Friday, 24 October 2014

Embroidery - again

I signed up for another embroidery course. Two actually - this time courses that are a bit more straight forward. Craftsy were having a sale, you see, and I just HAD to take advantage of it. Design It, Stitch It: Hand Embroidery is the first course. I signed up for the Mastered course a few months back and while it is very good (high quality with great lessons and helpful people) it is a little less about the stitches than I was hoping for. So far Design It, Stitch It: Hand Embroidery is hitting the spot. It is giving me the tools I was looking for - the stitches, from basic to advanced, and the inspiration to keep going with needle and thread. Once I have finished it I will go back to Mastered and finish what I was doing there. 


I have actually been so inspired that I can't stop myself from embroidering. I started practising stitches just for fun on scrap bits of fabric. It turns out that these scraps are called doodle cloths which I think is a great name. It really is just like doodling - shutting your mind off and randomly drawing with thread on fabric.


Stupendous Stitching: Adventures in Surface Design is the second course I signed up for. It is all sewing machine related and encourages you to try out all the decorative stitches you have on your sewing machine. Unfortunately I have a sewing machine that only does straight stitch, zigzag and buttonholes. You can't even change the stitch width or length. And I hate it! It grunts and snorts and rumbles and rattles - even after I have put in a new needle. It has to go. So, come Christmas, I am hoping to get a sparkly new machine, one that does a few decorative stitches. That is when the course comes in to play. Definitely something to look forward to.

And one final piece of embroidery is my stumpwork butterfly. I started it about a year ago and only just got around to finishing it. I'm not totally happy with the stitch work but as it was my first butterfly I'm sure it will get better over time.


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Cute little box

I picked some plain boxes up from the craft centre a few weeks ago. They are nice and chunky and open to so much creativity. This is the first of the ones I have decorated. Wrapped in paper, touched up with ink, a couple of decorative buttons and a tiny tassel on a cord.


Sunday, 5 October 2014

I'm on a roll!

My second downloadable tutorial is ready! Hooray! It seems I am on a roll. I had been struggling for months trying to get one done then I get two finished and a third written in one week.

This tutorial is for making paper jewellery components that I call Paper Pebbles. You can turn them into pendants, earrings, rings or brooches. You can even add them to scrapbook pages or cards if you want. I love the feel of them in my fingers. They are rounded and smooth - just like a pebble found on the beach - which is why I call them paper pebbles.


Here is a photo of some of the things I have made with the pebbles. They are very versatile, addictive to make and use watercolour paper, glue and some sanding skills. I hope they will inspire some people to create something a little different.


Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Tutorials!

I have started selling downloadable tutorials on Etsy! Yes, I have caught my fear by the tail, given it a shake and told it I was going to give this a go. Having been asked a couple of times in recent months to write tutorials for publications. So I thought I had nothing to loose in selling digital downloads of some of my paper jewellery ideas. I really hope people enjoy them. Personally, I have spent a small fortune on digital downloads for a variety of crafts and always enjoy learning new things from them. I would love to think that people are inspired by what I show them - and that I show them in a clear manner that makes it easy for them to learn.

The first digital download is for a Paper Bracelet Cuff. It is simple and uses watercolour paper, glue and some pretty papers to make a lightweight but sturdy and interesting item of jewellery.


My next download, which I hope will be up very soon (but I will keep you up to date here about that), is for paper jewellery components I call Paper Pebbles. After that I have another tutorial in my head. I just have to sit down and write it out. Who knows where this will go but I have enjoyed producing them. I hope people will enjoy playing with them just as much.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Buttons and beads

I've been re-inspired by buttons this week. Back in 2011 I first got into making thread wrapped buttons and use them often in many of my crafts. This week I bought a bunch of perle cotton thread in size 8. They are fabulous for wrapping buttons - fine and silky, they give a lovely finish. I even made some Scottish saltire buttons.



I also bought a lovely little downloadable tutorial for quilted beads from Victoria Gertenbach earlier this year and have been making up a few beads. Although she uses quilting fabric and batting to make her beads I have made most of mine using wool felt. They are so simple to make using offcuts of fabric, you can decorate them in numerous ways and use them in all kinds of craft. You can never have too many beads. But then I'm a beadaholic and I would say that.


Friday, 12 September 2014

A load of tat

I started tatting a couple of years ago but I have to admit I've given up on it a bit. Well, maybe not 'given up'. It just got pushed into the background by the ever growing list of new creative ideas.

However, before tatting disappeared into the abyss of unfinished crafts I did try making some of my own tatting shuttles. If you do a search for tatting shuttles you will find a variety of shapes, sizes and styles. Each tatter has his or her preferred brand or style. My first shuttle was a Pony brand tatting shuttle with a little hook on the end to help you unpick stitches. I used it to start with and it was great. No complaints from me. It did the job. THEN – I needed an extra shuttle to progress.

 
Tatting shuttles are pretty cheap but I bought mine online, had no local supplier and only had one proper shuttle. I wanted one as soon as I found out about two shuttle tatting. So I had a think, did an online search, saw some pictures and tried making a few of my own. They are made from paper and decorated using paper painted in acrylics. Some of the papers were made using the Gelli Plate (Yay, Gelli Plate to the rescue again!). I added some acrylic around the edges then coated them with a couple of coats of polyurethane varnish. 



I can't say I have a preference over the styles. They all did their job. I tweaked a few of the designs I'd seen online to keep the thread more secure but other than that they work fine. Not to mention they are pretty and unusual – and pretty unusual. Now I just have to get back into tatting. I've certainly got plenty of shuttles to play with these days.


Saturday, 6 September 2014

Westie

I was recently asked to draw a gorgeous little west highland white terrier in graphite. It was quite a challenge as I have mainly drawn short haired dogs before. This was just what I needed to stretch my growing pencil skills.


Sunday, 31 August 2014

Simple silk bracelet tutorial

I am not a big jewellery wearer. I find I feel restricted and almost claustrophobic wearing jewellery of any kind. However, I have recently been making very simple silk bracelets that I love. They are made from my fine silk cords and really simple to make. Here's how.



What you will need:
Silk cord (Mine is 1mm thick)
Crimps (I used 2mm)
Jump rings (small)
Clasp (I used a lobster clasp)
Sewing thread
Scissors
Measuring tape or ruler
Crimper pliers
Two pairs ordinary pliers (for opening jump rings)

Method:
1. Measure your wrist to find out how long you want the bracelet to be. My wrist is 6.5 inches (16cm) around at the narrowest point but I want the bracelet to be a bit looser so I will make the bracelet roughly 7.5 inches (19cm) in length.

2. Take a length of sewing thread and fold it in half. Put the end of the silk cord in the loop of the thread pulling it through about half an inch (1cm). In a moment this will form the bracelet's first looped end.


3. Pull the two ends of the sewing thread through a crimp and pull the crimp down so that it goes over the silk cord to form a small loop (as in the photo above). Use your crimper piers to squeeze the crimp closed and catch both sides of the silk cord securely. Remove the sewing thread and trim the knot off of short end of the silk cord to neaten it.



4. Measure the silk cord from the end of the loop you just made to the measurement you decided on in step 1. In my case this was 7.5 inches. Using the length of thread, lay it under the silk cord at the 7.5 inch point and double it over, trapping the silk cord in the loop as in step 2.


5. Put a crimp over the two ends of thread (just like you did in step 3) and pull the crimp over the loop of silk cord. Check your measurement again - just to make sure your bracelet is the right length - then use your crimper pliers to squeeze the crimp closed, just like before.


6. Now you have a length of silk cord with two loops. Take a jump ring, open it and slip it onto one loop. Repeat with the other loop but add the clasp to the second jump ring too.



7. Fasten it on and wear a simple and original piece of jewellery that is ideal for the summer - or autumn, winter or spring. Make lots more and layer them up.

You can also add little charms to the jump rings, add a short length of chain to a shorter piece of silk cord or make an extra long one and wrap it your wrist around twice for variation.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Celebrate!

I had my best day's painting in almost two years yesterday. Five sketches in one afternoon. Hooray! I am hoping this is me getting back to regular painting but I guess only time will tell.


Needless to say they are now up on Etsy.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Silk cords - part 2

A quick update on the silk cords I have on Etsy. I now have more handmade silk cords in my store. I love making them. I just can't stop. There are three new colour combinations and seven self coloured ones in apple green, aqua, cream, pink, purple, teal and wine. Once my new order of black silk arrives I will be adding good old classic black cords too.










I have a little blog tutorial coming up soon on how to make simple silk bracelets using these cords too.