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Posts Tagged ‘finishing’

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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Our branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild is having an exhibition at the end of June and a week last Saturday was the deadline for handing in completed pieces of work from the last couple of years to the organisers. We had very helpfully been given a list of all the meetings and workshops to jog our memories so I went down the list, annotating each one as to whether I hadn’t been at the meeting, hadn’t finished it or if it was finished, where it was. There seemed to be two main outcomes – didn’t finish, or made into a card and sent to somebody! The only finished pieces I could lay my hands on for the last two years were my faux driftwood piece…

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…the Chris Gray amulet…

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…and the Brazilian embroidery rose I’d made up into a card but not sent because I couldn’t bear to part with it!

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So it ended up a busy week, so busy that I forgot to photograph both the nuno felting which I turned from this:

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…into a simple seascape and a piece of the paper stitching we did with Alice Fox recently which I mounted as a card.

The kantha fish…

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…was the first to be finished by stitching him onto a piece of indigo dyed fabric with rows of running stitch that merged into the kantha and then mounting over a 7 x 5 inch canvas.

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I also finished a selection of little stitched fragments for my Alice Fox book.

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But the really big finish was my English paper piecing. I get bored easily with the piecing process and when we did the workshop, I chose small equilateral triangles – probably not the best shape in the circumstances! At the end of the day I had a pile of triangles in shades of browns and indigo and absolutely no idea what to do with them.

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Seeing the workshop on the list I wondered if it was even possible to finish the project, but I had what promised to be a lengthy committee meeting that week and repeatedly stitching together triangles looked like the perfect way of passing the time. It was: by the end of the meeting I had all the finished triangles stitched together and an idea very firmly in my head.

Without using half triangles the shapes you can make with equilateral triangles are rather limited, so I created a diamond which I planned to stitch onto this gorgeous piece of hand dyed indigo with some quilt wadding in between and a plain piece of indigo dyed cotton for the backing.

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My trusty Frister and Rossmann coped easily with quilting through all the various layers along the lines of the triangles.

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Then I joined a number of strips of woodland themed fabric in three different brown colourways to get enough and had a go at a tutorial I found online (where else?!) for adding a binding with mitred corners as you go. It worked!!

 

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I tidied the ends up, wrote (no time to embroider) a label…

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…added a hanging sleeve and couched some glittery thread around the edge of the diamond to hide the line where I had machined it down. In hindsight and with more time I would have appliqued it invisibly to the top.

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From a handful of triangles…

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…to a mini quilt…

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…in about three days. I still can’t believe it!

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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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Sometimes things stall so close to completion that you wonder later how and why you ran out of steam when so little more effort was needed to get a finish. This pendant is a case in point. When I finished my silversmithing course last year it was at this stage:

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All it needed was a piece of drilled sea glass to go in the hole and it was finished. It was at that point that I learned that drilling sea glass is an art and trying to drill a nugget the size of a very scrawny pea is an art currently beyond me. After a morning and several pieces of sea glass wasted, I gave up and decided that a bead would do fine.

But it wasn’t until last week that I actually bothered to go in search of a suitable bead and found some vintage faux pearls which graduate from a shade very close to the colour of the gilding metal to a soft verdigris green.

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It took all of 5 minutes to mount the bead on a headpin and then into the pendant. Another 5 minutes to find the hand-dyed ribbon I’d planned to go with it and 15 more to list it here in my Etsy shop.

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And the rest of the day wondering why I hadn’t done it months ago!

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Thank you all very much for your advice and suggestions for how to complete my nine patch of back stitched spider’s web stitches. Lots of laying out and living with different threads ensued but it was the comment about liking the colour of the blank squares that really struck a chord.  I found this lovely Caron thread…

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…which was perfect – it’s very close in tone value to the grey but with the variegation of the black/purple.

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In fact, with my glasses off, and the details of the stitching thoroughly blurred, it almost looks like the original colour of the fabric.

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Now it’s time for the making up. it was originally designed as a coin purse, but I saw someone else in our Guild had made theirs into a needle case, which is quite tempting too. Decisions, decisions…

 

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Or I might make it into a hair clip. I’ve no memory of making the little dark brown felted dreadlock that forms the basis of this spiral brooch, but I found it in the pile of unfinished things I’ve been working through over half term.

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It rolled up easily and neatly and a selection of gold, amber and blue beads worked together very well for the edging.

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That was short and sweet. (Wish they were all like that!)

Next!

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It was over a year ago that I started an Elizabethan scissor case at one of our Embroiderers’ Guild workshops. I stitched the rose petals in the session, worked most of the rest of the embroidery fairly quickly after and even got as far as putting on the spangles. And there I hesitated. I wasn’t sure about the density of the spangles, so I added some more seed beads on their own and then stalled. It wasn’t right.

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I did find some cotton for the lining that I preferred to the fabric in the kit, but over the last year, that’ s all I did.

However, I’ve had a few days away and thanks to some horrible and typically British weather, been able to get a fair bit of sewing done. Firstly, the scissor case. The beads were completely wrong, so they came out. and then I stitched the finished front to a matching triangle of the lining fabric.

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I love this gentle autumn leaves print and it tones well with the brown of the stems.

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After ladder stitching the opening I’d turned it through closed, I then brought the sides to the back and ladder stitched that closed as well.

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In the end, there were more than enough spangles for the front, but I do wish I had brought them a bit closer to the point.

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Inside looks very cosy!

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And it’s the perfect place for one of my pairs of embroidery scissors.

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So pleased to have this off the hoop and finished.

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