I've never really had a design process, it's a question I'm always asked in interviews and I never have an answer, "umm I just have an idea and I umm make it?"
Well, for the first two initial collections Bird on Wire and Cocktail Collection this process worked. The collections are almost two years old and people still love them and still buy them. However the subsequent collections, 'Royal Anarchy' and 'RGB' not so much (the Sparkle Hats not included - people love em!)
So with this in mind I'm tired of throwing money at a collection and then having to sell it all at clearance because nobody loves it but me. I've actually decided to implement a design process for the new collection which will be Stylesmith's first seasonal collection. An actual Spring/Summer 2010 Collection based off some of my early jewelry designs, entitled, 'Holiday Romance'
I started with a story, a feeling. This is how all my collections start, I tend to treat them as a character in a film, this film is starring Audrey Hepburn, and is my personal version of Roman Holiday, but in full technicolour.
Then I began sketching (which I'll post at a later date) Heavy on the whimsy, but retaining a certain amount of simplicity, which I believe is what makes my hats wearable. I knew I wanted bows, polkadots and pom poms, so I worked them into some designs, thinking all the while about fabrics - wool felt, veiling, silk dupioni. Then I start to think about colours. This is where it's get's hard for me, an avid fan of colour I want to do each design in a thousand colours. Financially and practically it's just not possible so I begin to limit them. I've ended up with eight new designs in several colours.
I'm now at the production stage. Because I'm not usually into a process, I don't normally have to deal with the reality of making what I have concocted in my head work in practice. Usually I just play and if it works it works.
So it's at this point where I'm struggling especially when it comes to colour. I spent yesterday making a ton of pom poms only to realise that once the wool was pom pom-ified the colours were lost and looked pretty awful together. I wanted to have colours reminiscent of gelato, instead I got an 80's melange of mismatched colours (partly due to not being able to find exactly what I wanted in my local Michaels)
So back to the drawing board. Above are the colours I want and will hopefully get (it's the internet you have to prepare for some misnomers) and I would love some feedback before I order and end up with even more wronged poms!
I'd like to know a) what you think of the colours themselves b) of the combos?
Sorry I've rambled. Hopefully you'll find it interesting and even useful.
I know, I know it's all been getting a little narcissistic round here lately hasn't it? Sorry just very busy preparing for UniqueLA (I'm super excited) Well I guess it IS the STYLESMITH blog...
Just uploaded my second ever look to lookbook.nu, I'd love ya'll forever if you click on this link and hype it up.... you just need either a twitter or facebook (or lookbook) account and to be logged in...
I've gone MIA again...sorry. I know I promised I wouldn't but I've been covering LA Fashion Week for Dedicated and got muchos distracted.
In case you missed me above is a really strange picture of me...you know one where you don't even recognise yourself. I'm rocking an 80's Glam Rock vibe and supping champagne from a plastic cup between shows. Classy wouldn't you say?! I'll be posting a tutorial for my fancy epaulets on the Dedicated blog later (done in 10 minutes and for under $5 you should definitely check it out!)
Yes, I actually made nutella this week. Impressive non? Now when I first found this recipe I was super excited. But I do have to add this disclaimer, this particular recipe is not an exact nutella duplicate. The flavour is more bitter, I think this has a lot to do with type of cocoa I used and the lack of dairy in the recipe. It is also a lot thicker in texture, again this could be dependent on the power behind my blender.
I do prefer the 'real' nutella, but I'm the kind of person that prefers milk chocolate over dark, so that explains that.
So with this in mind, homemade nutella:
What you need:
1 cup of hazelnuts
4 tablespoons of cocoa
6 tablespoons of maple syrup (I used pancake syrup as it was what I had)
4 teaspoons of vanilla extract
The first step is to roast the hazelnuts, do this for about ten minutes in an oven at 350˚F. Once roasted transfer to a paper towel and let cool for ten minutes.
After the hazelnuts have cooled down, it's time to remove the skins, to loosen them up get another paper towel (you can use a dishcloth) and rub the skins loose. Pick off any remaining skin. Not all the skins will come off.
Once the skins are removed pop them in the blender and blend until you have a thick butter. Depending on the speed and power of your blender this process can take a really really long time. I tried but I was either impatient or it was just never going to happen. So mine didn't end up as buttery as I believe it's supposed to be.
At this point add your other ingredients and blend until smooth.
The above picture is what it looked like during the process. At this point I did taste test it and found it to be too bitter for my tastes and added a little more syrup and a little more cocoa, but this time I used Nestle Toll house Cocoa as opposed to the premium ghirardelli cocoa I had used previously. This improved the flavour. I then blended some more.
Spoon into a jar and eat up! I got this recipe (and doubled it) from the Steph Chows blog here, I do have another recipe for nutella that is a little more complicated that I will try when this jar is all eaten up so stay tuned!
When my husband and I first got married almost three years ago (the latest wedding was the big affair for all the family) we eloped to Vegas. On the journey home Scott played me this simple song that had made him think of me.
It's gone on to be my inspirational anthem. I listen to it whenever I'm down, or need a burst of energy and it really works. It's makes me smile, it makes me teary eyed. But ultimately it motivates me and picks me up.
The song is 'The Morning of Our Lives' by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers and today I feel like sharing.
So have a listen and let me know how it inspires you.
At my recent wedding it was wonderful to have all my family together. Aren't they a beautiful bunch?!
On the run up to the wedding I found myself fulfilling some very special Stylesmith orders... for them!
They're the perfect models to prove that there is no such thing as too old or too young to wear Stylesmith. My Grandma (top right pictured with my Papa) looked devastatingly gorgeous in her navy fascinator (on a headband - ultra wearable!) with vintage navy veiling. My dear Mummy (bottom left on the left) looked sensational in her modified 'Hummingbird' made extra special with vintage veiling.
My niece who is made of adorable rocked her lime green headband trimmed with vintage daisies (pictured top left with my equally adorable nephew) which matched her Converse perfectly! My bridesmaids (Lauren - centre left and Josie bottom left pic in the centre) looked super pretty in their combs with vintage daisies and vintage veiling and my gorgeous older sister (bottom left on the right) artfully modelled an organza and vintage veiling flower brooch on her pretty dress (tutorial coming soon!)
Then of course the Bride (that'd be me then...) topped off her (my - took the third person too far) with a juliet cap, which I custom made from wire and vintage daisy lace.
Everything pictured was made specially for them but if you want something similar for your big day or other big or small event - let me know!
(if you want to see the picture bigger just click on it!)
So today I made cheese...I actually, from scratch, made a block of cheese. How cool is that?
The cheese I made was Queso Blanco, a cheese that doesn't melt and can be fried and grilled. This method is also used to make Paneer, but you skip the salt step.
It was surprisingly easy and can be made from ingredients that you likely have in your kitchen.
You Will Need:
1 Gallon of Milk (I ended up unable to use the full gallon as my pan was not big enough)
1/4-1/2 Cup of Vinegar (I used Apple Cider Vinegar)
Salt to taste
Pour your entire gallon of milk into your pan and heat until foamy and slightly simmering. Whilst the milk is heating up you can prepare the cheesecloth over the colander. Like so:
Once your milk has reached it's foamy, simmering state turn down the heat and drizzle in your vinegar. When you do this the curds will start to separate from the whey. You may not need all your vinegar. I made the mistake of using all the vinegar suggested...i.e too much, which has made it a little stinky and a little tart.
It should look like this:
Heat for another 10 seconds or so and remove from the heat. Ladle the separated curds into your cheesecloth lined colander and leave to drain for about 20 minutes. It should look like so:
After 20 minutes pick up the corners of the cheesecloth and wring out the remaining whey. Add your salt to taste. And actually taste. I made the mistake of not tasting and was way too frugal with my salt. Don't be afraid of the salt! Mix in the salt thoroughly.
Tie the corners of your cheesecloth to create a loop and hang from somewhere, a faucet (tap) is ideal. Like so:
After an hour the cheese is technically ready to eat! However if you wish to cook with it or want a firmer cheese then pop your bundle back into the colander and weight it down. The tutorial I used suggested putting a plate over the cheese and filling the empty milk bottle with water and using that as a weight. I didn't use all my milk and didn't have a plate small enough to fit in my colander so I just filled a jug with water and put it on top!
Leave for 1-2 hours and voila - Queso Blanco - cheese! Eat right away or refrigerate immediately (which will firm in furthur) Finished cheese is pictured at the very top of this post!
I found this recipe on the Urban Cheesecraft blog, she also has an Etsy store selling kits to make this whole process EVEN easier.... I will certainly be trying out some other cheeses after this!
Dear readers, I (Stylesmith) have managed to score the most awesome Dedicated Follower of Fashion giveaway to date. How would you like to be one of the first to see 'Bright Star' a brand new movie starring Abbie Cornish and Ben Wishaw?
Bright Star, one of the most highly praised films at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, is a portrait of love and loss between the 19th-century Romantic poet John Keats and the 18-year-old muse next door,Fanny Brawne. The film’s title comes from a love poem for Brawne, which Keats wrote in the flyleaf of his copy of the works of Shakespeare. Jane Campion’s return to the big screen features outstanding performances from Abbie Cornish (Stop-Loss, Elizabeth: The Golden Age) as Brawne, Ben Whishaw (I’m Not There, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, Brideshead Revisited) as Keats, Paul Schneider (NBC’s “Parks & Recreation,” Lars and the Real Girl, Away We Go) as Charles Armitage Brown and Kerry Fox (Intimacy) as Mrs. Brawne.
The two lucky winners of this giveaway will win two pairs of tickets to an exclusive screening of the film in Los Angeles on September 9th at 7.30pm. Unfortuantely I won't be there to join you as I'll be in England, however I hope to send the lovely Brittan as a representative in my place!
To enter just run over to the Dedicated Follower of Fashion blog and leave your name and email! One entry per day per person. Winners will be chosen at random on September 2nd!
Today I began photographing the jewelry section of the new RGB collection for Stylesmith. Now I'm an avid photographer, but I do fashion photography and I have the hardest time photographing still life, or product photography.
With the RGB collection the vast majority of it is one of a kind items (due to the hand dyed and natural elements) so photographing the items on a model is neither time nor cost effective.
So... I'm now at a point where I'm torn between the first set up (the pink) or the second set up (the chalkboard) or maybe mixing the two a la the third grouping...
Tiffin is basically my favourite snack time treat. It's ridiculously yummy, and like most things that are both yummy and English, impossible to obtain in the US.
So...I took it upon myself to make some the other day (which is all gone and Mr.Style demanded I made more, so yesterday I made a second batch!)
It was both easy and yet more complicated than I expected. I had assumed you mix cookies, raisins and melted chocolate in a pan and then put it in the fridge - nope....making it made me realise why it's so yummy!
- Approx 2o Digestive Biscuits (these are English cookies, you can buy them at World Market, they make the best Tiffin but you could try other cookies) - Handful of Raisins - 1 stick of butter - 2 Tablespoons of Sugar - 2 1/2 Tablespoons of Cocoa (or drinking chocolate) - 2 Tablespoons of Golden Syrup (available at World Market or you can just use pancake syrup) - 10oz of Milk Chocolate
What to Do:
-Melt butter with the sugar and the syrup on a low heat in a pan.
-Add the raisins and the drinking chocolate and bring to the boil. Let it bubble and thicken for 2-3 minutes without scorching the butter.
-Put the biscuits (cookies) in a ziploc bag and crumble, you can hammer it with a rolling pin, but I prefer to just break them with hands so that it's not too powdery. You want some chunks, but not too big or the mixture won't stick together.
-Add the crumbs to the mixture and mix them all up making sure to coat all of the crumbs. It needs to be wet enough to stick together but not too wet to slop about! (if you find the mixture is too wet you can refrigerate it for 10 minutes, but you may end up with congealed butter bits as it generally means it's not mixed enough)
-Line a brownie pan (square pan) with parchment paper and fill the pan with the mix. Use a metal spoon to press the mix into the pan.
-Melt the milk chocolate, don't boil! And pour the melted chocolate over the mixture in the pan.
-Pop in the refrigerator for about an hour and voila! Tiffin!
After lots and lots of trial and error (so much so the launch of this collection had to be pushed back to the end of the month!) the gems are dyed, polished and lacquered.
I dyed, magnesite, howlite, shell and coral, with coral and magnesite being the most successful in terms of colour.
It's a messy, multi level process which left my kitchen somewhat skanky for about a week, but overall I was pleased with the results. (p.s don't stupidly wear white clothes and wear gloves if you ever dye anything)
The colours are not quite as bright as I had initially hoped for, but I like they're very very pretty nonetheless. In fact I've fallen in love with them a little bit!
See them in some new creations at the end of the month in store! Each piece made with them will be a one of kind dues to the nature of dyeing gems!