Friday, June 17, 2011

The Flora Doras

Most families have pet words – the meaning of which is often fluid but clearly understood by all concerned.  In our family Flora Dora was one such term that has stayed with me – I have an early memory of being called Flora Dora by my grandmother, usually when dressing up or generally flouncing around thinking I looked pretty terrific. 
And for some reason, Flora Dora was the name that kept popping into my head as I created the crazy felted sprites – it just seemed to fit their personalities.  The sprites have now proved a hit in  workshops and as finished dolls and so I’ve decided to expand the concept into creative kits – the idea being to create your own personalised character starting with a hand felted dress and flowery head piece.  It followed naturally that the name of the collection should be The Flora Doras.
On checking, the original Flora Dora’s first appeared in an 1899 musical comedy set in a perfume factory on the island of Floradora.  The storyline has a sextet of Edwardian girls who sing and dance and play musical instrument...flora Dora became the 'it' girl of her time.  The musical was a success and toured the world coming to Melbourne where it became all the rage ...Flora Dora societies were formed by bright young girls dressed exuberantly in hats came together to sing the songs from the musical.   The first half of the 20TH century saw various   productions including an early talkie staring Marion Davies, R. Hearsts lover, as the Flora Dora girl.  Whilst the literal translation of the name refers to a type of costume I think it also described for certain mood...a light heartedness, a love of music and entertainment... a slightly wild and oh so modern slant on life characterised in the over the top Flora Dora hat with its flowers and embellishments.
I’m sure it was this mood that my grandmother was eluding to when she samg the song to me ...and I think the felted Flora Doras conjure up a similar feeling.
A note about kits: each kit will have everything you'll need ..and the method is simple and fun.  Check out Flora Dora at the Sydney Quilt and Craft Fair next week