Sunday, 29 March 2009

Nature, spirit and craft...

I'm very excited today as Jude from ilikelichenblog has posted an interview with me in her series of conversations on nature, spirit and craft!  Check out her blog to read other interviews in the series too.

Jude and I found out about each other though Flickr, when she contacted me and asked if I'd like to participate in her series.  I was very honoured, and found the questions fascinating.  I love nature, and I love crafts, so it was really a great pleasure to have the opportunity to talk in more detail about these things which are so important in my life.  Thanks Jude!

Saturday, 21 March 2009

My first ever custom order!

I recently completed my first ever custom order through my Etsy shop. The lovely Amanda, from HungryDesigns, asked me to come up with a necklace just for her :) - asking me to work with a palette of greys, browns or blacks.  Here's what I came up with!  I decided to make 3 different necklaces so that Amanda would have a choice, and hopefully one might suit!  


I called this first necklace 'Nebula', as the swirling greys and silvers were inspired by the incredible photographs taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.

This picture shows me planning the placement of the beads, before I sew them on by hand.  I mask out the dimensions of the piece with paper to make sure I don't stray!  For this necklace I used tiny Sterling silver 15/0 beads, Japanese glass beads and tiny bugle beads, as well as freshwater pearls and vintage nailhead beads.

After the beading, I added some hand embroidery stitches (running, colonial knot, bullion knot and split), before cutting the piece out and whip-stitching around the edges with cotton thread.

The finished necklace - completed with gunmetal grey chain.

The next piece I made had more of a black and silver theme.  I embroidered several roses in ribbon, and added Japanese and Italian glass beads, vintage nailhead beads, and hand embroidery stitches.  I called this necklace 'Midnight Rose'.

Here she is with the beading and embroidery finished, ready to be cut to shape.

And the finished article! Again completed with a gunmetal grey chain.

Last but not least, I made a necklace in shades of nut browns, called 'Chestnut'.

Here's what the pile of fibres for the base felt look like before they get felted with my embellisher.  For this felt, I used wool roving, wool locks, yarn, silk noil, silk fabric, and silk throwsters waste.

And this is how it looks after felting!

I added tiny vintage gold metal beads, tiny bugle beads, a big bronze metal bead and Japanese glass beads, along with hand embroidery stitches (Cretan, fly, chain, seed, colonial knot and Portuguese stem - phew!).

This necklace was finished with an antique bronze chain.

So, Midnight Rose, Chestnut and Nebula were my three answers to the brief - I sent pictures to Amanda, who was kind enough to buy both Midnight Rose and Chestnut - I was over the moon!

Finally, to top it all off, Amanda wrote this lovely post in her blog about my work.

All in all I really enjoyed the experience of making a custom order - although it is nerve-wracking hoping that you will produce something the customer will like, the challenge of being given a brief including elements you might not usually try is really exciting.  Thanks so much Amanda!

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Busy busy busy...

Well, I've been pretty busy recently with a whole variety of things... first custom order at my shop - yay!  I'll blog about this in more detail in due course, but here are the necklaces I came up with:  Nebula, Chestnut and Midnight Rose.

...learning some more origami - I always include a wee origami crane in with my orders, so wanted to experiment with some other designs to see if they could be alternatives.  Here is a butterfly and a lily along with a crane.
...the biggest excitement is that I've signed up to do my first ever craft fair!  A wee while ago craft fairs Scotland contacted me through Etsy inviting me to apply to exhibit at their craft fairs.  After checking out one of their fairs in Portobello last weekend, I decided to go for it!  (*gulp*).  I'm pretty excited about it, but there is so much to organise... (actually, who am I kidding, I love to organise, and this gives me an excuse to make lots of my favourite thing: lists!!).

So, the craft fair I'm doing is on the 2nd May (the day after my birthday!) back in Portobello.  I'm now trying to build up a store of things to sell.  I was thinking about making some more fibre-y cards, and came up with these whilst playing with my embellisher yesterday:

Not quite sure how they're going to end up yet.  I'll keep you posted!

...I've also started my first online course - an embroidery course called "Personal Library of Stitches" on  I found out about it through Flickr after seeing some amazing photos of work by students from previous courses.  It's been really interesting so far, and pretty challenging.  Here are the first two samplers I have made as part of the classes:

... and then last but not least, here is what else I've been up to:
I finally got around to arranging some lessons after my attempts at learning the basics myself were, shall we say, less than successful!  In my first lesson, my teacher was helpfully able to explain that no, I didn't need to somehow make my limited number of fingers cover all of those keys and that the reason I hadn't been able to play an 'F' was because the key was bent!  (I did buy my flute on eBay...!).  Anyway, some repairs and a few lessons later, I am able to make a slightly better noise than a breathy screech (just about).  It's an amazing instrument, and so different from anything I have learned before.  So many things to think about!

So, there you go - lots of stuff going on!

I've also been lucky enough to be featured in a blog for the first time (thanks, Myfanwy :D) which has been very exciting!

Now I think I need to have a wee rest and a cup of tea :D

Sunday, 8 March 2009

A different brooch idea...

I decided to try a slightly different approach for a new range of brooches - I wanted them to be larger, flatter, and to have more flexibility about what shape I could make them.  I recently bought some Bondaweb (sort of like double-sided sticky tape, but for fabric!) and some Tyvek (crazy tough paper that is sometimes used for envelopes, but also by fibre artists), and wondered if I could use them to make thinner brooches that still had enough stiffness to them.

Anyway, as usual I started with a layer of felt, made onto a backing of cotton wadding, with my embellisher.  This piece was made with metal organza fabric, wool roving, silk noil fibre, silk throwsters waste, trilobal nylon and organza ribbon, in blacks and greys.  The trilobal nylon (like angelina fibre) and the organza give a subtle sparkle.

After embroidering and beading the front surface came the 'sandwiching' work to give the brooch shape and structure.  I decided on a large-ish round shape for my first attempt.

Here are the layers of the brooch sandwich: 
front felt-bondaweb-tyvek-bondaweb-plain black back felt.
The bondaweb sticks with heat using an iron.

Then I tidied up the raw edges by whip-stitching around the edge in black embroidery cotton, and I finished the brooch with a silver metal brooch finding on the back.

Here's the finished brooch.  I called her 'Storm'.  The glass beads are mostly Miyuki and Toho, with a few tiny vintage Italian ones scattered around.  The hand embroidery stitches are in silk, rayon and metallic threads - mostly colonial knot stitch, with a little stem and running stitch in metallic threads added for extra sparkle.  
She is about 6.2cm in diameter and less than 5mm thick.