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Making the pumpkin earrings and gothic rose pendant a couple of weeks ago led me to sort through what is probably more broken and unwanted vintage jewellery than any normal person should own and I ended up with a heap of beads, pendants, charms and other oddments and lots of ideas for some more gothic themed upcycled pieces.

A little bag of tiny red teardrop shaped beads suggested droplets of blood and with the addition of a couple of crucifixes, scraps of chain, and odd red and black beads and pendants I created a pair of charm earrings.

I had two more of the crucifixes and a couple of the little droplet beads left over to make another slightly shorter and less flamboyant pair.

I forgot to take a picture of the huge crazy earring which I split to make the following two pendants. Imagine the crescent moon hanging from the middle of the fish, a large coin in the middle of the moon and two smaller ones hanging from each tip. The whole thing was larger than my hand and very heavy.

So it seemed obvious to split this beast up! I lightened the look of the crescent moon by removing the central hanging loop and adding some grey mother of pearl moons with some vintage glass and haematite beads. I teamed it with an unusual industrial looking reclaimed chain.

I kept the fish pretty much as it was, just adding one of the smaller ‘coins’ to the middle and hanging it from a beaded choker I created from one strand of a fussy broken multi-strand necklace.

The last pendant started with this enamelled tag which appears to be a vintage 1 franc label.

I layered a flower-shaped piece of pressed brass and an oval enamelled rose on copper on the front of the tag, leaving the 1F still visible on the back and added a dark brass coloured reclaimed chain.

These are all destined for Arttopia when I do my shift next Saturday. I’m hoping they will do well as we head towards Hallowe’en. Hopefully more stitching next week.

Sunflowers

I’ve been continuing the autumn colours with some ribbon embroidery sunflowers. I love the textured deep brown centres you get from clusters of French knots. All was going pretty well until I realised I only had enough golden yellow ribbon to stitch one sunflower – possibly two if I really used every centimetre. You can see on the bottom one that I ended up using ribbon where the edges were really a bit too worn just to complete the flower.

This was then followed by the very unfamiliar feeling of going online to buy some more ribbon. I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t able to find what I wanted (or something close enough) in my somewhat extensive stash but yellow silk ribbon is something that for some reason I simply don’t have. (Any other colour, yes, but strangely not yellow.)

Unable to complete the last flower until I had the ribbon, I made a start on the next part of the design, a meandering line of Hungarian Braided Chain stitch. It’s a fabulous stitch but this is the first time I’ve worked it in anything stranded – in this case four slender strands of a very slippery pure silk so in places it was somewhat less than perfect!

The ribbon arrived a couple of days later so I was able to add the last sunflower. It’s less golden yellow than the others but I like the variation in colours and the ribbon stitch works well for the petals. No two stitches are the same, which is perfect for the slightly shaggy effect I wanted.

Satin stitch leaves over split stitch outlines.

I’m very pleased with the result, and am hoping to incorporate it into some upcycled jewellery, although the next time I do a meandering line it would probably be best to draw it out carefully first, instead of doing it by eye…

I’ve also managed to get a bit further with my beaded jellyfish. Last seen, it looked like this:

I’ve finished setting the spangles on the front and worked the first round of the opening.

It’s hidden the wobbly couched edge rather nicely which was an unexpected bonus and reminded me how much I’ve enjoyed stitching it so far, so perhaps I can make the time to push on with it now.

Several years ago my middle one decided she wanted to do some needle felting. Her craze lasted an intense few weeks and then vanished as quickly as it had arrived. I was happy to use the fleece I’d bought for her but I was also left with a large lump of orange felt she had partly formed into the shape of a sitting animal. I couldn’t bear to throw it away but also couldn’t think of what to do with it – until this week when I realised it was the perfect colour for pumpkins. Lots of rolling and wet felting later, I was left with five potential pumpkins.

I stitched through each one with coton a broder to pull it flatter and give it pumpkin-style ridges.

Then I turned them into earrings. First a pair of charm earrings. The dark coloured chain and leaf sections with the bead caps at the top were deconstructed from an over the top charm necklace. It had about six strands of chain and featured so many random pendants and dangles that I’m amazed anyone could have worn it and been able to lift their head. Possibly that was why it came to me in an unloved job lot of jewellery!

The snake chain sections looked unfinished, like they had originally had something on the ends, so I added two hand made polymer clay beads to match the orange of the pumpkins.

After using plastic leaves from a damaged bracelet to finish off the pumpkins I threaded each one onto a headpin and added them to the bottom of the longest chain where they finish the whole thing off very nicely.

The second pair of pumpkins were slightly larger, so I decided to make them into a simpler, shorter pair with a couple of metallic leaves.

Finally, with the addition of some vintage glass leaves, I turned the last and largest pumpkin into not a coach, but a bag charm/key chain.

Continuing with the Autumn/Hallowe’en theme, I’ve made a darker, more Gothic version of my ribbon roses. This was once a vintage brooch. I love the dark silver colour and High Victorian style of the setting and once I had cleaned it and removed the remains of the clasp, it was ready for a suitably dark upcycle.

I used dyed black pelmet vilene for the base and gave my stems thorns before I added the tiny roses.

The ribbon leaves are in ribbon stitch which is useful as you can control the size and shape of the leaf depending on how tightly you work the stitch.

Cut carefully to size and glued into the mount.

The pumpkin pieces are destined for Arttopia in Cleethorpes this month – that is if I can stop my little one from claiming the earrings for herself. Might be time to see if I have any of that pumpkin orange fleece left over…!

Last week in the middle of our mini heatwave I had a day out to Withernsea Lighthouse with my friend Debbie to see the ‘From Withernsea With Love’ exhibition. It’s a collaboration between Karen Turner who is a talented textile artist and Dean Wilson, a local poet and lover of pebbles and other beachcombed items. Debbie has blogged about our trip here with much better photos and text, so I’ll just say that we had a fabulous day, the beachcombing was excellent, the fish and chips delicious and the exhibition was well worth the trip.

Karen’s stitching is exquisite. I’m lucky enough to own two of her completely hand stitched quilts and there was something familiar yet different about her pebbles quilt, featuring forty nine of Dean’s pebble finds.

Each pebble is surrounded by a ring of stitching like a halo and they are instantly recognisable from the photos and the stones themselves, displayed in the nearby cabinet.

She also embroidered exquisite copies of some of the pieces of sea washed pottery that Dean also found and they were displayed with the pottery in a glass fronted corner cabinet that made them almost impossible to photograph.

However, each piece was detailed in a sketchbook…

…which was as fascinating and beautiful as the pieces themselves.

After our climb up the 144 steps of the lighthouse, fish and chips and obligatory beachcomb, we retired to the shady lighthouse garden with a drink from the on site café and I did some stitching on a piece of felt I recovered from a felted vessel I made ages ago which I had never been happy with.

I ironed it flat and cut it into a curved shape before blanket stitching it with a very brightly coloured variegated thread which happily was toned down by the felt.

Then I finished off the woven spiders’ webs I’d planned to encrust it with.

Liking it much better now.

I believe the ‘From Withernsea With Love’ exhibition is on until early October but only at weekends now. Well worth a trip in the the wilds of Holderness, especially if you enjoy beachcombing and eating fish and chips on the beach!!

As is always the way, the final leg of the stumpwork garden only took about half an hour. First I finished the last of the kale/chard slubby silk picots. I was a little uncertain about them to start off, but they’ve worked up into a very healthy looking clump.

Then the courgette leaves. I’d already decided I was going to cut them out of some painted fabric. However, when looking for a source picture, I found countless photos of courgette leaves online, all different, which didn’t help and was probably why I left this job until last.

The first tentative one looked OK in terms of size and shape so I cut out another couple and laid them over the courgettes. They weren’t quite right. They looked flat and completely obscured the courgettes, which is what the leaves do in real life, but I didn’t want to lose the stitching underneath. I was resigning myself to stitching in minute veins to make them look less 2D when Debbie, one of the friends I was stitching with, suggested I put a tiny pleat in the base.

It was like magic. Suddenly the fold suggested veins and depth.

As there was to be no stitching of veins, the last stage passed in a flash. I pleated each leaf and used the thread to attach each one to the courgette plant. Pleating the leaves also meant they would no longer lay flat and solved the second issue about covering and losing the courgettes.

The leaves stand up beautifully (the fabric is backed with a light weight interlining to help stop it fraying which helps) and are only connected at the base of the leaf so as you move the stitching you can still see the courgettes, even though the leaves cover them. A genius solution!

My completed vegetable garden. It’s been a delight to stitch and had a lot of interest (for me!) on Instagram where it’s currently my most interacted with post, so other people seem to love it as much as I do.

I also ought to post a shot to give you an idea of scale.

And against my hand – please excuse the state of my fingers – it’s that time of year when I seem to be constantly peeling and prepping fruit and veg from the real garden.

I’m definitely going to offer this as a workshop. I’ll suggest some different vegetables and lay outs so not everyone has to stitch an identical copy and it’s a good introduction to some raised embroidery techniques. Anyone interested, shout up. Contact details are on my workshops page (tab at the top).

Picots

And not a lot else! A few more have appeared as kale-like leaves in the stumpwork vegetable garden. I was initially unsure about them, especially as unlike the other vegetables I had no idea what they were! However, as I’ve added more, they seem to fit in better. I think I need a few more near the path and perhaps another couple at the other end.

The other picots have been used to finish off the upcycled poinsettia pendant I was working on back in July. I finished adding the picots for the second layer of bracts…

…and added a cluster of French knots to the centre. Next I needed to cut the pelmet vilene behind the poinsettia to fit the missing section of the pendant.

I ended up cutting a plain one as well, as the section was deeper than the thickness of the vilene. It was doubly useful as I was able to use the plain one as a template for cutting behind the poinsettia before I set it in the pendant.

There was a nasty moment when I thought I’d nicked one of the poinsettia picots.

But it was a false alarm and it works exactly as I’d envisaged it in my head, spilling over the edge of the pendant.

Finished off with a black thong with sterling silver mounts.

I only sold five pieces of jewellery at Normanby Country Fayre on Monday and once again came home wondering if there is any point in carrying on. But then I have an idea for upcycling a piece of jewellery that is too pretty to go into landfill and I have such a great time creating it, like this one, that perhaps I’m not ready to give up just yet.

Art Swap II

I was very excited to receive my half of the art swap last week and as well as these fabulous prints…

…Nick also sent me some tie-dyed fabric and tote bags that he experimented with during lockdown. I love the prints but the tie-dye blew me away! These tote bags are beautifully patterned and the dye distribution is so even.

The fabric turned out to be three big pieces which are just stunning. In fact, so stunning that I don’t think there is any way I can bring myself to cut into them! The first two are on muslin, which is quite sheer and difficult to photograph.

This one is on something firmer like cotton sheeting. The detail is incredible!

If you’re on Instagram, this talented gentleman is @nick_knox_777 and well worth following.

I’ve been playing with an idea sparked off by a partly finished Victorian patchwork quilt I saw in an exhibition about fifteen years ago. It was an English paper pieced quilt and the papers were still in place. Although the antique silks and velvets of the patchwork front were gorgeous, I was much more interested in trying to read the fragments of unwanted cards and letters which had been cut up to make the papers. Those hidden snippets were tantalising.

As usual, I’m working very small, so I decided to use one text for all my papers – Viola’s speech (“I left no ring with her: what means this lady?”) from Twelfth Night, which is about her hidden identity.

I also chose to keep the text in the right order, again because everything was so small and once the fabric was stitched round the papers, much more of the text, already fragmentary, would be lost.

I used some ordinary light weight cotton muslin for the fabric – after all, in this piece the fabric is very much secondary to the papers! Now it’s all stitched together the text is reduced to the odd word or partial word.

Perfectly hidden, unless you know what it’s supposed to be.

Art Swap

The thing I most enjoy about being on Instagram is connecting with other artists. I’ve ended up on the periphery of the print community via a customer who bought an upcycled pendant a couple of years ago, and was recently contacted by one of the lino print artists I follow asking if I would be up for an Art Swap. Definitely!

As this guy is a printer, I decided to go for the print theme in my swap items. First was this screen print on calico using a paper mask which I did at a workshop way back in November 2013 with Dionne Swift.

Then back even further to February 2012 to some experiments I did with ironing Angelina fibres onto rubber stamps. This was one of my favourites and the last one I have left of the batch. It sort of fits with the printing theme.

I chose some purple cotton and gold silk for the background and started by edging the motif in a goldwork thread. I’m not sure of the name of this type of thread, which is gold wound round a soft core. I think it’s either Jap or passing, but would welcome a positive identification!

Then I used a running stitch round the edges of the purple block to connect the layers of fabric.

Lastly, as it’s a big part of my practise, I stitched some found objects to the centre.

The third piece was a bookmark made from offcuts from a piece I printed using the same quatrefoil stamp as in the Angelina experiment at a Print to Stitch workshop with Jan Dowson in February 2019.

I cut the six whole quatrefoils off for my Medieval tiles piece. and made the offcuts into a couple of book marks. One I gave as a gift last Christmas and the second just needed a Bondaweb backing and a blanket stitch edging to be completed.

I used an eyelet setter and a perfectly matching eyelet for the tassel.

Which was made from a slightly darker green stranded cotton than the blanket stitch.

They arrived safely last week, to the absolute delight of the recipient. It’s always lovely having glowing feedback from another artist, but somehow when that artist is someone who doesn’t work in the medium of needle and thread, there seems to be much more of a wow factor. Perhaps those of us who stitch have become accustomed to the wonderful textures and effects we can get from textiles and are less blown away by them. It was good for my ego, anyway!

Very much looking forward to the prints I’m getting in return which should hopefully arrive this week.

Growing

The garden is growing slowly and getting loads of attention on Instagram. As was suggested by a friend, it would make a lovely workshop. Definitely an idea for the future when we finally manage to get back to near normality. The lone courgette has been joined by four others. The lines of the stem stitch band really work well for the striped skins.

Then I added stems in whipped back stitch.

I’ve looked at endless pictures of courgette leaves on the internet and they all seem to be very different, from big flat heart shaped leaves to deeply divided lobed ones, so I’ve left them for the moment while I mull it over and moved onto a patch of picot leaves at the bottom in a slubby green silk. Not entirely sure what vegetable this is. It might just be a patch of docks and nettles!

I’ve also been experimenting with various types of herringbone stitch. It was a genius idea to work on this pinstriped offcut of fabric from an old shirt as it helped me to keep the stitches level and (relatively) even. Ordinary herringbone and closed herringbone in two different weights of thread.

Thanks to my good old Mary Thomas, I tried out threaded herringbone (far left) and tied herringbone (second and third from the right), which has coral knots worked over each intersection.

A nice little project while I was visiting my middle one for a couple of days.

And very excitingly, my Frister and Rossmann…

…now has a proper home. I was contacted last week by one of my sewing ladies to say that she was moving and down sizing and to ask if I knew anyone who would like her sewing machine table. I did. Me!

I absolutely love it and it’s fantastic to have a proper place to stitch instead of heaving my machine on and off the kitchen table. Thank you so much, Kim. It’s come to a very good home!

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