Last weekend all my favourite women in the world congregated in Brighton. The reason for this pleasant occurrence was my hen do! With a month until the Big Day, seventeen women came to celebrate over two days. With a distinctly handmade, crafty and stylish flavour to the weekend, I thought the readers of my blog might be interested in what went down...
After many of the 'hens' congregated at my flat we went for a blustery walk along the seafront and popped into 'Platform', a two week event organised by my mate Sarah Rock Cakes to feature and sell the work of ten of the most talented local artists, photographers, print-makers and designer.
We then headed over the road from 'Platform' to Super+Super HQ to meet up with the others.This is, of course, the place I share some desk space though on Saturday we weren't there to do some work, we were there to get our craft on! The Super+Super girls offer all sorts of hen do options. We chose to do screen printing.
We started out creating stencils on brown paper. I'd printed off a lot of stencil designs during the week to add to the pile of other starting points Super+Super already had and the hens could either use one of those, a combination or those, or totally free-style our own designs.
Most of us chose to use the existing designs as a starting point so we traced these onto tracing paper. We then flipped the tracing paper over and used the pencils to rub over the lines so the designs transfer onto the brown paper.
Some of the designs required a bit of help from the printing expert Georgia to turn into printable stencils. It was fun to see all my friends who comprise of different occupations including accountant, graphic designer, scientist, solicitor, jewellery designer, theatre producer, communications manager, librarian, wine importer, journalist and full-time mum among others, all getting creative and doing the kind of things most of us hadn't attempted since our school days.
If we look a bit miserable in these photos, I promise we weren't: we were just concentrating hard! And yes, there was one craft knife-related injury!
When the brown paper stencils were ready, we headed in smaller groups to the basement to get printing. The anticipation was pretty high, as you can imagine!
With pinny donned and canvas tote bag in position on the printing table, the stencil and screen were placed on top and the printing ink was introduced. A couple of pulls and the bags were newly adorned with our images.
Interestingly, the three women in attendance who have had children all made their bags for their kids or for carrying their kids belongings. The hens who don't have kids all made them for ourselves!
All the bags came out really well, even after the introduction of cava and wine into proceedings (although we did instil a strict 'no wine until you're done with the craft knife' rule). And we had the best cake I may have ever tasted which was a lemon curd sponge home made by Amy, one of the Super+Super girls. I haven't stopped thinking about that cake since Saturday. Home made cake never fails to blow its shop-bought counterparts out of the water, don't you find?
No strangers to creative endeavours, Kirstin and Rehanon (pictured above) made some fine specimens. But one of my favourites was Scientist Ruth's simple but powerful design (pictured below). What more is there to say?!
Printing veteran Michelle drew a design so inventive that I'll be surprised if she doesn't get stopped in the street and asked where she bought her bag (pictured below).
My own design (pictured below) was a simplified version of a stencil I found online. I also managed to get a couple of extra swipes in and put my design onto some emerald coloured jersey fabric I happened to have stashed under my desk upstairs. I hope to make a T-shirt or vest top with it soon.
Just as I thought we were wrapping up the proceeding at Super+Super to move on to the next bit, the ladies surprised me with two absolutely wonderful gifts. One was a fabulous photo book packed full with photos from nights out, holidays, parties and special times I'd had with my various hens from the 1990s until recently. I can't tell you how much that book means to me. Capturing some of our dodgiest haircuts and outfits, that book will never fail to delight!
The other gift is equally wonderful: an incredible necklace handmade by Kirstin which includes the date of the hen do. Since Saturday I have only taken the necklace off to sleep! It's so awesome and special and it'll help me remember the time all my favourite women came to play.
After heading to our digs, debating what to wear and applying alarming quantities of make up and hair spray, we reconvened at the stunning Art Deco Brighton Ballroom. There we were treated to a delicious three course meal, wine and a fantastic cabaret and burlesque show.
The handmade quality of this section of the weekend is limited, but I did wear my self-made leopard rockabilly dress and the lovely necklace made by Kirstin
At 11pm the central tables were cleared and a DJ began to provide us with tunes for making shapes to.
The next day some hens had to leave early but we were then joined by Mumma E, and my mother and sister-in-law to be. Hangovers were soaked up by piled of sandwiches, scones and cakes at the Metrodeco teashop. Say hi to Mumma E!
I can't emphasise enough how nice it was to be with these lovely women over the two days. Thanks to them I'm looking forward to the wedding more than ever because we will be altogether again with even more special peops.