OCOC BLOG


An OCOC Journey - by Caroline Woollin

In 2013 I had made two corsets, one of which had been at a weekend ‘learn to make a corset’ course at my local college in Hackney. I have always made things and was looking for a new hobby and this course ticked all my boxes given that I had always admired corsets and wanted one of my own. I then bought Julia’s e book tutorial (thanks Julia!), worked my way through that, bought supplies, poured over YouTube tutorials (thanks Lucy!) and made my first corset on my own from a Truly Victorian pattern. Soon thereafter I saw the advert for the first OCOC and pondered it a while thinking that I was far too inexperienced to attend. After chatting to Julia via e mail she convinced me that it was not just for experienced professionals, that it was for anybody, and that all was required was a passion and propensity to learn about the subject.

Victoria Dagger modelling Caroline's work at OCOC 2013

Victoria Dagger modelling Caroline's work at OCOC 2013

I booked to attend and went along full of trepidation but with a determination to learn from the experience. I learned a few things that weekend;

  • That I loved the art of corsetry;
  • That I was not the only beginner;
  • That I could learn from the people I met;
  • That new friends (giving an excellent support network) could be made;
  • And that there was a world of possibility ahead of me.
Threnody in Velvet wearing Corsets by Caroline at OCOC 2014

Threnody in Velvet wearing Corsets by Caroline at OCOC 2014

The experience made me think, it spurred me on, it created openings and possibilities. In just over two years since this first conference I have started my own business selling on-line patterns, and started taking commissions. Most exciting of all I am coming back to OCOC16 as a presenter where I will be making use of my 15+ years’ experience using  AutoCAD to show how I create digital patterns. I’m also looking forward to having a sabbatical from work where I can push my aesthetic and try and drum up business. And if it doesn’t work out and I have to return to full-time paid employment at the end of 2016? Well at least I can say I tried, I did something very different, and I had a really good time doing it.

And, bang up to date... Corset by Caroline, modelled by Gingerface at the most recent OCOC, in August 2015. Photographed by Tigz Rice Studios

And, bang up to date... Corset by Caroline, modelled by Gingerface at the most recent OCOC, in August 2015. Photographed by Tigz Rice Studios

You can see more of Caroline's work at corsetsbycaroline.co.uk

 

Note from OCOC: We're really looking forward to Caroline's session, as CAD is a bit of a mystery to us, as I suspect it is for many of you. And, seeing corsetry move ahead with new(ish) technology is something we're all interested in. There will be more class info to come so look out for that.

Friends of OCOC - Foundations Revealed

The first in a series of posts on the friends and sponsors who support us and help make the weekend extra enjoyable for all of us.

Foundations Revealed kindly sponsored the wine at dinner, as well as supplying a lovely branded mug for the welcome bag. Image copyright Laurie Tavan 2015

Foundations Revealed kindly sponsored the wine at dinner, as well as supplying a lovely branded mug for the welcome bag. Image copyright Laurie Tavan 2015

Firstly, let us introduce Foundations Revealed and the ladies behind it.

Foundations Revealed (and it's sister costume publication Your Wardrobe Unlock'd) is an online subscription publication offering an unprecedented number of tutorials and studies of the world of foundations, predominantly corsetry, through history up to the present day. Although the nature of the material means a strong focus on late Victorian and Edwardian corsets, the remit is far wider. With a huge pool of writers and a massive archive or articles it's a vital resource for any serious makers.

All of us on the team have known Cathy Hay, who runs Harman Hay (publisher of Foundations Revealed) for a number of years. Personally, I'd reckon about a decade, from the old days of the Live Journal corsetry and corsetmaking communities up to the present day. The plans and discussions for FR and it's older sister publication 'Your Wardrobe Unlock'd' were revealed and thrashed out on Cathy's Live Journal page where many of it's original subscribers came from. 

Cathy Hay with our organiser and Director Julia Bremble at OCOC'15. Image copyright Laurie Tavan 2015

Cathy Hay with our organiser and Director Julia Bremble at OCOC'15. Image copyright Laurie Tavan 2015

Cathy approached Julia several years ago to pick her brains about a possible conference idea, but decided it wasn't for her. Julia, with her background in conference management, had been mulling the idea over with a couple of us for a while, so decided then to go for it but in a very different format. Cathy has expressed her 'genuine enthusiasm' for the event and has been generous with her praise and congratulations as well as being a sponsor for the last three years.

As well as Foundations Revealed being a sponsor since the first year, Cathy attended the second and third events. In 2015 editor Marion McNealy was also able to join us.

In year two Cathy also gave an inspiring talk. And has been a keen participator in the workshops from the delegate side, always ready with a question and some input. She has recently been running a business mentorship course, her first group of clients including quite a few of our regular conference attendees.

Cathy Hay absorbed during one of the workshops at OCOC'15. Image copyright Beth Moody 2015

Cathy Hay absorbed during one of the workshops at OCOC'15. Image copyright Beth Moody 2015

It was lovely to see Foundations Revealed editor Marion McNealy able to attend the conference this year. I'd met Marion once before, at a Foundations organised visit to the Symingtons Collection in Coalville (where I first met Julia in person incidentally!), and have of course corresponded with her in the past about articles.  Marion is an expert researcher and fount of historical knowledge. I do hope she was able to chat to some potential new writers for Foundations Revealed while at the conference. 

Marion seemed to manage camera avoidance far better than I can even manage (and trust me, I try) So here is the headshot we published in the conference programme leaflet.

Marion seemed to manage camera avoidance far better than I can even manage (and trust me, I try) So here is the headshot we published in the conference programme leaflet.

It was so amazing to be able to meet so many people I had only known online for years. I know I didn’t get a chance to meet everyone and chat, but maybe next year.
— Marion McNealy
Barbara Pesendorfer of Royal Black trying on one of Stephanie Selmayr's gorgeous antiques under the expert gaze of Steph and Marion. Image copyright Laurie Tavan 2015.   

Barbara Pesendorfer of Royal Black trying on one of Stephanie Selmayr's gorgeous antiques under the expert gaze of Steph and Marion. Image copyright Laurie Tavan 2015.

 

So we thank Foundations Revealed for their continuing support. As Cathy has said herself, our two organisations complement each other. Foundations through continued learning through online tutorials and studies from makers of all levels from beginners to expert, and it's strong focus on historical corsetry and costume. And ourselves, with our ethos of bringing in well known and respected experts to add to our pool of knowledge while fostering sharing and learning from each other, with a focus on pushing innovation and corsetry in contemporary and future fashion. Long may the partnership continue,

www.foundationsrevealed.com/

Behind the scenes at OCOC

(Taken from the OCOC Facebook page)

Today I thought I’d talk a wee bit about the behind the scenes of the conference and big up our boss lady, as she won’t do it herself 

The planning for this year started immediately after last years. We were so full of enthusiasm that the ideas were flowing fast, and in fact now there are already ideas on the go for next year, and plans being put in place. One of the wonderful things about OCOC is that we have such a tight little team. Julia is the boss it’s Julia’s conference and it’s her many, many, many years (a many too many? I’ll get my backside kicked for that haha) experience in the hospitality and conference industries linked of course with her experience as a corsetiere and as an unsurpassable teacher of corsetry that makes her uniquely able to work her way through the logistics and details to create an amazing conference. Having been party to some of the planning I know I couldn’t do it, I wouldn’t know where to start with some of the less obvious elements. It’s utterly daunting, believe me. But our Julia has done it while making it outwardly look like there’s nothing to it, which is most definitely not the case. And after all any grey hairs gained in the process are easily hidden.

Behind Julia is our little core team of friends and co-horts. Gerry, Jenni, Marianne and me (Alison).. Between us we have a fair whack of experience we can throw in to the mix. Not just in corsetry, and in our own corsetry businesses but in teaching and training, modelling, art, graphics and publishing. We also have different but complimentary interests in corsetry, from Jenni’s highly embellished art pieces to Marianne’s passion for quality ready to wear. But perhaps even more importantly we’re all friends and are all invested in building a supportive team that works together to produce this fab event. Having this tight team enables us to come up with a programme that exploits our own strengths, and very importantly, that we’ll enjoy sharing with you. Enthusiasm, our enthusiasm is vital.

What has been really exciting is seeing new people come into the fold and increase their involvement. Ian Frazer Wallace, our wonderful speaker from last year, (who along with the whirlwind of charisma that is Polly Fey made last year’s Saturday night a joy) will continue being part of OCOC Our wonderful models, headed up by boss model Morgana are a vital and glamorous part of the weekend, and our photographers of course. This year we’ll have the amazing Autumn Adame with us as speaker which is a treat we’re all looking forward to!

I can’t fail to mention the staff at Jesus College, especially the indispensable Luke. I think everyone who was there last year can testify to him being an absolute gem among men, as well as an outnumbered man among corset makers! The gorgeous, historic, idyllic venue is such a core part of the conference and the super-helpful team there help to make it that way. Then there are our fab and generous sponsors of course! And I think Julia’s husband Paul deserves a wee mention too for his support, as well as a fair bit of fetching and carrying!

So as you can see, it takes quite a few committed people, a shedload of skill and experience and a lot of love, passion and enthusiasm to bring you OCOC, and it’s what goes a long way to making it, not only the first of it’s kind, but truly inimitable.And you know what goes the rest of the way to doing that? You guys! Our wonderful attendees, whose skills, talents, warmth and again, enthusiasm were wonderful to behold last year. Here’s to 2014 and and beyond.(oops, didn’t mention the gin makers, they deserve some credit too!)

Alison (Crikey Aphrodite)