Sunday, 31 May 2009

Projects update!

Managed to fit in a wee session with my embellisher this afternoon, to add the next parts to a couple of my ongoing projects. I love my embellisher.  It's just such fun to use, and I love the unexpected results that can happen and the way they take me off in a new direction with a piece.  I've had mine for nearly a year and a half now, and haven't looked back!  Thanks, Myfanwy , for talking me into buying one :P.  

I bought a beautiful 'inspiration pack', in shades of teal, from thredfairy a while back, and have been itching to make a piece with all the yummy fibres and fabrics in the pack.  Also last week I bought a lovely 'mixed bag' of hand dyed fibre and thread from therainbowgirl in beautiful shades of pinky purple.  I've bought many, many supplies from these two talented ladies, and I'm never disappointed - they always come up with beautiful hand dyed colour combinations in a range of fibres, threads and fabrics that are always a joy to work with.  Check out their shops!

So, anyway, I had these two selections in two different colourways, so I decided to make two fibre art pieces using embroidery hoops as their frames, similar to my 'Tiree' piece.  I have been wanting to try some smaller fibre art pieces like these for ages, but have had too many other things on my crafting list that kept taking precedence.  

Today then I used my embellisher to add fibres and threads to the surface:

Silk velvet, silk throwsters waste, mulberry bark, silk carrier rod, silk threads, bamboo fibre, habotai silk, paper and cotton scrim.

Muslin fabric, mediumweight cotton fabric, cotton scrim, silk throwsters waste, angelina fibre, silk carrier rod, cotton nepps, wool yarn, organza ribbon, silk dupion fabric and mixed threads.

Next comes beading and hand embroidery.  I enjoy it so much!  Also I'm really loving my subscription to Audible - I devour audiobooks like nobody's business when I'm crafting.  At the moment, it's the tragic but wonderful  'Children of Hurin' by J. R. R. Tolkien.

Tolkien + crafting + tea = a happy crafty Kaeru!

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Works in progress...

Some projects I'm working on...

A purple one...

A yellowy-orange one...

A teal one...

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Necklace or brooch?

I finally got around to experimenting with one of my necklaces to see if I could make it into a brooch.  

I chose 'Marine': 

I removed the chain and firmly glued a 30mm brooch finding to her back, after sanding the metal surfaces with emery to make sure the glue could find purchase.

Here's how she turned out:

I'm going to change all the listings in my Etsy shop to reflect that it is now an option to have any of my 'bar'-type beaded, felted and embroidered necklaces made into a brooch instead!

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Idea development...

In response to some helpful contructive criticism from a customer at the craft fair, I have begun developing  ideas for a new generation of my felted, beaded and embroidered necklaces.  

The comment was that my current necklace style:
...was too geometric for a necklace, and would work better as a brooch.  The suggestion was also made that a necklace with a more curved shape, to echo the curves of the neck and collarbone, would be an interesting idea.

So, I started thinking about how I could adapt my exisitng idea along these lines.  I like the general size of the necklaces as they are - not too big to work, but big enough to be able to fit in detail and interest without breaking my eyes!  The next consideration then is the curve.  A 'U' shape?  A more shallow curve?

I tried a few different shape ideas out on paper:
I liked the shallower curve with roundable corners best, so that is what I have decided to try out first to see how it goes.

Here is the shape at the embroidery and beading stage - I mask it out with paper to make sure I keep my threads and stitches within the perimeter.

Once the shape is decided, next comes the issue of the backing.  At the moment, the oblong necklaces are mounted onto a brass or aluminium metal tag cut to shape for me by Bopper of Etsy.  I figure it will be much more difficult cutting metal on a curve though, so I started thinking about alternative backing materials, and their pros and cons:

Polymer clay - easily shapeable but not sure it goes with the felt
Air-drying clay - again easily shapeable but probably too brittle
Wood - able to be curved (at least by my Dad ;D) and organic - but possibly not heavy enough?
Felt - easily shapeable, but again too light?

The two I have chosen to prototype are wood and felt.  That is felt baize to be precise - it's thick at 3mm and would give the necklace a bit more substance.

I decided to prototype 3 different lengths, to see which looks best as a finished piece.  My Dad cut these beautiful, thin, smooth wooden blanks for me (thanks Dad!) - the top 2 are Sycamore and the bottom one is Ash.

You can see the cut-out felted, beaded and embroidered necklace shapes on the left.

Here's a cross-section view of the felt on felt baize - pretty thick!
The idea is that for the felt baize, I would whip-stitch around the edges and the baize would form the necklace back.  For the wood, I would whip-stitch round the felt piece only and then set it onto the wooden blank.

I'm still working on these prototypes, so watch this space!  Any other suggestions or comments very welcome, as these ideas are very much a work in progress :) .

I also had a play around with some old necklace blanks to see if it was feasible to change them into brooches.  I've found some super-duper-superglue that seems to be strong enough (and not too messy!).
So the next stage is taking one of my exisiting necklaces and seeing if I can succesfully convert it. 

Apart from idea development, my crafty project to-do list is trundling along.  Here is a closeup of the beautiful Noro yarn I've been using to knit (yes, knit!!  amazing!!) a birthday present for a friend.
Mata ne~!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Catching up on projects...

So, now that the excitement of the craft fair is all over, I finally have an opportunity to catch up with my massive list of non-jewellery related crafting projects!

Most of them are for various birthdays, and are all rather on the late side... . I am beginning to make progress now though!

Here's some photos of the biggest project I'm working on:

That's a lot of fibre!!  Merino roving, mulberry silk, silk noil, soy silk, firestar, bamboo, throwsters waste and locks - phew!
Nice and thick :D  and so soft!  Almost seems a shame to felt it... .

Getting to work on the felting with my embellisher.

mmmm, lovely texture :D

Can you tell what it is yet?!

Still loads more to do, but at least there is something tangible now rather than just ideas bouncing around my head.

Another project which I have managed to finish was for my friend Jack - a bit of a late house-warming present, intended for his bathroom which at the moment he is painstakingly tiling himself.  This is the most recent in my series of indecorous cross-stitch creations (most too rude to be blogged!).  I really enjoy doing these, although it takes a brave friend to actually display them!

(If you are easily offended, look away now!)

Interestingly, this has been my most popular design yet!!

Have a great week everyone :)

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Portobello Craft Fair - May 2nd 2009

I have survived to craft another day!  I'm back home now, exhausted, with a much needed cup of tea, and can reflect on today's craft fair... .

First of all, travelling on the buses with all my 'stuff' worked out fine (with Marc's help - thank you so much!) and we made it to the venue just after 9am to set up for the fair starting at 10am.  It took me a full hour to set up (shaky hands not helping!) and I was feeling pretty nervous.

Here I am working the 'scared rabbit' look.  I'm wearing a craft fair vendor apron that I made with a great pattern from downthestreet on Etsy - and it was really useful today, with lots of helpful pockets and a zip compartment for money.
It took about 3 hours for my hands to stop shaking!!

So, by 10am I had pretty much finished setting up, and the layout worked really well (thanks again for the advice everyone!).  I felt I had enough height but not too much, and all the colours looked pretty against the black background.

Then the doors opened, and the crowds flooded in eager with anticipation!!  Um, well, not quite, but there was a steady flow (sometimes more of a trickle) of people, and I actually found that the 6 hours passed pretty quickly.

I had folded a lot of origami cranes, and had them sitting around on the table - they were a big hit with all the children that passed by, and I gave them away to anyone who wanted one - cute wee chiyogami paper cranes are hard to resist! (Portobello's crane population has increased exponentially tonight!)

I also decided to work on some kumihimo braiding at my table, partly to soothe my shaking hands, but also because I thought people would be interested to see an unusual craft, and to see how I make some of my items.  The braiding got a lot of interest - the repetitive movements seemed to hypnotise a few people (!) - with lots of older visitors reminiscing about 'rats' tails' and 'french knitting' that their mothers taught them when they were little.

In situ!

I had a good table position not too near the doors, and I was surrounded on either side by very friendly fellow crafters, who also helped me to feel more at ease.

Deciding 'how to sell' is always difficult.  I didn't take 'The Apprentice' route (I'm really not that hungry for a sale :P ), and my approach was to let people take their time and not to pressure them - doing the braiding was a good conversation starter and people naturally took an interest in it.

I found it really fascinating to see how different people approached my table - and there were all sorts.  Some just walked straight past without even a glance.  Others gave a cursory look, others came and looked closely at my items.  Of those, some people were incredibly delicate and careful, gently touching the necklaces and putting them back in exactly the same place, whereas others poked and prodded and left items all over the place!  It was also fascinating to hear the comments people were making, either to each other or directly to me.  I've never heard so many different nuances of the word 'unusual'!  Pretty much everyone who looked at my items used that word - some with a wrinkle of the nose and 'hmm, yes, that's, um.... unusual' and others seemed to love the colours and textures and gave a pleasing 'ooh how unusual! '.  I also got some pretty frank constructive criticism from a few people which was interesting, and helped me to see my necklaces in a different way, giving me some ideas for how to develop in the future.

In general though I would say the response was positive, with people particularly liking the round brooches and kumihimo bracelets.  It was also really nice when a few friends popped in for moral support (thanks guys!).  My wee Moo business cards also went down a treat - lots and lots of people took one, so hopefully they will be encouraged to check out my online shop, my Flickr, or even my blog (hello there!).

So, down to sales.  Well, Alan Sugar would be showing me the door - but I did manage to achieve my goal of at least making back the table fee for the event.  There didn't seem to be much buying or selling happening for anyone all day, so I didn't feel too bad that I hadn't managed to sell everything!
All in all, I would say the day fulfilled my expectations - it was really interesting to hear people's comments, and to have the experience of selling face-to-face.  I have to say having my Etsy shop feels a lot easier now in comparison!  I did find it all quite nerve-wracking, but I'm sure that would get better if I did it again.  All the Edinburgh craft fairs are fully booked for jewellery for the rest of the year though - so maybe I'll give it another go in 2010!

Friday, 1 May 2009

Thank you~!

Hi :)
I just wanted to say thank you so much to everyone, both on and off my blog, who has given me such helpful and much appreciated advice in the build up to my craft fair.

I'm pretty much all organised (I think!) so was able to take some time out today (my 30th birthday!) to climb up Arthur's Seat here in Edinburgh.  The sun came out just as I reached the top!

A view of the castle and city centre from the top:

It was pretty windy, but I managed to have a cup of tea and some birthday cake :D
Oh, if only it were possible to have a cup of tea that big...

So, all set for tomorrow... I'll let you know how it goes!