Monday, February 28, 2011

Gilded Lily

A lovely flower, shiny as a jewel.  But what is it made of?  I'll give you a hint; it's not what you expect!

Onion skin, papyrus leaves, clove, tangerine peel, some paint and nail polish, and a bit of wire to give it stability!

Wait! What?!

Welcome to the world of the Philadelphia International Flower Show, and more specifically the Jewelry Competition.

The Philadelphia International Flower Show is one of the largest and oldest horticultural shows in the world, and also one of my family's annual traditions.  There are lots of spectacular displays and hundreds of different competitions.  The fairly tiny jewelry competition is been my Mother's and my favorite.

The rules are deceptively simple: use plant material to make something that looks like jewelry.  You can use glue and paint (most commonly nail polish) for color, and non-plant material for structure as long as it doesn't show.

The results are usually breathtaking, and very surprising.  The artists have scoured their gardens and wild areas, scoped out the grocery store, and raided their spice cabinets for the perfect pearl stand in, the most interesting shaped seedpod to incorporate.

here are some example from past years.

Every year my Mom and I crowd around the bright cases, talking about how we would have judged differently or changed the piece this way or that.  With my Mother as a fine arts jeweler , and me as a seamstress we couldn't resist it's siren song.  This year it's our turn!

The Flower Show theme this year is "Springtime in Paris" and the specific competition we entered is "A brooch and earring set inspired by a French jeweler"

We chose René Lalique an Art Nouveau  artist from the turn of the century who did quite a bit of 
Plique-à-jour: transparent enamel with no backing.  We both love Art Nouveau, so it's a perfect match!

Here is some of our inspiration: 

We chose lilies as our inspiration as they are the traditional flower of France (often depeicted as the symbolic Fleur de Lise.

We are mostly done the piece, and planning on finishing with a final work session tomorrow; which is good because we must drop it off at the show this coming Friday.  

The plant materials we are using are: 
  • Onion Skin
  • Tangerine Peel
  • Papyrus Leaves
  • Clove Buds
  • Sago Palm Leaves
  • Lentils
  • Corn Husk
  • Hazelnuts
  • Chick Peas
  • Bamboo

We will find out the results this coming Saturday, so expect to hear about them (and the rest of the show) sometime Sunday.

Here is an early "work in progress" photo to give some idea of what we are using.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Remake: Green Corduroy Dress

I love thrift stores.  Treasure troves of unwanted items just ready for you to see the potential!

As enjoyable as it is to make something from scratch, it is sometimes more so to remake a dress: changing buttons, adding trim, altering the silhouette until you have something new and wonderful.  It's quicker and usually less expensive then from scratch, and almost feels like delightful cheating.

This is what I have planned for this green corduroy dress I found a few months ago.

At first glance it's a fairly unremarkable dress, rather shapeless, and quite a bit too large for my figure.

What drew me in was the beautiful soft mossy green corduroy, mock tortoise shell buttons, and large patch pockets.  It had potential as a beautiful and warm mori or dolly-kei peice for the cold weather!

So far I have attacked it furiously with a seam ripper; removing the skirt from the bodice and cutting open the side seams.

My next plan is to sew new side seams and adding some darts to make it more fitting to my figure.  Then the skirt will be newly gathered reattached to the bodice.

Image from

Then comes the most enjoyable part, adding braid, lace, and other trim.

My current inspiration is vintage German dirndls and Tracten fashions, like those frequently worn by the Grimoire shop girls.   They are so elegant and charming, but rather hard to find and *ahem* pricey when you can.

So I am planning to add some sage green and ecru martial braid to the bodice and skirt hem, some delightful knitted trim on the edge of the hem, and ecru crochet doily flowers on the patch pockets.

Hopefully it will turn out well!  Look for more updates and photos in the future!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Welcome to Lily of the Valley the Blog: Mark 2!

Warmest Greetings and Salutations!  I am Tyler, and I run a small independent Lolita brand called Lily of the Valley.  A year or so ago I started a "blog" for my brand on LiveJournal.

Since then I've realized that not only is LJ not the greatest format for this, but that my small brand on it's own doesn't generate enough content for a proper blog.

So came I to blogger and this little journal into the ether.  In addition to being my brand's blog, I also consider it a "Projects and Aesthetics" blog.

  • Tutorials and recipes
  • Info and "Sneakpeaks" of new lines
  • Needlework and craft projects
  • Coordinates
  • Inspirations
  • Historical Fashion projects and research
  • Shopping finds
  • And I'm sure at least one meme!
I also hope that by having this blog I can reconnect with the lolita community after all these years.  

Please feel free to comment and subscribe; I look forward to our future idylls and chats.