Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Leaf Necklace

This week I made a necklace. I must confess that it is not my own idea - I saw it on a weekly email from Beads Direct and sent off for the components straight away.

It is made by cutting silver chain into 2 lengths - 8.5 inches and 12 inches and attaching a clasp and large jump ring to one end of each piece to form the fastening. Then I attached the other end of the shorter chain to the main ring of the large leaf with a jump ring, along with the large crystal dangle. This dangle comes as a silver cup and separate crystal (a Swarovski Rivoli) that you glue in so that you can choose the colour. I glued it with Super Glue but had to leave it flat all day to dry properly. The glue they recommend on their website might have been better but I was too tight to order it!

Next I attached the small leaf to the other end of the longer chain with a fine jump ring.

With the longer length of chain I had to experiment to get it hanging correctly. I tried fixing it to the main jump ring on the leaf so that the remaining chain hung vertically behind the middle of the leaf but this looked too boring. So I ended up fixing it to the top edge with a fine jump ring so that the weight of the crystal dangle pulls the large leaf to one side slightly and the longer chain runs across the back at an angle.

I have had lots of complements at work on it today so I am pretty happy with the end result!

Monday, June 3, 2013

May Catch Up

Sorry I haven't blogged for a while. I have been undertaking a major garden re-design, which has taken up all my evenings and weekends. It is not quite finished but we are getting there. I has been creative in a different way to my usual outlets.

Here is a card I made earlier in the year - I love these quilled fringed flowers - use 20cm of 1cm wide paper that you have snipped the fringe into. Glue to the yellow/orange 3mm wide paper for the centres, about 5 cm each and starting with the yellow paper in the quilling tool, roll up tightly to the end and glue. When dry squash the 'petals' flat and glue to the card blank.

Here is my most recent card for my Dad. I wasn't very inspired so used my time in the garden as my source. I have these great floral photographic craft papers so stuck a rectangle of each on first. In the gaps I filled some blank spaces with glue and sprinkled on seeds that I collected last year - Evening Primrose and Cosmos daisies. You have to be careful putting it into the envelope!

Over the weekend we spent a lot of time in my parents' garden so I had a chance to do some drawing. This is Herb Robert, a native wild flower. It wilted really quickly once picked and the leaves blew around a lot in the wind so I didn't have the chance to spend ages on the shading. It is coloured using Inktense Pencils, of which I am a big fan as they are so versatile.

How about this bowl of Houseleeks for inspiration for an embroidery!

And I loved the colourful simplicity of this fabric wall spotted in the Pan Asia thai restaurant in Bath - would make a great bedhead idea.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Momigami collage completed

A couple of weeks ago I had progressed my collage using the momigami paper samples to the point where I was ready to stick it down using thinned wallpaper paste on a plastic sheet. After adding some more purple serviette pieces, this was where I had got to.

I followed Cas Holmes' advice in her book, The Found Object in Textile Art, and scraped away some of the paper layers with a blade to reveal the ones underneath.
Next I wanted to add some machine embroidery. First I experimented with a blindingly obvious idea from her book to bond a design already printed on some fabric onto the back of your work and stitch over it. I chose this flower on some curtain fabric.

I bonded it to some calico, on top of which I had bonded a square of green sheeting, a square of patterned furnishing fabric and a strip of shot satin.
I stitched over the design with free machine embroidery as best I could. I started off with cream thread and then swapped to black half-way through.
This was the result on the front using a thicker variegated rayon thread in the bobbin. It's quite good but I think I actually prefer the black thread on the original design on the back!
I then tried a free-hand drawing using a sketch of a branch sticking out of our hedge. I drew the outline in pencil on the back and then stitched over it. This time I had brown thread in the top and bottom.
Here is the front - I really like this. However, I decided to keep experimenting and got out my Inktense pencils to colour in the leaves.
I like this too. I used cheap fusible adhesive to stick the layers of my sample together which comes in a diamond pattern and this has showed through when I applied the pencil. A happy accident that looks quite interesting!
I coloured in the flower just to see if that made it any more interesting. It just shows how versatile the Inktense pencils are, as you can add water to make a wash.
So learning from my experiments I chose to stitch the branch design in a larger size on the back of my collage.
When I turned it over you could hardly see it! Because the background was already busy I didn't think that colouring the leaves in with the ink pencils would help much. However, where the stitches were so small it almost looked like the paper had been perforated so I had the idea to scrape out the centres of each leaf instead.
I took all the layers of paper away so I was back to the calico backing. Because I had used wallpaper paste, which is not that strong I could do this fairly easily and cleanly.

I am pleased with this as it gives an effect that would be difficult to achieve any other way - I was also lucky that I  had stitched over layers of paper, rather than fabric or a mixture. I know that I could cut the fabric away, in the style of reverse applique, but it would have been too fiddly to get into the pointed ends of the leaves cleanly.

The other elements I added were:

  • a leaf printed onto Bondaweb, with a piece of organza bonded over the top and then free-machined with a black and white variegated thread.
  • another version of the branch drawn on the front in gel pen and then a piece of organza bonded over the top part. Note the black around the corner where the iron went over the old till receipt - I wasn't expecting that and it will be interesting to see if it stays or fades.
  • I coloured in some of the flowers in the illustration with ink pencils and added pieces of organza.
  • I stitched some smocking stitch over a square of orange chiffon to echo my earlier 'wasteland daisies' piece
  • I cut some strips off my green serviette stitched in a random grid and partly washed away and noticed to my delight that they looked like ferns so I pasted these down with wallpaper paste. (They would also make good seaweed in a marine type piece!)
  • Finally I pasted down some threads of rayon frayed from the edge of some shiny furnishing fabric

It is maybe a tad busy overall but I have really enjoyed trying out all these different techniques and I have especially enjoyed the ease of combining paper and fabric. I will definitely be doing more.

Final tip - you can keep made up wallpaper paste for months in a well sealed ice cream container - a tip learned from my Mom, who was a primary school teacher and had a tub of paste made up under the kitchen sink for most of my childhood, which she used to mount her kids' artwork into brilliant displays!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Birthday Cards

Lots of family birthdays to make cards for at this time of year. I started with this one for my Mom.

I covered a square blank with polka dot paper. Then I drew a bird and wing shape onto card to make a template and then cut them out of pink floral paper, being mindful of the pattern in the eye area. After sticking them down I drew in a branch and legs with felt tip pen.

To make the flowers I folded small squares of tissue paper 4 times to make a wedge shape and then cut a rounded end. When you unfold it has this pretty scalloped edge.

After sticking them on I added some crystals and a flower sequin for the eye with sticky dots.

This one was for my mother-in-law. I chose a butterfly print background with a matching tag. I mounted the tag onto card and attached it with foam spacers.

I made 2 pink tissue paper flowers as above and added green crystals with sticky dots as before.

Finally I used pink Crystals Tulip paint to decorate the edge of the butterfly wings, going over the dots already on the design.

All these papers come with Crafts Beautiful magazine quite regularly and I never buy any.

Next the tricky matter of what to make for my daughter's 17th birthday. I was attracted to these papers by the colours and I thought she would like them. The background of the card is made by layering up torn strips of paper - make sure you rip towards you if you want the white core of the paper to be exposed. I needed that to give some separation between all these colours. The dark blue strip is from an old paper bag that I kept.

Next I marked the numbers out on card. Luckily 1 and 7 are easily done with a ruler to make them neat.  I positioned them on the patterned paper and cut them out. Before attaching them with sticky pads I marked their position lightly with a pencil so that they would be level.

Finally I got all my sewing threads out and chose suitable colours to make a matching tassel. The instructions for doing this are here. You need to make a small U-frame for this size of tassel, which does make it fiddly to bind and tie off with navy thread. I attached the tassel head with a sticky dot and taped the ends on the back of the card. My daughter especially like the tassel so it was worth the effort!

Finally my valentine's card. I was going to buy one but they were all so awful I was compelled to make it. I got up at 6am the day before to do it!

Firstly I scanned in a copy of the original sheet music for 'Smoke get in Your Eyes' and printed it out. I've got loads of old sheet music passed down through the family from the days when singing round the piano was good family entertainment. I cut a square out a bit larger than the size of the card blank, folded it in half and drew half a heart on the back. Then I ripped out the heart shape. I crumpled up the remaining frame to give it some texture, then moved onto the background.

I chose 3 co-ordinating papers and ripped them out. I crumpled up the one with cogs on but left the others flat for contrast. I messed around with their placement until I was happy with it, trying the heart frame over the top to check. I stuck the background papers down and left to dry whilst making the tag. This was also pre-printed in one of my books of papers so I cut it out, made the hole and scuffed up the edge with a black felt tip. I cut a 'ribbon' out of the stripy card and checked it's final position.

Before sticking it all down I glued the end of the ribbon in the top right corner, then added the heart frame, then finally the other end of the ribbon on top. When it was dry, I trimmed off the excess music paper and used black rub-on wax to age the edges of the heart frame and some of the creases. I had a bit of the sheet music left over so I ripped a further smaller heart shape out of the title part of the music stuck that inside the card, so that it was obvious which song the music belonged to. My husband like it.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Momigami - 'kneaded paper'

I was given Cas Holmes' new book 'The Found Object in Textile Art' for Christmas and although it looked really good I have been putting off reading it properly until I knew I could spend some time trying things out. The first thing I wanted to try was momigami - the Japanese technique of paper kneading.

I had just finished a bag of bread flour so that became my first experiment. To get ready I cut the bag open, got a craft mat and a small finger bowl with a few drops of olive oil in.

The method is to fold the 4 corners of the paper in to the middle and then crumple the whole piece into a ball. I think you fold the corners in first to stop the edges ripping. Dip your finger tips into the oil and coat your hands with a thin film. Keep squashing it into a tighter ball until it won't go any further. Carefully flatten it out. Add a bit more oil to your hands and repeat.
When you are bored of that flatten it out on your mat and stretch it out to the corners. You start to see the oil penetrating the paper and bringing out the texture. You can add more oil to your hands and smooth over areas that need more oil.

Then grasp one end in each hand and rub the paper together against itself, as if you were doing hand washing and trying to get a stain out! Repeat this action all over the paper, particularly at the edges to soften them up.
Above is the inside of the flour bag, which looks amazing, and here is the outside.

Once I had tried this I wanted to see what happened with other types of paper.
I tried newspaper, tissue paper, a till receipt and an off-cut from a piece of line design work created on my City and Guilds course last year.

The till receipt was particularly effective as it looked very worn and distressed.

Finally, with my bigger theme of 'wasteland' in mind I scanned in this watercolour painting of a twig I had done as a teenager and printed it out on ordinary computer paper.

I then gave it the momigami treatment and it came out like this.

What I like about this is that the oil in the process has lifted some of the colour from the image and helped it settle into the creases on the paper to give it a suitably distressed and vintage look.

I wanted to use some of these pieces in a sample so taking inspiration from Cas' book I am working along the lines of the following collage.  You will see that it incorporates some of my other recent experiments (leaves printed on Bondaweb, stitched and distressed paper napkins, transferring scanned images to fabric using Bondaweb - all described on previous blogs). What I really like about her ideas it the incorporation of paper and fabric elements in the same piece and this book gives a simple method to assembling it all to allow stitch.

In my next blog I will show how this had progressed.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Plastic bag phone case

Happy New Year. Over the Christmas break I had time for 1 crafty project before I was struck down with illness again. I decided to make a mobile cover for my new phone. My last one got quite dirty from all the grease on your fingers so I chose to make it from recycled plastic bags.

I laid out a large thin piece of bag for the background on top of some baking parchment to protect the ironing board. I then cut out pieces from other bags to make my design. After messing about with a random design, I went for this jubilee inspired design with the intention of cutting it up in the next stage so that it didn't become twee. The black crown was not cut as intricately as this - it went like this during ironing - one of those happy accidents you get now and then!
If you don't like the strength of any colour turn it over and see if the other side looks better. I then ironed my design on the lowest heat setting of the iron, protecting the whole thing with another piece of baking parchment.

Next I cut out 2 pieces of white felt, a bit bigger than my phone, and covered them with Bondaweb.
I then took pieces from my plastic collage and fitted them on. Once I was happy with the placement I ironed them onto the Bondaweb, again on the lowest heat setting. It is really easy to melt the bags too much - I did this in the making of this and had to throw it away and start again.

Next I stitched round the edges of each main piece to ensure they stayed on during use and also to quilt it slightly. I used invisible thread on the top and normal white thread on the bobbin. One reason is because the invisible thread is plastic and I thought it would not pick up dirt as easily as white thread.

Finally I started to assemble the case. I began by stitching across the bottom edge, leaving a decent margin. Then I had to cut the top edge to size and round the corners. You have to do this now so that you can finish the top edge before you sew it together else it will be too fiddly. I finished the top edges with 2 rows of machine satin stitch.

Then I put the phone inside and pinned the sides to get a snug fit. I stitched them, rounding off the bottom corners and tried the phone for fit. Once I was happy with it (which did involve some unpicking a re-sewing as it was too snug the first time), I trimmed off the excess.

Finally I finished the edges with 2 rows of machine satin stitch. Where there were small patches of white felt still showing through, I daubed at them with a blue felt-tip!

The one mistake I made was to mark a rough outline of the phone on the white felt with a black pen which you can still faintly see through the plastic.

Overall it is wearing well and I have had comments on how unusual it is. If it doesn't last that long, it doesn't matter as it didn't cost anything to make.

Elsewhere, my family went to Mottisfont House to looks at the start sculptures. These were my favourites - acrylic creations hanging in a tree.

This one was beautifully made and implies the bend in space caused by a star. Sorry that I cannot name the artists - I have thrown the leaflet away.
Finally, my daughter decided that she would make a gingerbread house out of the Great British Bake Off Showstoppers cookbook she got for Christmas. It was a big undertaking and she got fed up waiting for the royal icing to set to hold the roof on. So here I am with the roof panels propped on a sweet tin and a strange lego-shaped lunch box, trying to get it to set in place.
And here is the final house and grounds - well done Millie. It tasted really nice too!