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!

Friday, March 9, 2018

V1493 The World's Most Delicious Kimono pattern!

I am a big fan of Plus Size pattern sections! I am so tired of seeing a pattern, wondering if it will fit me, looking up the size range and playing Size Range Roulette. But every now and then I hit the jackpot, and when I saw that this gorgeous beauty came in up to 26, I Squealed with delight!
For the record, I seriously love the treatment shown in the sample, and the instructions cover how to recreate this applique. Me, I just wanted a devore velvet kimono robe that would pass as 1920s, and in this pattern, I saw my chance.
The two fabrics are an odd polyester knit (?!) faux devore velvet, figured in burgundy and purple paisleys, and a plum rayon velvet for the trim. Not seen is a plum velvet ribbon and lace trim and burgundy satin bias binding.
Apologies for the revealing photo, but as it just appeared in the national press I figure what the heck! I had a photo shoot for this article and cheekily took the robe along to ask them to get some pics of it for my blog. I wasn't expecting one to make it to the article!
So as you can see, I cut it longer than the pattern, and also made it fuller by slashing all the pieces long ways and spreading them a little bit at the bottom without changing the shoulder. It was only a little bit as with three backs and four fronts, it adds up. I left the pockets off as they would show and this is not a practical garment!
Look this is a hack job. No seam finishing inside as the weird not really devore velvet doesn't fray. I sewed the cuffs on without any pinning and they fitted perfectly, even given the fabrics are different! The front band is sewn right sides together, then I sewed the ribbon and lace trim to the free edge of the band, and hand stitched it to the seam allowance on the inside. This saved trying to fold bulky velvet under, making MANY LAYERS of velvet seam allowance. It does droop a little but that's mostly down to the velvet being a lot heavier than the main fabric.
Lastly, the hem I machine sewed but I did use a satin bias binding to finish it as there is no nice way to finish such a hem. I messed up the ends a bit where they joined the band, all harmless for this costume piece and learning for the real thing.
I LOVE this robe. I wear it pretty much with this outfit in a back stage scene where my stage hubby and I sing a bittersweet duet about the shifting nature of love and relationships.
I am looking forward to making a couple more in cotton and silk - I think I have one of the world's largest collections of embroidered silks and cottons that are THE MOST DIFFICULT fabric types to find an actual use for! And this robe with its gorgeous cross over cuff will look amazing.
But you know, don't hold your breath!




Sunday, March 4, 2018

Tidying up my blogging

Hello lovelies!
I used Blogger to set up a website for Constance a few years ago. It's just been an online reference really, but as of yesterday I have started to write blog posts on it. About being CC.
I realise that this blog is like me - an eclectic jumble of topics that appeal to some people some of the time. I'd like to return to the daily happenings of my off stage life however, and the show stuff will go on the other blog.
So, if you want to read about being and Emcee, pop over to Constance's Blog.
Cheers!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Planning our Creativity

I am not a planner. I have two jobs that take up 60+ hours of my week where planning is key. I am all planned out after that.
My best bet is to watch for patterns of success, and work those patterns. Only then does planning come naturally to me. One of the successful patterns is having a range of different scales of projects.
In sewing this means a complex garment or a big quilt maybe, with a few simple jobs like repairs or small craft projects mixed around them. (my sewing lately has been short on big projects!)
Same with show projects - I've just come off one huge show project and I'm looking forward to the next couple being much simpler affairs for me - a photo shoot to accompany n interview I did recently and then just MCing on the night and belting out a couple of songs from my usual repertoire. The trick is to not convince myself that I need to make a new costume or write a new song for them - that's where all the panic and time wasting happens!
I am also the unapologetic owner of a personal whiteboard. It's BIG and it was free - it's actually the back of an annual planning whiteboard that was being thrown out. I learned from my corporate career that being able to write all over a whiteboard really did help us to organise thoughts and ideas and make them achievable. Not just wispy words in our heads.
So when I feel overwhelmed by projects and things to do, I write them on the board. This board covers the whole year to mid November, but not too deep unless it needs to be. It's the things I need to plan ahead for. The details I write down in lists on pads.
OK, OK This IS planning. I am deluded! But it is simple, visual and effective. And no time sheets and the budgets are far more fun!



Saturday, February 24, 2018

On busy weeks and running away

My goodness what a busy time I've had! Between WIGSTOCK and last weekend it was all about Kabarett presents NACKTMUSIK. Rehearsing and sewing and travelling and organising and...all in a very hot summer!
Here we all are in the foyer afterwards Back row - Audience member, Trillian, Clever Hansel, Ellie Kat, Dahlia Dangerous, me, Front: Madame Vestris, Cherry Boomb, Leo Lennox.

Here's a weird selfie that Cherry took before the show, with me in the background.
Gosh it was full on but from a sewing point of view the highlight would have to be the robe I made for one little scene from Vogue 1493. With the amazing sleeves. More on that in its own post, when I get some photos! I'm doing a photo shoot on Thursday and thought I would wear it so hopefully Ill get some good ones.


Friday, February 23, 2018

Censored!

This photo of Clever and I was refused by the editor of a regional paper last week. The same paper happily runs beauty queens in bikinis and other scantily clad young women in the context of news (not page 3 stuff) but this was not acceptable. Why?
We never found out, but I have a few ideas. Gender ambiguity maybe? Daring to be old and fat and scantily clad instead of young and pretty maybe? It WAS by far the least confronting image from a photoshoot full of images. None of them really scandalous at all, not really.
Anyway as we had no time, I sent in this one instead and they ran with it:
It worked anyway. We oversold the 330 seat theatre and they had to add more seats!
More later!<3 p="">

Thursday, February 1, 2018

WIGSTOCK - The last night of the Gardens

Starring PollyFilla and ME [and a bunch of other people] ;-) PollyFilla now lives in Melbourne and is the most recent recipient of entry into the Melbourne Drag Hall of Fame, which is a huge honour; makes me so proud to be his friend and mentee. Polly wanted to do a huge drag show to finish the Gardens Magic series of concerts that Wellington City Council operate each year. While he was in Aus up to his eyelashes in shows, we got a cast together and the rest is herstory!
The largest crowd ever (so I am told) gathered to watch us. Must have been nearly 2,000 people! Age range from babies to great grans.
 Synching to the Grass Is Always Greener from Woman of the Year. Me and PollyFilla
 Backstage, Polly (top) and Ellie Kat doing last minute sewing repairs. Two extremely talented (and qualified!) costumiers in their own rights.
 Polly opening the show!
 Here's a bit of the enormous crowd who came to watch. This is family friendly drag!
 Me on stage singing Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps. I had already done the lipsynch duet with Polly but I was still blown away singing to so many people!
 A close up taken by some lovely person on Facebook
Ross caught this moment with the breeze slightly lifting my skirt. It was a sensational evening - cool and calm which is always a huge relief when you are painted to the max and trussed into a tight frock!
All of the performers were amazing. It's surprisingly hard to find photos of us all though, and no word of any official photos as yet. So I'm not filtering out the other fantastic artists on purpose. I love them all!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Oooh look - Kaffe Fassett!

Brandon Mably and Kaffe Fassett came to visit my shop this week. Thanks to the amazing Sue and Shanon at Busy Bee quilting who sponsored the Wellington leg of their NZ tour this summer. They teach and speak and are amazing. I missed all of this as I am too busy being distracted, so I consider myself extremely blessed by this unexpected gift.
Brandon took the above pic on the verandah outside, in front of this wonderful mural. Kaffe spotted it and decided it was his kind of backdrop. Colour blending and painting is his style, not high contrast.
I love both these amazing people's work. I have a lot of Kaffe fabrics in my stash, that I treasure so much I can hardly bring myself to use them!
You couldn't meet two nicer men. They were encouraging about our beautiful shirts and shades and we had a wee gossip about some of the other players in the industry, not mean just fun things.
And, I sang them the bit of my Stashbusting about Kaffe and they wanted to see it so I sent the link.
Made my month, year, decade that did!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Courage vs Confidence

People are always admiring my confidence, because I will do mad stuff like this photoshoot in undies. The thing is, it doesn't work like that, I'm sharing this not to blow my own trumpet, but because I think it might help people who are scared of giving these things a go to understand how it works:

I do it because I am scared, but I screw up my courage and have a go. The confidence comes FROM this, it is not the beginning of the cycle. Experience has taught me that this will mostly happen, although sometimes the outcome is awful and humiliating and terrible, just as I fear it may be. But I live through it and have another go.
ANYHOO! THIS photoshoot is to publicise our show at Art Deco Weekend in Napier; KABARETT presents NacktMusik 
 This is a thrown together look that I am improving on for the show. YES, I am in a bra and cami knickers and I will be on stage. This is a really terrible idea in many ways but I'm doing it anyway. It is a terrible idea because in spite of knowing it is perfect for my character, some people will be very judgy about it.
 Especially when I am surrounded by these babes all evening! Spending a day with them all being so gorgeous in their scanties for this shoot was nerve-wracking, even though we all love each other and it is a very safe space full of trust and mutual respect.
 There's nothing typically sexy or titillating about this.
But, we will have fun and it all makes sense. Clever Hansel and I are married in this show. A somewhat unconventional relationship that is probably not a legal marriage, given my character's actual assigned gender is probably not the one I am identifying with here.

It is a Cabaret of weird, sexy and unexpected acts, tied loosely together by snippets of insight into the lives of the cast - their loves, losses, addictions and confusions.
I could have taken an easier path with this show and worn more clothes. When I first started performing, I would no more have done this than run naked down the street. But, the courage-action-confidence cycle has moved me a long way from then, and I hope that this show will be one of the wins. I am sure it will, actually, as it is something special.