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The Inner Truth Project is a complicated passion project that I am dabbling with. To save repeating myself I have provided a description of the project over here. After completing this first portrait I have had a number of people put their hand up to be involved in the project. As I go along, I will include small posts here to share snippets of the portraits but not the finished product. We will see how this develops and what becomes of it. At some point I will share the collated works.

For my first portrait I asked my good friend Juliet to be my subject. She was the perfect choice as I already knew her well and we had already completed a number of personal styling sessions together. Juliet is an intelligent, sensitive, passionate and artistic person with a huge well of complexity, just perfect for investigation and development. As an artist she is possibly more self aware of these elements than some others might be, however I strongly believe that we all have a great deal of complexity and it is just a matter of finding the ways to delve the depths to find treasure.

The Portrait

Juliet cares passionately about the role of women in our society, most particularly about what she feels is the under valued role of caregiver, a role most often filled by women. Juliet on a personal level strives to provide nourishment, both physical and emotional to those in her care whether they be family, friends, students or the foster kids she welcomes into her home. In her professional endeavours, as an artist and teacher she advocates for women and their many guises. Her inspirations in life and art show evidence of both her fine art and science education.

Born in Scotland, Juliet came to Australia via time in the U.S.A but her Scottish blood and traditions remain integral to her sense of identity.

Look closely and see what you can find, what is your interpretation of these elements?

Every aspect you see in these photos has meaning and been selected deliberately from the smallest item in the setting to Juliet’s custom body armour. We decided to portray Juliet as a modern day Boudicea, nurturer and protector of her people. A fearless woman of keen intellect, with a wild strength of spirit. She is surrounded by her tools of trade, her inspirations and symbols of her values.   At the next stage of this project I will share the symbols and their meaning, the finished portrait, plus more.

But for now…. here is Juliet.



To learn more about Juliet, including a gallery of her insightful work please visit her website.

I’m looking forward to my next portrait.

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What do you do if you need 1920’s shoes to be worn and withstand the rigour of an event? Well real 1920’s shoes are not that easy to come by any way, particularly not in any state to be worn. So I accepted a challenge to create a pair of 1920’s shoes from shoes that I could source today.

In the 1920’s skirt hemlines had risen giving new emphasis to now visible legs, shoes and hosiery. Flesh and soft pastel coloured hosiery slowly replaced the dark hosiery of previous times. The female silhouette had morphed from the mature bosomed, hipped figure into a more androgynous, small busted, small hipped, youthful, athletic figure. It was party time, the jazz era, the roaring twenties, oriental influence and metallic decorations abounded. T bar or instep strap sandals and pumps with rich embroidery fabrics, tooled or painted leathers and even heavily ornamented diamante heels. Heels were shapely but sturdy and vamps relatively high on the foot, often with cut out details.

Check out my Pinterest board to see lots of examples of gorgeous 1920’s shoes.

So here is the base I started with:circa-1970s-opshop-shoes

I chose these shoes primarily for their toe shape, forefoot strap, heel height and shape. In creating these shoes I had to make decisions around which compromises I would make in order to achieve the closest result I could, on a budget and in a timely fashion. An authentic  1920’s era shoe would be higher on the vamp (forefoot) and the heel may have a slight outward turn. I was very fortunate to find these little babies waiting for me to discover them and give them a chance to shine!


I wanted to cut proper patterns for these shoes rather than doing the quickie You Tube methods available. By cutting a proper pattern I could be sure that I would have the placement of the fabric design exactly where I wanted it, matching on both feet, no gathers in the fabric and with nice neat seams at the back.  By cutting a proper pattern I could also work out the design and placement of the extra detail to give the shoes a more complete look.


I am quite taken with the burnished metal look I managed to achieve for the heels, strap and decoration.

In this photo I have had a bit of fun playing around with filters for a more moody look. Many thanks to my gracious foot model.


Next project!



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This is a project I actually completed a little while ago. I was putting together a gallery of my work and whoops (!), discovered that when I had transferred my blog across from “The Art of Costume” this post had not come with it. So this is a reiteration, please forgive if you have read it already.

Have you ever seen an item of clothing and it sticks in your mind forever? When I was working at the Victoria State Opera many years ago there was a woman who owned a vintage leather jacket that had a belt just like this one. For some odd reason, I loved that belt and coveted a vintage leather jacket with that belt. So when I saw this one in an opportunity shop, I bought it. However it was in pretty sad condition and so I decided to give it a facelift.

Here is an abbreviated representation of the work.

The lining had previously been replaced and was inappropriate fabric for the purpose, soiled and worn out and actually didn’t fit the jacket properly. So I needed to remove it and cut a new pattern for the lining. I was very lucky to find some great, vintage lining from a film costume designer selling off some of her collection, which was just perfect.


The leather needed to be well stripped to remove old paint, dirt and any substance that would inhibit the adherence of new paint. I ordered special paint from my favourite supplier (you know who you are!) and got to work.

It took several coats of paint, and cans of paint, but we got there. This is not a project to undertake to save money! This is about wanting to achieve a specific look, practice skills, learn and have fun.3-repainting

The jacket had lost a button and a very unusual choice made and some of the buttons had been stitched replaced without their supportive button at the back. All buttons needed to come off for repainting so I removed, and replaced properly with new buttons.

The jacket was a bit too long to be this boxy on me so a little extra shaping was required. Fortunately I have the skills and equipment to work with leather although this jacket is sheepskin so it is very forgiving. The bull dog clips may look silly but are helpful to get the exact placement and fit.4-repainted-thinking-about-shape

Check out this gorgeous lining! It’s perfect, I love it. Such a lucky find.


All of this for a belt?

Yep ‘fraid so. But I also had a lot of fun.

P.S you can see I changed my mind about the shaping…bull dog clips, useful. 6-finished-jacket

Hope you enjoyed.


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There is something special about family heirlooms that has nothing to do with monetary value. Somehow in knowing that one of your forbearers wore and valued an item of jewellery it gives you a connection to the past that is quite special. Jewellery is an especially personal item and pearls have been a valued commodity in fashion for many decades. My family were not wealthy and so Great Grandma’s pearls are quality faux pearls not real. Despite their faux status they are actually quite lovely as each pearl has an irregularity to its shape rather than being perfectly round. The pearls also have a creamy lustre with some depth not like modern fake pearls. They may be glass as they are quite heavy and tinkle loudly when dropped into a ceramic bowl.

When they were passed on to me by mother they were as she received them, broken, tied up in knots and fairly soiled. It’s hard to imagine how they came to be in this state. I know that she will have received them when her father died many, many years after the premature death of her mother. I can only imagine that he saw no value in them and they were in the back of a drawer or cupboard for many years since my Great Grandmothers death or at least Nanna’s death. I spent some time gently unraveling the strings before taking this first photo. You can see that the clasp and French wire are corroded and strings broken.

After counting and measuring I gave the pearls a gentle bath and the improvement in their lustre was quite heartening! Then began the restringing.

I had to work out the balance of the pearl numbers on each string to achieve the correct design and then restring with silk thread and French wire. Whilst these pearls were not originally individually knotted, as they are quite lovely and to improve their aesthetic I have chosen to restring them in the traditional manner with individual knots between each pearl.



Now I just have to have a think about how to rock three string pearls without actually looking like a Nanna!

I was really hoping my Aunt who is the keeper of old photographs in our family might be able to find a photo of Great Grandma in her pearls to accompany this post. Alas, none is to be found. Perhaps I should add a photo of one of my daughters wearing them in time. That would be fitting.



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I am ashamed to admit I bought this sweet little purse ages ago. No I really mean ages… I am pretty sure it was in the late 80’s early 90’s. It was in this state at the time and I bought it intending to refurbish its vintage goodness. Ah well, time has ticked on and it has never quite made it to the top of my priority list, until now. I am sooooooooo pleased though that I have finally had an excuse to put aside the time to attend to it. Finding beads wasn’t too difficult although I did have to compromise. I feel fairly certain the original bead was a size 10 and the closest I could get was size 11. The shape is also slightly different. The original bead is more like a doughnut where as the replacement is a bit fuller. I think it is ok though. It can now be used!

Before sml 2

You can see that the old thread is slowly rotting away and this job required securing loose beads as well as rebuilding the original design as closely as I could ascertain from the barely visible stitching marks in the satin. It took a little time but I think well worth it.


During sml

After the beading and cleaning is finished, a very gentle manipulation and some steam to restore its original shape and voila, time to get out into society again.

After sml 2

Next project…..