Keep a thing long enough!

My mother used to say: “keep a thing long enough and you will find a use for it” – absolutely true except for elastic bands – you know the sort that are dumped into the kitchen drawer with all the other odd bits and pieces of things “don’t know where to put it stuff”.    Now most bits and pieces survive, but elastic bands just disintegrate and stick to everything or just crumble up!  I never throw anything away if it looks as if it might be useful sometime – we believe in recycling and having a large house and the studios this has been possible until we decided to sell the house.  Now that is a huge and daunting project to sort it all out!

We are often thrown into challenges.  The current one is a new one for us – we are making sweets – yes you read that correctly – sweets.  Not your ordinary pulling toffee types of sweets that we used to make as kids – but huge, glossy, shiny, toffee paper sweets – about the size of small dogs!  Why – well it is like this.  We were outsiders at the Abergavenny Food Festival in September – listed as a “fringe” event.  We asked if we could be included in the next event – more in the middle instead of as outsiders.  So the committee approached us and said that officially we could not have a space because we are not food related, but if we could help with decorating the new section “SweetieFest” we could have a stall outside in a marquee.  We have decided to touch on the ‘link to food’ by printing on canvas – pictures of food in its earliest stages – like apple blossom, sunflowers, lobster pots, barley, brandy barrels, artichokes etc. – then perhaps we can persuade people to come and see the new gallery that we have opened at the workhouse studios.

So here we are, in December agreeing to be part of this madness that has resulted in The Abergavenny Food Festival being awarded the top prize for a tourist attraction in Wales.

Bluff called – what can we use?  Initially we were asked if we could make say 10 large sweets 10 inches long.  Well those would be lost in a huge room.   Charles was sent out to buy a packet of Quality Street (for research purposes, of course) – he came back with a large tin – surprise eh?sweetie-making

Debbie at the machine making sweets!!

As it happens we are sorting out costumes from various operas and films to sell on the on-line shop.  We have become very cluttered with all the things we have kept in case we need them.   Hey Presto – two completely idiotic costumes made for a performance, in London and Northampton, of the opera Cendrillon.  I remember when I designed and made these costumes that I wanted something for the ugly sisters that were totally over the top.  So much to Charles’s alarm I cut up rolls of gold and silver cloth that he had bought for photographic reflectors.  Now these ugly sister frocks are to be exotic costumes for the purveyors of sweets – leading people to the upper layers of the town hall into the “SweetieFest” arena!


The basket was used for our very first fashion show during London Fashion Week in 1985.


The headpiece for this costume was part of a costume for another play.  Our lovely great niece, Ashley, wanted costumes for a play that included aliens.  Louise and Hannah tried them on a few days ago – such hysterical laughter – we could not speak we were all laughing so much.


Louise trying to pretend it is not her!!


Aliens don’t have fingers Hannah so using the phone to take a couple of self portraits is tricky isn’t it.

And the final bit of “keeping something long enough”


When we did our last major show in London I had decided to start with a wedding scene in black rather than white and at the very beginning of the show instead of it being the finale.  So we had “The Bride of Dracula” dressed in a whispy, waspish transparent chiffon number in black and gold and this ridiculous head dress.  She did not have “maids of honour” but instead she had two gorgeous young male bodies dressed in tights,  pleated silk tailcoats with bare chests and  ties – lead onto the catwalk on reins held by the bride!  I really must get the film that the BBC took of it turned into a DVD – we were the very first to put on fashion shows that were drama and it would look very contemporary even 25 years later.



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