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Posts Tagged ‘silk cocoons’

It all started with this odd earring. It’s not a very good image because it’s already partly disassembled (I got all excited and forgot to take a photo before I attacked it with the pliers!), but you can hopefully see that it’s made up of three pairs of brass leaf shaped sections that made me think of flower calyxes.

That was enough to spark off an idea for a pendant and a pair of earrings using silk cocoons for the main part of the flower with a brass calyx on top of each one.

Pendant first. I made a set of beaded stamens by threading some random sequences of blue and gold bugle and seed beads onto Nymo and then knotting the ends onto the loop of a headpin and setting it all with a blob of superglue. This is my third cocoon. I discovered the hard way that the silk on its own wasn’t robust enough to cope with having a headpin put through it and I had to use a layer of glue to strengthen the fibres.

But the result was worth it. The little ‘hat’ section from the earring makes an effective calyx for a fantasy flower. It’s available here in my Etsy shop.

For various reasons, I didn’t get round to the earrings until today. I managed to find an almost identical pair of silk cocoons and they really are this red! you also get a better idea of how the brass ‘calyxes’ look from this photo.

Beaded stamens again, this time in greens and golds.

The silk cocoons are really light so although the drops are quite large at 5cm long and 2cm in diameter, they are a lovely weight and not too heavy to wear. I’m hoping to get them listed in my Etsy shop shortly when I can get some more photos of the details.

It seems ages since I had a good jewellery making spell and after finishing these earrings today I was feeling really inspired. It’s a shame most of the rest of this week is going to be taken up with three days supply teaching but as online sales have dropped through the floor over the last few months, beggars really can’t be choosers.

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The dragonfly pouch commission is complete and I’m delighted with the result.

The back stitched wing veins took a long time lining them up with the source photos to make sure they felt accurate but it was definitely worth it. I just wish I could capture the shimmer of the fused fabric wings.

I hope the recipient likes it as much as I do!

I’ve also finished the silk cocoon and driftwood pendant I started a couple of weeks ago. I added seed beads, freshwater pearls and tiny turquoise nuggets to the end of the points to give a bit of weight and a change of texture.

Then I lightly sanded and waxed the chunk of driftwood and carefully glued the cocoon to the top.

Next I fabricated a hanging loop out of an old odd sterling silver earring wire and recessed that through the top of the cocoon and into the wood to carry the jump ring bale. The vintage sterling silver belcher chain is a perfect weight to match the chunkiness of the pendant, although the driftwood is actually a lot lighter than it looks.

A real statement piece of jewellery; available here in my Etsy shop.

Lastly, a sneak peek of my next embroidered upcycled jewellery project.

Going for something a bit more seasonal!

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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 listed the writers of the comments on my 300th post (for which I thank you all), not including duplicates and there were 11. So I numbered each one and then fetched one of my trusty d12s (that’s a polyhedral 12 sided die numbered 1-12 for non RPGers) to choose the winner.

It rolled:

A d12 in the limelight at last!

 

And as you can see from my hastily scribbled list, number 9 is…

Scribbly list

Karen!

Congratulations, Karen. If you could let me have your snail mail address and an idea of whether you would like a hammered blue, impressed blue, hammered red or impressed red pendant, I’ll pop it in the post for you.

Brass and silk cocoon pendants 1

The rest will shortly go into my Etsy shop. 

Edited to say: they’re now all listed here on Etsy.

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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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Last week was the final session of my jewellery making and silversmithing course in Sheffield and this week I’ve felt there is a definite hole in my life.  

A reticulated hole

I want to continue my metalworking very much, but reluctantly I won’t be rejoining the class in September for two main reasons. Firstly, it’s an eighty minute drive there, meaning I’m actually driving for nearly three hours in total on top of a full working day and two and half hours intensive work in the workshop. Also despite my attempts to drive economically I’m using £20 worth of fuel for each 100 mile round trip, which has added over £300 onto the original cost of the course.

I’m investigating courses in Grimsby and Hull, both within an hour’s travelling time and hoping I can start one of those in the new year. Until then, I hope I’ve stored up enough of the things I can’t do at home to keep me going.

impressed brass

So last week I had a plan. A ring to finish, a beloved pair of earrings with a broken integral earhook which needed a new earhook making from silver wire and then soldering onto the earring, bales to solder, loads of stuff for the barreller and more domes to shape.

I decided to make some of the domes from this piece of impressed brass.

Impressed brass piece

 

Impressed domes

The doming process altered the texturing from the impressing slightly but I like the effect and it’s nicely different from the hammered domes I also made.

Hammered domes

Should give me plenty to do when I start adding the silk cocoons.

The earring took three goes to solder but is mended beautifully, the pieces in the barreller are ready to be transformed into jewellery and I got two bales soldered. The big project was the ring and it’s almost finished, just a minor bit of tidying up to do. 

More on the ring in my next post.

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I’ve never been to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Harrogate – each year there has always been some very good reason not to go, including trying to park a large Volvo with all the manoeuverability of an super tanker, but when our branch of the EG organised a bus trip I was one of the first to sign up.

I had no idea it was going to be quite so huge, nor that I would have to exert so much will power not to come home with everything that took my eye. I only actually wanted/needed a pack of  milliner’s needles…

Practical things first. Little fragments of coloured leather, a scissors sharpener and a lovely big spool of fine undyed silk thread which I can dye as and in what quantities I need to.

I was really pleased that my 13 yr old daughter wanted to come along too and as we both love Japanese things we were only too happy to make a beeline for a stall selling sashiko designs. After completing my sashiko sample I wanted something a bit more challenging and I thought that this design was perfect.  

It incorporates different coloured threads and patchwork elements using strips of traditional cloth.

I also bought some variegated sashiko thread.

Oliver Twists hand dyed silk cut cocoons. It was the colour of these that I fell in love with and in fact they are even more deeply indigo and vibrantly coloured in real life.

I could have cheerfully bought most of the stock on the entire stall. And from Stef Francis. And Mulberry Silks. And the Silk Road…

Silk and colour. They make my heart sing.

I knew that the very talented Chris Gray was going to be at the show and later in the day I managed to get round to her stall and make myself known. I’m so pleased I did because she was lovely! I’m very aware of being a newcomer to the blogging world and being so in awe of the art produced by so many people like Chris but thanks Chris, for making me feel so welcome. 😮

To go with the cocoons I bought a selection of Chris’ lovely hand-dyed threads.

I wasn’t too sure what I was going to do with the cocoons at that point, but after talking with Chris about the idea of something three dimensional emerging from them, an idea has started to form…

My only regret was that there was so much to see that we didn’t get long enough to have a proper look at the exhibition side of things or to do more than get a taste of the drop-in activities.

In spite of my best efforts, I went home without any milliners’ needles.

I guess that means I’ll have to try again next year…

 

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