“Who is this stylish lady?” You might ask. I’ll gladly introduce you!

This is my incredible grandmother, on her 90th birthday, about 1,5 years ago. She was married to a painter (Henry Kittelsen, who died early, mainly because of his exposure to all the toxins and lead in paint back then), and she was an artist herself, teaching Fashion Design at “Kunst- og Handverksskolen”, (Norwegian National Academy of Craft and Art Industry) and later working at the museum of decorative arts and design. I probably owe her even more than I know considering all the times she’s been taking me to that museum, and others, all over Oslo, time and time again, teaching my brother and me to appreciate art in all it’s forms.

When I first started to show an interest in sewing and design she would be very helpful and supportive and would come to visit to help me make the costumes or dresses I wanted to make, when I was still too young to figure out how to make them on my own. I still have some quick fashion drawings on some wrinkled paper that she did together with me during a stay at her cabin many, many years ago.

Another exciting thing about her is that she has saved a lot of clothes throughout the years, and since she was working with fashion herself, the pieces she has saved were all very trendy at the time, she remembers where and when she bought them, how much they costed, on which occasions she wore them and what shoes and other accessories she wore with them. And they are all very well preserved! I have been lucky enough to be given a lot of these clothes, which are currently stocked up in my parents house in Norway. I will definitely be posting more about these (mostly dresses) in the future, as there is a lot of interesting fashion history to be found there! So keep an eye out for that 🙂 

The scarf she is wearing in the picture above is a headscarf I made (and gave her as a birthday gift) as part of a project in my second semester in my first year at the University of Portsmouth. I had never designed textiles before, and I had definitely not done any screen printing! Even just the printing of the scarf took days as we were only given quite small screens since we were in our first year, so although I only used two colours I had to do somewhere between 18 and 26 prints to get the result I wanted, and wait for it to dry in between each print so it wouldn’t get smudged. At one point I was using a blow dryer to make the process go quicker, but was told I wasn’t allowed to do this as the blow dryer was not “registered” or something (safety regulations). The tables we have for screen printing were not big enough either, so I had to move and re-pin the fabric making it close to impossible to align my motifs properly.. But with a lot of patience I got there in the end. (I might be able to do a post about the screen printing process, taking pictures in our facilities at University, as I’m sure many are not familiar with the process. I know I wasn’t until I started these studies at least!)

I couldn’t think of anyone who would appreciate the headscarf more or make it look better than my grandmother 🙂 

If you look closely at the pictures you will also see that she is wearing a beaded crocodile necklace. That’s also something I made, a gift for her when she turned 80! (At the time I made it I was 11) It’s basically just a lot of beaded crocodiles. (If you want to know how to make them I found an online tutorial for you here) They are all hanging in a row from their tales, in simple colour variations of blue, orange, yellow and green. My grandmother still wears it every oportunity she gets, and has apologised on a couple occasions for not wearing it because it wouldn’t match with her outfit (for instance Christmas when she might be wearing red, black and white or black and purple etc.) It wouldn’t surprise me if she’s even bought some clothes to go with the necklace actually. I love how she in this picture has teamed it up with a quite heavy gold chain necklace. She makes it look like some trendy contemporary art rather than a homemade gift from a little grandchild. 

As I mentioned before, I’m sure I owe her more than I know with regards to the career path I have now chosen. I owe her much for other things as well of course, because she’s also simply an awesome grandma 🙂