So the morning of OCOC14 finally came and the day started early, as usual with coffee and welcome in the JCR where the programme was outlined, guests were announced, and goodybags and houserules were given out. We had decided to run the programme along the theme 'making a corset from start to finish' which may seem basic to some, but this conference is all about learning from others and sharing information, so it seemed apt to have one year where we would literally start from the beginning of how to make a corset, and work our way through to the finish. And so, with such a packed programme for the day, there was no time to tarry and the first workshop with Alison Campbell commenced at 9.15 sharp. Alison devised a fun, interactive class with paper dolls, colouring pencils, scissors and in the age of the smart phone, cameras. Everyone was sent out for 20 mintues to find inspiration from the College itself and for the duration of the workshop, our teacher was "Miss Campbell" !
My own workshop followed with an overview of the corset patterning process. Having studied for years, the theory of having a 'forumula' for corset patterning - and succeeding in finding said formula - I realised that infact, you don't really need to know how to do it from scratch every single time, you just need to either find a good corset block or make a good block, and adapt each design from that one block. The key is knowing how that block works and imposing your forumla onto it. I illustrated this theory by encouraging those present to go forth and study something called "Anthropometrics" which is the study of the relationship between human size and the products we use. It's fascinating and is the whole reason we can use 'standard' sizing to acheive a near perfect fit, depending upon the demographic we are working with and combining that knowledge with our own personal research.
Jenni Hampshire took the corset block theory further in the next session, by talking about her modern Birdswing Corset patterns which were inspired by a trip to see antique corsets in the Symington Collection a few years ago with Foundations Revealed. The original antique birdswing corset which we saw on display that day, comprised of as many as 22 panels per side and was boned on every seam - the name birdswing was given because when laid flat, the corset with all it's panels, looked just like a birdswing. So Jenni has been working on a modern version ever since and during her interactive talk, she not only showed us her beautiful patterns, but gave away many of her trade secrets. I must say, even I was a bit surprised at how generous she was on that front!
No day dedicated to corset making and theory would be complete without a lesson in grading. Marianne Faulkner took the stage after Jenni's Birdswing session, to talk about grading standard corset patterns with a view to creating a line of a certain design. This was quite a complex talk and covered many aspects of sizing and grading in great detail including how to deal with the different demographic groups which I mentioned in my own talk.
The day of workshops finished on a very fun note with Gerry Quinton's class on advanced surface embellishment. For this class, Gerry wanted people to really think outside of the box as far as embelleshing a corset is concerned and to illustrate this point, brought with her the most beatufully embellished sheer corset with a smocked and draped overlay covered in metallic flowers and crystals. In her class she taught those present how to create 'American smocking' and how to make various other embellishments using different methods and materials, including ribbon flowers, and different ways to attach crystals.
And so we reached the end of day one at OCOC14. It disappeared at lightning speed but left us all fully inspired, bursting with new ideas and theories, some of which were perfectly mirrored in our 'wall of Mini Morgana's' displayed in the JCR for all to see.
The next installment covers what happened on Saturday night at Jesus!
Julia Bremble, September 2014