Saturday, 26 September 2009

My favourite supplies... Part 1!

I've been thinking for a while now about how lucky I am to have access to all the wonderful sellers who produce the various supplies that I use in my work, and wanting to acknowledge that in some way.  The internet, and especially Etsy, have really enabled me to 'make' in the way I do.  When I bought my embellisher, I really had no 'formal' idea of what to do or how to use it 'properly'- but I was able to find shops on eBay and then Etsy that stocked things I had never even heard of, much less though of using, to try out - and what's more shops run by helpful and friendly sellers (which makes such a difference!). It is because of these sellers that I am able to enjoy crafting as much as I do - so as a 'thank you' I have decided to post occasionally about my favourite suppliers.  Hopefully you will see something that will inspire a new project!


My first favourite supplier is Sarah, of therainbowgirl, on Etsy.  Sarah is a fellow UK Etsian (always great as it means the goodies arrive faster!!) who sells really beautiful hand-dyed threads, fabrics and fibre.  

Sarah has a wonderful eye for colour, and puts together many marvellous selections of different hand-dyed fabric like this:

I've used pieces of Sarah's fabric for smocking (the variegation of colour looks great), embroidery and also in my fibre art cards.  Here's some more beautiful examples, which you can find here:

Unfortunately I'm no quilter (but it's on my list...!) - but I can imagine a gorgeous, sunny quilt made using these lovely pieces.

Sarah also puts together fantastic mixed thread selections, which I love to use for embroidery, couching and my kumihimo jewellery. This beautiful sandy and green selection available here:

Another great idea is her fabric and thread kits in co-ordinating colours, like this one:

And then there's these beauties:

- a 'mixed bag' containing cotton and muslin fabrics, lace, trim and threads, again all hand-dyed in such pretty colours.  I have found these packs so useful for using with my embellisher and as the basis for fibre art pieces.

These are delicious silk-carrier rods which give wonderful texture to felted pieces:

-and there are plenty more wonderful delights in a tempting rainbow of colours to browse in the shop.  If you ever buy supplies (and come on, I know you do :P) I urge you to check it out!

I am a regular customer of Sarah's (she knows my address off by heart!) and using her wonderful threads and fabrics in my work is a real pleasure.  However, Sarah is not only a supplier - she is also a very talented embroiderer and artist - check out her new blog for some wonderful work and inspiration.

Thank you, Sarah!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Fibre art cards

My series of fibre art cards is one of my favourite ideas I have come up with this year.  Each one is like a mini-fibre art piece, but small enough for some relatively fast project-completion satisfaction!  They've happily been pretty popular on my Etsy shop, so I've recently made another set of cards, which I'll start listing later today.

Here's how I make them:

First of all, I make small pieces of felted fibre using my embellisher.  I use all sorts of fibres - silk, wool, bamboo, soy, flax - as well as scrim, scraps of velvet or cotton fabric, ribbon, nepps and threads.  Here's the latest batch hot off the embellisher:

I use plain square white cards, to set off the colours - but I mount each fibre piece on a small background square of paper or fabric.  I choose each one according to each fibre piece:

I've used hand-dyed cotton fabric, mulberry paper, mulberry tissue paper, abaca tissue and scrim.

I mount the paper or fabric backing onto the card first, and whilst that is drying I embellish the fibre piece.  I used hand embroidery, beading and couching working with the individual characteristics and contours of each piece.

Here's a couple of pieces before:

and after:

Glass bugle and seed beads, with seed, colonial knot, detached fly and buttonhole bar stitches:

again glass bugle and seed beads, this time with drizzle, seed and colonial knot stitches and some couched thread:

13 in total in this lot - phew!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Complex kumihimo

I recently expanded my kumihimo equipment - I bought another 16 tama (bobbins) to take my total up to 32. 

All of the bracelets and earrings currently in my Etsy shop are 16-tama braids - but for ages I've been wanting to try making wider, more complex braids as I wondered if they would make good 'cuff' type bracelets, or if other uses would come to mind.

Here are all 32 of the tama - you can see the new ones are slightly bigger than my old set (made by my Grandpa), but they are the same weight - this is really important, as the braid needs to be counterweighted as it is being worked, and everything needs to be in balance.  It took quite a while to thread them all up!

Next comes putting them up onto the marudai, and attaching the counterweights.  It's a pretty heavy load!

This is close-up of the 'point of braiding' as I work my first 32-tama braid.  The basics of working the braid are just the same as for  16 tama - but it just feels a lot more complicated because there's that many more opportunities for tangled threads!

It's a tiny bit lop-sided, and I'm not sure I've got my counterweight set up totally sorted - I'll need to experiment further with this.

I've worked a couple of 32-tama braids so far - just in the same pattern that my 16-tama bracelets use.  You can see from this picture how much wider they are (the pink braid is 16-tama):

Because I braid using very non-traditional varied threads, it makes the braid quite wavy in nature. This seems more obvious in the 32 tama braids, and I'm not sure what I think of it yet... .

Now I'm trying to think of other uses for them apart from bracelets!  I wondered about making beads from coiling them, cutting them and sewing parts together - but the braid ends are always difficult to deal with.  Think I need to dwell on this some more!

Another kumihimo project I've been working on is making wee kumihimo rings.  I made myself a prototype a while ago and really enjoyed wearing it - the braid is so soft and comfy.  Here are a few I've made recently - they are a bit flexible in size as the size of jump ring can be adjusted:
They're waiting to go up on my Etsy shop as soon as my ring sizer arrives in the post! 

Saturday, 12 September 2009

First blog giveaway winner~!

Thanks so much to everyone who entered the draw for 'Mitheithel'!

I am pleased to announce the winner is..... *drumroll*.....


Here is the 'behind the scenes' of the draw process :D
In the 4th picture, Bruford (tabby & white) has selected the winner by... eating it!

Thanks again to everyone who took part, and keep your eyes peeled for another giveaway next month.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Saturday, 5 September 2009

End of summer giveaway~!

Well here in Edinburgh it's certainly feeling like summer might be over and autumn is waiting in the wings raring to go - the sun has lost the height of her warmth, the leaves are looking tired and beginning to turn, and the light has that distant, hazy feel... .

Now, autumn is my favourite season, so I'm more than ready for it - but seeing as we did actually have a bit of summer this year, and that it inspired me to experiment with more summery colours in my work, I thought I would celebrate with my first ever blog giveaway!

Awaiting her new home is 'Mitheithel':

Mitheithel is a brooch, made from hand-dyed threads, silk filament, merino roving and cotton nepps, in shades of lilac, buddleia, clematis and forget-me-not, with summer-sea aquamarine a touch of gold. I felted these, with my embellisher, onto wisteria-coloured hand-dyed cotton fabric, set on black felt baize and edged with turquoise whip-stitch.
She measures almost 4.5cm not-quite-square, and has a gold metal brooch finding with safety catch.

If you would like to enter the giveaway, just leave me a comment on this post, and I will choose the winner at random in a week's time (so remember to log in first before commenting so I can see who you are!).

Good luck~!