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…


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




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!


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


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.



There are a few small gaps to sort out…



…but mostly, the fit is pretty good.



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.


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…


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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!


I fell in love with a bought an antique Art Nouveau broken silver plated belt on eBay several years ago purely because of the Green Man masks on each section.

green man

I knew they would make gorgeous pendants/necklaces but I only got round to it the other day when I unearthed a damaged silver chain which was the perfect weight and patina to work with the panels.

There was just enough chain to make two necklaces.  The loops at the top of the panel were perfect to attach the chain, but that still left the loops at the bottom, which looked a bit odd without anything attached, so to the first one I added a drop with green cat’s eye beads, silver colour leaf beads and a central silver and abalone shell pendant from an odd earring, all threaded onto a length of silver wire.


For the second one I used an odd labradorite earring drop, two labradorite beads on oxidised silver wire and a tiny length of silver chain to make the drop.


They were a delight to make and can be found here and here in my Etsy shop.

Then only a few days later, I was looking for something else when I found some vintage embroidered linens in the back of a cupboard. Among them were two napkins, one quite badly holed and inspiration struck again! I cut them into sections for brooches or pendants and added to each one a hoop from various bits of odd vintage jewellery – bangles and earrings. The result…



…three brooches: large Daisy Spray, medium Daisy Wreath and small Golden Daisy


…and two pendants: Red Bellflower on the left and Brown Daisy on the right.


For each one, I laminated two circles of buckram together and gathered the embroidered piece of fabric over it to stiffen it and did the same with a plain piece for the back. Then I hand stitched the circles together with the assorted hoops/bangles sandwiched in between to give the whole thing stability. I used a variety of stitches including herringbone stitch, ladder stitch, beaded ladder stitch and chain band (below) to give an attractive finish to the edges.

DSCN8948.JPGIt then depended on whether the hoop I used already had an integral loop or not whether the finished piece became a pendant or brooch.  Lots of fun but not appreciably more space in that cupboard – two napkins go a long way!

That was the name of our talk by Quilt Artist Greta Fitchett, ably abetted by her husband Mike, also an artist, at our Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild meeting on Saturday and it certainly was colourful!


The wobbly geometric quilt second from the left was inspired by the distorted reflection of skyscrapers in the  mirrored windows of a building in front of them, which is an idea I love and the Chinese temple with reflections next to it was a collaboration between her and her husband.


Sari silk strip applique features as vegetation at the bottom of the long landscape quilt on the left, and the colour palette of the one on the right really evokes its Venetian inspiration.


I love that temple reflection and the rich colours of the right hand quilt with motifs from Roman mosaics.


More Venetian inspiration on the left (millefiori from a Venetian bead) and in the centre, and Roman mosaic birds feature on the purple one.



The quilts are stunning from a distance but the photos really don’t do justice to the amount of surface decoration and embroidery. Buttons, beads, spangles, painted bondaweb, paint, hand and machine stitching with featured long wispy ends… Just love the detail!!


I’ve finished my second bunting letter – an R – from January’s meeting, but I was convinced that I’d photographed it on the main camera. I hadn’t, of course and now it’s been handed over, so none of my own stitching to show this week!

The first item on Dorian Gray’s list is: “the great crocus-coloured robe, on which the gods fought against the giants, that had been worked by brown girls for the pleasure of Athena.” So my first job was to do some research and produce some crocus-coloured fabric. It seems that wool and linen were the most common fabrics, with silk and cotton available later in the ancient period, so I sourced some matka silk, wool and linen as my primary fabrics.


Although crocuses are more often purple, I suspect crocus-coloured in this instance means saffron-coloured and certainly in Ancient Greece saffron robes are associated with women and ritual clothing, so my first choice of a dye stuff was saffron. Turmeric is also an ancient dye and gives a similar colour, so that was my second choice and my third was ‘false’ saffron, or dyer’s safflower.

This would give me nine different fabric and dye combinations to choose from, so I cut swatches of my fabrics and started dyeing. One of the really nice things about this is that all three dyes are food stuffs and none need mordants, so I was able to dye in the kitchen using my own pans.

First, the saffron. The extra piece on the left is the cotton muslin I put the strands into. Then, from left to right, wool, silk and linen. Lovely soft, sunshiny, golden shades.


Next, the turmeric. From left to right, wool, silk and linen. Fantastic deep rich golds.


And lastly, the dyer’s safflower. Disappointed with these shades, especially on the linen, but it was probably my dyeing technique that wasn’t right. From left to right, wool, silk and linen.


I love the way the wool took up the dyes but it feels a little heavy and ordinary for a ceremonial robe. From left to right, dyer’s safflower, saffron and turmeric.


The silk is lovely but the matka which I’ve chosen has a very nubbly texture, which would make embroidery a little more challenging. From left to right, dyer’s safflower, saffron and turmeric.


So I’m leaning more towards the linen, which was very widely used in classical times.  From left to right, dyer’s safflower, saffron and turmeric.


As undyed linen isn’t white, it didn’t appear to take up the dyer’s safflower much and made the saffron look a bit muddy, but the turmeric has worked well and looks very similar to the colour of the saffron on silk, so at the moment, that is my choice for the fabric. Another bonus is that I have plenty of cheap and easily obtained from the supermarket turmeric left!


The dyeing is the easy bit – researching the background information on my three dyes to add to the book and putting it into a short piece in my own words takes a lot longer, but I had forgotten how much I enjoy reading, researching, referencing and cross-referencing.

Several years ago when I was doing my silversmithing course, I had an idea about creating a piece where I ‘mended’ a piece of denim with a ‘patch’ of impressed brass. I impressed some brass with a piece of fabric to give it a woven texture, but got no further. Some time later I was revisiting my sketch book from the course and cut out a ‘patch’ which I then drilled all round the edge to take the stitches. Once polished, it stalled yet again.


However, last week I found the perfect piece of denim  – an off cut from a pair of jeans – and with a square of apple wood from my Dad’s shed, the project was back on again.


I cut a section of the denim with one of the iconic seams running through it and frayed the edges. Next I chose some bright red perle thread to stitch the ‘patch’ on. It took less time to stitch the patch down than it had to drill just one of the holes with my bow drill!


Mounted onto the apple wood square…


… and made into an unusual brooch which I’ve listed here.

Some more progress on the bluework too. From this:


To this:


I’ve finished the eyelets at the bottom and completed the leaves and stems on the floral fragment on the right. The leaves and stems are in split stitch, a favourite of mine for filling areas.


I found an image on the internet of a flower where the petals had been created from long blanket stitches and then the top loops of the blanket stitches had been blanket stitched into to give a frilly sort of raised edge, so I thought I’d have a go at that for my next section.


It’s an interesting method, but slightly untidy for my liking! I think I’m going to seed stitch the background so they don’t stand out quite as much.

And in other news, I have just got the silk fabric to add to my linen and wool and I should soon be able to start investigating how to get ‘crocus coloured’ fabric for the start of my Dorian Gray project.

If we have had a workshop of some sort at our Embroiderers’ Guild group, then at the next meeting there is a space available for people to bring their workshop pieces, whether finished or just continued, to show. It was fantastic to see what had happened to the stitch play pieces from my workshop in December.









Many thanks to everyone who brought along their work – glad you enjoyed it!

I’ve also been doing some more upcycling. First, I turned a single 1980s enamelled earring which looked like orange sherbet into a beaded brooch. I removed the post and then beaded it onto some hand dyed vintage cotton fabric with some matching pearlised opaque orange seed beads using peyote stitch.


Then I gathered the spare fabric over the back and ladder stitched it to the covered vilene circle onto which I’d already stitched the brooch back.


Then I could add the edging in a mixture of clear orange, opaque pale yellow and very pale lilac beads, to echo the colours in the swirl.


It’s not a terribly quick thing to stitch, but a lot of fun to do!

Among the oddments I scored from my Dad’s workshop last year were some bits of veneer that he had hand cut. This little piece is apple wood.


I wondered what would happen if I doodled on it in black pen…


…and then cut it into sections to fit in this vintage bracelet.


Measure twice, cut once…


Hold your breath and hope…


…and be pleasantly surprised at the result.



I’ve also added nuggets of sea glass and sea washed china to a selection of vintage pendants, brooches and rings.









They are all sitting in my Etsy shop now, waiting for loving homes!