reminded me of one of my day jobs planning a teaching session. The shoot was on a tight budget so my first attempt at styling a shoot is on display for all to see (EeeeeeeK!) I knew I wanted to maintain the design ethos of Deco22 – “Simple Clean Lines”
For my women’s images I selected items from my own wardrobe and old samples from past collections that I thought would complement the accessories and took some test pictures to see if they would work. I also asked Louise my model to bring some pieces with her for the shoot, plain shoes/boots. As this was on a tight budget Louise did her own hair and make-up. For my male images I had no clothes, so I asked my model to bring a white shirt, black shirt, black trousers and black shoes. My male model Andy was actually an old classmate from University days, who was my model for my final collection many moons ago, so it was a lovely catch up as well! Now of course I made mistakes, I completely forgot to take some of the product only shoots and forgot to bring some pieces to the shoot! However, I am glad I kept the overthinking gene corked and got it done! Huge thank you to photographer James Champion, Models Louise and Andy and my assistant for the day Teresa who took my fast panic rambling at the beginning in their stride. I also want to thank Huawei for the runners up bursary prize which helped make me finally take a leap into to right direction.
The more I have delved into Leather craft the more chaotic my studio space had become! Now I am a messy worker and accept this will always be. But spending half an hour looking for my Beeswax is just not on!!! Also, my pattern cutting tables were fine for cutting patterns and cutting out pieces but most definitely not suitable for marking stitches and punching holes for leather craft, and I kept injuring my hand.
So the Summer of 2017 lovely Matt Nicholls a fellow Cockpitter helped me to arrange a temporary solution until I had the funds to commission a proper work bench - he reinforced a table that was already in the Cockpit Arts Leather Hub on the ground floor. (I had managed to get access to the hub before I won the Leathersellers award 😉) So, from June 2017, whenever I needed to mark stitches etc I would gather everything I needed and head downstairs. Yes! Time consuming, but on the bright side I did manage to fit in a bit of exercise during studio time! Finally, in March 2018 I was able to commission Matt (of course!) to make me a small workbench and some shelves so I could have a dedicated Leather craft area.
Matt fitting the shelves
New leather craft space
Recently my slapdash storage “system” for my patterns finally reached appoint of “this has got to stop!” When I spent a couple of day (yes days!!!) looking for the Angelou collection patterns! I have now ensured finalised patterns are correctly hooked up WITH a sketch!
The studio rejig is not complete yet. It is still a mixture of equipment and components for garment construction, pattern cutting and leather products. I am still figuring out what to let go of and what to keep and what will be the most effective storage solution. I am also redefining my working style – although I am aware that “creative mess” will always be a part of it! On the advice of another Cockpitter my neighbour Hannah Bedford (whose studio is sooooo organised!) I am working with what I have for a while before beginning phase two.
I was introduced to saddle stitching and some of the basic leather tools and techniques.. My face when I discovered there was a tool for cutting straps and how to burnish edges, was an absolute picture! There was me trying to cut straight straps with a ruler “Pah - You know nothing...!”
By the end of 2016 I had taken 3 courses with Katherine at City Lit and was regularly practising what I had learnt in my studio with a small selection of tools I had purchased.
Second bag and first of many hand injuries!
Luckily for me, there are other Leather craft designer-makers based in my studio building. Back then, Candice Lau was just across the corridor from me and was so generous with her knowledge, tools and with scrap leather I could play with. Mark Tallowin was on the ground floor and also, very generous with his knowledge and tools and the loan of a fantastic resource “The Leatherworking Handbook” By Valerie Michael which had been recommended to me by others as well.
My starter Leather craft tool kit
Sidebar.. while all of this leather-learning was taking place, I was also revisiting Bespoke Tailoring techniques with a colleague. Basically, I was cheating on Tailoring with Leather! Leather craft had me completely hooked – sorry Tailoring! ...and yes there will be a lot more post about my Leather Craft journey. The learning will never end!!! You can see how my leather craft journey has progressed in my Instagram posts. Click HERE.
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