The Mystery revealed

Well, the show has now launched! The creators dispersed and on to the next thing ( holiday!) and my part is over.P1050507

It has shifted from production to running wardrobe. Several of the volunteers are involved still, as wardrobe maintenance, dressers, stewards, with over 40 performances can you image the logistics involved in just making sure  everything is right and ready.

The press photos are better than mine so these links will take you out and about on the web – to the official site ,   local press,   I am sure there are many others.

The Adam and Eve costumes are done and dusted –  Janet has left a repair kit just in case of calamity –  there are more encrustations, metallic dustings, and  stronger contrasts.finished adam

The surface is so organic it is almost bark-like in places yet it also  fits in well with the decaying walls of the medieval St William’s College.

But this is done and somebody else’s baby now. The last robe is made (I think it was God’s understudy’s), most of the sewing machines returned to Janome and the gear packed up. The charity shop Mind cleared out the unused contemporary clothing donations  and the rails are empty.  I will have great memories of the workroom, working for Lorraine, Fiona etc., and the volunteers, some of whom are as daft as I am – and who can bake…..

P1050508 Meet the Devil Worm – a creature made by Anna using offcuts from the devils’ body suits ( she was sat wrestling with the vile, slippery printed lycra for over a week so revenge was required.) The worm travelled around the building, made a nest, had an elegant ruff/cloak  made from angel costume fabric, and has snuck home with me for new adventures.

adventures of worm

His fate is happier than the Biblical Banana, that finally bit the dust and is consigned to history.

I shall miss the banter and camaraderie  of the group … but back to doing my own creative work, need to clear the backlog of costume and textile commissions, prepare workshops, and of course I have no more excuses for avoiding the evils of housework or cutting the hedge!  Time for a coffee.


Mystery and Mud


You may remember that I mentioned taking on a workroom supervisor job for the York Mystery Plays- well, that is where I have been and below is a tiniest snippet of what we have been doing.

These are a cycle of  plays telling  the Bible story, start to finish, and this year are held in the nave of York Minster. Basically this means they are big, in all ways. Traditionally they are put on by local guilds for the local people. These are a bit too big for that but most of the cast are locals as are the people running about behind the scenes making and doing. I have been  one of the people  translating and organising  the designs and intentions of the decision makers into tasks and actions for the volunteer costume makers. Not going to give you sneak peaks of the finished  stuff  or write about the “Biblical Basics” ,  of which there were dozens to make, many sagas to tell and the word “gusset” has new emphasis,    but….   meet Adam and Eve.

Janet's dungeon ( defunct back kitchens)

Janet’s dungeon ( defunct back kitchens)


These were somewhat different from  the floor to ceiling robes – body suits which had to be made to look like they were emerging from the clay.  Janet ( the theatrical breakdown specialist) trusted us to get the base grime and grub in place, ready to start building a heavily  caked and encrusted top layer.   These are not finished yet, more Yorkshire clag and clarting up is required but you should get the idea.

A very naked Adam, waiting his turn

A very naked Adam, waiting his turn






Eve is a little more advanced than Adam, proper crusty mud is going on.

Eve is a little more advanced than Adam, proper crusty mud is going on.




The grub was  various colouring agents in textile binder, then plus some extras – wool fibre, puffer binder, polyfilla, etc, etc.

early layers

early layers

The heavier layers  were stippled , slapped, dribbled on,  as well as being elegantly placed, and carefully applied. It is the drying time that is the killer. Everything is overnight!




Janet is working minor and major miracles here! From flat nasty synthetic bodysuit to this  organic masterpiece….P1050484












The Return of Colin.

Oh No – The studios are closing at the Stonebow House.  Bye  bye to the fabulous view, big floor space and a city centre base.  But also bye to the never ending stairs ( 5 floors up! Felt more)    My desks have gone to new homes and all the gear has made it home now.

Oh Yes-  Colin is home!  and eager to work.  Nigel seems resentful of the new competition for my attention and is developing a temperament, but this will pass.

To stop myself worrying excessively about the upcoming  Open Studios ( 3 weeks?)  I have taken on a costuming job. The idea was to have something else to worry about so the 2 worries can cancel each other out. Ummmm. Dodgy logic there!    This proving to be great fun – jobshared  role of Volunteer Costume-Making  Workshop  Supervisor ( or something similar)  for the York Mystery Plays. I know I said I needed the structure of  deadlines but this is ridiculous.   Well over a hundred garments to make, double or triple that to keep control of. We began on Tuesday in the amazingly drunk medieval building of St Williams College by the Minster. So far we have set up, sampled, labelled anything that can’t fight back and are getting into gear with the making……..  Managed to occupy about a quarter  of the first floor, aiming for over half, but this is only after 3 days! P1050462P1050463 The volunteer ladies are so keen,  (where are the gentlemen who can handle a sewing machine?) the staff very welcoming, our boss – Lorraine Ebdon_-so supportive…….arghhhhhhhhhh, no pressure then.

As for the textile art? a bit on the back burner- spent many a happy Bond film pulling threads from a row of trees on muslin. I want the muslin to all but disappear, to be ephemeral,  to allow the monochrome sketch show through, shame it is  bright white.


dropped into a temporary frame , still not right. may dye the backing fabric.