Posts Tagged ‘experimenting’

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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First of all, Happy New Year to you all!  As promised, now the holiday period is out of the way, some more images of the stitch play workshop I ran at our December Embroiderers’ Guild meeting. I managed to stitch and mount four example pieces which between them showcase 48 different stitches, many of which were completely new to me.


I provided everyone with a two-page worksheet containing the instructions and sixteen simple shapes from leaves and flowers to a star, bird, Christmas tree, heart etc to use as the base for their stitch play.  The results were fabulous.


The background felt for Janet’s little robin was sparkly, which isn’t obvious in the photo, but made him look very festive!








Pauline combined the stitch play idea with a felt project she already had on the go.


All my pieces were stitched on light coloured felt so I could use a marker to keep my lines straight and equidistant, but pencil/markers don’t show up dark coloured felt so I made note of Sally’s use of guideline tacking stitches to keep her work level.









I admire the bravery of anyone, who like Christina, has a go at Rosette Chain Stitch, especially in stranded cotton!




Don’t know why this one insists on going sideways!



Mary was also working on a project which lent itself to the stitch play.


As a workshop it seemed to go down very well indeed. Pretty much everybody tried at least one stitch they hadn’t worked before/hadn’t worked for some time and everyone, from the most to the least experienced of us, was able to work and achieve at our own rate and ability level, which is what I had hoped would happen. :o)

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After completing the ruched brooch I made with supplies from my Dad’s shed, I still had some scraps of the muslin left. Inspired by the Casalguidi workshop, I decided to add some random pulled work to one of the scraps using four sided stitch and eyelets.


That reminded me that I hadn’t rusted anything for a while and I had some gorgeous bits of rusty iron just begging to be wrapped. I think those big spirals may be part of an old clock mechanism.


After a week or so outside in the alternate pouring rain and baking sun of a typical British summer:



Lots of possibilities!

I’ve also done a little more of the blue work piece and the second shaded flower is nearly completed.



Getting there slowly…

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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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This was the intriguing title of our full day workshop with Josie Storey at Embroiderers’ Guild last Saturday, so armed with some very lush velvet and the usual sewing stuff I headed off without any real idea of what I was going to be doing!

The technique we were going to be playing with involved ironing prepainted bondaweb onto velvet and then using the stickiness to embellish with anything and everything to create a rich textured surface.

I started with some gorgeous Oliver Twists hand dyed velvet called ‘Stormy Seas’ and so I had to go for wave shapes,

Lush plush and crush 1

with silk waste, carrier rod strippings

Lush plush and crush 2

and scraps of painted melted plastic.

Lush plush and crush 3

Lush plush and crush 4

By this point I’d decided this was going to be the next piece in my travelling book, so when I got home I layered it up with wadding and calico and quilted round the wave shapes with my sewing machine. From this:

Lush plush and crush 5

to this:

Lush plush and crush 6

No hand embroidery – yet…

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I saw the idea for covering a large focal bead with crazy patchwork some time ago and it was something that I knew I wanted to have a go at, but it wasn’t until I found a very large wooden bead a week or so ago while hunting for something else that I had my chance.

First I pieced together some scraps of silk in greens and browns.

Crazy patchwork bead 1

Then I used feather stitch in single strands of brown silk to secure the patches to the calico backing and started to embellish the first patch with spirals of kantha stitch in a variegated blue-green-brown silk thread.

Crazy patchwork bead 3

It looks more blue in the photos than in real life.

Crazy patchwork bead 3

Just need to work out what I’m doing on the other sections now. As it’s going to be a pendant drop, I want the embroidery to be flat, rather than raised, which counts out several favourite go-to stitches!

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I’ve been looking forward to the January meeting of our branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild as it’s the start of our travelling books project. I’ve always been interested in the idea of round robins and I’m really looking forward to not only getting my own book back in 6 months time, but also to stretching my creative practice by working in other people’s books within their rules.

We’ve all started with a spiral bound A5 sketchbook to which I need to add a cover, especially as I managed to drop some chutney on it from my lunch… I’m going to have a welcome and guidelines page on the back of the front endpaper and then there was a spare page facing, so I’ve started to put my name and quick contact details there in Zentangle style. (There are full contact details on the inside of the back cover)

Contact details page

Then I started on my first piece. I’ve decided that I’d like a theme to my travelling book and so have chosen one close to my heart – the sea. This of course, led to play-time with the bagful of glass I beachcombed from Polperro last summer.

Travelling book sea glass 1


I’m sure you’ve noticed that there’s something a little odd about some of the nuggets in the photo above. If you look closer…

Travelling book sea glass 2


…there are imposters…

Travelling book sea glass 3

…in hand dyed silk and indigo shibori cotton.

Travelling book sea glass 4

The background fabric is a lovely natural coloured scrim and I plan to use pulled thread work around the pieces of ‘sea glass’ and ‘pottery’ to give the impression of them being scattered in the sand of the beach.

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