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Treasures

At the end of March I went up to Seaham beach in County Durham to refresh my collection of sea glass, especially the special multis that Seaham is famous for. The beach is certainly a lot more picked over than the last time I went in 2013 and although I did find a few nice bits, there was an awful lot of hard hunting to get them.

Having spent a full day on the beach and driven home aching all over, I thought I was all beachcombed out for a while, and didn’t mind the (very) short spell I was allowed on Southwold beach at Easter, but then, it was a pretty good haul for ten minutes:

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A couple of weeks later we went to visit my middle one in Bangor, North Wales and happened to find ourselves mooching in Beaumaris on Anglesey with an hour to spare before our restaurant booking. Mooching on the seafront, specifically. I glanced idly at the beach and realised I had no real urge to go down and hunt. I was just telling my incredulous family this when my little one looked over the railing and announced that she could see a piece of beach pottery. Instantly refreshed, I positively scuttled down onto the beach to the accompaniment of much hilarity from my husband and daughters.

After they had finished teasing, they did at least come down and help me hunt and the hour passed happily and productively.

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The sea glass was more craft grade (I am spoilt by Seaham nuggets) but the pottery was fabulous.

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And my middle one even found me a rusty ‘thing’ which was very exciting.

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Time to turn my treasures into jewellery. First, I worked with two of my favourite pieces of the Beaumaris pottery. Beaumaris Blue:

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And Pretty Purple:

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This one has a lovely reverse side too.

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The final and very different pendant began with a piece of random organically shaped metal from somewhere which I had textured with a hammer to make a feature of the fact that the underlying copper was starting to show through. I played with arrangements of my beach treasures; pieces of wave-worn metal, pottery and glass until I found something which worked.

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‘Treasures!’ can be found here.

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Hopefully embroidery next time!

Work of course. First a quick update on the current state of the bluework. Not an awful lot, but from this: DSCN8921to this:

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The bunches of flowers across the foot are completed – the far right one needs a bit of tweaking to give it the same balance of light and dark as the others…

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…and I’ve added a partial folk art style flower to the bottom right section.

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I’m working some pulled thread samples as well. I love pulled thread work and was itching to do some again. I bought some large self covered buttons from a charity shop recently and was toying with the idea of covering them with pulled thread work backed with bright pops of silk.

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However, the linen I’m using is too thick to gather properly, so I’m toying with other ideas. I still like the idea of silk behind though.

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Something to experiment with in odd moments.

Lastly, I’ve found a perfect match for a piece of embroidered felt I found when I was sorting through some samples I’d made for felting lessons at school. I added a vintage brooch setting and taking this section out of a bigger (and very busy) piece actually looked better than the whole.

The leaves are an earlier version of the more tightly closed fly stitch leaves I’ve been using recently and they help to frame the lazy daisy flowers with their french knot middles.

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It’s in my Etsy shop here.

Etc. first. I’ve finally completed all the seed stitch background for an embroidered print I started with Chris Gray in July 2016 and last blogged about eighteen months ago, where it looked like this:

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It currently looks like this:

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Not sure whether to seed stitch the inner circle as well…

I don’t think I’ve shown this piece of upcycling before. One of my mixed lots of junk/vintage jewellery contained a gorgeous brass spinning fob, to which I decided to add some embroidery based on knot gardens.

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It’s now got as far as this:

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French knot hedges and eyelet stitch flowers in variegated silk.

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Near enough to get on and finish now!

Brooches next. I loved the closed fly stitch falling leaves design I stitched for my friend Debbie’s necklace catch a few months ago and decided to do it again on two odd vintage stud earrings which were the same shape and size, but different colours. The initial plan was to make a pair of earrings by covering them with embroidered fabric.

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I stitched one and covered it and started on the second.

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But the second wasn’t close enough in design  – the leaves were further spaced out. Added to that, the gathered fabric and more crucially, the covered pelmet vilene backs, really made them too bulky to be successful as earrings.

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So the posts came off, were replaced with brooch backs and Plan B went into action.  I worked a beaded edging in pearlescent green and metallic copper beads to frame the design and am very pleased with the result which can be found here.

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The second one is still in production! Most of this stitching was done over the Easter weekend at my parents’ in Suffolk which had to include some beachcombing. I was only allowed a short spell under the pier at Southwold, but still managed to find three nice nuggets of sea glass, a piece of carnelian, a big chunk of tile which has weathered to a lovely faux Medieval feel…

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…and some small pieces of driftwood, including one which had a gently shaped front and a flat back perfect for turning into a brooch. I auditioned a fair few piece of broken jewellery to put with it, but when I found this single broken vintage clip on earring of a swallow, it was a perfect match. The plate of the clip was still attached and I used it to mount the swallow onto the driftwood so it stands slightly away from the base, which I like.

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I’ve called it One Swallow (in hope of some more to make a summer!) and put it into my Etsy shop here.

They started as part of a five piece graduated set of wedge shaped pendants. The central sections had been filled with glittery golden sticky backed plastic – horrible but easily removed to give a blank space full of possibilities.

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As you can see from the above photo, I already had one idea brewing – to use some of the scraps of fabulous yew wood veneer I scored from my Dad’s workshop a while ago. I liked the look of the wood against the gold coloured edging, but felt that to do all of them the same would be too much and just one wouldn’t showcase the wood enough. So I decided to make a trio of pendants, using the two smallest and one of the medium sized sections.

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I cut the veneer to shape and carefully finished the pieces with clear Danish oil and micro-crystalline wax before insetting them into the pendants, adding a gold plated chain and listing them here in my Etsy shop

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That left the largest and one of the medium sized sections for something different. I really enjoyed working with ironed out silk carrier rods recently and I had just found three bags of them I didn’t know I had (hangs head in shame…) in my favourite colours – blue, green and turquoise – so that was the next design sorted. I cut a piece of the green to fit the largest section and started to create a little garden corner. Straight stitch stems and french knot flowers in various weights of silk thread.

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Then an overhanging branch in stem stitch…

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…with lazy daisy stitch leaves…

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…set into the pendant which can be found here.

A piece of mottled blue/turquoise carrier rod was a good start for a sea themed pendant. I added feather stitch in gold silk thread and three tiny nuggets of rare yellow sea glass.

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They were stitched down with fine silk thread and I added another swirl of feather stitch to link them.

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I’ve called this one ‘Sunlit Zone’ and listed it here.

Stitching on the ironed out silk carrier rods is lovely. They are firm, like a heavy paper, but much more forgiving if you put the needle through in the wrong place. Pelmet vilene is great too but the colour and sheen of the silk is just very special. I think they have loads more potential in my jewellery work so this won’t be the last you see of them!

On Saturday our Guild meeting was an all day workshop led by Mary, one of our members. It was themed as ‘The Sea’ and Mary provided not only inspiration in the form of some lovely examples of her own work on the subject…

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…assorted books, magazines etc. but also masses of fabric, shells, stones, beads, paints, printing blocks, silk waste; you name it… basically a complete treasure trove of stuff.

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And we all know how much more deliciously tempting other people’s stuff is than our own!

As a topic, the sea is completely in my comfort zone, so much so that my initial problem was where to start. There was so much I wanted to do! But as Mary talked us through her goodies, inspiration was initially triggered by a cloud of bright orange silk throwster’s waste and then confirmed by some foam core board. With a very definite idea in my head, I nipped in, grabbed a few bits and bore my loot off to my table.

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The lovely pale marbled fabric was a perfect base for my wrapped and back stitched  foam core board driftwood. I just cut it roughly to the right shape and then back stitched through the boards and several layers of dyed muslin, pulling and pleating the fullness of the fabric to give the impression of wood grain. It was easy to stitch invisibly to the background, where I used Inktense pencils to enhance the pattern of the fabric.

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The orange silk said rust to me, so I created a rusty square-headed bolt from a sandwich of silk carrier rods, the throwster’s waste and a street-scavenged washer I just happened to have in my bag, wrapped in an off-cut of the brown muslin I’d used for the  driftwood and stitched down with my favourite semi-metallic thread.

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The last element was some lovely aqua sea glass nuggets I also had in my bag. I nestled them in the curves of the marbled fabric pattern…

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…and after gluing them in place, stitched them down with a toning machine rayon thread.

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I couldn’t believe I’d actually finished a project within the workshop and still had time to start another one. There was a leaping fish stamp that I liked the look of, so I used metallic blue acrylic paint to stamp some images of it onto more of the grey marbled fabric.

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Then I stitched beads in the spots and some short bugle beads for his underbelly to make him sparkle. I’m adding my name underneath to turn him into a name badge. We are supposed to have one and wear it at meetings, but to my eternal shame it’s something I’ve never quite got round to – until now.

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A good day’s work.

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I know that some members prefer to have a bit of a project set out, but this free for all rummage through Mary’s treasures was perfect for me, and thanks to her skilful facilitation, gave me a wonderful day’s stitching.

As promised, I have finally finished sulking about it and there is progress on the upcycled Victorian Box Project! I finished the remaining veneer with a light sanding…

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…followed by the magic of clear Danish Oil and beeswax polish.

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Then at the weekend I added some more french knots onto the edges to help counteract the shrinkage, sealed the back and applied the scissors!

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I knew it was never going to be a perfect fit, but it’s looking acceptable.

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I used a pva type glue both to seal the back and to attach it to the box. It’s not too harsh and seems to have stuck pretty well.

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There are a few small gaps to sort out…

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…but mostly, the fit is pretty good.

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This is by far the largest piece that needed replacing, so I should now be able to get on with the patches and the smaller pieces and fingers crossed they work up a bit more quickly!

The ‘beginning’ is my Dorian Gray book. Finally happy with the piece I wrote from my research on saffron, I used a mixture of handwritten and printed sections to go with the first lot of samples I’d dyed.

I used four pieces of the saffron dyed muslin, layered up, as a background for the chain stitch title on the first page. I created the yellow blotches on the pages by dropping the wet saffron onto it after I’d dyed the fabric.

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I’d written a lot about references I’d found to saffron and saffron-dyed clothing in Greek literature so that was printed in a little booklet on the next page, where I tried to write saffron in both Arabic and Greek. Apologies to native writers…

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The samples form the bulk of the next pages, interspersed with information on the etymology of the word and the technicalities of how it dyes.

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The ‘middle’ is more of the bluework, thanks to a couple of meetings.

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Seeding to knock back the blanket stitched flowers, as they were a bit too brash.

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Next I used a pretty composite stitch along the foot of the bowl. It starts with bundles of long detached lazy daisy stitches which are then wrapped around the middles to pull them in, a little like sheaf stitch. Clusters of french knots in a variegated thread are finally added to look like flower heads.

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The ‘end’ was the sample piece I stitched during my stitch play workshop in December. It was nearly finished, just needing the blanket and trellis stitch on the dark green petals, and made the perfect Mothers’ Day card.

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In other news, I think I have finally stopped sulking about my Victorian box project and am hoping to be able to show you some progress next week!