It’s fast, fu­ri­ous and hec­tic – and I wouldn’t have it any other way

Sandy Har­ris is the artis­tic di­rec­tor of Cre­ative Seed, cre­at­ing car­ni­val cos­tumes and props across the UK.

The People's Friend Special - - REAL LIFE -

MY life is a con­stant whirl of sparkles, bright colours and feath­ers – and I love ev­ery sec­ond of it!

I stud­ied Art and De­sign, then found a part-time job work­ing for a cos­tu­mier when I lived in Lon­don, and got the op­por­tu­nity to work on fan­tas­tic pieces – from cos­tumes for Fred­die Mer­cury to pe­riod items for the Royal Opera House.

It taught me a lot about the way light en­ter­tain­ment worked, and how dif­fer­ent it was mak­ing pieces for pe­riod pro­duc­tions, which could take weeks to com­plete.

I then got a job work­ing on cos­tumes for the mu­si­cal “Starlight Ex­press” and ended up be­ing in charge of the whole cos­tume depart­ment, but my life changed the day I went to Not­ting Hill Car­ni­val.

I was ab­so­lutely blown away by the colours and the amaz­ing dis­plays.

I knew that’s what I wanted to do, so I packed up and re­turned to my na­tive north-east, and set up Cre­ative Seed with my hus­band.

No two days are the same. The day be­gins with a quick check of where we are and we pri­ori­tise what needs to be done first.

We work across a num­ber of dif­fer­ent sites be­cause we have so many items that we need to store. This means that on any par­tic­u­lar day I can be on the move from one to an­other, stick­ing on em­bel­lish­ments at one of­fice, stitch­ing on se­quins at an­other, or sim­ply sit­ting down and com­ing up with ideas for a new car­ni­val.

We are con­stantly busy, of­ten hav­ing to work on lots of dif­fer­ent events at the same time.

This in­cludes not only cre­at­ing the cos­tumes and the big­ger pieces, but also work­ing with com­mu­nity groups to en­sure a car­ni­val is re­ally in­clu­sive.

Once I get the theme of the car­ni­val, the work re­ally be­gins and I start look­ing at de­signs, fab­rics and colours.

Our small team cre­ates amaz­ing head­dresses that are made in such de­tail that it can take a week to make just one.

We add sparkles, glit­ter, se­quins and feath­ers to fab­u­lous cos­tumes.

At the mo­ment it also in­cludes the cre­ation of a three-and-a-half-me­tre phoenix on a steel frame with a gi­ant head, wings and fire!

This is part of a car­ni­val on the theme of mon­sters, myths and magic and we’re hav­ing an amaz­ing time mak­ing a num­ber of fan­tas­ti­cal pieces for the floats.

We’re also in­volved in a whole range of other car­ni­vals around the coun­try, so each day it’s im­por­tant to make sure we stick to our sched­ule so the whole process runs like clock­work.

We of­ten hire out spe­cial pieces for cel­e­bra­tions and wed­dings, or cre­ate be­spoke props, so we have to make sure that we are ready for the dead­line.

Of­ten in the mid­dle of ev­ery­thing I have to down tools be­cause some­one will get in touch want­ing a dance troupe, stilt-walker or a fire-eater for an event – which we also sup­ply – so it’s a mat­ter of get­ting that or­gan­ised as soon as pos­si­ble.

Al­though it’s great to get away by around five p.m., quite of­ten it’s just a mat­ter of stay­ing un­til the work is done, par­tic­u­larly if we’ve got to meet up with a group of car­ni­val par­tic­i­pants after hours.

It’s fast, fu­ri­ous and hec­tic – and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

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