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Archive for the ‘Cards’ Category

I was asked to come up with three cards for assorted birthdays and anniversaries in short order this week and having no time to start anything completely from scratch, I went delving into a box of assorted bits and pieces and managed to come up with five finished cards in a day!

First was a piece I started at a 2015 workshop on sculpting silk paper with Linda Rudkin. Sashiko stitching on a scrap of indigo dyed sheeting. This one was completely finished and just needed mounting.

Next a couple of cards created from some samples I made playing with a soldering iron. This one has been enhanced with a scattering of silk French knots.

I finished it by stitching it onto the blue silk backing with herringbone stitch in the same thread.

I’d already started couching a frothy white thread round this sample when I found it.

The layered spirals and slashes combined with the frothy white thread made me think of the way artists like Hiroshige and Hokusai represent sea foam in ukiyo-e prints. I carried on doodling with the couched thread and added some split stitch spirals with the cream silk thread I was using to couch it down and two nuggets of sea glass.

Finished as a card.

Next up a piece of crazy patchwork that I stitched at least ten ago. I had half thought about appliqueing it onto a shoulder bag made from the cut off bottom of a pair of jeans. But the upcycled bags I’ve made in past from jeans bottoms and patchwork panels had very little interest when I tried to sell them, so I decided a card was the more sensible option.

And last, one of the back ground pieces from our teabags workshop with Fran Holmes in October 2019. This literally only needed about a dozen stitches into the lace border to finish it!

So not only did I manage to deliver the three requested cards, I actually have some in reserve for upcoming celebrations. Makes quite a change to be beforehand with the world instead of chasing my tail!

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As promised from last week, here is the second china pot fragment, this time filled with ribbon embroidery irises, which have worked out rather nicely. The flowers are lazy daisy stitches with a stitch threaded through the bottom of the chain to give the falling petals, the leaves are done with ribbon stitch and the stems are two rows of split stitch.

I ended up finishing it late at night and the only photos I have of the finished piece have huge shadows round the sides of the pot which look like stains! Anyway, it was done in time for Mothers’ Day and went down well.

I’ve been working away on a couple of upcycled pieces of jewellery. The first was a fairly easy conversion from a broken 1907 silver and hardstone shamrock brooch to a pendant. The c-shaped catch was in good condition and substantial enough that I could twist it round to create a hanging loop. There was very little left of the pin hinge so I was able to carefully saw the remains off and neaten up the scar.

With the addition of a jump ring and a silver chain it’s good for at least another hundred or so years.

Available here in my Etsy shop.

The second make was a bit more of a puzzle. A chunk of abstract fused silver with two holes and a short length of tube on the back.

I wondered if the tube was supposed to be a bale, but it was very narrow and you would have struggled to get anything but the finest chain through it. And a very fine chain would have been out of proportion to the chunky pendant. So I decided to use the top hole as the hanging point and removed the tube. That left me with what to do with the second hole. I couldn’t hang anything from it as it was too far up, so I went through my odd stud earrings to see if there was anything to inspire me. I found a couple of round studs with semi precious cabochons in silver settings which were attractive before a little frog stud tumbled out of the bag. I’m not sure why I tried him in place, but he somehow turned the abstract chunk of silver into a sort of stylised lily pad.

He just works perfectly!

Mr Frog is available here in my Etsy shop.

As our second Mothers’ Day under lockdown in the UK rolled around, it reminded me of the memory journal of my beach walk on Mothers’ Day 2019 which I finished on Mothers’ Day 2020.

And that in turn reminded me that I have two pieces still to do for my Kew memory journal from June 2019. The recent needlelace sampler was a half hearted attempt at testing out some ideas for a piece based on the magnificent Chihuly Persian Chandelier which hung in the middle of the Temperate House.

But I’ve decided that I need to stop faffing and get on with it, so this morning I assembled some delicious Mulberry Silks, my tiny antique crochet hooks and a piece of lovely indigo dyed calico.

Time to stop overthinking and see what happens…

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I took a bit of a break from the ongoing long projects this week and have enjoyed learning and working a couple of new stitches. The first was a little canvaswork piece with a hearts theme. I do enjoy the odd spot of canvaswork and I immediately thought of Rhodes Stitch, worked as hearts. A quick Google showed me that you can work the hearts in a variety of sizes, although as they get bigger they do get bulkier. I found some yellow canvas and matched it with some daffodil yellow stranded silk and some variegated stranded silk in purples and golds that reminds me of pansies. The small yellow hearts were pretty straightforward, although having to fasten off after each heart because any carrying threads were visible was mildly irritating.

Then I added pansy coloured larger hearts to the middle. The bottom one was the fourth attempt.

  • Attempt  1 – too far up.
  • Attempt  2 – I miscounted the placement of the first stitch but didn’t realise until I tried to put the penultimate stitch in and there wasn’t enough room!
  • Attempt  3 – Stitched it perfectly – on the wrong side…
  • Attempt  4 – Count twice, stitch once. Check carefully which side is the right side. Finally, success!

The top heart went quicker but I was more careful with my counting this time. Then I tried out a new Rhodes Stitch version I’d come across while looking at the various sizes for the hearts – a Rhodes Stitch Butterfly. It’s a straightforward and very effective shape to stitch, but once again, careful counting is your friend. I decided to do two stitches for the body and I think that makes him nicely chunky.

The second new stitch was one I’ve had in mind to try for a while. I’d been asked to make a Mothers’ Day card for a friend and I was inspired by some cards online using sea glass fragments as pots with drawn plants. What if I used a piece of sea washed pottery as a pot and the woven feathered chain stitch I’d been wanting to try out to make a trailing plant? Feathered chain stitch first.

Then you fill in the loops with needleweaving, rather like making a picot but with only two threads. I definitely improved as I stitched these two stems – no guesses for noticing which leaf was my first one!

Moving onto the middle stems. The needlewoven leaves remind me of quaking grass.

After the final two stems, some French knots flower buds in silk ribbon and the pottery shard to check the scale. You can get a better idea of the size against my hand.

Lastly I filed a little off the bottom left hand corner to correct the shape and added a shadow in split stitch just to ground the pot.

Very pleased with the result. I used coton a broder and it has given the leaves a lovely sheen. I think a fine perle would work well too and a subtly variegated thread might look even better. I’m so pleased with it I’m just about to start something similar for my mum.

Stay tuned!

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Nothing big this week – instead the focus seems to have been on taking the old, broken and unloved and breathing new life into them. The vintage postcard to which I gave extra autumn colour with dozens of French knots gradually went from this…

…to this – with the help of numerous podcasts…

…and finally to this:

I combined a 1970s watch strap and a broken brooch to make a statement bracelet which is currently in my Etsy shop here.

And some jasper and art glass beads and vintage clock hands to make some more statement earrings.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of the starting point for this pretty little pendant, which had the longest journey of all.

It literally started off a small chunk of a much larger broken brooch and I only knew that because it still had the hinge and pin, which was twice as long as the flower, attached. It was filthy, missing all the stones and had a couple of bits of metal sticking off at random angles.

After removing the pin, tidying up the shape and drilling a hole for a jump ring so I could turn it into a pendant, I gave it a thorough clean and polish before resetting it with tiny blue vintage paste stones and a vintage pearl with a wire attached which went into the hole I discovered in the middle of the ‘bell’.

That really was treasure from trash!

It should be in my Etsy shop shortly. There is nothing quite like turning literally a piece of rubbish into something that hopefully will be loved and cherished for years to come.

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It seems that a lot of the last couple of weeks has been about creating cards. As well as the Fathers’ Day card I showed in the last post, I was also asked to make a first birthday card…

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…and a birthday card and anniversary card. For the birthday card I decided to revisit one of the experiments I did with some Angelina fibres, rubber stamps and an iron back in February 2012 and still have hanging about! I just added some simple gold herringbone and straight stitches. The Angelina is so blingy that I think less is definitely more.

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The anniversary card is one of the dozens of prints I took from Chris Gray’s huge wooden printing block collection when she led a workshop for our Embroiderers’ Guild back in 2016.

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I used just three threads in shades of green and purple to fill in the design with chain stitch, satin stitch, fishbone stitch, detached chain stitch and of course, french knots.

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Having had all these to put together, as well as one for my own dad, is partly why the pulled thread I had planned for the Kew memory Journal hasn’t progressed very far. The weather also hasn’t helped as I’m stitching in cream on cream…

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… and good daylight is a must. It just hasn’t been nice enough to sit outside and stitch very often.

Once I’m in the swing of counting I find pulled thread work has a very pleasing rhythm but unfortunately it seems that I’ve just got settled when at least one member of the family needs something – usually feeding!

I wanted a heavily raised stitch to echo the raked gravel of the Japanese Zen garden where Chihuly’s Niijima Floats were exhibited and I think the Diagonal Raised Band I chose does that very successfully.

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The picture has been transferred onto silk with transfer medium and will be stitched into the top corner.

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Now all I need is some decent light and a family who can feed themselves…!

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The last brick piece is on hold. I sort of know what I want to do with it but the details of how are still a bit sketchy. Instead, I’ve started attaching some of the completed pieces to the accordion book and am awaiting inspiration…

So back to small projects. I found some printed motifs obviously cut from a larger piece of fabric the other day, but as usual I have no idea where they came from. They are the perfect size for cards though and as I have a Cancerian friend and one of the prints was a crab, I decided to embellish it with stitch and make it into a card for her birthday.

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I used some wadding behind to give a bit of three-dimensionality to the body sections when I outlined them in back stitch. I used split stitch down the middle of each leg and claw section, french knot eyes and Pekinese stitch and an eyelet across the back of the shell.

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Then I moved on to a kantha sample for a workshop that was postponed from March but which I’m still hoping to teach at some point.  It’s made up from calico, a batik cotton print and twinkly organza layered together and stitched with a variegated stranded cotton.

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I like to put an applique shape in the middle and work the kantha stitching around it and this time it was a leaping fish.  The batik was spotty so I followed the lines of spots with my stitching which gave it a watery effect that I was hoping for.

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The last little project was inspired by a fantastic tutorial for stitched ori-nui shibori on the V&A Museum’s Instagram account. I didn’t have any indigo but I did have a small amount of avocado, which was very disappointing on this scrap of calico:

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And some very out of date saffron which worked much better. I love this and wish I’d used it on the first piece instead of the avocado.

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And it even sort of overdyed some pale indigo dyed sheeting I had, if you look very hard.

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One out of three ain’t bad, I suppose.

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During Panto week (which seems a long time ago now even though I only finished washing costumes and putting them away yesterday!) I also made a start on a 17th birthday card for my middle one. She’s very much into all things alternative and I’d found a small, simple cross stitch pattern quite a while ago for a little skull. I decided to stitch a few and dress them up like Day of the Dead candy skulls.

Skull with spirals

Autumn skull

Spring skull

My first three, all stitched during panto week and on target for the birthday.

Three Day of the Dead skulls

And the last two, all ready to be decorated.

Cross stitch skulls

But then work and other things happened and with the best will in the world I could not manage to get round to the final finishing until this week.

Waves skull

Roses skull

 

Then the making up, surrounding each skull in a riot of hessian flowers with sparkly middles on a very dark green card background.

Day of the Dead birthday card 1

 

Day of the Dead birthday card 2

 

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It was rather late, but she liked it.

 

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