Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Our value as Women - or lack thereof.

I realise that I don't write much about the tumultuous side of my life; but THIS is something on my mind. Be warned - the curve from rhinestoning to this post is a steep one. But it's been brewing.
The above is me. I am 53, about a size 26, 5' 10". I love what I see in the mirror, because it is what I have to work with. I didn't get to be this way because one day when I was super modelling I thought, "eh this sucks, I'm eating all the pies." I was born and have always been a fat person.
For MANY people, this means I am less than human. I am a drain on the tax payer, lazy, unmotivated blah blah blah. For someone who is clearly MORE than, I am LESS than.
I live with this and am fairly inured to it as a result, however from time to time it cross-ignites with other things in life and I get angry.
Women readers, do you understand and relate to the experience that men make so many decisions about women based on how f*ckable we are? Men reading, please hang in there because this is important.
The woman above is unf*ckable. She is too old now to breed and she's fat so basically, she's almost invisible. Not to those who know her but walking down the street, in the supermarket, just not there.
THIS woman is f*ckable:
Yeah, right...
THIS woman gets hit on all the time. This is by men of all ages and types too. Mostly younger than me. It is not even remotely flattering; really, being hit on by someone who can't see past thick makeup, fake hair and eyebrows and sparkly clothes is like being attacked by a magpie.

SO here's what I am beginning to work out. When I was fertile, I was not every guy's idea of being f*ckable. Fat women or women who prefer to dress and groom in a masculine way (I'm going to use the word "butch" for this), have taken themselves out of trying to be as f*ckable as possible and are treated as LESS all the time. I know a disturbing number of butch women who have been beaten up, I have been threatened myself. From the oiks hanging out car windows driving past shouting out insults just so I am absolutely sure that I am unf*ckable to them, to the physical menacing that can also happen.
HOW DARE a woman of fertile age take themselves out of the game like that?
Since I hit menopause and got old and invisible, I don't get this any more. Age is something that clearly we can't help. Women who colour their hair, get face lifts or whatever and try to push back on age - they risk being judged as having failed in their attempts, although I notice this is a BIG driver for many women. I didn't realise how anxious I was not to be seen as a woman trying to push back, but it appears that I occur like that when I am Constance. Because men hit on me, women want makeup tips and I get told off when I do makeup looks that are not pretty. Like this:
It's not about looking pretty, people!
So where did this all come from? Well, on another blog I read, this image was posted, and the commenters went to town judging and speculating among themselves the relative value of the model Tess Holliday (not that anyone gave her her name as a human being) and WHY the magazine did this.

Source
For me, this is a great example of the purpose of modelling being accurate for once. Fat women find it hard to work out if RTW clothes will fit and suit them if they cannot see them on a model who represents them. Cosmo is helping to market a product to a demographic of women that is underrepresented in fashion publications, to the detriment of the industry.
But what most people see is something quite different. They see an unf*ckable on the cover of a mag and they are affronted. Because obviously a women's magazine cover is there to appeal to men, right?
SO much judgement about "The Obese" about Tess, about Cosmopolitan.
FFS people, it's a magazine cover, not an invitation for sex. WHY oh WHY must everything be about whether men want to f*ck us, how appalling it is to present as unf*ckable, how worthless we are if we are no longer f*ckable, how hopeless we are if we cannnot maintain a level of f*ckability.

I'm not sure I've nailed how I feel about this or the issue at all, but the women I have talked to about it are not at all surprised by this theory. They often hadn't thought of it quite that way but it lands as very real when they do.
To the men in the world, you have a 0.03 second moment when you decide if you would f*ck a woman or not, you can't help it but you are not animals, you can choose how you respond. Please consider that we may not care, we may not be interested, we may have other things on our minds and other intentions. PLEASE mind your own business.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

How to Rhinestone

This is the costume I've been working on forever. Today I started the back of the skirt
I refer to rhinestoning as just stoning, and given the need to heat things in spoons on elements and little plastic baggies, frankly the whole set up is a bit Stoner!

This is how I do it. It works really, really well, does not involve toxic glues and doesn't take very long. I took photos as I went, hopefully these will illuminate the process!
You need:
My menu of rhinestones - AB Rosaline and AB Rose, AB Peridot, Peridot and Emerald. These wee baggies are worth nearly as much as I imagine they would be if they contained an illicit substance ;-) These are from www.rhinestonz.co.nz
  • Something to Rhinestone (my robe as shown above)
  • Flatback rhinestones - I use Arabesques because I am a cheapskate - they are fifth of the price of Swarovskis and not quite as good, but on this costume it's all about the quantity. 
  • Beeswax
  • A wooden skewer
  • A teaspoon with a heatproof handle
  • Aleene's Tacky Glue - it is by far the best glue as it holds its shape really well and dries fast. For stretch fabrics or things you will need to wash, use Aleene's Flexible and Stretchable, which isn't quite as thick but holds a blob well.
  • Silicone baking paper - pretty much essential for thin fabrics or areas like sleeves where you have to have one layer of a costume over the other.
  • PATIENCE
 To make an applicator stick, first cut a sliver off a block of beeswax. Pop this into the bowl of the teaspoon and put on an element to soften/melt.
 You only need a little bit of beeswax for this - you can use the rest for sniffing!
 When it is soft enough to mash up with the end of the skewer, gather up some and form a  knob of it on the skewer end. Let it get a bit firmer before using.
 I am starting with the dark green stones. I tip enough to do the job onto a lid, so I can move them around easily while working.
 While my beeswax is cooling, I turned all of the stones up this way.
I spread the gown on the kitchen bench return, over a layer of the silicon paper.
 Now squeeze out wee blobs of the glue where you want the stones to go. With these deep green stones, I am working on the darkest branches of foliage in the pattern.
See how many blobs I can do in advance! You can do more than this too. The glue stays wet for plenty of time, though I wouldn't wander off halfway through to take a long phone call. I use the wax stick to gently catch the top of a rhinestone and transfer it to a blob of glue. Gently press it in.
  This is the whole branch completed. See all that white glue showing? It's a good thing! It dries clear but the ring of glue means the stone is held well in place.
This shows the second round of stoning - once I completed the first branch (top of pic) I then glued up two more.
Here's the finished area after I've gone over it again with the other colours of stones. Because this is the back, I've been pretty light-handed - the fronts have about three times as many stones. But I have found the hard way that backs of costumes get a hard time with sitting etc, so this is just about it not being obviously not done!

Top tips:
  • Your beeswax applicator my get less effective if it is cold.  I use my fingers to soften it back up again. Remember you need only the lightest pressure to lift the stone and transfer. It should release, really easily as a result.
  •  Aleene's dries enough to peel the fabric off the paper in about an hour. Gently peel it off - it will be stuck but it will still lift. It is not dry enough to wear until at least the next day but preferably a good week of curing is best. But with a huge job like this neverending robe, I need to shift the completed stuff so I can do the next section
  • Of course you can follow a pattern - I do this too but it is far easier to follow the pattern of a piece of lace, a print or a brocade design. Same principles apply.
  • If you can't find non-hot fix in your colour, get the hot fix ones and stick them on this way. It's no biggie.
  • ALWAYS stretch out garments that are worn stretched, before you do them. 
  • ALWAYS use a thick, tacky glue like Aleenes - if you are working on a foam cup bra or some other surface that is not flat, it won't dribble down the slope like GemTac or Tiger Grip. Not all PVA based glues are the same!
Good luck and let me know how it goes!





Monday, August 20, 2018

A Perfect Wedding

The perfect wedding is one where the couple feel truly like their love is expressed in their own unique way. Whether it's a picnic or a banquet; if that's who they are then that's perfect.
On Saturday evening Clever Hansel and I had the incredible honour of entertaining guests at a beautiful, unique wedding. A couple who had been together for 23 years.
The venue was the Wellesley Hotel -the closest thing Wellington has to a proper old style hotel.
 This is the foyer, photo found in a Google search that doesn't do it justice. My job was to come down those stairs at the back sing Diamonds Are Forever, segueing into Diamonds are a Boy's Best Friend dressed to the nines!
These are the Nines to which I was dressed! I dropped the amazing organza coat on the landing to much whooping. Thanks to Amanduh La for the lend of coat and much blingy jewellery!

This is the reception room photo from the Hotel's website. 
An actual photo in the reception room of Clever Hansel, using the auto setting on his phone as I was wearing gloves and no glasses, so no photo taking for me! So suave. Clever sang Putting on the Ritz straight after my number. It was fun!

Later, we entertained during the reception (after I changed into something more comfortable, also covered in sequins!) with a rewrite of our song about food intolerances, renamed the Catering Song, and then a song we wrote especially for the happy couple.
It was a beautiful wedding and the couple were over the moon about the whole thing. Tons of floral arrangements, candles, handmade chocolate favours, black tie and sequins on the guests and the couple themselves looking immaculate in tuxedos. Magical.

After, I was hyped and decided to go to the Southern Cross to catch High Society's late night spot. I love this jazz band and I love Nicole their singer forever.
 Here we are being silly! Naturally I didn't change as there's nothing quite like arriving at someone else's gig in head to toe sequins ;-)

I do so love my night job!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

What am I doing


I am sitting on the couch with "Live at the Apollo" blaring in the background with this gunk in my hair. Thus shall Nature's Free Frosting (TM)  aka my grey hairs, be turned a strange pink.
This has nothing to do with denying my age - I LOVE going grey. It's just a bit of fun! And at $6 why not!
I have a wedding gig on Saturday and it's taken a fair bit of preparation. My outfits are 1. Black and nude and blingy and 2. red and blingy. The pink hair won't go with either. YAY!!!!
I dislike coordinating. I blame growing up in Laura Ashley's heyday.
nuff said


Monday, July 16, 2018

I Ate'nt Dead

Hello! I have been so busy "lifing" I haven't had a chance to talk about it! Typical!
 Three huge shows, day job and other stuff have just sucked my time away. But now I am an "unemployed bum" as the business is being run very well by the husband and staff, I have three weeks before my next stage appearance and just some free lance work and job hunting to take up my time. Oooh!
So, I'm a sharing about this show which is very dear to my heart We took Time Travel Cabaret to an air raid shelter in 1944. In the (obviously) fictitious Time Travel Cabaret tube station. Moi played the self appointed entertainment officer complete with made up uniform, the real husband played stage husband ARP warden and a group of wonderful performers cam together to play regulars and mystery visitors when the siren sounded, to entertain the audience.
 SO carry on! This publicity shot was done last year and I am not wearing me jacket because I forgot it had daisy buttons on it, so I improvised.
 On the night, SO LITTLE MAKEUP. Goodness me!
 The grim reality - tube stations made ideal air raid shelters but what a miserable way to spend each night! It was interesting though how few people in the audience realised that people slept in these place EVERY NIGHT not just when a siren went off because by then it could be too late. And if you didn't have a ticket you'd be out on your ear. But Constance wasn't having any of that and found room for the newcomers.
 Sorry the light is a bit dusky! Here we are in our underground bar warming up the audience with a singalong.
Where there's smoke there's fire - Andrew and Debbie are the other two corners of the producing triangle!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Winifred Atwell and Me

I was in Facebook minding my own business when a second hand bookshop that I follow posted a photo of this sheet music from Winifred Atwell.
Called, "Let's Have a Gay and Hearty! Let's have a Ding-Dong"
I mean, how could I resist! I messaged them, they couriered it to me, it arrived today.
Naturally, I had PLANS for it. Ahem.

I can play Chopsticks...is that ding dong enough?

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

So much for Plan A!

Hello lovelies, my plan to blog about sewing has resulted in tumbleweed hehe. It does reflect the amount of sewing I have done to be honest, which is zip.
The lovely Emma from Emma's Atelier has told me that I need to put more details into my posts about makes, with close up photos and things. Well that makes a lot of sense! So, I will go back over a few posts like the Kimono one and do just that.
In the meantime here is a teaser about my latest make, which admittedly is a costume but it is very "sewisty" and uses lots of fun techniques.
Tomorrow I am off to the New Zealand Burlesque Festival for a long weekend, which means hanging out on the pretty village of Devonport on Auckland's  North Shore. I will be teaching at Cushla's Village Fabrics too, a Lampshade making class on Saturday morning! Might as well combine favourite pastimes to up the interest of the weekend eh!