Thursday, 29 June 2017

Working at the New Carnival Company: Part Five!

We've been pulling some early mornings and late nights at the New Carnival Company to get ready for Mardi Gras on Saturday. I've been making very good progress on my peacock costume, which is great as it means I won't be naked during the parade!!! Ooh er!

On tuesday we were all very happy and excited in the morning because the NCC were granted their creative programme funding from the Arts Council! Congratulations NCC! Here's Gina pouring out our celebratory breakfast:
Aw yisss!
Here's me enjoying it:
I worked on my headpiece, arranging the various feathers out carefully before the final Gluing:
Here's a rare photo of me enjoying the feathered headpiece:
In the end I trimmed down that very tall middle feather slightly as it was a bit obnoxiously long(!) and added an extra blue piece in the middle of the base structure. This is what they (in carnival-land) refer to as the 'Rio' style headpiece; e.g. an explosion of feathers!
Here it is finished:
Meanwhile Gina inspected Queen Vic's innards! Here's the giant Queen Victoria puppet lying on her operating table:
I love this picture because you can see all the detail that was put into the puppet - the eyes, inside the mouth and the trimmings and trinkets! Truly beautiful. This is what Queenie looks like inside:
A spider's web of tape, willow, wire and metal! While this was happening I finished off the peacock's 'wings' or backpack (as it's known in carnival-land). Here's a before picture:
And after:
Generally it looks a little more healthy and plumped out. It's hard to see because of all the background noise, so you'll have to take my word for it until I'm able to get a good shot of the full outfit that it looks great!
We also had a visitor on Tuesday in the form of this fella:
A baby pigeon that didn't seem to want to leave us all day!

Wednesday was mostly taken up with the refurbishment of the African Queen costume. Here she is looking a little sad before we started:
I worked with lovely Coral re-vamping her ears and hat. Here's some work-in-progress shots:
We used lovely sequins fabric and fresh foam shapes to replace the tired and tarnished old ones. It's amazing what a difference it made as you can see in the photo above - the old one being on the left and the new on  the right. And this is the African Queen when we'd more or less finished with her:
She looks a bit perkier and more colourful I think. Later on I made a waterfall style skirt out of this fabric:
Pictures to come!

Today (Thursday) I worked on my peacock while Gina and the Equals ladies worked hard on their elephant. First I worked on my codpiece and belt which I made from scratch:
And I also made a feathery tail to go with it (it's upside down in this picture for storage!):
Gina and the gang made fantastic progress with the elephant:
From this...
To this!
That's Mary modelling it who will be wearing it on the day. And all those decorations on either side were hand made today by the team; he's going to look absolutely incredible when he's finished. We'll be working on him tomorrow to finish bits and bobs including his facial features. Here's another picture of him from a different angle:
I can't wait to see him all finished and will be very proud to say that I was there when he was born and that I had a teeny part in making him! (I cut out some of those white and yellow shapes you see there!) I especially like the texture of his skin, the pink lotus flowers and the yellow feathery twiddles coming out of his sides. And his ears. His ears are fab.
That's it for now. I'm still very much enjoying my time at the NCC and want to put in as much work as I can to get the most out of my trip. I'm learning lots about costumes, carnival and Indian culture... did you know that chess originated in India? I didn't!

Monday, 26 June 2017

Working at the New Carnival Company: Part 4!

Today was the first day of the final push towards Mardi Gras day! With only 4 days to go, we'll be putting the finishing touches onto costumes and making everything fabulous and gorgeous this week. Today started by finishing off these spicy little numbers for the Viva Carnival Club that we started last monday:
After that it was time for a team meeting; starting to plan the actual logistics of carnival day. There's a lot to do; making sure everyone knows where they need to be at what time, decorating, entertainment and refreshments... as a carnival newbie it's all fresh to me but I shall do my best to keep up!

Next I finished the feathered friend I started on wednesday [for before pictures, you can click here]:

It looks gorgeous now that it's plumage is fully restored! And I made a new circular piece for another costume that needed a little touching up:
Shiny! Then Gina and I finished off the backpacks for the Equals ladies that go with the Delhi Durbar costumes we made last week:
It feels pretty good to be working through our list of jobs and be ticking things off. Later in the day we had a visit from a special friend:
Oh hai!
And even later in the day we went to visit the Viva Carnival Club themselves to finish off even more backpacks and bits and bobs of costumes and just to say hello to them because they're brilliant! No pictures of that event unfortunately as we were too hard at work!

Over the weekend I managed to whip up some extra fancy peacock shoes to go with my peacock outfit:
As well as cavorting with some piggies and also a mad wild horse at Quarr Abbey!

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Working at the New Carnival Company: Part 3!

On thursday and friday this week we mainly worked on a set of costumes representing the Delhi Durbar, including red, white, blue and gold tent skirts and a giant elephant puppet!
The main part of the skirts had already been made last week, so we just had to decorate and finish them with the Equals group (who will be wearing them next saturday).

The first part of this process was to finish the decorative side panels by covering them with fabric:
And cutting them out with the most ginormous pair of scissors I've ever seen!
Then goldifying them:
Then adding wire inside so that they can be bent into a 3D effect (this will make sense later):
After that they were all hand printed with a stamp Gina had made from foam and gold paint:
Everyone in the group had a go at printing which was another fine example of teamwork; I did the first couple of prints, then I showed the next lady how to do it, and she showed the next and so on! Then when they were dry, we stuck these panels onto the main skirt part along with the bunting that the Equals ladies had made and finished the whole lot off with plenty of gold braid:
Very tent-like and patriotic! A lot of work went into the making of these and they're going to look great on the day, especially accompanied by the elephant that Gina's been working on:
Ellie Skellie
For most of the week he was just a wicker skeleton but on thursday he started to come alive as his outer coating was added:
Here he is lying on his side - that's one of his ears sticking up in the air. This is his trunk, which is detachable:
I am very excited to see what he looks like when he's finished! Meanwhile, I am also making slow progress on my peacock costume. After using some of Helen's handmade embellishments for inspiration:
I created my own 'peacock feather eye' embellishment:
I'll be repeating this motif in other parts of the costume too. That's it for this week, I'm enjoying my weekend exploring Ryde and also doing some homework (watching Rio 2).

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Working at The New Carnival Company; Part 2!

Today I started working on some of the big, exciting carnival costumes at Carnival HQ. The first job of the day was to spruce up an existing peacock feather backpack; mending bent feathers and tidying it up a bit using special industrial glue:
We're planning to add a few more feathers to it so that it can be worn in the Mardi Gras... if all goes to plan it will be me wearing it! This is really exciting because I will have helped design and make my own costume, something more fabulous than I've ever worn before (and I've worn some pretty fabulous stuff)!
After the peacock, I started on this little red and yellow number:
Again mending loose feathers and adding a couple more in. This one had been rained on at last year's event and needs a bit more TLC; we'll be adding more red feathers when the delivery comes in. Here's a picture after I'd started mending it:
It still needs a little more work. I've never worked with feathers before so this was a bit challenging at first, especially with so many layers it's hard to see what you're doing under all the fluff!

After that it was time to start work on my peacock headdress. Gina had a wire frame she'd made previously that was quite peacockish:
So I started by covering the 'fan' part in paper mache (using that same special glue) and winding shiny silver braid around some of the wire parts to pretty it up:
There was originally talk of me designing my costume completely from scratch, however because of time restrictions it's much more achievable to piece something together from existing parts.
In the afternoon it was time to make a school visit to see how the kid's costumes and dance routines are coming along. The school we visited today are making lotus flower costumes and have a lotus flowery dance that we all practiced together!
After that it was back to HQ and I started to cover my headdress with blue fabric and sequins... no picture yet but I'll update when I have another chance to work on it and make it look picture-worthy. Eventually it will have sequins all over and a fabulous plume of feathers!
I'm having a lot of fun so far on my trip; it's lovely to see how excited the kids get about their dancing and costumes and to see how everyone pitches in to make this a real community event. I'm really looking forward to the day of Mardi Gras and seeing everyone dressed up!

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Working at the New Carnival Company: Part 1!

This week I began my volunteering / work experience stint at The New Carnival Company; regular readers will remember my recent day trip there to meet them. Their 'flagship event', the Mardi Gras will take place on July 1st so I'm here to lend a hand getting ready for that - primarily in the costume department. Monday was all about travelling down to the Isle of Wight from Bournemouth and settling in, although in the afternoon I helped with prepping for Tuesday's school session. This mostly involved a lot of cutting up ribbons:
And making belts / waistbands with double-sided tape and ribbon. Very sticky tricky indeed!
After that Gina and I prepped some chest pieces for 'spice' themed costumes made with fabric printed by some of the carnivalers with foam stamps and acrylic paint which turned out really nicely:

After that it was home time, but also time for a little explore:

Today (tuesday) Gina, Jenny and I went to do a school visit, helping the kids with learning their dance routines and working on their fabulous peacock costumes which they had started last week. We had all the components drawn out ready:
So it was just up to them to cut it all out and assemble it. Jenny and I helped them make the chest pieces, here was the example Jenny had made:
Lovely shiny card and fabric-backed card, sequins, sparkles and pipe cleaners! I'm enjoying learning how to make simple craft-costumes for the kids that they can work on themselves and am hoping to use this time to inspire some of my future craft workshops at Walford Mill Crafts.
Here are some of the chest pieces made by the children:

They seemed to really enjoy our sessions today, especially the dancing and despite the heat and some tricky cutting out! The kids worked really well and got a lot done, so that was great. After we'd finished we had another dance and I managed to meet some of the lovely animals that they keep in the school including some lovely chickens and lovely rabbits!
lovely chickens
lovely rabbit
After school we had a presentation on general carnival health and safety and then it was time for home. That's it for today; more updates on my adventures soon!