Camden Market – world resource

June 7th, 2013


On Tuesday I went to the dentist, one and a half hours! As I lay there recumbent, Camden all around me out there, I planned my route home. Up Parkway, around Gloucester Crescent, serenity, past Jonathan Miller and Alan Bennett’s houses, then to the market, the cobbles are quite difficult in the wheelchair, the market building eliminates that. Unusually instead of glazing over with all the variety, I concentrated on the work of three jewellers.

First I was transfixed by a torque made of two, almost rampant, brass feathers by Shining Seren. It would be perfect for my customers. Unfortunately it was not a torque and had a chain to hold it on. With  these changed it would be perfect and there was a feathered cuff that wrapped around the wrist to match. Beautiful. The wraparound technique for cuff and ring work was beautifully explored in the work. Turquoise, opal, jet, lapis lazuli and carnelian set in intricate solid silver settings. I would love to make the pieces more generally available to those of us who belong to this our own exclusive club!

Tuesday afternoon in term time not the busiest in the market. A lovely young assistant was looking after two pitches. I described that I was planning to retail online a collection of jewellery assembled from manufacturers who already make appropriate pieces and designers of unique or limited edition pieces designed for women who have difficulty manipulating clasps.  Items that would be appropriate would be long necklaces, shorter necklaces or collars fitted with magnetic clasps or elastic threading, torques, ear cuffs, bangles using elastic, clip on earrings She lent over to Josef’s pitch and showed me a lovely necklace with a magnetic catch, she then went on to show me some beautiful elasticised pieces. I will return.

Downstairs I found Tribu with a good range elasticated wooden pieces and some very interesting ear cuffs. I have got more ideas particularly for their wooden ranges. I picked up a card with their website address, aha.

On leaving the market I went past a gorgeous dress in fuchsia and purple made of two fabrics layered so that the organza petticoat was longer than the Lycra overskirt. The hem was asymmetric, higher in the front than the back. I thought this modified would be a perfect way to skittishly cope with issues of asymmetric hems. I went inside Gekko, I thought the prices were unbelievably low, they were made in India.

This shines a light on a way forward which has been hidden from me through my own bloody mindedness. Let others who are more able source our jewellery and garments.


Extreme hair, extreme millinery

May 22nd, 2013

I’m so sorry to have temporarily abandoned you, dear readers. But I make no apology for coming back with wantonly aspirational images. Elle my dear friend from Plus Black sent me a link to her re-blogging of a wonderful photo shoot of Tilda Swinton posted by Fiercer Than You, getting to the HAT of the matter. Do Check It out. However, in ferreting out the back story I was confronted by images that one can only call extreme hair, extreme millinery


And yet more from Boticca

April 8th, 2013

A week later, another perfect lunch, leftover Roquefort  and an old pink lady with a glass of red wine. Again a perfect end to a great weekend, the sun is shining beautifully despite the cold. I hope I’m not giving away my age by remembering a book written by Elizabeth David called An Omelette and a Glass of Wine. Simple food well produced. That is the way to eat.

I am still obsessed by Boticca. Don’t you just love the feeling of summer to come.

Problem hands-Web help

April 4th, 2013

1 April, a wonderful day, we did nothing, went nowhere, saw no one, the last day of a productive but cold Easter weekend, perfect, perfect, perfect. Even lunch, a make do affair was perfect, French onion soup with an apricot and almond tart, finished with a perfect glass of New Zealand white wine. How fortunate are we?

It couldn’t have ended better either with an intense period of horizon expanding discovery. I discovered Grazia and Boticca. Do you wonder how mere mortals like us find jewellery apart from the usual serendipitous methods we all know? This is the way.  Grazia discusses what is going on in the marketplace in a range of different areas linking to retailers. This is the online equivalent of magazines but fabulously for  us who have difficulty with our hands. It means we never need to be manipulating pages again, impossible. Don’t you find that type and particularly images on the Internet tend to be so very small? This is a particular disadvantage when one is choosing jewellery. Go to settings far left immediately below close and choose 125% or 150%. Just see how much it improves your experience.

I looked at necklaces, no magnetic clasps here. Wouldn’t they be perfect with the clasps substituted.? It took quite a lot of looking to find this choice wouldn’t you like me to bury through the website to expose its treasure?  Boticca is a great site and organisation set up along the lines of Not Just a Label where the talent from all the wonderful art colleges both here and on the continent are assembled. It has beautiful graphics and wonderfully intuitive layout

Extreme jewellery

March 13th, 2013

I know you will want to help me. I am desperate to get jewellers involved in supplying their jewellery to women like us who have difficulty manipulating those fiddly clasps that you find so often on jewellery. On this site I intend to illustrate appropriate pieces together with a description of the jeweller or the jewellery’s provenance. The pieces would then get sold on the site.

I also want to find someone who would fit magnetic clasps to customers own jewellery or jewellery supplied by us. Do you know anybody who would give a service like this to this market? Will you put them onto me? Contact me via contact us.

I have illustrated this post with my sort of jewellery, extreme jewellery you are saying but it is what I love. This is all courtesy of 90-year-old Iris Apfel from her wonderful book Rare Bird of fashion. This book shows her own collection assembled over her lifetime and recently shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art. I will not let my own taste run away with me. There is space for all tastes here.

Then I found the website for Pebble London. You can spend hours on it. There is just so much choice. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they could supply their necklaces with magnetic clasps? Another idea is that we would fit magnetic clasps to their jewellery before supplying them to you. They do have torcs though very hidden away, bracelets, some with elastic, great clip on earrings? I’m sure there are other resolutions to our difficulties that are waiting to be designed.


February 25th, 2013

Desperate of Darlington a.k.a. Irene approached me on behalf of her wheelchair using son. She was in search of Velcro fastened trainers for swollen feet. She has been getting them from a German firm who have now stopped stocking them. She asked me whether I would be doing some like them. There is the long lead time to go into shoe production, but it got me thinking.

My approach to my feet and their shoeing has been simple. Forget them.

Analysing how you are appreciated sitting in wheelchair, I have always thought that the upper body is one’s most important attribute, the lap is of secondary importance and the feet fade into insignificance. As a result I have accorded shoes no value. But there is no reason why we, owners of swollen feet need to put up with the generally dreadful fashion statement of the shoes we are offered.

I looked at my everyday shoe, the widest size made, by DB shoes, black totally unremarkable. Except for a vital detail necessary for swollen feet, a long tongue that starts at the tip of the toes. The sides of the shoes then overlap the tongue and fasten using two Velcro straps. Why can’t the two sides lap over the tongue and get fastened themselves using Velcro?

Just now I was looking at the blog of Susie at Style Bubble, she had recently attended Fendi’s show in Milan and was waxing lyrical with pictures to back her up. Then I saw these! Ours need not be so OTT but wouldn’t they look amazing with the design I have just described?

I would love to hear what you think about this idea or if any of you have got suggestions for Irene. I will pass them on.

Sleeping beauty

January 26th, 2013

Today is the 26 January and regrettably the last night of Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty. I feel like sobbing as I write. I will try to extend its bewitching spell by hosting a clip here. Enjoy (do fullscreen it).

My sister and I saw it on 3 January, for all intents and purposes it was sold out but as a wheelchair using person willing to go on any night it seems that tickets were readily available. I am ploughing my old furrow here by continuing my theme about the advantages that disabled people have in London. The Sadlers Wells, where we saw it, has a exceptionally solid way of ensuring that only disabled people enjoy these benefits. They ask to see your DLA entitlement letter from the DWP when one first books with them. I was only too happy to oblige. At last an almost failsafe way of ensuring our privileges are protected.

I know you’re saying what about the ballet. It was told in story book fashion with writing projected onto a see-through cloth at the front of the stage, which then flew away reappearing at significant points. It was the living embodiment of how a story book works. One concentrates on the text only for a short period and then one’s imagination soars, here danced in spectacular costumes, sets and lighting. The bad fairy Carabosse arrives looking, with her wings, like an early Akkadian goddess, the genii of angels, in the flesh. I won’t go on, you must see it. I’m pretty certain this is going to run and run.

A hidden advantage!

December 21st, 2012

In the course of writing to Elle I told her about a course I took at Birkbeck, Ancient near East and Aegean Studies. I absolutely loved it and it enabled me to discover a wonderful aspect (one imagines that it may be an unintended consequence) of being a disabled student in London. I have just realised that this is very valuable knowledge I am keeping to myself. Now I want to let all disabled people in London thinking of starting a course, know, I am aware that I should be spreading this knowledge around in summer, when people are preparing to take courses. I will do it again later and to help I will ask Fiona at Blue Badge Style and Elle at Plus Black to spread the word around their networks.

A most amazing benefit of being a disabled student at Birkbeck taking any course is that when you ask the library to supply you with articles from any journal. Free of charge (the normal charge is £25 each), the British library sends the article to you at home! When studying history, as I was doing, sources are really important, and because of this means of supply you very quickly build up a collection of sources to die for. I do imagine that building up a library of sources applies similarly to any subject.

I loved taking the course, but it was unfortunately brought to a crashing end by a dreadful period of depression. Dr Diane Stein, my lecturer, I regret to say did contact me during that period telling me about a series of lectures she was giving and I answered her pretty bluntly. I would love to be able to do it now but since then I have had XENI’s trajectory to follow. I do think back nostalgically.

I’m illustrating this post with a image of one of the beautiful gold, lapis lazuli and carnelian headbands worn by one of Queen/Lady Pu-abi’s handmaidens found in the great burial pit at Ur. The burial has been dated to approximately 2550 BCE. Tantalisingly just this object tells of an extraordinary web of trading networks which existed at this early date. The gold may come from several places, the lapis lazuli from Afghanistan and the carnelian from India. Don’t you just love the patina of old gold? I am so much more drawn to it than burnished gold.

Serendipity with Scarves What a Pleasure

December 10th, 2012


Dear readers by now you know that I have made a good friend of Elle at Plus Black. One of her blogs sometime back discussed the wearing of scarves as a wonderful way to charge or change a basically black outfit instantly.

I generally don’t wear scarves although black is my default colour. Can you be bothered with holding them on when they go around the shoulder, I can’t. This may be vanity speaking, but I don’t consider my neck long enough to elegantly wear scarves wound around the neck particularly when I am also wearing a jacket or coat and am viewed foreshortened from above. Nobody else seems to have this problem, exacerbated as it is by my posture, the result of all those interminable hours in the chair  without relief. I must become more conscious of sitting with relaxed shoulders.

On Thursday I went to the Bronze exhibition at the Royal Academy which was absolutely stunning. On my way back I found myself in M&S, looking at scarves as Christmas presents. I saw a striking knitted ‘scarf’ with a slit to the centre. I knew it was me and I bought it on the turn. Sitting wearing it, twitter sent me a connection to a Liberty video on how to wear scarves!  I did watch it through and amongst their suggestions I was particularly struck by this way of wearing a scarf. A large square scarf is folded in half on the diagonal and then the three corners of the resulting triangle are folded in and knotted together. It is worn as a shawl with the knot behind, which because the arms go through the large ‘armholes’ it is unable to fall off. What a wonderful way to make use of the fabulous designs one gets on scarves so to slip on and off, just what Elle was talking about

I decided to look at my collection of underused scarves which have mostly been given to me as presents. I found they are primarily of the Pashmina type which are inherently not square enough for using as the video had suggested, but what about the M&S scarf I was wearing? It came to me in a flash, a way to sew a Pashmina together to make a scarf that wouldn’t fall off. I can’t write but I can draw if sketchily, so here it is. I will be asking my sister to sew mine together like this when she comes to us for Christmas and I hope in the future to bring you some too.

Aspirational fashion for women in wheelchairs

December 3rd, 2012

Fashionable disabled woman, tell me, do you want me to expand the range of options available to us by assembling a range of designers designing for those of us using wheelchairs and those of us having manual dexterity problems?

I can’t see any of us not agreeing with this as a premise.

However, the knock-on from this as a concept is that inevitably these garments will be made to order in the West and will inevitably cost more than pieces made in quantity in the East. Because of the hardship felt by many of us, I believe our demographic is more susceptible than the general population to issues with regard to price. As a result, you may feel that this is not the way you would want me to proceed. Do tell me.

I do feel it is very important, though to have aspirational fashion available to us. Subsequent to establishing fashion at which we can aim and once we have established the market, we will be able to estimate quantities and bring out a more affordable range using the efficiencies of quantity to manufacture in the East.

In order to do this I will need to establish a range of garments I want to market and then approach appropriate designers. I would supply the knowledge of the conditions and how to change the garments to suit us, the designers would do what they are skilled at, supplying the knowledge of fashion, fabrics, etc.

What do you think of the image I have used for this post? I can see this working as a tunic for us wheelchair users, particularly in the way it concentrates the interest in the upper body. I would approach Geoffrey Mac, its designer from New York, asking him to lengthen it and give it a free seat so that it would work as a tunic. I would also ensure that it has no fastenings to manipulate. Should I go ahead?

I would love to hear what you think about this, do comment or contact me through the contact us link.