Current Availability

Well friends, this Summer is shaping up to be a busy one. We are fully-booked over the next couple months, so all you can currently get in our etsy are ready-to-wear pieces, discounted samples, and I might leave one or two basic made-to-order options up (it gives my assistants projects to continue learning on).

As ever, we prefer to schedule far in advance (especially on bridal) so don’t hesitate to email with your enquiry. Please note, email replies may take a few days. The short summary of this is that speed is not a reason to choose Sparklewren… We excel in other, more fulfilling, ways.

jenni@sparklewren.co.uk

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Handsworth Park

In general, Mondays are meant to be my main day off. So yesterday we popped to the local park and I looked at many trees and such as usual. Soon I’ll be sitting down to trace off a couple of branch outlines for a bespoke corset, but pictures of squirrels, birds and my boyfriend are all just for the fun of it I’m afraid, no corset-related merit at all.

Lenses, part 3

Further to the earlier post, here’s a crop showing the cross-over point between those two lenses.

18-55 zoom lens (the kit lens with the X-E1). Taken at 55mm, f/4.5, ISO 1250.
18-55 zoom lens (the kit lens with the X-E1). Taken at 55mm, f/4.5, ISO 1250.
50-230 zoom lens (free with May's X-E1 special offer). Taken at 50mm, f/4.5, ISO 1250.
50-230 zoom lens (free with May’s X-E1 special offer). Taken at 50mm, f/4.5, ISO 1250.

All other settings were the same (I think!) so it does look like there’s a difference in sharpness and definition there. The bigger zoom found it easier/faster to focus too. But then, I do actually need to update the camera body’s firmware (haven’t picked up a card reader to do this yet), so perhaps that will make a difference. Still don’t know when I’d bother using the big zoom, but it’s worth having I suppose. Perhaps as I play/study more I will understand when to use it.

 

Lenses, part 2

Ooh, that’s a spanner in the works. The XC 50-230 zoom seems a sharper lens than my 18-55, and handles low light a lot more easily. Still don’t know when I’d need/use it, but I do like it… Maybe it will stay. 

Right, playtime over, time to get back to work on this wedding gown!  

Lenses

Ooh, so I have just received this XC lens from Fuji, as part of their May special offer for buying the X-E1…

http://www.jessops.com/online.store/categories/products/fujifilm/xc-50-230mm-black-lens-89733/show.html

…but I may sell it on straight away. Should give it a test run really, but what I *actually* want is the 60mm macro (equivalent to around 91mm on a 35mm camera).

http://www.jessops.com/online.store/categories/products/fujifilm/xf-60mm-f-2-4-r-macro-lens-84266/show.html

The zoom is pretty hefty and I can’t quite imagine when I would use it. Will have a short play in the studio and have a think. Being XC rather than XF, it doesn’t have the aperture ring, which apparently makes it lighter but I’d really rather be able to set my aperture that way. That strikes me as a big part of the charm of these cameras, after all. Plus, the zoom only goes to f/4.5 whilst the macro goes to f/2.4, and I just think I’d actually use that lens more (close-ups of my work, and such).

Anyway, will think on. May sell the zoom and put the monies towards the macro, or may just keep it and save up for the macro separately.

A Teaser

I’m thoroughly enjoying writing and sharing on the Life Behind the Brand blog. As with all new ventures you never quite know the direction things will take, and that’s wonderful. I knew I wouldn’t be writing purely about corsetry as the whole point is to give insight into my working life. So that includes business decisions and thoughts, self-doubts, experimental corsetry, and other creative endeavours (specifically, recently, photography).

So the blog isn’t a basic “how to” of corsetmaking, it’s best suited to those who approach their corsetry from a personal point of view. I think this is definitely reflected in the lovely subscribers I have so far, mostly ladies with very distinctive aesthetics and a lot of passion!

Something I’ve been saying since before I even began accepting orders as Sparklewren, is that the more we each specialise (the more we find our own authentic aesthetic and niche) the more interesting and broad the industry will be as a whole. And the less we will be competing with one another. Making that level of individuality financially viable is another matter, which I do go into on the blog every so often. But none-the-less, I still stand by the basic premise. With more and more people becoming interested in corsetry, the best way to keep it interesting (in my opinion) is to have an individual approach to it. And part of that is by letting your work be informed by other mediums, letting everything you encounter help develop your eye. Even the ugly things you see teach you about line and proportion!

Here’s a behind-the-scenes teaser from the shoot we had last Sunday. I’ve a post on the private blog showing a few edits of this image, all part and parcel of playing and learning. Not a corset in sight! Just beautiful little Cassie Rae’s face with Milton the Burmese python coiling around her… But truly, playing with something like this teaches me about corsetry in so much as it teaches me about visuals in general. Being forced to look more carefully is never a bad thing.

Cassie Rae, behind the scenes last week.
Cassie Rae, behind the scenes last week.

The patterning on Milton or the texture in Cassie’s hair, they aren’t a million miles away from what I do by layering lace of close-but-differing shades, in terms of subtlety (a colour version I did of this photo is actually more illustrative of the point, and can be seen on the private blog). … Or distressing the raw edges of organza ruffles… The snake’s highlights remind me that I usually prefer the soft sheen of pearls to the hard sparkle of crystals, and even Cassie’s gold fingernails reminded me that when metallics are to be used it is best done with an underlying colour to give tone, so that the gold may crack and reveal what’s beneath (eg: gold lace over black).

It seems silly that messing about with a photo, doing a drawing, or painting a wall(!), could enhance my work as a corsetmaker, but it can. So I am having much fun sharing that (and other topics) on the special blog with you.

Pythons – Part 2

Cassie with the Woma python.
Cassie with the Woma python.
Glo of InaGlo Photography, with the Woma python. I'm sad I didn't ask to hold him now, beautiful creature!
Glo of InaGlo Photography, with the Woma python. I’m sad I didn’t ask to hold him now, beautiful creature!
Cassie arranged some lingerie for the shoot, including this beautiful harness created by Rebecca Ansah. The corset worn beneath is a silver sheer with crystals and lace.
Cassie arranged some lingerie for the shoot, including this beautiful harness created by Rebecca Ansah. The corset worn beneath is a silver sheer with crystals and lace.
I loved taking all my behind the scenes snaps (as ever) though did lament the low light... But then I got given a couple goes with Glo's lighting and goodness me, what a revelation! I can see how people fall in love with photography. I might share one or two of those shots on the private blog, if I feel brave enough. The pythons were glorious, many thanks to Andrew and Steve for bringing them up and handling them for us. But even Milton's reasonably leisurely and languid movements were a bit too quick for my camera in available light, behold his blurry face! I might try a colour edit of this shot too though, as Cassie looks stunning here and Milton is the most exceptional shade of lemon-ish yellow.
I loved taking all my behind the scenes snaps (as ever) though did lament the low light… But then I got given a couple goes with Glo’s lighting and goodness me, what a revelation! I can see how people fall in love with photography. I might share one or two of those shots on the private blog, if I feel brave enough. The pythons were glorious, many thanks to Andrew and Steve for bringing them up and handling them for us. But even Milton’s reasonably leisurely and languid movements were a bit too quick for my camera in available light, behold his blurry face! I might try a colour edit of this shot too though, as Cassie looks stunning here and Milton is the most exceptional shade of lemon-ish yellow.

Pythons – Part 1 – NSFW

Cassie Rae is a beautiful little model who I have worked with twice before. We always said that we’d like to arrange a shoot with snakes, as a friend of hers keeps them and it’s something she’s done before. So, we got it scheduled in and yesterday we all had much fun playing with corsets, lingerie, and gloriously gorgeous pythons. It’s been a tiring week overall so I am cream-crackered today. But very happy for having done this shoot! Here are a few of my behind the scenes shots (you will have to be patient for the proper shots from lovely InaGlo Photography).

Please note: this post may not be safe for work.

Part 2 to follow…

Elegant Clouds

I recently received some beautiful images of my Cloud gown, taken by the lovely Karen Wortley. I hope you will enjoy these shots, they show the detail in this duchess, tulle and lace gown beautifully…

I must say, I can be choosey re: the orders I accept, but if anyone wishes to commission something inspired by Cloud (but perhaps corseted or in different tones?) then please do get in touch. It would be a joy to create more pieces like this. You can see more about my bridal work, including guide prices, here.

Model: Rio at La Moda Models
Hair and Make Up/Styling: Lucy Mckeown
Jewellery: Jacq Brill
Photographer: Karen Wortley/Bruce Smith Academy

Classic Black

Today, Holly and I finished up three classic black corsets. Two bespoke broche pieces and one embellished, customised, Little Bird. The Little Bird is a relative of the Phoenix, with 12 panels per side, a shorter line to the hip, and a higher line to the centre-front. The Phoenix and Goldcrest, they’re both trial designs which I have been tweaking and refining over the past year, in collaboration with many lovely clients who jumped on the opportunities with passion and excitement! It is, as ever, lovely to know that there are corsetry clients out there who care about innovative and creative corsetry, and who love to accompany me (and others) on these journeys and experiments.

This bespoke piece in black spot broche is for a lady with quite a long torso, hence it looking like a midbust on the mannequin. That is indeed one of the challenges of international/distance bespoke orders, you are always wishing you could be there for in-person fittings.
This bespoke piece in black spot broche is for a lady with quite a long torso, hence it looking like a midbust on the mannequin. That is indeed one of the challenges of international/distance bespoke orders, you are always wishing you could be there for in-person fittings.
And a cleaner shot, for those of you who like that sort of thing. I wonder if the reason I like grainy, blurry, indistinct shots is that I see my work everyday? I know that the quality is high, so I sometimes forget that I need to actually show that to the rest of you.
And a cleaner shot, for those of you who like that sort of thing. I wonder if the reason I like grainy, blurry, indistinct shots is that I see my work everyday? I know that the quality is high, so I sometimes forget that I need to actually show that to the rest of you.
By way of illustration re: the longing for fittings, this sweet little broche piece is pretty dramatically shaped. Being cut for a shorter torso and so shaped I found it nigh on impossible to get it sitting well on the mannequin. Oh, to have mannequins in every shape and size! What I need perhaps is a compressible mannequin that actually truly compresses well. Or two. Or ten. Hmm...
By way of illustration re: the longing for fittings, this sweet little broche piece is pretty dramatically shaped. Being cut for a shorter torso and so shaped I found it nigh on impossible to get it sitting well on the mannequin. Oh, to have mannequins in every shape and size! What I need perhaps is a compressible mannequin that actually truly compresses well. Or two. Or ten. Hmm…

We did a quick fitting with this corset prior to applying the exterior casings, etc., and (excepting the small amount of “collapse” through the waist due to a lack of steels) you can see how this piece will give a dramatic cinch and is cut high on the hip to suit the client.
Finally, the Little Bird corset. This piece is in black sateen coutil which is truly beautiful though a tiny touch bulky for this particular corset construction. It stitches beautifully, handles beautifully, and looks stunning, but compared to the super-fine herringbone coutil (for example) it's that little bit trickier with these particular seams. One day I will tell you all how I do the Birds Wing seams, and then you will understand what I mean!
Finally, the Little Bird corset. This piece is in black sateen coutil which is truly beautiful though a tiny touch bulky for this particular corset construction. It stitches beautifully, handles beautifully, and looks stunning, but compared to the super-fine herringbone coutil (for example) it’s that little bit trickier with these particular seams. One day I will tell you all how I do the Birds Wing seams, and then you will understand what I mean!
I did some asymmetric lace for this client, in a couture metallic bronze. I hope she loves it! Often, my asymmetric lace ends up flowing across the ribs of one side to the hips of the other. Or as a splash down the length of one side. So for this piece, I took a slightly different approach.
I did some asymmetric lace for this client, in a couture metallic bronze. I hope she loves it! Often, my asymmetric lace ends up flowing across the ribs of one side to the hips of the other. Or as a splash down the length of one side. So for this piece, I took a slightly different approach.

There we are. Three classic black corsets, each with a different flavour.