Thursday, 25 December 2008

More recent projects...

Well now the presents have all been given, I can post a few more photos without spoiling any suprises!  These are all more jewellery pieces that I made at my evening class.

A necklace for my sister - creamy felt made from silk and wool, embroidered in French knot stitch in aubergine shades.

An earring and necklace set for my Mum in rosy red shades - beaded and embroidered felt.

A wee pendant necklace for a friend, again beaded and embroidered felt.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Various projects and another 'helper'...

I've been very busy recently making various Christmas presents, and cards.  Although I don't want to spoil any surprises, here are some sneak peeks!

A Birthday card for my niece...

An embellished, felted and embroidered fibre art piece for someone's Christmas...

Various pieces of jewellery being finished up...

A card to celebrate the birth of my friends' first baby, Holly...

Oh, and I also got around to sorting out by fibre stash.  So many goodies!!

And last but certainly not least, a wee photo of my other 'helper'.  This is Bruford aka Brufybundle aka Mr Brufus McTavish.  He loves to eat thread, hide things, and usurp my crafting chair.  Don't be fooled by the adorable fluffy tummy.

Friday, 28 November 2008


I've been looking for ways to add texture and 3-D-ness to my embellisher work.  I came across the concept of 'stumpwork' during my internet research - I had never heard of it before, and was intrigued by the name, so I bought this book.   Apparently there's a lot of stumpwork in the Bayeux Tapestry, which I remember going to see as a child on a family holiday to France - a totally amazing piece of work.

The book also gives a basic introduction to a technique called needlelace, which is a cross between sewing, embroidery, tatting and lace-making.  I decided to try to learn how to do it, using the book as a guide.  The instructions were really clear, and it all made sense to me, amazingly (usually my spatial awareness is pretty awful - hence the lack of knitting skills!) - so I've been practising this new technique, hoping to add some needlelace pieces into the fibre works I'm making for Christmas presents.

To make a piece of needlelace, you need to have a firm boundary, which you couch down, and you need to work out the final shape first.  I started with an easy rectangle!

You work on a 'pad' of fabric, with waxed paper on the top to form a tough surface to work against.  Once you've finished the lace part, you sew buttonhole stitch all around the border, and then cut off the couching threads to release the piece.
I tried a piece with space-dyed threads too, which seem to work quite well:

And finally, I realised I have been very remiss in not yet posting any pictures of my crafting partners-in-crime.  Well I say partners, more thwarters really.  Particularly if it involves eating, hiding, or sitting on what I am trying to work on!  This one is Rubedo, or Mr McGruber as he is more commonly known.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Christmas presents... part 1

Recently I have been spending my crafting time making various Christmas presents.  I just finished two of them today - presents for my two neieces, Mathilde and Imme.  As they are both under 5 years old, I figured I wouldn't be spoiling any surprises by posting photos on the internet!I decided to make them both a nameplate, something that could go on a bedroom door or wall.  I remember how exciting it was to have my name on something when I was wee.  So, these aren't really exciting toy-type presents, but I hope they will be something the girls can keep over the years to come.

I wanted the two names to be quite different from each other in colour scheme.  I decided to go for polka dots on a cream background for Imme, and a turquoisy-blue theme for Mathilde.

First of all I made the base with my embellisher, using various fibres for colour and texture.  For Mathilde's piece, I felted scrim, tencel, bamboo, locks, roving and silk throwster's waste.

This is what the base for Imme's piece looked like when I had finished with my embellisher:

Next I embroidered on their names, and added lots of embroidery stitches for Mathilde, and lots of beads in a rainbow of colours for Imme.

To frame them, Chris fromWorksinWood on Etsy custom made me two lovely frames.  Mathilde's frame is Sycamore, and Imme's is Elm.  Thanks Chris!

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

My first silver necklace!

I finished my first project in my metalsmithing evening class: a necklace in silver and felt.  The whole process of silversmithing is so time-consuming and physical - gives me a whole new appreciation of jewellery I see in shops.  

For this necklace I wanted to somehow combine felt and embroidery with silver.  My teacher at the class had shown us how to make stone settings (like those used in rings or brooches) - and I thought maybe I could use the same technique to create a place for felt on a piece of jewellery.

The finished piece!
I decided straight off that I would just make the main part of the necklace - chain is a nightmare to make, and there's no way I could make the delicate sort of chain that I wanted.  So, I bought in raw silver chain and finished the ends myself (but that comes a bit later... first, the main part!).

To make the main part, first I sawed out a piece of silver, and textured it with hammer marks.  To make the 'setting' I used a narrow, long, and thinner piece of silver which I shaped into a circle and then soldered on to the silver 'base'.  (This really is a quick summary, and doesn't give a true picture of the complexity of the soldering, or the time spent waiting for the silver to enjoy an acid bath, or the filing.... oh, the filing!)  

On this photo you can see the hammered texture, as well as the solder join on the setting ring.  I brushed the silver with a metal brush, and also sandpaper, to get a more matte effect on the metal. 

I already had a piece of turquoise felt I had made, that I had in mind to use, so I added a few French Knot embroidery stitches to it, and some tiny glass beads and freshwater pearl beads too.  Then I cut it to size, and glued it into position in the setting (usually, with stone settings, the metal of the setting ring is gently and subtly bent over the stone to hold it in place - but in this case that wouldn't have been any use due to the flexibility of the felt).

Then all that was left was to drill tiny holes in the top corners to take circular jump rings, so that I could attach the chain.
It was difficult to decide whether to round off the corners or leave them more sharp.  In the end I opted for sharp corners, but I'll try something different with my next project.  

I started working on my next pieces at last week's class - I'm sticking with the idea of 'setting' a piece of felt, but this time I'm trying to make earrings and a couple of different pendant necklaces.  Futher posts on this to follow!

Saturday, 8 November 2008


I kept the background to this brooch very neutral.  I added ribbons and lace in with bamboo fibre, wool roving, silk throwsters waste, wool nepps and tencel.

Here's how it looked once the I'd finished with my embellisher!

Next I embroidered onto the surface, going for opalescent shades of silver, gold, spearmint, soft pink and ice blue.

My main goal this time was to try a new shape - aiming for circular, but it was a bit complicated to work out!

The finished brooch with an idea of scale.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008


Continuing my obsession with all things turquoise, teal and aqua, here are some photos of the process of me making another wee felted, beaded and embroidered brooch.  The finished article is now for sale in my Etsy shop!

I started off making the felted base with wool roving and angelina fibres for a bit of sparkle.

Then over the top I felted some bamboo fibres, and some silk throwsters waste, for extra texture and sheen.

Then I did a wee bit of embroidery - some satin and split stitch, and lots of french knots,  in lovely glossy thread.   After adding a few tiny glass beads and some freshwater pearls, I hemmed the brooch ready to put on the backing and brooch finding.

And here is the finished article, with a pencil to give an idea of scale.

Friday, 24 October 2008


I started of with another embellisher-felted piece worked onto cotton fleece. I used wool roving, silk throwster waste and wool nepps.

Next I did a wee patch of beading with Toho beads, and then started to couch some threads around the contours.

After a bit more couching, I added loads of french knot embroidery stitches in various threads. I like the way they look like tiny buds.

To make the piece into a brooch, I hemmed it all the way round, and then sewed black felt onto the back.

Last of all I added a silver metal brooch finding.

I've been trying to think of a good way to show scale that doesn't involve a ruler (boring!) or a coin (I have no idea how big, say, a dime is, and I guess lots of people don't know how big a 5p piece is). The best universal idea I have come up with so far is a pencil (regular pencils are pretty much the same size everywhere.... aren't they?!). Any better ideas gratefully received!

A closeup of the finished front:

Friday, 3 October 2008


I started off by felting lovely wool roving in shades of rosy pinks and rich reds onto a white felt backing piece.

I added some silk throwster waste for sheen, and some wooly nepps for pebbly texture.

Then I beaded with Toho 'kokoro' beads along contours, and added some couched hand-dyed threads.

Then I hemmed around the edges...

...and sewed black felt and a brooch finding onto the back.

It's quite a wee piece!

'Kokoro' ( ) is Japanese for 'mind', 'heart' and 'spirit', all at once.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008


'Bronze' is a piece of fibre art I just finished. This time I was focussing more on trying out embroidery stitches for surface embellishment, as well as beading. I found some beautiful bronze-gold silk tops in my local embroidery shop, which inspired me to go for an Autumnal colour feel.

First I made the base layer with my embellisher. I used scrim, vintage Japanese fabric, cotton fabric, paper and silk in shades of yellow, orange and gold. On top of the base layer I added a sprinkling of chocolatey wool nepps, and some lovely wavy smoky brown cotswold fleece.

Next I added beads - some of my tiny glass seed beads, and a sprinkling of toho beads and a moukaite sphere.

Finally, I tried out some hand embroidery stitches of various sorts (I recently bought a book so that I could teach myself more than the basic ones I knew, so this was my opportunity to try them out!). Using hand-dyed thread and copper metallic thread, I tried out: satin, half-portuguese, fly, seed, running, wave, feather, and Cretan stitches, as well as French knots. In the picture to the left you can see the wave, seed and running stitches, as well as some French knots.

I hadn't thought much (again!) about how to frame/finish the piece... so there was very little unused border around the edges. This kind of limited me to hemming and framing like I did with 'Atlantis'.

I really liked the way the colours turned out, and I really enjoyed trying out the embroidery, using all the new stitches I learned. I think for my next project though, one goal will be to try something different from the hemmed, squarish-shaped idea of the finished piece. My Dad suggested trying for a more organic, circular shape (maybe using an embroidery hoop as a guide?) and using a bigger backing piece. Looking forward to giving it a go!