Thursday, 17 May 2018

Why I'm not doing much making...

I know my blog posting has become a lot less frequent recently.  That's because I haven't been making much - other than at my weekly silversmithing class and any other craft classes I go to.  I thought I'd show you the reason why.  My craft studio was always on the top floor of my house.  My lodger now resides in that room and I'm in the process of decorating a room on the 1st floor (middle floor) for my studio.  It's taking forever as I work full time and enjoy my free time too much to spend it all decorating!

This is how my craft stash currently looks:

I am actually itching now to get the room done and unpack my stash so I can get making!  I still have quite a way to go though!  I must be the world's slowest decorator....

Friday, 11 May 2018

A present for a friend

I am now at that age where my friends are turning 40.  Yes, I'm 40, good guess!  It was my oldest friend's 40th last weekend, 2 weeks before the event I suddenly realised I needed to buy her a present.  She's not an easy person to buy for... I decided something handmade would be more suitable.

I'd been thinking about an idea of making a pendent using 3 different size circles.  I cut them out of 1mm thick sterling silver sheet using a circle punch.  The mid-sized circle was left blank.  The larger and smaller circles were texturised before punching them out.

The smallest circle is patterned using a centre punch and hammer to make tiny indentations.  The largest circle was rolled through the rolling mill with a skeleton leaf.  I adore this pattern and have it in mind for some future makes.  As the pieces had burrs after punching, I had to file and sand to clean them up.  The smallest circle got a stick soldered to the reverse and the larger two had holes punched through.

This "stick" (a piece of 0.8mm round wire) was inserted through the other 2 circles, then I just used the round nosed pliers to make a bail before filing and sanding the edge.

It was really hard to take photos as I had put it in the barrel polisher, meaning it's very shiny!  I've just put it on a bought trace chain, also in sterling silver.  

This was a pretty quick make.  When I told my tutor my plans, she said I could get it done in half a session.  It actually took me a session and a half, but I work really slowly and do rather a lot of talking and eating!

Oh, and yes, the friend liked it!

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Stencilling a floor

A couple of years ago, I came across a blog post by Mrs H about her new studio floor that she and her husband had created.  Then, last year, after the bag retreat, I had the pleasure of visiting Mrs H's home and seeing it in person.  It stuck in my mind.  I knew that one day, I too would create a floor like that.

So I am!

I read through the blog post, and Mrs H sent me some extra details to help me.  I then bought some MDF, cut it to size, screwed it down, filled the seam lines and screw heads, sanded and painted 3 coats of dark grey paint.  Then for the fun part.  I procrastinated this for ages as I was sure I'd mess it up.  Above is the stencil which I bought from Dizzy Duck Designs.

I painted over it using the same emulsion in pale grey I'd used for the walls in that room (it will be my new studio when I FINALLY finish it).  Then I was scared... the moment of truth...

Yay!!! Go me!!  Thanks Mrs H, thanks Dizzy Duck Designs, thanks Dulux!  I was sooooo chuffed.

I carried on, overlapping the stencil each time to line it up correctly.

Except where I didn't!  That line without dots was my mistake when doing the second row.  I will go back and fill it with dots later.  This is how far I got before I had to give up for the day.  I'd already painted an airing cupboard and a ceiling and I was tired!  It's quite slow going as it requires precision, also the stencil needs washing and thoroughly drying every 5 or 6 applications.  Hopefully I'll be able to show you the finished room soon...  Just got to finish stencilling, then varnish, then do the beading, then sort out the faulty window, get a radiator fitted, put up curtains, sort out the light fixtures, move my furniture in and set up my craft stuff...  so... end of summer maybe??

Sunday, 29 April 2018

The Bag Retreat

Not last weekend, but the weekend before, was the bag retreat with the inimitable Mrs H, bag designer extraordinaire.  I drove down to South Wales on the Friday morning, arriving just after lunch at the lovely hotel.  Bag making was already in full swing in the bag-making room!  I have absolutely no photos at all of the retreat I'm afraid, I was far too busy sewing, chatting, eating and nursing my hamster bites.  I was bitten by my goddaughter's hamster whilst dropping off Colin for them to babysit.  She got me in 3 places, on 2 fingers and I was still dripping with blood the next day!

This is the Double Flip bag, pattern by Emmaline Bags.  The lovely Janelle was at the retreat, sitting at my table.  I met her at the retreat last year and it was fab to see her again.  Not only is she a top notch bag designer and supplier of the best hardware, she's a fab person too and I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with her.  She supplied one of our free retreat patterns and that's what I chose to make.

The hardware on this bag, including this "handmade" label, is all from Sew Hot who had a pop-up shop at the retreat.  I also bought the faux leather used for the base and handle, and the rest of the bag fabrics from Sew Hot.  The outer is an Ombre Metallic Dot.  No idea who designed it or manufactured it... sorry, I'm rubbish at knowing about my fabric!

Due to the hamster bite, I hadn't been able to cut my fabric and fuse my interfacing prior to the retreat, as had been my plan.  This meant that the entire Friday was spent cutting out and interfacing.  Oh, and eating.  The food was amazing, and very plentiful!

I usually add extra inner pockets to bags, but I didn't need to.  Me and Janelle are on the same page about pockets and it has an inner zip pocket, and 2 slip pockets (to which I added a couple of lines of stitching to also create a pen holder).  There are also the two big pockets that form the double flip, and a secret slip pocket at the front.

I used that gorgeous teal fabric for all the lining, except the zip pocket, for which I used a scrap of red fabric with white dots.  I used metal zips for the first time.  It came on a continuous roll with several of the zip pulls included.  It was nowhere near as scary as I'd thought!

It hangs really nicely when carried.  The main inner is between the two pocket flaps.

Below you can see the secret pocket at the front.  It has a rivet either side of the opening to reinforce the stitching.  I didn't use rivets though as I've had no success at home with them so haven't bought a rivet press.  Instead I used Chicago Screws which were a revelation for me!  I LOVE them and will be investing in different sizes and colours to use on all my bags.  There are screws on the handle too.  This particular hardware is all gunmetal, which, along with nickel, is my favourite.

I finished the bag on Saturday night and spent Sunday cutting out and starting to sew a messenger bag for Z's birthday which is coming up in June.  I got pretty far with it, but haven't finished it since I got home as I'm still decorating and rearranging and decluttering and sorting out my house!  News of that coming to a blog post near you soon....

Yes, it was a lovely sunny day for photos!

Monday, 23 April 2018

craft class - concrete

Last month a post popped up on facebook advertising last minute spaces for a workshop at Two Little Magpies.  A gorgeous shop selling handmade goods in a suburb of Nottingham, I'd never visited before so was happy to try out one of their classes.  My ....  agreed to come, with no persuasion.  I really don't know what to call him.  I'll call him Z.  

The workshop was in a space at the back of the shop and led by a lovely tutor, though I didn't get her name (I struggle with names and when I meet someone, it takes me months to address them as I have a terrible fear I've got their name wrong!).  We were making concrete tea-light holders.  Clearly that's not a tea-light holder in the picture above.  That's a flannel draped over a cylindrical plastic pot, covered in wet concrete.  Obviously!

I didn't get any process photos as it was a little messy, which meant that I was covered head to foot in concrete!  Above are my tea-light holders, still wet and still in the mould.  The tutor had made us each 2 geometric shapes from thick fluted cardboard.  We covered the moulds in duck tape to make them more secure, then poured in the concrete.

Luckily, I'd driven (we had discussed getting the bus and going to the pub), as we had 2 very heavy trays at the end of it.  I went to Centre Parcs the next day, so they got a good week to dry.  First up was the flannel.  Well, it's not a flannel anymore, you'd struggle to wash with it.  It's a plant pot!

Here it is displayed on my garden table.  Really funky!

I could paint it with acrylic paints (they will fade outside, but I don't think it matters).  I might do that when the craft room is done and I can find my paints.

This one was an added extra.  Whilst we were waiting for the concrete to start to set, we were given pre-made tea-light holders to sand and decorate as we wished.  I went for turquoise paint and a bit of copper leaf, though my copper leaf came off at one point.

Here are the geometric shapes.  The reason it's taken me this long to post about this class is that they needed sanding.  Yesterday was the first chance I got to do that, sitting in the sunny garden.

You can see in the pictures above that this had gold glitter all over the top.  Unfortunately, most of that came off when I took it out the mould and sanded the edges.  I also added a bit of glitter to the concrete.  You can see it glinting when the sun catches it but it's not obvious.

I'm not sure why the concrete is two different shades of grey.  Whilst making them, I was mixing concrete, pouring, mixing, pouring, I assume it's a different ratio of powder stuff to water?  

The last pouring of this one had turquoise paint added.  Perhaps not quite enough as you can only see it in patches.  I quite like the effect though.

Here they are all together to give you an idea of size.  I only had blue tea-lights - a white one would be better in the little blue holder.  I also had to take them out of their foil cases, seems my tea-lights are bigger than the tutor's!

I really enjoyed this class, and it was great that Z wanted to join in.  It's not a craft I'll be taking up but I'm happy to have experienced it.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

poor defeated spinner ring

One of my earliest projects in silversmithing class was this fiddle ring.  I loved that ring and wore it every day.  I made it to fit on my middle finger.  Then I lost some weight.  You couldn't tell I'd lost weight, none of it came off my fat bits, it all came off my fingers!  The ring was too big... and no, I can't wear it on my thumb, my thumb is smaller than my middle finger.  I gave it to my BFF and set out to make another.

Complete and utter failure!  I only had a small piece of silver that wasn't long enough, so I rolled it through the rolling mill with a texture, and soldered on some copper.  I quite liked the two tone effect.  I made the small outer ring from square wire.  

Once the main ring is soldered, The outside is domed to keep the smaller ring in place.  The join between the silver and copper split.  I straightened, re-soldered, domed, it split.  Again and again.  Finally, I managed it!  I put the smaller ring on, domed the other end, and...

It doesn't spin!!  The outer ring is too small.


Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Craft class - shuttle tatting

Every few months, I go on a little search for craft classes.  I check out the places I already know, to see if they're running anything I fancy, then I do a bit more of a random search trying to find classes in the area.  This technique brought me across The Leicestershire Craft Centre.  Being slightly geographically challenged, I thought that Market Harborough, in Leicestershire, was near where I work.  It's not.  It was a 50 mile journey, each way!  Ah well, I was going there to learn Shuttle Tatting, which I've been trying to find a class for for a couple of years, so I would have probably driven to Glasgow!

This is a shuttle tattle.  The tutor - Phiona Richards - brought loads of different shuttles for us to try.  I have one at home, but it is somewhere in the mountain of boxes that is my craft supplies.

You can see from this side view that it has a bobbin in the middle which we wound the thread onto.  Being beginners, we were using 1mm chinese silk cord.  MUCH easier than the thin crochet or tatting cotton used by the pros!

This beautiful white piece was one of Phiona's.  You can see the difference between her work and mine (the blue)!

And this is my first attempt!  We used two colours to make it easier to see the flip (when you pull the knot and it flips over), and it really did make it easier.  I've tried to learn tatting before from a Craftsy class, but I just couldn't get it.  I guess I needed someone there with me to get it.  I'm glad I have the Craftsy class though, as hopefully, when I get a chance to practice, I can learn more.  I started my tatting journey on the right of the above photo, with some half knots, then progressed to full knots.  You can see the last inch at the end which is almost yellow - that's the good bit!  That's where I got it!

The purple was my attempts at rings.  You can see the progression from left to right!  Then I swapped to the blue and did a ring I was very pleased with.  I then attempted picots.  Hmmm, a LOT more practice needed there!

Finally, on the red cord, I made an attempt at a picot flower, which has turned out very... abstract!  I then did a couple more rings.  I was supposed to do picots to learn how to join them, but fatigue was setting in and I forgot, on both of them!!  One young girl progressed onto the thin 10 weight thread after this, but I don't feel ready!  I enjoyed it, and it's something I'd like to get to grips with, but I think it's a lot slower than bobbin lace.

Meanwhile, my work on the house is starting to come together.  I'm getting close to finishing both the bathroom and my craft studio.  Then I'll have three rooms to show you as the top floor spare room is also finished - but full of my craft stuff!

I'm off on the Bag Retreat this weekend, so I'll have more to post when I get back!  I also have a silversmithing update for you, and a post about a craft class I attended with my new "friend" (he was very willing to come along, no coercion happened!), but I have to do the finishing touches to what we made before I show you that.