Denim Masterclass

  I was down to one pair of jeans: they were delegated DIY wear and covered in paint. So my ears pricked up one day listening to a man called Han Ates being interviewed on BBC4 On checking his website, Blackhorse lane Ateliers, I found 4 styles of Jean, each named after a London post code: all for men. 
I made a call to ask why. “Ahh”, they said, “we’re working on two new styles for women right now and if you sign on to one of our master Denim courses you can tailor your own with one of our patterns.” This was an opportunity too good to be missed. A two day course with delicious lunches thrown in? I signed up. The below link will give you a taste of the dedication and passion I encountered. 

 If you’re fed up with thrown together, high cost jeans, made for insects, then making your own, with the best quality materials, under expert tuition, is the way to go.  

 Day 1 

 The twelve others of the group came from areas as diverse as acting, fire fighting, apprentice tailor and Deli owner and a Dutch, minor fashion industrialist. All were passionate about taking the time to achieve a personalised item, emanating quality.  We learnt quickly against a backdrop of humming machines, the clip, clip of scissors and the colourful language on having to laboriously unpick seems.  Three meters of selvaged denim and a pattern of rigid cardboard pieces to mark around, immersed us immediately in the workshop vibe. Next came the fashioning and pinning of the front pockets, complete with coin pouch.  After the most delicious lamb kebab and almost too full to move, I managed to fit my beautifully crafted one piece fly (An Atelier speciality) and have the Jeans front ready by close of day. 

 Day 2 

 Forget those Japanese names, Big John,  Blue blue Japan, Momotaro; Blackhorse, made in London are the jeans to have. Today we moved on to the back Jean area and the chance to stamp our mark with the seaming and placing of the back pockets. Rivets, concealed rivets? single or double seam? Seam within the confines of the pocket area or spilling out of it? and the motif on the pocket itself? extra minimal with nothing at all or over-the-top with a fish?
This was also the time to make precise alterations to the bum and hip area to insure a tailored fit. At last my jeans were coming together and it was time to seam up the legs and crutch.
The rear, somehow being longer than the front, needed stretching and an immense amount of pinning to ensure even leg length. Folding in and stitching was tricky and when it came to the final outer seam I have to admit I smarmed up to a technician to do it for me. The technicians stepped in to help everyone with three key parts of the process.
The waist band is done with a tubular sleeve, in to which the denim strip is sucked through, coming out perfect at the other end. Meanwhile the rivet machine, capable of removing an untrained hand in a split second, was left to another technician to deftly apply the shiny copper elements. The belt tags after being placed and pinned by us were also sewn on with specialist equipment. Finally, we stitched the leg end seams and the thick leather emblem was applied to the waist band. 


 How would they fit? with mixed emotions I made my way to the loo and pulled them on. A big smile came back at me as I looked in the mirror, they somehow made me look thinner and felt like no jeans ever felt before. They were meant for me. Like old friends. Beautiful.
As I walked back to the group everyone was wearing their new jeans and wide smiles. All were happy, no one less so than the man, Han. My thanks to him and all his men.
A great weekend and a great result.

Our 3lm of  Selvaged Denim

Our tools

Cutting the pattern

The fly

hard at it

Front & back


Women Facing War: The Hub Gallery Kuwait

The brief called for artworks that portrayed hope and womens’ strength of courage during war, not images of violence.

I chose to do a narrative about nurture, unity, liberation & peace in a comic book format.

The style is deliberately simplistic. The colours are bright and punchy; the images articulated in black line but with the added depth and transparency of watercolour rather than flat Gauche or Acrylic.

At first the message seems quite trite, using the hackneyed symbol of a white dove, but each image has undercurrents that roll on, raising questions and morphing into other interpretations.

Unfortunately, due to censorship, the first image was omitted from the exhibition and the other three were split up and hung in an uneven vertical manner.

The RA Profile Revolution Competition

When the RA called for entries to their profile Revolution competition I was instantly captivated. As a teenager I was fascinated by the Russia of the early 1900s with the barbaric murder of the royal family followed by the revolution and the flight of white Russians. In the years immediately following the revolution constructivist art exploded onto the scene. I found it dynamic and punchy, a literal artistic revolution. 

The RAs brief asked, but did not insist, that their Logo be present in the artwork and suggested using a cut out of Joshua Reynolds, artist and founder of the RA. I thought that a reference to both was necessary. As constructivism literally comes from “to construct” I decided to interpret this in an Architectural way. Perhaps if the computer and Autocad had existed during the time of the revolution surely the likes of Rodchenko and Malevich would have experimented with it? 

 I decided to use this as my starting point and set about constructing a well known portrait of the aged Joshua Reynolds in CAD. A scattering of elongated rectangles, like a thrown handful of pick-a-stick, appear behind the artist; the RA logo sits perched on one of these, poised, giving balance and pulling the elements together. The colours used are a CAD translation of the Russian artists established palette. 

 The profile works in both square and circular format, as was required by the brief, to allow use on twitter and instagram.

Using Format