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This week it was bitterly cold but bright – perfect for sanding the drawers of my ’60s teak chest of drawers outside.

Starting point: tired, faded, stained.

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Simply sanded as close as I could get to the handles. The handles are amazing. Most furniture has at least one loose handle. Not this one. Every single handle is rock solid, glued, screwed or whatever, but it’s a good job I love the original handles because they were NOT coming off…

20171208_104022_HDR.jpgThen laborious sanding down by hand to get to this:

20171208_105617_HDR.jpgThree more to go before the Danish Oil could work its magic. And what magic! I was prepared for it this time but it still blew me away.

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20171208_144549_HDR.jpgThree coats of Danish Oil and a thorough polishing with beeswax later, it was transformed from this: 20171126_105438_HDRTo this:

20171210_104643_HDR.jpgIt’s now in my bedroom filled with Christmas presents and fabric. I absolutely love it! :o)

I’ve also had a bit of a metalwork session. I loved the effect of the printed silk carrier rod behind the rescued gold tone bib, so I hunted out some of the brass I impressed when I did my silversmithing course several years ago…

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…and started to play.  This is going to be a pendant.

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And this, a brooch.

DSCN7587.JPGI love cutting fiddly shapes with the piercing saw, letting it and the texture of the metal dictate where it goes and making these pieces has been a joy. I have an oval pendant on the way too. More photos to come.

In my bedroom I have a grotty inherited two drawer chest of IKEA drawers which is only still there because it holds an inordinate amount of fabric. I’ve been looking vaguely for a replacement for some time, preferably one with a few more drawers in it… I imagine I’m not the only person who is always looking for more storage!

I love 60s/70s teak furniture with simple stylish lines and was delighted to find the perfect item in one of our local charity shops. So, for £40 including delivery, I have become the proud owner of nearly double the amount of storage in the form of this lovely teak veneered chest of drawers made by the Somerset based company Avalon.

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I’ve been watching far too many upcycling programmes and although it was clean and serviceable, I couldn’t resist trying to restore it to its original glory. It had obviously been standing in sunlight and the finish was badly faded and the top had the usual quota of water stains, dints etc.

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So, out with the sander and caution as among the information I’d been able to turn up online about Avalon furniture were warnings about the relative thinness of the veneer compared with other bigger names of the day such as Nathan and G-Plan.

The light varnish came away easily and I was easily able to sand out the damage to the top. The sides also came up really well too and I was over the moon at the beauty of the wood.

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Then out with the Danish Oil and…wow. Just wow. I could not believe the depth and beauty of the natural colour of that wood. I haven’t used a stain to get that colour, just clear Danish Oil.

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I am so in love! I also discovered that the solid wood legs unscrew (WIN!) so I was able to unscrew them and give them a proper sand, stain and polish. The carcass has had three coats of oil and been buffed up with a beeswax polish and I just have the drawer fronts to do when I get a nice day which isn’t perishingly cold. Working outside at this end of the year is a bit of a lottery!

As the recent snow and chilly weather has brought a halt to the chest of drawers, I turned my attention to upcycling jewellery which is a much warmer indoor activity. Buoyed up by the successful result I got from upcycling a couple of pairs of odd earrings into a unique necklace, I selected some more oddments and let my imagination loose.

Firstly, two brass earrings.

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I completely deconstructed the bottom one into the chain and the hammered brass leaves and removed the bottom curve and fringe section of the top one to form the bib section of the necklace.

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To finish it, I added some more gold coloured chain and some odd brass and blue glass beads.

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And ended up with this: my Bold as Brass necklace.

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I forgot to take a photo of the original earrings that went to make up this one, but the elements I reused were the laminated abalone teardrops and the central cloisonne teardrop bead.

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With the addition of various lengths of silver tone chain and some toning cats eye beads, I created Sea Greens.

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And finally, the left over beads from this earring, which had provided most of the components for a necklace already…

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…were added to a gorgeous art glass bead to make a tassel pendant.

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The pendant was then hung on a chain made, again, from oddments of reused silvertone chains and the last beads from the earring; each individually threaded onto headpins to make a feature where one chain section changes to another.

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The result looks like this!

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The embroidery, I’m afraid, is all still under wraps until December’s Guild meeting, but if you like the jewellery, it’s all in my Etsy shop here along with dozens of other vintage, original and beachcombed pieces.

The lovely acorn tile black work design that I started at Guild a week last Saturday has grown steadily from this:

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I’ve just got the interlaced border to complete and as I’m enjoying it, I’m in no hurry to finish!

One other very lovely thing that happened at last week’s meeting was that I received my prize for winning the Yorkshire and Humber Embroiderers’ Guild regional competition for a piece of embroidery to be made up into a card: this fabulous book.

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For our July branch meeting we were asked to submit pieces of embroidery for the Regional Competition, the idea being that one piece would be selected from each branch and those pieces would go on to the regional AGM to select a final winner. I entered my North Cornwall Wallhanging, a piece of crazy patchwork that I pieced over several summer holidays in Cornwall and finally made up a few years ago into a hanging.

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I’ve blogged about both the individual pieces and the making up and if you’re interested you can search ‘North Cornwall Wallhanging’ and find a load more posts and photos.

Anyway, to my utter amazement it was selected by Scunthorpe branch and taken off to the the regional AGM where it was chosen as the final winner. Apparently, because there is so much going on, instead of just having one design, they are going to choose different areas and do several. I know which bits are my favourites, so it will be interesting to see what other people choose!

For various reasons, this is the first Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild meeting I’ve been to since June. Quite a number of our members are eager to get stuck into another round of Travelling Books so we had a lovely display of the initial pieces, ready for their next outing.

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We were joined by Hull Branch and the day was led by their own Alison Larkin. The last time we had a workshop with her was March 2014 when we stitched this miniature embroidery. She brought some of her exquisite miniatures along for us to marvel over. This one is about the size of a playing card.

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I tried to use the magnifier to give some idea of how minute these little stitched pictures are.

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I just love this Tudor/Jacobean style miniature bedspread. This is only about a third of it and the whole thing is no bigger than an A5 envelope.

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This time we had a talk in the morning about her big recent project, a recreation of a waistcoat stitched by Captain James Cook‘s wife Elizabeth. The original is stitched on tapa cloth, which is actually the inner bark of the paper mulberry tree, brought to Europe by Cook from one of his earlier voyages. Although the stitching has been completed, the waistcoat was never made up as Cook died in Hawaii in 1779.

Alison talked us through the whole process of researching the waistcoat, which was not only looking at the design of the original, which is held in a library in Sydney, but also working out the size, stitches used, methods of construction etc. before she could even start stitching. The finished item, much of which she stitched in period costume at the Captain Cook Memorial Museum in Whitby, is stunning.

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The tapa cloth has the look of a slubby silk dupion from a distance and it’s only when you get up close that you can see it’s actually a non woven fabric.

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In the afternoon Alison led a blackwork workshop, where we could try out various designs of hers on a variety of different fabrics. I opted for 18 count aida and a lovely acorn tile design.

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I love blackwork. The intricacies of the designs really appeal, so much so that I don’t even mind the counting involved and was happily engrossed for the rest of the afternoon in getting as far on with my design  as I could.

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This should be a nice quick finish and become a scissor keep for my big fabric scissors.

Last year at Embroiderers’ Guild we had an amazing full day workshop with Chris Gray which started off with printing from her mind-blowing collection of printing blocks. I only had a handful of bits of fabric and loved the printing so much that I ended up printing on everything I could find in my bags, including three silk carrier rods I’d ironed flat.

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I love silk carrier rods, but like so many things, they disappear into drawers and boxes knowing that the chance that I might find something to do with them is slim to none.

However… I’ve been upcycling jewellery again and after trialling a few ideas for how to enhance this rather naff goldtone geometric bib section,  I came across the printed carrier rods and that turquoise one was perfect.

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The nature of the carrier rod means that it doesn’t fray and I could simply stick it into the back of the triangle.

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Turquoise is a complete nightmare to match colourwise because of the proportions of green and blue, but the turquoise nugget beads were a perfect match and some gold tone chain finished it all off nicely. It is always such a pleasant surprise when things work out smoothly and I have listed it here.

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On a roll, I came across two odd earrings. This…

20171112_122216_HDR.jpg …plus this… 20171112_122229_HDR.jpg

…now equal this:

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I have been embroidering as well, but it’s unfortunately under wraps until December.

I’ve been restocking and updating my Etsy shop with that December thing coming up fast on the horizon and although a lot of my pieces have involved sea glass, sea washed china and found objects, I did get inspired by another vintage brooch without a central stone.

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So I gathered some supplies and started to stitch a ribbon rose on some scraps of hand dyed silk.

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With a woven rose in the middle, split stitch curling stems either side and some french knot buds, it stitched up quite quickly.

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Then I layered three pieces of pelmet vilene, each slightly smaller than the other to create a domed shape, gathered the silk around the dome and pulled it up tight. A piece of the rust coloured background silk covered the gathering at the back and then I set it in the brooch.

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You can find it here.

I also created this flotsam assemblage pendant

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…from a piece of wave worn aluminium…

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…which I beachcombed ages ago and just love; a piece of tactile driftwood and a long nugget of sea glass which sat in the groove of that grain perfectly.

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A treasured oval piece of multicoloured Seaham sea glass went into a vintage pendant.

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And rich green oval nugget of sea glass went into another vintage pendant.

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In fact I managed to find and nearly match so many lovely green pieces that I was able to add a pair of upcycled vintage clip on earrings

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..and a bracelet.

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It’s lovely to be able to reuse some of these gorgeous pieces and bring broken jewellery back to life again.

Now I have another section of the bluework piece which is more of a turquoise blue, I’m a bit happier: it’s looking more balanced.

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The lavender now has three layers: a foreground of bullion knot lavender heads, a mid-ground of simple straight stitch lavender heads in a heavy weight perle thread, and a background layer of distant heads in a thin single strand silk.

DSCN6375.JPGNote to self. Stitch the background first – it makes slotting stems in behind the foreground elements ever so much easier…