Posts Tagged ‘brass’

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.

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In my bedroom I have a grotty inherited two drawer chest of IKEA drawers which is only still there because it holds an inordinate amount of fabric. I’ve been looking vaguely for a replacement for some time, preferably one with a few more drawers in it… I imagine I’m not the only person who is always looking for more storage!

I love 60s/70s teak furniture with simple stylish lines and was delighted to find the perfect item in one of our local charity shops. So, for £40 including delivery, I have become the proud owner of nearly double the amount of storage in the form of this lovely teak veneered chest of drawers made by the Somerset based company Avalon.


I’ve been watching far too many upcycling programmes and although it was clean and serviceable, I couldn’t resist trying to restore it to its original glory. It had obviously been standing in sunlight and the finish was badly faded and the top had the usual quota of water stains, dints etc.


So, out with the sander and caution as among the information I’d been able to turn up online about Avalon furniture were warnings about the relative thinness of the veneer compared with other bigger names of the day such as Nathan and G-Plan.

The light varnish came away easily and I was easily able to sand out the damage to the top. The sides also came up really well too and I was over the moon at the beauty of the wood.


Then out with the Danish Oil and…wow. Just wow. I could not believe the depth and beauty of the natural colour of that wood. I haven’t used a stain to get that colour, just clear Danish Oil.


I am so in love! I also discovered that the solid wood legs unscrew (WIN!) so I was able to unscrew them and give them a proper sand, stain and polish. The carcass has had three coats of oil and been buffed up with a beeswax polish and I just have the drawer fronts to do when I get a nice day which isn’t perishingly cold. Working outside at this end of the year is a bit of a lottery!

As the recent snow and chilly weather has brought a halt to the chest of drawers, I turned my attention to upcycling jewellery which is a much warmer indoor activity. Buoyed up by the successful result I got from upcycling a couple of pairs of odd earrings into a unique necklace, I selected some more oddments and let my imagination loose.

Firstly, two brass earrings.


I completely deconstructed the bottom one into the chain and the hammered brass leaves and removed the bottom curve and fringe section of the top one to form the bib section of the necklace.


To finish it, I added some more gold coloured chain and some odd brass and blue glass beads.


And ended up with this: my Bold as Brass necklace.


I forgot to take a photo of the original earrings that went to make up this one, but the elements I reused were the laminated abalone teardrops and the central cloisonne teardrop bead.


With the addition of various lengths of silver tone chain and some toning cats eye beads, I created Sea Greens.


And finally, the left over beads from this earring, which had provided most of the components for a necklace already…


…were added to a gorgeous art glass bead to make a tassel pendant.


The pendant was then hung on a chain made, again, from oddments of reused silvertone chains and the last beads from the earring; each individually threaded onto headpins to make a feature where one chain section changes to another.


The result looks like this!


The embroidery, I’m afraid, is all still under wraps until December’s Guild meeting, but if you like the jewellery, it’s all in my Etsy shop here along with dozens of other vintage, original and beachcombed pieces.

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It is high time I started to practise my metal-working skills again so I decided to start small, cutting out a rose leaf shape from sheet brass and piercing it with holes before I textured it with the hammer.


Then I used some green perle and using the holes, put in the foundation stitches for a woven spider’s web which I worked in a gorgeous variegated pink and green silk ribbon.


It worked out perfectly so I had a green centre shading out to the deep pink edge. I neatened it up with a piece of pink kid leather over the back and added a jump ring to turn it into a sweet little mixed media pendant.


One of my Christmas presents was a Dremel engraver so I had a bit of a play with that, first using one of the included stencils to add a rustic star shape to a piece of sea glass which I then turned into a pendant.


Then I moved on to a piece of reticulated brass which I created on the silversmithing course I took in Sheffield a few years ago. I had deliberately worked the reticulation from either end of the piece of brass in order to leave a smooth bridge between them for some text. Finally, I had the tool to add the lettering!

I used uncial script and the H of ‘haven’ looks a bit like an R, unfortunately, but I really like the way the engraver worked on the brass.


I turned this into yet another pendant and gave it a lovely vintage sari silk strip ribbon to hang from in crimson and gold.


My other Christmas present thanks to some vouchers was a doming set and I was dying to have a go at doming some old coins that I’d accumulated. Tiny bronze British decimal half pennies seemed to work best and I combined one that I’d hammered into a hemisphere with a ‘cornflake’ of reticulated brass that I’d also domed. I drilled them both through the middle and chose an odd stud earring with purple diamantes like stamens of a flower to connect them together.



I’ve got a piece of fantastically patterned gilding metal to which I hope to attach the ‘flower’ which I can then turn into a brooch. It’s been good to play with metal again!

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Not much more to see with the blue crazy patchwork, but I have been upcycling/making jewellery again.

First was a simple brushed stainless steel pendant, probably 1970s. I had various ideas for embroidery to add to it, mostly on a second smaller disc, hanging from a jump ring through the top hole, but when I went looking for a jump ring, I found one of my hand cut reticulated brass discs and that was that.

Reticulated brass and stainless steel pendant

I love the contrasts – silver/gold and smooth/textured.

Then I rethreaded the remains of a vintage white glass bead necklace and the oddments from a gorgeous very dark red glass bead necklace along with some odd black and black/white lampwork beads to make this:

Black and white glass bead necklace 1

I love that the dark red beads (the flat faceted rondelles) are so intense in colour that they look black unless they catch the light just right and then they are the most mouthwatering crimson.

Black and white glass bead necklace 2

They’re both in my Etsy shop here.

If you enter TOPAZ1 at the checkout from now until the 20th of December 2014 then you can get 20% off any item in my shop – vintage, upcycled or handmade jewellery.

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I missed Under A Topaz Sky’s third anniversary in May so decided that since I was relatively close to 300 posts, I’d have a giveaway to celebrate that milestone instead.

I’ve been finishing more of the projects I started last year on my silversmithing course, including the plans I had for these brass domes. Hammered…

Hammered brass domes


…and impressed with embroidered fabric.

Impressed brass domes

They have finally been pierced and attached to silk cocoons to make unusual and quirky pendants.

Brass and silk cocoon pendants 1

There are two colours: red and ultramarine blue, and two types of finish on the domes, hammered and impressed.

To celebrate my 300th post, I’m going to give away one of these unique little pendants. The winner can choose from: crimson red with a hammered dome or vermillion with an impressed dome…

Brass and silk cocoon pendants 2

…or ultramarine blue with a hammered dome…

Brass and silk cocoon pendants 3

…or ultramarine with an impressed dome.

Brass and silk cocoon pendants 4

They have brass jump rings attached as a bale and I’ll include a ribbon or thong or something similar as well.

If you would like to enter the giveaway then just leave a comment below and I’ll draw a winner out of something suitable next Thursday, October 2nd 2014. Good luck!

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The reticulated brass paisley shape at the heart of the design was attached using a modified curve stitching pattern.

Paisley brooch - finishing 1

And then it was time for the making up.

Paisley brooch - finishing 2

I cut and laminated together two piece of pelmet vilene the same size as the overall shape and laced the design over them. I covered another single piece of vilene in the blue silk, stitched a brooch back to it and then ladder stitched the two covered pieces together.

Paisley brooch - finishing 3

The basic shape is a kidney shape, which made getting the fabric to evenly go into the dent of the kidney quite challenging and even after my best efforts, there’s still a slight pucker on the back.

Fortunately the french knot edging on the front hides any imperfections.

Paisley brooch - finishing 4

And boxed ready to join my other completed pieces.

Paisley brooch - finishing 5

My summer holiday job is to open an etsy shop for my jewellery. Watch this space.

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I love paisley shapes – one of my favourite parts of my North Cornwall Wallhanging is this little paisley design:

North CVornwall wallhanging paisley design

So after the first failed attempt to attach a reticulate brass disc with shisha stitch I decided to embroider a paisley design with the disc at its centre. I used a design I’d found on the internet that I liked and because the sapphire coloured silk I was using was too dark for me to mark the design onto it, I stitched three elements straight through the paper: a yellow silk split stitch inner shape, running stitch (to whip later) in the middle and yellow silk french knots round the outside.

Paisley brooch 1

The stitches were close enough to have perforated the paper really densely so it was very easy to remove and I could begin to fill in the gaps. with more french knots…

Paisley brooch 2

…chain stitch…

Paisley brooch 3

Paisley brooch 4

…and feather stitch.

Paisley brooch 5

I tried the disc in place but with everything else following the paisley shape, it looked wrong, so I cut a piece of reticulated brass to match the central shape.

Paisley brooch 6

Laid in place to get an idea of the finished piece.

Paisley brooch 7

Just some french knots to add, the brass to attach and the finishing to do.

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