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Archive for the ‘Upcycling’ Category

Much to my surprise and delight, the Chihuly chandelier is working! I’ve not done very much more as there have been a lot of other time-sensitive things this week, but all of a sudden, I can see my way clear. I realised that the edges of the ‘frilly plates’ were quite pointy-looking, like the points of the spokes of the back-stitched spider’s webs, so I’m not filling the spokes completely to echo this.

I’m so pleased with the way its coming together that I’m slightly resentful that other things have kept me away from it and also rather sheepish that it stalled for so long in the first place…

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about this underwater scene which I’d stitched onto dyed pelmet vilene and set into a silver Victorian coin brooch. I just felt the seaweed was a bit flat on its own and it needed a bit of something else.

One of the ideas I threw out was to add a silver fish and the more I thought about it, the more it felt like the answer. I had some tiny offcuts of textured eco-silver left over from the band of a ring I’d created when I did my silversmithing course back in 2013.

The right hand side of the bottom piece already looked a bit like a fish, so I used that line as a starting point and I carefully cut my fish shape out.

I filed, polished and refined it and added a simple drilled hole for an eye.

I realised that it needed to go behind at least some of the seaweed, so I took out one of the lines of feather stitch, put the fish in place and stitched the feather stitch back over the top.

I also added another line of Palestrina stitch in Sylko thread to hold the tail down before setting it in the brooch.

There was a little tube on the back of the brooch and it occurred to me that if I could get a jump ring through it, then I could make it transform into a pendant as well which would give it twice the opportunity to be worn. In the end it needed two jump rings, but I think they work well as a bale and a silver chain completes the transformation.

Unfortunately this weekend hasn’t been the best time to take decent photographs of it!

This is going to be a piece that will be very hard to part with and it was so good to get back to the silversmithing again. I’ve called it the ‘Silver Darling’ and it’s in my Etsy shop here.

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It’s been slow and very steady but I’ve made a start on February’s Move It On Project! One of the ideas I’d had for representing the fluted plates of the chandelier was to crochet miniature circles in some wonderful Mulberry silk thread that I’ve been saving for a special occasion with one of my collection of tiny Victorian steel crochet hooks.

As I was making a prototype and wasn’t really sure if it would work or not, I ended up using a coton a broder rather than potentially damaging the precious silks. I made a simple chain ring and then added rounds of double crochet, finishing with little chain picots and it worked!

Happy that crochet circles were going to work for the 3D element of the chandelier, I went back to thinking about what I wanted for the surface stitching. Initially I was thinking about using woven spiders web stitches, but when I looked more carefully at the fluted circles, I realised they are quite heavily ridged.

So more like a back stitched spiders’ web. And there is the added advantage that you can work partial back stitched spider’s webs, which would work for the elements that are side on. The crochet circle isn’t in the final position, just there for scale.

It all looks a bit sparse and not very flamboyantly Chihuly at the moment, but the most important thing for me is that it’s a start.

Most of the rest of my stitching this week has been very uninteresting. Needlelace samples for a workshop and trying to put together kits for the Ribbon Rose brooches which at the moment just looks like a pile of papers and boxes!

But I have finished a couple of pieces of upcycled jewellery. First is a lovely pair of broken vintage Mexican silver clip on earrings which had had the clips sheared off. I filed the rough edges away and then drilled a couple of holes in the top of the silver settings and attached a pair of new silver earhooks. They can be found here in my Etsy shop.

Then I removed the mechanism from a lovely single 1950s French jet (black glass) clip on earring and combined it with a vintage 1970s stainless steel ring blank to make what I think is a very elegant cocktail ring. The facets really make it glitter when it catches the light. It’s here in my Etsy shop.

I’ve also turned some lovely vintage teddy bear buttons into stud earrings.

They may be a bit battered and worn but I think they are still very cute!

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The project I’ve chosen to focus on for this month’s Move It On is a relatively new one and the reason that my Kew Memory Journal has stalled. I’ve already done four of the six pieces for it and last spring I started the fifth, based on a photo I took of one of Dale Chihuly’s Persian Chandeliers which was installed in the Temperate House at Kew Gardens in 2019.

I drew out the pattern of the glazing bars on a piece of indigo dyed cotton and as of last April, using thin white ribbon for the thicker bars and whipped back stitch for the thinner ones, had got as far as this:

The fun bit was next – creating the frilly circles of the chandelier – but at this point I froze up because I didn’t think I could stitch anything that comes close to representing Chihuly’s amazing art. I had various ideas about making wired edged needle lace slips, crochet circles using my tiny Victorian metal crochet hook and woven spiders web stitches. I reminded myself that I was only aiming for my impression of the chandelier but I was really reluctant to start and instead, put it to one side.

So this is where the Move It On project will hopefully help. By the end of the month I should know whether I can make this work or whether I abandon it and create a different fifth piece for the Memory Journal. The hard bit is going to be actually making that start!

As I’ve had the Inktense blocks out, colouring some pelmet vilene for the Ribbon Rose Brooch kits, I thought it was the ideal opportunity to stitch an embroidered centre for a silver Victorian brooch I’ve had for some time. I think these type of brooches were originally designed to be set with coins, but the empty frame makes an ideal surround for a piece of miniature textile art!

I went with my favourite colour palette and one of my favourite themes as there are so many stitches which suggest waving seaweed such as the feather stitch and threaded chain stitch…

…and a line of Palestrina stitch to fill in the gap on the right.

I’m very happy with the stitching but I feel it’s a bit flat, so I’m toying with ideas for a bit of extra dimensionality. I think it might be a bit too small to add even very tiny pieces of sea glass so I was thinking beads or possibly picots at the bottom. Or possibly a little silver fish… Any thoughts?

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It’s been a very busy and full-on weekend at Normanby Hall Christmas Market, my last one of the season!

It was somewhat of a mixed bag but I did sell a few of my stitched pieces. They take so long to sell that I do feel quite lost when they actually go! One of the first sales on Saturday was this underwater themed locket:

I also sold the midsummer garden brooch I stitched back in January:

And this beaded brooch I made back in 2018 which was originally an enamelled 1980s earring:

It was far too cold to stitch on Saturday but Sunday was warmer and quieter and I got a little bit of another Bayeux Stitch project done, but not much. It’s also quite gloomy inside the stall at this time of year which doesn’t help stitch placement!

However, I have finished the jelly fish. Thank you all so much for your input. Everything is helpful because it gives me a wider menu of things to consider, and it’s useful to have ideas of what I don’t want as well as ideas of what I do! Anyway, here is the result:

I realised last week that the first row of bugle beads under the bell weren’t stitched down, and that it would potentially be possible to slide something underneath. After communing with my gold work supplies box, I found a piece of textured silver kid leather, cut it into shape and carefully worked it under the beads. It was big enough to push down under the edge of the row of grey seed beads and then I put some tiny stab stitches into place all the way round to stop it moving.

It’s exactly what I wanted and not only is it a finish (apart from lacing it over a slip of cardboard) but it’s meant I could clear the very large pile of bead tubes and silver goldwork threads from my work area too.

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Just finished the weekend’s Artisan Christmas Market at the Collection in Lincoln and I’m delighted to say that it was very successful, not just in terms of selling, but more importantly affirming that people are interested in both what I make and my ethos and there is definitely a market out there for unique upcycled jewellery. I had become quite demoralised with the lack of sales online and in the two galleries that stock my work and this has been a real boost.

I sold so many pairs of earrings on the Saturday that I came home and made some more to take on the Sunday, including some studs based on some vintage self-cover buttons that I unearthed in time honoured fashion while looking for something else! I had flattened out some quite flimsy bead caps and thought that two layered over each other looked like a snowflake, so while I stood behind the stall on the Saturday I stitched them onto some scraps of ultramarine blue silk dupion.

When I got home I finished off the button parts, removed the loops and added sterling silver posts and butterflies.

As I have dozens of these bead caps and another four buttons, I decided to make another pair, this time layering green chiffon from a scrap of an old sari over a piece of red silk satin.

However, the third pair is still in the planning stage and it will be different. After having made two very similar pairs, boredom set in – I really do have the attention span of a goldfish!

I decided not to add the diamantes to the mandala pendant. I laced it over a circle of felt and a circle of pelmet vilene and made a plain version of the back. At the moment I’m wondering whether to give it a beaded edge (beaded blanket stitch or a fringed edge) or leave it plain.

However, I think the prevaricating about how to finish the edging is a bit of displacement activity to mask the real issue. As you can see against my hand, it’s quite a statement piece (translation: probably a bit too big) and I’m having serious doubt about whether anyone would actually want to wear it as a pendant. I was planning to make some bag charms/key rings and I was wondering whether it would be more commercial if I did something similar with this. At the moment I could see it with a chunky tassel hanging from a bureau key or a cupboard door knob more than I could a pendant. Any thoughts?

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…and goodbye to Baby Leaf-Tailed Dragon. I finally laced him over the mounting board this week, labelled him and he was presented to the director of our Autumn 2019 production this weekend. Sad to see him go but glad that it’s one job not hanging over my head any more!

With stock drops to do at Arttopia and Bricktree Gallery in Caistor, my attention has been on creating upcycled jewellery that will hopefully have a Christmas party appeal.

Two broken bracelets have provided some useable sections for earrings and an earring and pendant set. Unfortunately I keep forgetting to take ‘before’ photos so you’ll have to use your imagination to reconstruct the original piece! The first one was made up from alternating silver crosses and abalone panels and I managed to salvage four sections – enough for two pairs of earrings. These ones worked perfectly with a couple of silver tone wing charms.

And I chose a couple of lovely art glass beads to tone in with the colours of the abalone for this pair.

I only managed to salvage three sections from this gold tone and diamanté bracelet but I’m very pleased with the earrings and pendant set I created from them.

Then I teamed four odd bracelet panels with some royal purple faux pearl beads to match the amethyst coloured diamantés in the middle of the panels.

I used the embroidered and sequinned black sari fabric disc I created a few months ago…

…along with a brass bale I made back in 2013 on my silversmithing course to create a pendant. It’s made of two discs of fabric gathered over circles of felt and pelmet vilene and then ladder stitched together so it’s light and easy to wear. I’m glad the bale has finally found a home too.

I did manage to take a photo of this bracelet before I upcycled it into a pendant and a pair of statement earrings. It was missing some of the diamantés and felt quite fussy, so I split it into three pieces.

First I separated out the central poinsettia shaped section and tidied up the rough edges at the back before drilling a hole into the edge of one petal for a jump ring bale and adding a reclaimed chain with a slightly worn gold plating to echo the pale gold coloured mesh in the middle of the petals.

I reset the missing diamantés in the other sections of the bracelet and added hanging loops to turn them into a pair of statement earrings. I ran out of clear diamantés in the right size so used some icy blue ones for the top which I think gives them a subtle pop of colour.

It seems that as fast as I complete one upcycle I find something else in a box which fires my imagination and replaces it in the to-do section of my desk. At the moment I’m creating some wintry mandala pendants by stitching found objects onto fabric scraps. It’s so exciting when the ideas are coming this thick and fast. Just a pity that work and life seem to get in the way..

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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.

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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…!

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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.

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