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Archive for the ‘Found objects’ Category

I’ve just started teaching a monthly embroidery class at Jaylaurs, a fabulous fabric and sewing shop in the nearby small market town of Brigg. I worked with three lovely ladies at the end of last month, all of whom enjoyed experimenting with some new stitches and I hope that they and some others will come along to the next one on the 30th of November. I created some more Stitch Play samples using more basic stitches, mainly based round running stitch, chain stitch and split stitch…

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…but it was the more complex stitches like knotted buttonhole stitch, Pekingese Stitch and feather stitch that they wanted to try out!

Jayne, who runs Jaylaurs, asked me to create some purse flyers to give to people who expressed an interest in the classes and while looking for some suitable images and ideas I found some work I had done as examples of lessons I taught to Y5s and 6s a few years ago based on couching and whipped and threaded variants of running stitch.

They had been doing some batik and I wanted to get them to embellish some of their test pieces. This one is my sample piece with simple leaf shapes.

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I had just bought a load of fancy threads for textile work and threaded and whipped running stitches were great ways of using threads that were far too thick and slubby to be used to stitch with themselves. The chenille thread on the left works particularly well.

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The other sample was again to use the fancy threads, but this time couching them down in various patterns.

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The thread with the fluffy ‘flags’ was very fine, so I remember couching it down backwards and forwards along the line to build up a thicker layer and seeing where the ‘flags’ fell as I worked along the thread. I hadn’t planned it, but they seemed to always end up together in clumps!

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And then I found this: an early bit of found object work, using various bits and pieces that I had picked up around school. It includes an odd stud earring (flanked by two short screws) that was never claimed after PE and finally found its way into the school piano and a broken trouser fastener (centre) kindly donated for use in the piece by the lad in my class at the time. His trousers had suffered a catastrophic fail as a result of an overenthusiastic tackle in football at break and he spent the rest of the day in his PE shorts. The fastener was recovered from the playground following the incident.

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A bit of fun and some good memories of some of the amazing children I have taught over the years.

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Not together though! Firstly, the technology. Last Tuesday I was very excited and also initially pretty nervous to chat to Susan Weekes of Stitchery Stories via Zoom – a technical first for me – as she recorded me for this week’s podcast which goes live on Wednesday 17th October.

Looking at the sort of people who she has already had as guests on Stitchery Stories I can’t quite believe I am going to be among such amazing company! We were chatting before the recording about social media in general and Facebook in particular. Having seen the sort of hassle Facebook causes during my time in teaching I have never had any inclination to be part of it, but I am aware that I really could do with promoting myself a bit more on social media. Susan recommended I start using Instagram and so, another technical first – I am now on Instagram as Underatopazsky.

Not sure how I feel about it yet. I don’t find it very intuitive and keep clicking on the wrong icon, but I do like the immediacy of it and the ease of use, as opposed to making  time to sit down and write a blog post. I definitely won’t stop blogging, but I will probably carry on Instagramming too.

Now to sea glass. These gorgeous little nuggets of multi-coloured Seaham sea glass have finally found homes that showcase their beauty. I love the subtle layers in this one.

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And the two colours in this one which only really reveal when you hold it up to the light.

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I put the blue nugget into a vintage silver tone cage pendant which you can find in my Etsy shop here.

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And the aqua/green multi into a silver cage pendant which can be found here.

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Then I added a fabulous lilac and clear multi to a vintage 800 silver pendant. I really love this one. The shape and colour of the sea glass fits so perfectly with the leaves.

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It’s in my Etsy shop here and was also one of the first things I Instagrammed!!

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A charity shop near the premises where my amateur theatre group meets has started leaving bits and pieces outside on the pavement at night for people to take. The other week when I arrived for a rehearsal (I’m currently directing Blackadder Goes Forth) I noticed an eclectic mix which included a child’s scooter and a fish tank! When I came out of rehearsal the scooter was gone, but it wasn’t until I was pulling out of my parking spot that I noticed something propped sadly up by the wall and half-hidden by the lonely fish tank. Something that was enough to make me brake and jump out of the car to rescue it.

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As I only have one frame like this and there is a very old and very long term project hogging it, I was over the moon to acquire a new (to me) frame. It’s missing one of the bolts but that should be easy enough to replace. The cross stitch design on it, which looks to be almost finished, must have taken hours.

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So sad that it ended up on the pavement, but the frame at least has gone to a good home. If anyone is interested in giving the cross stitch a good home then please drop me a message either in the comments or via email (scroll down to ‘Contact me at:’ on the right hand side of the blog) and I’ll happily post it out worldwide.

Like buses, these things never come along singly. I dropped off a bag of stuff at the charity shop yesterday and as I turned away from the counter, I spotted this sticking out of a miscellaneous box, priced up at £2.

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To be fair, it was the partly worked canvas work design which attracted me first and reminded me that I quite fancy doing a bit of canvas work.

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And what’s £2 these days? So now I have a frame I can actually use and a nice little piece of mounted up canvas work to have a play with.

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We went away for a week to the Lake District not long after the Alice Fox workshop. The work I’d done with papers and found objects really whetted my appetite to get back to some found object work of my own as part of the journal I usually make to hold the memories of our time away.

At the end of the first day I wandered along the edges of Langdale Beck while the children splashed about in the already low water levels (and this was in May, before the long hot June and July we’ve had in the UK.) I was delighted to find this crumpled piece of metal with holes already nicely placed for stitches in close shades of green silk.

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It went very well with a thickish piece of beautifully textured hand made paper with inclusions of leaves and stems.

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On a visit to Stott Park Bobbin Mill I was fascinated by the offcuts of wood thrown out by the different machines in the process of turning chunks of wood into bobbins. The initial machines created a basic bobbin shape from the blanks, shaving off pieces a few millimetres thick. So I picked up a few bits and made them into my own bobbins!

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The next process shaved the rough bobbin down to the proper shape, throwing out endless translucent ribbons of wood which piled up around us on the floor. I definitely needed some of that! Different woods behaved differently. The one towards the top split pretty much wherever I tried to fold it, whereas the paler one was more like paper, holding at least some of its bends and folds without splitting. I want to add some more needle weaving to vary the widths of the holding stitches and some ‘chips’ in a needlepoint ribbon to the background.

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Playing with a printed National Trust logo from a paper bag and some scraps of hand made paper.

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Later in the week we visited Honister Slate Mine and I picked up a few slate chips from the car park. I painted some more of the hand made paper with watercolour to echo the colour of the slate and just had a bit of a play.

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I’m really pleased with the way the paper echoes the texture of the rock.

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Free cross stitch in various silk threads to echo the rhododendrons of Stagshaw Gardens. This one just needs finishing.

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And at the end of the holiday, a quick beachcomb on the shores of Coniston Water revealed this lovely fragment of verdigrised copper which I mounted on two pieces of paper left over from my Alice Fox work.

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I really enjoyed finding objects I could stitch into and around and the relatively quick way many of them came together. And of course, the memories they have captured. Slightly different to some of my other holiday journals, but I like to be different!

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After Saturday’s talk, a whole Sunday workshop with Alice Fox. We had just been asked to bring our normal sewing kits plus threads, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, making it even more exciting. There was a tempting array of papers, threads and ephemera laid out…

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…along with some examples of Alice’s own work for inspiration. To start, we were each given a selection of different papers…

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…and a prompt sheet asking us to explore how it felt to stitch into them. I used a template from my silversmithing course five years ago to do some feather stitch in various weights of thread..

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I really liked the rough texture I got from putting stitching holes into the heavy tracing paper, so once I’d stitched through it, I used a metalworking scribe to mark wavy lines into the paper without piercing it before punching varying sized holes from either the front (smooth) or the back (rough).

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I really like the differences of line and texture on this. And it reminds me of the sea.

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The next prompt was cutting and patching.

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So a piece of old map cut along the grid lines became the fragment on the right.

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As you can see, by this time I had succumbed and made a little book for my fragments. It started off as an origami book, folded from a single piece of paper with one cut, but I wanted a bit more stability and to have access to all the sides of the pages, so I pamphlet stitched it in two places and tore the double pages into singles. Winging it, but it works.

Next was couching.  I followed the road and river lines on this scrap of map.

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By this time we were all engrossed in our own thing, and although there were two more prompts about deconstructing marked papers and accentuating printed marks, everyone was well away with their cutting, stitching, tearing, patching and experimenting.

At the end of the day we ended up with with a fascinating range of responses.

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Alice uses rusting quite a lot in her work and so when I got home to my rusty washers, I couldn’t resist some mark making on tea soaked paper.

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My little book was over half full by the time the workshop ended.

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With my rust and tea stained papers and these that I didn’t get round to exploring…

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…I have every intention of playing with some more of Alice’s prompts and completing my little book!

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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!

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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.

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