My friend Lindy gave me a classic grey jacket it was probably a part of a suit trouser gone missing. She found it in an op-shop and was going to give it to one of her daughters Liana to use for an outfit come fascinator and other accessories. She paid $ 2 for the jacket. That was the bargain of the day I dare say! I graciously received the jacket not knowing what to do with it my first thought was to pass it on to someone else as grey is not my colour. You want to know why?
Grey is a colour squashed in between black and white. I can’t wear any of those colours. Black drains me of energy; white makes me feel pale and slack! Grey makes me depressed. Now that we are at it I can’t even wear denim very likely as my mother use to say:”Blue suits any fool”. Grey represents conformity, boredom, uncertainty, old age, indifference and modesty. Now we all know why I can’t wear it. Battleships are grey. Grey hair is mainly coursed by getting old or getting a too big a shock to handle. In the middle ages in Europe monks wore grey robes as a symbol of humility and poverty those monks were the grey friars definitely not fairies.
Grey is a cool, neutral and balanced colour. It is an emotionless, moody colour that is typically associated with the meaning of dull, dirty dingy as well as formal, conservative and sophisticated. The grey colour is timeless and practical and is often associated with loss or depression. It simply doesn’t get blander than the colour grey. The meaning of grey is often a calm, detached, quiet colour that is lacking in energy. It is the middle product of black and white, hesitant and uncertain not wanting to make a decision. The “grey nomads” are those people who invade Mareeba over winter coming from down south where it is cold. I also call them “The Mexicans”. Grey is less visible as a target so if you are born to stand out this is not a colour to wear. Grey sky and grey clouds thunder and rain. Enough about Grey!
So I went through all sorts of trouble thinking of how I could change the jacket into something useful to wear. The jacket became a real challenge. Thinking of this my hair went grey but finally I thought of a project. We were coming into winter and I could take the sleeves of the jacket and attach them to a bright coloured knitted vest. I was pleased with myself. At last I got the idea. I started to undo the lining and what an amazing surprise. I found a hand sewn tailer made jacket underneath the lining. It never accrued to me that these old jackets are actually handmade. You can’t see it on the outside. Talk about learning something new every day. Wow it made my day. Such genius craftsman work and why hide it? It was absolutely beautiful on the inside and that’s when I decided to turn the jacket inside out. Curiosity is a great part of my journey and knowing that nothing is impossible I keep creating and turning jackets inside out.
First of all I love the frayed look it’s got. All stitching showing gives it a look like a tramps possession. The inner lining looks like linen and I have added different labels to give it a hobo look which I like very much as I am a gypsy myself also referred to as “The Happy Wanderer”. A thing not to forget is that I do have a strong connection to Iceland as this was one of my many forefathers’ favourite holiday destinations. My forefathers being the great and notorious Vikings left Denmark in favour of adventurous rowing their Longboats further north, some of them never returned home. Some settled on Iceland a land near the Arctic Circle a land surrounded by a fierce sea. The Vikings knew of advanced sailing and navigational skills and the Longboats took them to the Mediterranean littoral, North Africa, The Middle East and Central Asia, North Western Europe, European Russia, The North Atlantic Islands and last but not least the North-Eastern coast of North America. No wonder I like to travel it is in my DNA. That’s awesome! The Vikings lived a basic pagan life and took with them their home brew and sheep amongst some of the essentials to maintain a good and healthy lifestyle while on the go. I have travelled more than 50 different countries like any true Viking with self-respect would have done. I have never been to Iceland so I just put the country on my bucket list.
I relocated one of the inner pockets to sit on the now outside of the jacket it looks trend and really adds to the fashionable look. I could not decide on how to finish off the lapel so I just folded it and the folds are held in place by professional plastic patchwork pegs. It looks awesome. You should get yourself an old jacket and pull it apart and see where your imagination takes you. Or even better you might have one in your closet already could have been chewed by old moths as you haven’t used it since Uncles funeral some 23 years ago.
The sleeves were way too long for me so I gathered each of them a bit and stitched on machine to keep them in place and at the right length. I found some colourful shoelaces in an op-shop I used them for embellishment and when added to this grey dull looking jacket it just makes it’s day. It looks brilliant and bringing bright colours to the jacket is what catches your eyes.
I found neon green cotton fabric which I tore into strips and added to the jacket another bright idea. I can almost wear it now with the contrast in colours instead of the colour coordination I am so good at. On an interstate road trip I came across a frilly scarf in grey and beige colours. I did not have the jacket on board but I felt sure it would match just brilliantly. I bought it and sure enough. Just what the doctor ordered!
The back of the jacket was uninteresting to look at and was absolutely no match to the front part. To make up for this I added a pocket in the middle of the back. It is grubby white and therefore stands out. I have written on the pocket “Please leave a message”. It’s just what you need these days living in the fast lane with answering machines, mobile phones, GPS and what have you. So when I am in a queue no matter in a shop, waiting for the bus or green light I encourage people behind me to take time to write a small message. It calms them down. I am always frilled like a lizard to read the notes. One day I even found a 10 cent coin in the pocket!
Friends often ask how I get these ideas or they even question how my brain is working. I work on a whim and I am sure that my exposure to craft in many different forms from early childhood has had an influence on how ideas pop up out of the blue. While still a small girl my grandmother taught me how to do cross stitch and embroidery. She had boxes of ribbon, beads, feathers and embroidery yarn which I often roamed through ending up having my imagination taking off on a voyage of discovery to Alice in Wonderland. My mother taught me how to knit so when I embarked on craft subjects at school as a 7 year old untamed girl I was quite capable of creating masterpieces in no seconds. I always got the seal of approval in the craft subjects which pleased my mother tremendously as she had already in her dreams send my off to the very best and leading school of art and craft in Denmark.
Well a mothers dream does not always come true. I needed a balance in my life. I loved being with the street gang fighting the next street down. We used grandmother’s rotten apples as missiles. Living in a harbour town the sea breeze did me well and the sea also carried the big battleships (please read defence force) of NATO to port. So being an active member of the street gang kept me very busy and on my toes at times when tanks, jeeps and trucks full of soldiers fully armoured drove through our streets. And guess what! Everything and everybody were grey and black! When the fun of having hosted the big gatherings of NATO ships, destroyers, submarines, helicopters and you name it was over, it was back to the drawing board. And I literally mean drawing board.
My best craft was to draw paper dolls and dress them up in my handmade paper clothing. For my paper dolls I did a lot of interior designing as I made them houses and castles to live in. The dolls had only the best fashion and again my mother was of great inspiration as she did all the dressmaking herself for my brother, me and all my Barbie dolls. I was the smartest looking kid in school, dressed in the latest fashion. When I was old enough my mother taught me how to hand stitch garments and shortly after she took me to the next step and a new world unfolded in front of the sewing machine. I was dressmaking before my confirmation as a 14 year old rebellious teenager having a lot of fun. Having the need to really express myself and a drive for being different it was not traditional clothing I produced to my mother’s horror surprise but unique one off and never seen again clothing.
You have to be willing to learn new thinking, techniques and practice. Connect with your inner being. Connect to your inner child hold the feeling and start sewing. Trust your inner self and grab hold of any inner reflections fluttering around. Go with the flow and where the wind takes you to distant horizons. To the land of no rules where everything is right and there is no wrong where old boundaries has evaporated into thin air.
Other people’s opinions can soon interfere with your creativity and get you side tracked therefore you have to be fearless don’t worry about what your neighbour, friends or family think or say as it has nothing to do with you. You are the designer of your project and your life. You are in charge and you make the decisions. Trust yourself know that you have the answer to all your questions if not see the World Wide Web. Don’t hold back do not doubt your capabilities and don’t fear because you are a unique being.
You have to let go of and completely forget about perfectionism as this is going to kill any creative thinking though I often ask myself “What is perfect?” Perfect means having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics. It is as good as it is possible to be. Perfect is all about ideal, model, without fault, flawless, consummate, quintessential, exemplary, best and ultimate. Perfect is to make something completely free from faults or defects. Perfect is to absolutely conform to the description or definition of an ideal type. It is exactly fitting the need in a certain situation or for a certain purpose. It is accurate, exact, or correct in every detail.
So just forget about being perfect it is just simply too mind-numbing and restricting!
I use a lot of recycled materials some sourced from op-shop in my creations to eliminate the negative impact our throwaway society has on our environment. Natural fibres combined with natural dyes are my favourite choice. The process whatever the substance being is of outmost importance to me. Don’t worry about what the jacket looks like. It is the process that is significant even better if you are having fun at the time of creating. I am so pleased with the cuffs. It is the upper part of Liana’s best and totally worn out shoes a plastic imitation of snake skin. Just supreme! Liana almost fainted when I showed her the jacket with the upper shoe cuffs .She couldn’t wear her old shoes anymore but now I do!
Some people say that my creativity seems to know no end. It is wild and without boundaries. I am a free spirited person with heaps of wander lust as I told you already it is in my DNA. Isn’t that just awesome? My friend Margaret calls me a creative stirrer. She even made me a rune that symbolises this. Now I need to find out where it originates from. More travelling coming up! It is on my bucket list.
My friend Megan says that “Ulla infuses herself into every little thing she creates and the result is unique and amazing pieces of art of the mind. Ulla has a joy for living and coming from her heart. Typical for Ulla, why do something ordinary when you can do the extraordinary”? My mum use to say that there was nothing wrong with my imagination. So true! She also said to me “Smile to the world and the world will smile back to you”. Consequently by now we are all smiling and I am wearing a perfect grey inside out jacket.