When I spotted Lisa's wonderful felt brooches I was in awe and when I found out more about Lisa, and how she works as a museum exhibit fabricator, has a intense knowledge of textiles and it's history, I just has to interview her.
Lisa's answers are long but are well worth the read. So got get yourself a cup of tea and some biscuits, curl up and enjoy this weeks interview.
Q. Lisa, you are so very interesting with a passion for the oddest arrangement of things from making /designing costumes to animals and animal rescue, paper goods to British TV and books to film. Hence I feel it only natural to interview you for my blog, as the title is 'Interesting or not so Interesting with...'. Though I do have to ask which category do you think you fall into? Why (besides the above)?
A. Such a hard question - I don't think that is for me to say. Others can determine which category I fall into by the end of the interview. I'm quite happy with my own company, but I may be easily entertained.... ;-)
Q. You currently work as a museum exhibit fabricator, specialising in botanically accurate plants for natural history museums. What exactly is it that you do? How does one get a job like that?
A. I build models that fit the clients specifications, and in doing so, I have to consider style, viewing distance, budget, etc. I don't have a certain set of materials that I always use. Sometimes the materials can be quite unexpected - Who knew that glue covered pipe-cleaners would make the perfect seed head for a specific kind of grass? Or that wool-covered sheep skin and modeling paste would be a perfect addition to a taro plant. I guess there is a lot of experimentation involved in the job.
I got the job I have now through a friend of a friend, but the company I work for has been known to advertise on www.craigslist.org.
Q. What is it that draws you to mid-late 1700's, early-mid 20th century fashion? For both eras what do you think was the key features of fashion during these times?
A. I am drawn to those eras by aesthetics - personal preference - nothing more. I love the juxtaposition of elegance and ridiculousness in Rococo fashion - exquisite silks, delicate colors, airy lace paired with exaggerated silhouettes, crazy hairstyles/wigs, and harsh make-up. Sounds horrid on paper, but I find the look quite lovely.
The early-mid 20th century fashion really represents the beginning of the modern era with its emphasis on comfort and function (at least in women's fashion). The time period was much more formal than today, and we might look back on a lot of the clothing and shudder at how uncomfortable it seemed, but compare it to preceding eras and you'll understand what I mean. Gone are the huge underpinnings such as bustles, hoops, paniers, etc. Skirts, with the exception of the New Look trend, were no longer voluminous, lengths were shorter. Some garments actually had pockets and pants were starting to be acceptable for women. Girdles hardly scream comfort, but when compared to the tight-laced corsets of the Victorian era, they seem fairly benign. I love this era because, while being modern, the sense of elegance and formality was still there - not to mention some really excellent ground-breaking design work.
Q. Which fashion icons/models/designers do you think best represented the mid - late 18th and early - mid 20th centuries?
A. Marie-Antoinette immediately comes to mind when thinking about the Rococo period, as does the Duchess of Devonshire. Some of my favorite fashion designers and icons of early-mid 20th century in no particular order: Chanel, Schiaparelli, Lavin, Poiret, Lisa Fonssagrives, Louise Brooks, Audrey Hepburn.
Q. Currently you make the most wonderful silhouette brooches, what originally inspired you to create these?
A. The idea didn't hit me directly. I wanted to make something using non-toxic materials (I'm exposed to an amazing amount of toxins at work - just the nature of the biz). I had been knitting and felting - making neck pieces without much success. One day I stumbled upon the work of the English felt-pin-making-genius, Lupin, of bugs and fishes. I was completely inspired by her methods (sewing by hand - no glue!) I had already had a color palette in mind - black, white, neutrals - so it was just a matter of time before the idea of silhouettes popped into my head.
Q. Textiles seems to be you thing, which textile do you find the easiest to work with and which ones do you find are harder?
A. Felt and leather are by far the easiest to work with because fraying isn't an issue. Muslin is nice because it is relatively inexpensive which frees me up mentally and allows for guilt-free experimentation. Silks are very fussy and hard to work with because they love to slip around and fray.
Q. They say with a recession that there is a significant change in what people wear? What do you think? Do you think that we are in for a change in regards to fashion?
A. This question is worthy of a book and definitely beyond my scope, so I'll be mercifully brief. I certainly hope people change their wearing/buying habits, though I'm hoping it will be for wanting to do the "right thing," rather than out of economic necessity. I would like to see a switch in buying habits that emphasizes quality over quantity, and I would love to see and the demand for sustainably produced clothing rise dramatically.
Q. Are there any new things coming up for you in the next few months?
A. I am looking to expand the range of items I offer in my Etsy shop - and I'm itching to get back into shoemaking. I have so many ideas brewing. It has been several months since I last made a pair of shoes and I miss it.
Q. Which websites can people visit to find out more about you and your wonderful pieces?
A. My Etsy shop: www.lepetitcadeau.etsy.com
My blog: www.lepetitcadeau.typepad.com
Q. Thank you so v. much Lisa, hope you've enjoyed this short Q&A?
A. Thank you for the opportunity.