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Posts Tagged ‘embroidery’

The cross stitch motif piece I showed last week has progressed reasonably well. I was initially unsure about the sky, but as I moved round the tree, I was able to get the coverage more even – it’s turned out as more of a long and short stitch than a satin stitch in the end – and now I feel the combination of the motif and the hand embroidery is working.

I wanted the tree to have other greenery around it, so the next part of the ‘evolving in my head as I stitch’ plan was to add a tree on the right. I used free cross stitch, which I love using as it gives a very textured effect, with a split stitch trunk.

Then a bit more sky and french knot bushes on the lower left. I’m not sure whether to put a bit of another tree in the top left corner or leave it as just sky, so it’s stalled a bit while I wait for my subconscious to finish churning the possibilities over.

I’ve finally listed an embroidered upcycled brooch I made last November here in my Etsy shop. Not sure how it slipped through the net, but at least it’s there now. I love the subtle sparkles in the hand painted fabric and metallic thread but they are really difficult to photograph!

I’ve also made some more of the clock hands earrings, with a wintry blue and silver colour scheme. They’re not in my Etsy shop as I took them across to Arttopia in Cleethorpes this morning to restock my display. The aluminium hands are very light and the art glass beads at the top help to give them enough weight to hang nicely. It’s quite a balance to end up with a pair of earrings that are heavy enough to move with you but not so heavy that they pull on the ear lobe.

It seems to be a real struggle to get anything much done these days and Christmas fast approaching is generating its own pile of work! I’m looking forward to the after Christmas period before term starts when I can hopefully get back to the memory journals and other projects.

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Since half term at the end of October, I’ve finally been picking up some supply work. It’s been much needed financially but quite stressful with all the different Covid protocols that each school has and it’s difficult not to resent the way it’s eaten into my stitching and jewellery making time.

However, I realise I’m lucky to be getting work at all and so I’m working hard at appreciating a few minutes or a few stitches here and there and trying not worry about how slowly (if at all) some of my projects are moving.

So quick finishes are good, like the broken bracelet sections I upcycled into this sparkly pair of drop earrings with the addition of silver tone maple leaves and sterling silver ear hooks.

I’ve been taking some stitching into the schools where I’ve been working so I can take advantage of any spare lunchtime to sew. This initial will be filled with whipped running stitch stems and lazy daisy stitch flowers and leaves in variegated single strands of silk thread on silk dupion. It’s a potential workshop idea or if I’m not convinced, it might become a birthday card for my middle one.

I found this cross stitch motif which I must have stitched well over twenty years ago, in a workbox at the weekend.

I rather liked it. What if I could somehow stitch it onto another piece of fabric so none of the aida shows? The stylised cross stitch could be an interesting contrast with more textured embroidery stitches…

Subtly variegated silk thread french knots make great bushes and the sheen of the silk complements the more matte quality of the cotton thread I used for the tree.

Bushes and grass at the bottom are relatively easy but I can’t surround the whole tree in them, so now I’m experimenting with satin stitch sky. Apologies for the horrible photo. Today is grey and rainy and this is the best I could do indoors. The sky won’t end there. I might use a version of long and short stitch to extend it and I am planning some trees and/or clouds as well.

Making it up as I go along!

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Slow progress on the Reeds piece for my Kew Memory Journal but still progress – remembering to move forward one stitch at a time.

But other things have been happening. A beach day on the Lincolnshire coast with my youngest before she returned to school.

Experimenting with embroidery on a cut silk cocoon…

…and a chunk of driftwood.

At the moment it looks like an embarrassed octopus but I plan to add bead, pearl and coral dangles to the ends of the ‘legs’ and stick it down close to follow the contours of the driftwood chunk. I love the black scribbly spalting on the bottom. Then, hopefully, it will become a pendant.

I found a couple of commercial pouches when I was clearing out a box and offered them to the friend I made the pouches for a few months ago.

She asked me to add embroidery to the fronts so she could use them for tarot/oracle cards. A triskele on the silver one and a dragonfly on the indigo. Triskele first with a base layer of chain stitch in lovely heavy weight variegated green perle.

Then whipped in a green/pink/copper variegated perle to give it even more weight…

…before blanket stitching it onto the front of the pouch.

I’ve drawn the dragonfly out onto some shibori dyed cotton I did at a course years ago but have stalled looking for a scrap of iridescent fabric I want to use for the wings. I was sure I knew where it was, but am having an increasingly nasty feeling that I ‘tidied it away’ during the recent deep clean of the lounge…

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I seem to have had a spell where I keep finding the right pieces of jewellery to successfully upcycle and last week I managed a hat trick of embroidered pieces.

First of this batch to be upcycled was a vintage pendant mount I bought a while ago from the sales table at Guild and which has just turned up in the bottom of my sewing bag. I have a small bag of patchwork quilt trimmings which I bought a while ago from eBay and they are a great starting point for embroidered pendants like this one. I used the mount as a viewfinder to pick what I thought was the best area to embroider.

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And a few hours and a fair bit of unpicking later, I had an embroidered oval to go into the mount – with a thumb for scale!

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The kantha on the middle strip was an easy stitch, as was the lazy daisy floral section on the left, where I just followed the fabric pattern, but I had more of a problem with finding the right weight of both thread and stitch on the heavier fabric to the right. The Palestrina stitch in a teal perle was fine, but I tried various stitches in pink perle and pink stranded cotton which were just too heavy before I settled on more lazy daisy stitches in the same fine variegated silk as on the left. As the pendant had never been used it was easy to mount it into the frame using the folding metal tabs and very effective I think it looks too.

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Taking the embroidered section away from the rest of the patchwork enables you to really focus on the stitches and somehow the three completely different pieces of fabric become a harmonious whole. It’s currently available in my Etsy Shop here with free UK postage and packing.

Next to be upcycled was a lovely brass filigree brooch which seemed to be missing something in the middle. I had the very thing – a gold tone rope edged odd earring, also missing its middle. Despite probably a good forty plus year age gap, I think they go together perfectly.

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I embroidered some silk ribbon rosebuds onto a piece of silk carrier rod and gave them split stitch stems and lazy daisy leaves in fine silk thread…

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…before setting the tiny piece into the earring centre of the brooch.

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It was nice to do a variation on the blowsy ribbon roses I usually stitch and it’s now available here in the Upcycled Brooches section of my Etsy shop with free UK postage and packing.

The last of the week’s hat trick was an upcycled locket and this turned out so well I’m almost tempted to keep it. I’ve done a few lockets with rose bushes and trellises and I was keen to try some lavender. I chose a piece of my hand painted pelmet vilene which looked like a summer sky for a background…

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…and then chose some hand dyed stranded silk with a wonderful sheen for the flowers and a bluey green cotton thread which was a good match for the foliage. I’ve no idea where the green came from – I found literally one needle full in a tangle of oddments and was sweating the whole time I was stitching that I would have enough!

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The silver tone locket was a perfect setting.

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And it too, is available here in my Etsy shop with free UK postage and packing.

And a quick update – the Singer 28 is now with its new owner and she loves it. I think the lady from Number 12 would have been pleased…

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As regular readers will know, I am heavily involved in a local amateur dramatics group (Scunthorpe Little Theatre Club) and this time of year is panto time. As with last year I ended up doing costume again – hence the reason I’ve only just surfaced. This year it was Mother Goose, with a new script which I wrote as well as being Costume Mistress and Dame’s dresser. Not the least of my jobs was making hats for the goslings and trying to work out where was best to place the nostrils!

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But we’ve finished in theatre now – I just have every single costume (12 adults and 19 children, many with multiple costume changes) to wash and replace in our costume room.  It only took me until August last year…

But I did manage to design and stitch some Christmassy hoops for a workshop I taught before Christmas:

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And a single snowflake which I stitched in silk:

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The workshop, held at Jaylaurs, in Brigg was a great success. Just five ladies but they got on so well with the designs and two of them have since sent me lovely photos of their finished stitching.

I also had a go at chenille work, making a Christmas card for my parents. I started with a cardboard ring and used crewel work to stitch over it. Not satin stitch but coming up the same side and then going back over, to reduce the bulk at the back.

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It was a long slow job…

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…as it needed lots of layers to make sure I got the fluffy chenille effect at the end.

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Now the fun bit – the cutting. Carefully in the middle. That meant I could get the card shape out but left me with a distinct space where it wouldn’t cover the base fabric.

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Vintage trim to the rescue. I’ve had this particular very seventies trim since I was very young, when my mother would allow me a metre of ribbon or trim when she went to the local haberdashers, but not the sweets that like all small children I would have preferred! Anyway, sweets would not have solved my problem here but the trim that I’ve never used before did!

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I stitched it down with little gold beads between the ‘flower’ sections and added a hand made gold bow at the bottom.

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Very Christmassy and very pleased with it. (Was a nightmare to post though…!)

 

 

 

 

 

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After September’s AGM, Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild were back with needles in hand for our October Meeting, which is designated ‘Friendship Day’ in memory of the members we have lost over the years. It’s usually an all day workshop and often, as last Saturday’s was, run by our talented members.

This year, a small group led by Val introduced us to the world of embellished seam treatments and crazy quilting. I have done a fair bit of crazy patchwork, but I only ever use feather stitch along the seams and for me, it’s the embellishment of the patches which is the focus. My patches are also raw edged, unlike the neat seams of crazy quilting, so I was looking forward to doing something a bit more precise than my usual method of working!

It was a busy weekend on the am dram front as I organised both our annual Hallowe’en costumed trail at the local museum on the Friday and our first ever Spook-tacular Scare Walk in the grounds of Normanby Hall on the Sunday, so I grabbed the brown and indigo left overs from the Indigo Diamond quilt I made last June, a handful of toning threads and I completely forgot to pick up any needles! Thanks to Debbie for letting me scrounge some of hers.

First job was to cut three pieces of fabric and to stitch them onto a calico backing. As the block only consisted of three sections, we stitched the seams by hand, which was nice quiet repetitive work, especially when you can chat to friends while you’re doing it. As well as the blue and brown I also picked up one of my rust dyed fabrics for the third colour.  All ready to embellish the seams.

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I wanted to echo the curved lines in the rusted piece, so I used a cotton reel to trace half circles along my first seam, alternating between the blue and the rust, and used a heavy almost corded cotton thread in rusty browns to cover it in chain stitch.

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The thread was almost too heavy to use, but I love the effect.

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Next, to take it a bit further. I wanted something fan-like in the semi-circles so I decided on buttonhole wheels.

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Nice idea, but not happy with the execution. The wheel was a bit uneven, so I tried to hide it by filling the middle with a smaller, woven buttonhole wheel. Then I stitched the second one (on the right) and it came out much more like I had imagined.

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So the first one is in the process of coming out!

It was a lovely workshop. We constructed our blocks in the morning, leaving the afternoon for the creative fun of developing the seam treatments and there were some gorgeous results.

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Really looking forward to finishing this piece now Hallowe’en is out of the way!

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It was a real success.

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The weather was lovely and we had a steady stream of interested people through the doors to admire a room full of beautiful textile art including both people’s own projects…

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…and work from the last couple of years, such as the goldwork initials on the left.

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Bovver birds. (Wearing bovver boots…)

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Outcomes from Mary’s Sea Workshop:

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Chris Gray’s amulets:

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My Stitch Play:

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Competition Pieces:

Sandra’s beautiful heliotrope fan won the Regional Award for the Competition – ‘A flower beginning with…H’.

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And I believe this William Morris inspired competition entry on the left is Lynda’s. Each one of those sunflower petals is an individual free standing woven picot. Stunning!

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Some of our Alice Fox work:

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As well as more projects, new…

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…and old.

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And in one corner, my jewellery stall (complete with my budding archaeologist on the left). Upcycled jewellery on the left, original jewellery in the middle and beachcombed jewellery on the right among the driftwood.

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I half hoped I might sell a couple of bits, but in fact I sold nine items and had so many lovely compliments and conversations that it’s a wonder my head got through the door at the end of the day!  I am so grateful to the committee for suggesting I have a stall and I am definitely ready to do something like this again – I just have to find the right type of fair/market.

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For me, this blog is a place to express and explore my creativity and so I rarely talk about the other parts of my life, but those of you who have been around for a while will have probably worked out that I am, or was, a primary school teacher by trade. That was until just over three years ago when I was moved into the school’s Nurture Room to work one to one with a child who was unable to access classroom teaching due to some very complex needs. At the same time, the school’s Learning Mentor went off sick (and never returned) and I found myself covering her role.

I loved it. I managed a small team and for the first time found myself outside the toxic culture of the primary classroom, where nothing you do is ever good enough. I liaised with outside agencies and support services on behalf of our vulnerable children and families and designed and ran programmes to support children with a whole range of behavioural, emotional, social and mental health problems. It was the most interesting, creative and rewarding period of my entire working life.

Then last year the academy provider decided that the school would be better served by me returning to the classroom. When the current Y6 cohort, which contained some of our most challenging children, left there would (apparently) be no need for my role and the work I was doing three days a week would be covered by other members of staff (it hasn’t…). Bullshit. It was really just about saving money.

It broke my heart. I never even made it as far as the first day of term and spent eight months off work with stress and depression until I took redundancy in April. It was the biggest finish of my life, shutting the door on a nearly thirty year career.

I’m nowhere near retirement, so I need to turn my finish into some new beginnings and now I find myself like a child in a sweet shop, not knowing what to choose as there are so many things I love doing that could become potential careers.

I want to get back to writing. I have a second book of short stories ready to go, a novel I’m about a quarter of the way through, a panto script on the boil and an idea for a book about effective behaviour management techniques.

I also desperately want to carry on doing the sort of nurture/behaviour management stuff I was doing when I was working, perhaps as a consultancy. My behaviour management methods really work and I would love to be able to train and advise teachers, schools and teacher training courses.

And then there are all my creative things. I’m working on a couple of pieces of upcycled furniture at the moment which I am really excited about, as well as all my embroidery and my upcycled and original jewellery. I still love the mechanics of teaching and I’ve really enjoyed the workshops I’ve run at Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild.

It’s like trying to choose off an amazing menu. Each time I think I’ve settled on one path, I think about the others and get really excited about them and change my mind. So I’m not choosing. I’m going to try and work on all of them and see how and where that goes.

I’ve started working as a Primary Behaviour and Social-Emotional Support Specialist with some initial pro bono work for a friend to get my name out there and have updated my LinkedIn profile accordingly. It’s reminded me how much I relish the problem solving and enabling children in crisis to find strategies to help them.

I’ve also started offering textile/embroidery workshops and have already had a few enquiries, which is encouraging. I even designed a flyer to help with publicity so if you’re interested then please get in contact. I can do full days, half days and evenings and am happy to travel (in the UK).

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And then there is always Etsy, eBay, car boot sales and I’m hoping to find some markets and fairs to attend. I’m dipping my toe this Saturday when Scunthorpe branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild have our 21st birthday exhibition. Some very long time readers might recognise the embroidery on the poster – my North Cornwall Wallhanging!

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I’m having a stall with a range of beachcombed and original jewellery and also a selection of my upcycled jewellery which has been embroidered or is textile-based in some way. I’ve read reams of stuff on how to have a successful hand made stall and have everything crossed. It will be fun!

 

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Some of the near finishes I blogged about recently in ‘Brooches etc‘ have become actual finishes!

First the Chris Gray amulet from summer 2016. It’s gone from this:

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To this:

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I sandwiched the felt backed front and a piece of black felt for the back on either side of a piece of very firm stiffener than Chris provided us with to give the amulet body. Then I blanket stitched the three pieces together with the same variegated thread I used for the seeding stitches.

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I added a ribbon loop at the top and a cluster of beads, chains, sea glass, shell etc at the bottom from an assortment of broken jewellery.  The long blue tyvek or similar bead was one of two we were all given as part of the original workshop.

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The Knot Gardens pendant is also finished. I coloured the pelmet vilene around the knots to look like soil/paths and sandwiched both knots together with another circle of vilene inside to make it thick enough to sit in the swivel part of the fob properly.

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It’s in my Etsy shop here.

I also completed the second of my autumn leaves embroidered and beaded brooches. The first had a green and copper bead surround:

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The second has a fiery gold and orange sunburst surround. I love doing these beaded edgings – they work up quickly and look really effective. I’ve got my fish name badge to do next.

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And lastly, an empty watch face pendant and a piece of embroidered felt came together to create another upcycled pendant which is on Etsy here.

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It’s really good to get so many quick finishes sorted, or may be it’s displacement activity because I have some mending that needs doing…!

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Embroidery as promised. I not only finished off the faux driftwood piece I stitched at our sea-themed Embroiderers’ Guild March workshop…

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…but also found a framed ceramic plaque for £1 in a charity shop which after a bit of sanding and dry brushing with some pale blue emulsion paint yielded the perfect frame.

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The beaded fish is now nearly a name badge. I just need to add a brooch back, ladder stitch the two sections together and bead it round the edge.

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On Saturday it was our April Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild meeting and an opportunity to revisit the embroidery we produced in March after Mary’s workshop. It was lovely to see such a variety of outcomes.

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This was followed by a fascinating talk by Alice Fox, learning about her creative journey and focusing on her ‘Findings’ body of work. Anyone who beach and pavement combs and turns the oddments she finds into works of art is a woman after my own heart. We had a workshop booked with her on the Sunday but I’m going to blog about that separately.

I’ve also been embroidering more pieces of silk carrier rod to inlay into upcycled jewellery – two lockets and a pendant. The pendant was first: vibrant green carrier rod with a crimson ribbon embroidery rose circled by five little leaf stitch leaves.

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This went beautifully with a stamped filigree brass frame to become June Rose.

Then I moved onto the smaller of two gold tone lockets. I used a wintry blue carrier rod and embroidered it with tiny snowflakes in two weights of silk thread. 20180426_114304_HDR.jpg

It really is very small – the central oval is about 2cm by 1.5cm and the finest thread is thinner than normal sewing cotton. The snowflakes aren’t quite well stitched as I wanted, but embroidering something that intricate freehand was quite a challenge.

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Snowflakes is available here.

For the second locket I returned to a familiar design, an undersea landscape of waving feather stitch fronds of coral or seaweed and tiny nuggets of sea glass.

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I chose a variegated pink and turquoise thread as a starting point and teamed it with turquoise/blue carrier rod, three nuggets of multi-coloured Seaham sea glass and a couple of darker pink threads.

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The Coral Garden locket is quite a bit bigger than the Snowflakes locket at about 4 by 4.5cm. I really like the colour combination. I wouldn’t have necessarily put the two colours together but they worked so well in the variegated thread.

I really love stitching these little vignettes and using them to make bits of junk jewellery into things of beauty again.

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