Putting up Christmas

bunting wall at Heart Space

I am not a big fan of Christmas, I prefer New Year with its promise of a fresh start and better times ahead…but here at Heart Space Studios everyone expects us to do a Christmas window at least. But with a refurbished shop to launch, the powers behind my shaky throne decided to put out all the flags – well bunting to be precise – and go for it….hot mulled wine, mince pies and a late night opening party. Added to this was an idea for an exhibition of bunting.

animal mask by Jenni Joule

But, first things first – find the inspirational object – I always do this when starting something new, search for an image or a piece of fabric – anything that gives me lots of ideas or gives a very strong atmosphere…Sophie found it on Facebook in the guise of a head – an animal’s head, 3 animals in fact, by artist Jenni Joule, who brought wonderful things in to a meeting about a month ago – we were away, a spooky-wooky frozen forest

Debbie Bird being very precise and technical
rejected heart bunting

Meanwhile all the tutors set about producing bunting…Debbie Bird held a class on making it and so Heart Space admin, ( Sophie Bristol and I) turned up to find out how to do it.I made several attempts at heart shaped bunting in very tasteful fabrics…they were soon abandoned.  What I needed was a contrast to the white spooky windows..I realised I was trying to reconcile 2 different atmospheres in one space – so the only way to go is complete contrast, the more extreme the better. We would have one red window and one white. So I found an old and very crude Russian shawl in my stash, I hand painted the mustard coloured roses with some pink and purple dyes and then cut it up; next I went for glitz – why stop now? then I added tartan, I do love tartan and paisley – I couldn’t bring myself to cut up any of my old woven paisley samples – far too precious, but I had at last found a use for this old neglected shawl.

tartan and Russian Shawl bunting

I didn’t bag-out the pieces  but just cut them and left them, as they are cut diagonally to the straight grain they shouldn’t fray too much, and hey it’s only bunting…..I set about making 5 lines to sell.

But then we had to start stocking the shop. The first thing was to get one area working properly to set the tone for the whole place. An old and true saying is ” you can’t sell from an empty shop”;  so we piled it all in, colour co-ordinated of course.

Teresa Searle’s felted and embroidered bags, mittens and cases look wonderfully colourful, setting the standard for the rest of the shop, my hand embroidered felt letters look strong and clash nicely with the work beneath.

the first stand of textiles sets the tone

And the pile of scarves hand knitted by Sarah Thorpe go happily with Janet Clarke’s beautiful soft coloured felts. For real winter warmth, the  knitted and felted Hot Water Bottle Covers and neck warmers made by Steph Wooster all mingle together.

felted hot water bottle covers and knitted scarves

The shop starts to look like it is in business.

shop taking shape
the shop takes shape

But what about those windows? The winter white one came together very quickly, it is now stocked with cream and white  woollen goods for sale, with the 3 headed animal standing sentinel.

spooky white window

But the other window was more of a problem, the costumes that had been brought didn’t fit our stands and there weren’t enough animal masks to make an impression, beautiful though the horned mask is, by Jenni Joule.

jacket and mask by Jenni Houle hung with my silver heart

I needed more red stuff to link with the bunting on the wall behind…so I asked Lisa Keating who was running a corset making workshop for us, if she had anything suitable to contrast with the white and silver and she lent us this wonderful glitzy black and gold number – now that’s what I call a contrast.

Lisa Keating's black and gold lacedcorset

Then I took every red or silvered glass heart from home and hung them in the window – my house now looks bare – but the Christmas windows are paramount.

red and silver window with my glass hearts from home - note the corset bunting by Lisa

Eventually everything was finished and looked totally intentional; always the way when a design works out well, you can’t imagine that you ever had any other ideas than the finished piece.

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