Sunday 7 April 2024

Making A Mosaic


I recently joined my local Arts and Crafts Socity.  

One of the benefits I'm really enjoing is their monthly demonstations.  Here a local artist spends a couple of hours demonstrating their craft, and some times we even get to join in.

Last month Tamsin Norris did a demonstration of how to create a mosaic.  I'd never really considered that they had anything to do with glass, until Tamsin showed us some of her work.


Once she'd shown us some examples and talked us through how it worked we were able to have a go.

We were each given a square tile, some PVA glue and a tub full of glass tile shards.  It was suggested we'd want to draw a heart but I ended up with a star.  We covered our shape in glue then found chunks of glass to fill the space.

While this was fun, what I enjoyed most was just being able to chat with other creative types.


At the end of the session we got to take our tiles home with instructions to let them dry for at least a week before grouting them.

Inspired by some of the other things Tamsin showed us, once home I also used some of my sea glass to make a heart on a stone found on the beach at Easter.  I wasn't sure if this would work, but it did and once grouted a little rub of bead wax made the sea glass shine.

I'm not sure I'll do any more mosaic, but it was brilliant to find another application for glass, and learn a new skill.


Thursday 4 April 2024

Beaded Crochet Pouches


Before Christmas I found this pattern for beaded crochet pouches by Janie Crow.

It was a free pattern and I liked the patterns and colours and thought I could maybe make some as Christmas gifts using my stash.  But they took longer than expected and I wasn't sure how to line them and I sort of gave up on them a little.


I think part of the problem was I was using a digital pattern on my iPad, so it was very hard to keep up with where I was in the pattern (I normally use a post-it note to mark my place) and it was hard to keep track of which colours I'd swapped out to something else. 

But once I'd finished the Evendoon cardigan, I went back to the pouches and finished the crochet side of things.  Then I found some lovely rainbow star fabric and matching zips, and over the long Easter weekend made them up.


It was of course a lot simpler than my brain had been telling me.  I was helped along by a very helpful blog post about how to add a lining to a crochet pouch and then they were done.


I also made a flower, but added a safety pin to the back so it can be worn as a brooch too.

I think I prefer the pastel colours more, but like that the blue/grey one is made with leftovers from my sky blanket.


They are still going to be gifts, but not as I'd orginally planned.  I hope they enjoy them. 


Sunday 3 March 2024

3 Silver Bangles


This week I was back at West Dean.

I've been wanting to do the 3 silver bangles class for years now, but it gets booked up very quickly.  I think I must have booked this 6 months ago, before I had even come across the Frensham Old Barn Workshop.

This was a one day workshop run by Sarah and Rachael.

We were given three lengths of silver wire.  One was round, one was square and one was D wire.  We were also given some copper wire so we could have a play before making our actual bangles.

Copper wire samples

Sarah talked us through how to anneal our metal to make it easy to work, and showed us lots of example bangles to give us ideas of what we could make.

Sarah and Rachael were on hand the whole time to answer our question and help us to figure out our designs.  They were so helpful!

I knew I wanted to twist the square wire to match the ring I made before Christmas.


I had of course also bought some glass beads with me, and wanted to know if I could add them - would they deal with the heat ok?  And all the other processes used in making a bangle?  So that was the round wire sorted, but what to do with the D wire?

I really liked the wishbone bangle they had but the example used square wire.  Would it work with D wire.  They suggested I turn the rounded side inside against my wrist and used the flat side to make the point.  Sorted!


Once I knew what I was doing I could just get on with it.

I twisted the square wire first as that was quite straight forward.  You have to keep quite a lot of tention on the wire as you twist it to keep the twists equal, but I think I did ok.

I then set about shaping the wishbone and cutting the wire at an angle to make the point.  This needed a little refining, but I got there in the end.  It really does prove that taking the time at the start is worth it, as I ended up with a lovely finish in the end.

Then I moved onto the round wire with beads.  Several of the other ladies had textured their wire with a hammer, and I thought this looked really good, so I did the same with mine.  I then threaded on my beads and set up to solder it.  I covered the glass beads and tried to keep the heat away and I think it was ok, until without thinking I put the whole lot in the water to cool it.

This is fine with metal, but the glass likes to cool slowly.  Doh!  All the beads cracked.  But I put it in the pickel anyway just to see what would happen.  It's a mild acid and the glass didn't care at all.

So I ended up with 2 bangles which I'm really please with, and one that has proved a concept for me and given me LOTS of ideas to take home with me and I hope to explore later.  What more could I ask for from a day of crafting?

Sunday 18 February 2024

Evendoon Cardigan


This week I've been wearing my new favourate cardigan!

I started knitting Kate Davies Evendoon Cardigan just before Christmas and found it a really easy knit.  It helps that it's not the biggest either!

Once I saw how fast it was knitting up I decided to aim for a meeting I was due to attend in the actual office on 12 Feb.  Could I do it?  Yes I could.


On top of knitting the cardigan itself.  I also wanted to make matching buttons.  The pattern said I would need between 7 and 12, so I had to make them in batches.  


I have special button hole mandrals, but I only have 5.  So over January I made batches of 5 buttons each time I was in the studio.  This gave me 20 buttons, although a couple broke and some had sharp bits.  I had plenty to find my perfect 7. 

I used 3 balls of Stylecraft Special DK in Cypress and really love the colour.  My buttons are effetre glass - ivory with transparant light turquoise dots. 


I'm very pleased with the fit.  I was sure it would be too small, and I was worried the buttons would be too heavy.  If I make it again (and I am tempted to make some in other colours) I would make it a tiny bit longer in the body and the arms, but otherwise I'm very pleased with the fit and the buttons were perfect. I'm looking forward to my next in-person meeting already.

Sunday 11 February 2024

Sea Glass Necklace


Following on from making a silver chain bracelet at the Frensham Old Barn Workshop, I decided to go back for one of their 5 week jewellery classes.  They have a varity to chose from but I decided Friday mornings would work best for me.

So for the past 5 weeks I've been learning more about silver smithing.

If you are brand new to all this, they can set you a project to work on, but me being me I already had a project in my head.

Last year I bought a small bag of sea glass and having looked through it came up with an idea for a set of jewellery - necklace, bracelet and ear rings.


So I took the glass and my drawings with me, and Beth our tutor, helped me turn it in to a reality!

I started with the pendent as it was the biggest and so would be a little easier to work on.


To start I made a loop of 1.5mm silver wire the same size of the glass, before making the 'prongs' by melting balls on the end of 1.2mm silver wire and soldering them to the loop.


Lastly I added a small piece of tube for my chain to run through to try and keep it sitting square when I wear it.

After a lot of filing, sanding and polishing I was ready to set my glass. 


I also finished both ends of my chain - adding jump rings and a clasp.

I am dead chuffed with the result.  The design has been sitting in my head for so long it's crazy to see it in real life now.


With the pendent finished I moved on to the bracelet.  I followed the exact same process, except the pieces are smaller with 5 'prongs' rather than 7, and they don't have a tube, but will have jump rings soldered to them in the end to join them altogether.  I've only made one and a half so far but I hope to go back in the summer to finish them off.

Getting ready to make a bracelet

I'm really enjoying working in silver and I'm wondering what else I can do incorporating silver with my own glass beads?

Sunday 4 February 2024

Needle Felted Butterfly


Just before Christmas I came across a needle felting project in The Butterfly Conservation magazine.  I could buy the kit and join an online class to be shown how to make a Jersey Tiger moth and support The Butterfly Conservation all at the same time.

How could I say no!

This was very similar to a workshop I joined to learn how to make needle felted dogs to support The Dog Trust a few years ago.  Probably because it was run by the same team at The Makerss.

However, if you've been paying attention you'd notice the post is titled butterfly not moth!  When my kit arrived if was for a Chequered Skipper butterfly rather than the moth I'd been expecting. 

It's all sorted now and I have a moth kit to make soon, but on the day of the workshop all I had was the butterfly kit, so that's what I made.  They are very similar to make, but just a different shape to work to and reference photos to look at.


As it's a flat pattern you are less likely to stab yourself as you work, which I enjoyed!  And you can spend as long as you like on the patterning of your butterfly/moth to get it as realistic as you want.

I'm aware that one wing is slightly bigger than the other, but otherwise for a first attempt I'm quite pleased.  I'm wondering if I can convince 'im outdoors to make me a small box frame to sit him in?

Sunday 28 January 2024

Tumbled Glass Beads


When you make glass beads they naturally have a lovely shiny finish.  But sometimes that's not the look you're looking for.  Sometimes you want a softer look.

To get this you can put your beads in strong chemicals and etch them, but I don't think this is the best way to do it.  (I've heard it's hard to get rid of all traces of the chemicals and if they can have this effect on glass I hate to think what effect they might have on you if you are wearing these items!)


But there is another way.  You can tumble your glass, a bit like it being in the sea for year to get that frosted look.

So a couple of weeks ago I bought myself a small 2kg tumbler and set it up in my studio.  I used some old gravel that 'im outdoors didn't need anymore and the grit the tumbler came with and put a selection of beads in.  Then I set it to go and left it for a week. 

(I did try it in the house to start with, and it is pretty quiet but the constant rattle was too much, so it had to go down to the studio.)


I was nervoues to open the tub.  What would I find inside?

What I found was an orange mess.  I think this was from the gravel.  But once I rinsed it off and found the beads I couldn't be more pleased.  At first I didn't think it had worked.  But once I'd dried the beads off I could see how beautifully frosted they were, and they feel like silk to handle.


I'd been reading up on this method before hand, and had come across a recipe for beadwax - to give a light coating once they are done to give them an inner glow.  This was the perfect finish, a little buff and they just seem to glow.

If I need to run it for a week to get this effect then I will need to make sure I've got a full batch to tumble, but that's fine with me.  I'm looking forward to making more like this.


Friday 29 December 2023

Another Knitted Baby Elephant


 Having made one baby elephant, I couldn't help but knit another.

The first was so cute, I knew my mum would love one as a Christmas present.  And I knew I had the perfect purple yarn in my stash.


So off I went and got knitting.  The yarn has been in my stash for a while now and has lost it's label.  I'm pretty sure it's not a DK, maybe a 4 ply?  Anyway as you can see from the photos he knitted up a little smaller than the first one which was a DK yarn.

And the slightly fluffy yarn makes him super sweet too.

I'm really pleased with how he came out.  I just hope Mum likes him too.  (She did and she's named him Wilbert.  Apparently he's taken up residency on the small table next to her arm chair looking out to sea.)