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Posts Tagged ‘upcycled brooch’

Much to my surprise and delight, the Chihuly chandelier is working! I’ve not done very much more as there have been a lot of other time-sensitive things this week, but all of a sudden, I can see my way clear. I realised that the edges of the ‘frilly plates’ were quite pointy-looking, like the points of the spokes of the back-stitched spider’s webs, so I’m not filling the spokes completely to echo this.

I’m so pleased with the way its coming together that I’m slightly resentful that other things have kept me away from it and also rather sheepish that it stalled for so long in the first place…

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about this underwater scene which I’d stitched onto dyed pelmet vilene and set into a silver Victorian coin brooch. I just felt the seaweed was a bit flat on its own and it needed a bit of something else.

One of the ideas I threw out was to add a silver fish and the more I thought about it, the more it felt like the answer. I had some tiny offcuts of textured eco-silver left over from the band of a ring I’d created when I did my silversmithing course back in 2013.

The right hand side of the bottom piece already looked a bit like a fish, so I used that line as a starting point and I carefully cut my fish shape out.

I filed, polished and refined it and added a simple drilled hole for an eye.

I realised that it needed to go behind at least some of the seaweed, so I took out one of the lines of feather stitch, put the fish in place and stitched the feather stitch back over the top.

I also added another line of Palestrina stitch in Sylko thread to hold the tail down before setting it in the brooch.

There was a little tube on the back of the brooch and it occurred to me that if I could get a jump ring through it, then I could make it transform into a pendant as well which would give it twice the opportunity to be worn. In the end it needed two jump rings, but I think they work well as a bale and a silver chain completes the transformation.

Unfortunately this weekend hasn’t been the best time to take decent photographs of it!

This is going to be a piece that will be very hard to part with and it was so good to get back to the silversmithing again. I’ve called it the ‘Silver Darling’ and it’s in my Etsy shop here.

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The project I’ve chosen to focus on for this month’s Move It On is a relatively new one and the reason that my Kew Memory Journal has stalled. I’ve already done four of the six pieces for it and last spring I started the fifth, based on a photo I took of one of Dale Chihuly’s Persian Chandeliers which was installed in the Temperate House at Kew Gardens in 2019.

I drew out the pattern of the glazing bars on a piece of indigo dyed cotton and as of last April, using thin white ribbon for the thicker bars and whipped back stitch for the thinner ones, had got as far as this:

The fun bit was next – creating the frilly circles of the chandelier – but at this point I froze up because I didn’t think I could stitch anything that comes close to representing Chihuly’s amazing art. I had various ideas about making wired edged needle lace slips, crochet circles using my tiny Victorian metal crochet hook and woven spiders web stitches. I reminded myself that I was only aiming for my impression of the chandelier but I was really reluctant to start and instead, put it to one side.

So this is where the Move It On project will hopefully help. By the end of the month I should know whether I can make this work or whether I abandon it and create a different fifth piece for the Memory Journal. The hard bit is going to be actually making that start!

As I’ve had the Inktense blocks out, colouring some pelmet vilene for the Ribbon Rose Brooch kits, I thought it was the ideal opportunity to stitch an embroidered centre for a silver Victorian brooch I’ve had for some time. I think these type of brooches were originally designed to be set with coins, but the empty frame makes an ideal surround for a piece of miniature textile art!

I went with my favourite colour palette and one of my favourite themes as there are so many stitches which suggest waving seaweed such as the feather stitch and threaded chain stitch…

…and a line of Palestrina stitch to fill in the gap on the right.

I’m very happy with the stitching but I feel it’s a bit flat, so I’m toying with ideas for a bit of extra dimensionality. I think it might be a bit too small to add even very tiny pieces of sea glass so I was thinking beads or possibly picots at the bottom. Or possibly a little silver fish… Any thoughts?

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It’s been a very busy and full-on weekend at Normanby Hall Christmas Market, my last one of the season!

It was somewhat of a mixed bag but I did sell a few of my stitched pieces. They take so long to sell that I do feel quite lost when they actually go! One of the first sales on Saturday was this underwater themed locket:

I also sold the midsummer garden brooch I stitched back in January:

And this beaded brooch I made back in 2018 which was originally an enamelled 1980s earring:

It was far too cold to stitch on Saturday but Sunday was warmer and quieter and I got a little bit of another Bayeux Stitch project done, but not much. It’s also quite gloomy inside the stall at this time of year which doesn’t help stitch placement!

However, I have finished the jelly fish. Thank you all so much for your input. Everything is helpful because it gives me a wider menu of things to consider, and it’s useful to have ideas of what I don’t want as well as ideas of what I do! Anyway, here is the result:

I realised last week that the first row of bugle beads under the bell weren’t stitched down, and that it would potentially be possible to slide something underneath. After communing with my gold work supplies box, I found a piece of textured silver kid leather, cut it into shape and carefully worked it under the beads. It was big enough to push down under the edge of the row of grey seed beads and then I put some tiny stab stitches into place all the way round to stop it moving.

It’s exactly what I wanted and not only is it a finish (apart from lacing it over a slip of cardboard) but it’s meant I could clear the very large pile of bead tubes and silver goldwork threads from my work area too.

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I had a bit of an urge to make some upcycled jewellery pieces this week and was wondering what to do with these lovely but very simple brooches I found in a job lot of junk jewellery.

I have given brooches like these intricate beaded edgings in the past, but I wanted to do something different this time and I was inspired by Susan Lenz’s wonderful huge stitched mandalas to do something on a much more typically Alex scale! I had a very interesting scavenge through my many boxes of bits and pieces from beads and buttons to odd pieces of broken jewellery and found objects like the resistors on the left of the photo below. .

And after lots of arranging and changing and hunting in yet more boxes, I’ve come up with a couple of Mandala Brooches. Blue Mandala features resistors from old fashioned electronics, a pierced domed coin from an odd earring, and beads and jump rings from broken necklaces, stitched down with indigo dyed thread.

Green mandala features a metal heart which I wrapped with rayon thread a while ago as an experiment, copper coloured pressed metal shapes, large jump rings, seed beads and some stripy plastic beads from a broken necklace, stitched down with silk thread.

It was a fun project but not a quick one – choosing and finding all the different elements took easily as long as the actual stitching!

I also think I’ve finally finished the Bayeux Stitch mushroom. The last time I blogged about it was back in early February when I was pleased that I’d finally worked out what was wrong with the gills. But it wasn’t just the gills that were wrong and following a comment from Amanda, it was suddenly obvious and staring me in the face! The gills were wrong because the stalk needed to be inside the rolled back cap, going up to the centre! (This is what happens when you try and draw from memory and don’t use the real thing for reference…)

So a major unpicking happened and after some careful bodging so I didn’t have to undo the whole stalk, this is the final thing:

I hope. Unless it needs any more of the dreaded highlights…

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After having stitched the next section of ribbon for the glazing bars of the Temperate House at Kew down with stab stitches, it was clear that the original blanket stitches had to come out. Much better.

This has made it less bulky, so I decided to take Rachel’s (VirtuoSew Adventures) advice and run the bars right across the background.

Next I need some white thread for the thinner vertical bars, but there is white and white, as I found out a few years ago when I stitched a whitework piece and discovered that the threads I thought were identical under artificial light certainly were not in daylight! So I’m leaving the thread matching for a day with good natural light.

I’ve just added this sweet little upcycled sea glass brooch to my Etsy shop. It was one of those satisfying moments when after having trawled through a large pile of sea glass finding pieces that were almost but not quite right, I picked up this gorgeous green oval and it clicked into the vintage brass brooch setting like it had been made for it.

As if I didn’t have enough projects on the go, this week I’ve started a little or nué design of an acorn. I painted it onto some indigo dyed calico, left over from the Persian Chandelier piece with my Inktense sticks, which I love.

Then I started couching down the gold threads, using Pearsall’s ‘Gossamer’ thread. It’s so thin, it’s literally like stitching with spider’s web, so perfect for the job. It was a bit challenging to make the gold thread turn as tightly as possible at the ends , but so far, so good.

As I approached the edge of the acorn, I realised I hadn’t made things easy for myself. I was going to hit the acorn at an angle, rather than straight and this was going to potentially make it more difficult to get the shading right.

However, considering the amount of time it had already taken me to get this far with the gold, I have decided to keep on and see what happens. If nothing else, it will be an important lesson and remind me to do a bit more research before I blithely jump into a brand new technique!

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I’d almost finished the experimental combination of the cross stitch tree motif and free embroidery when I lost confidence in what I was doing. I’d left a small section on one side possibly for another bit of tree and then wasn’t sure if it would be too much so I left it here…

…and moved it around on my workbench while I did some other small things. I added some flowers.

That seemed to break the deadlock and I went straight into the tree section without any more agonising.

Just like that it’s gone from something I was unsure about even finishing to something I’m really pleased with. I don’t regret leaving it alone for a fortnight, even though there were literally only a few minutes worth of stitching left to do. I suspect that if I’d carried straight on I would have ended up unpicking it. I just had a gut feeling that stopping was the best course of action.

One of the other small projects on the workbench at that time was an upcycled brooch. I’d had the basic brooch – a simple hand made padded circle covered in fabric with a felt back – for a while and not got much further with it beyond knowing that I wanted to add a beaded edging. Again, I suppose, the skill of knowing when to leave things alone until they naturally come together and that happened when I came across a little vintage gold tone rose which was possibly once a pendant or part of a brooch.

I used buttonhole stitch to cover the stem; partly to give it a bit of colour, partly to tie it to the colours in the fabric and partly as a way of attaching it to the brooch. Then I added the beaded border and was pleased with my quick and straightforward finish.

I photographed it and that meant looking more carefully at it. Not happy. The green for the stem was pale and insipid and worst of all, the rose was too far up. I tried living with it for about an hour but my gut feeling that it wasn’t right was too strong and before I went to bed I took the rose off. I redid it today with some darker green silk and I’m much happier- it feels right now.

It started me thinking about how often I stop and start projects, often not consciously, but because my intuition has told me to just hold on a little bit. Comparing the amount of stitching time a project actually takes with the time taken including the thinking and putting it on hold can be quite alarming, but on the other hand, unpicking is frustrating and potentially causes damage. I’d like to think that I’ve learned to trust my intuition over the years and come to recognise what a valuable tool it is in my creative process.

And lastly, wherever you are and whatever sort of system you’re living under, I wish you all a safe and settled Christmas as the days gradually start to get longer and we head towards the light at the end of this tunnel.

Stay safe and take care.

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Christmas is coming and so there has been less stitching and more making and wrapping presents and seasonal cooking. I’ve strained the home made sloe gin I made with the huge sloes (or possibly bullaces) that we foraged on one of our Lincolnshire Wolds walks in late September. They were so big and fleshy I was able to make two jars of sloe gin jam with the strained pulp.

I used a new recipe for the gin this year and I was a bit unsure about the amount of sugar. Having tasted the result it’s still nice but very sweet so I’ll need to annotate the recipe or track down the one I’ve always used before. A drawback of having so many cookbooks!

This Christmas Cake is a present for my brother who loves rich fruit cake but doesn’t have time to make one for himself. One of my favourite childhood Christmas memories is Christmas and Boxing Night teas with my Nanny and Auntie Sheila. Every year they tried out a different Christmas cake recipe, always looking for that perfect moist, crumbly slice. (One year Nanny’s cake was so dry and hard it was only rendered edible by the layers of icing and marzipan!)

The search ended in the late 1970s when a Home Economics teacher who worked with my mum gave her a copy of the Christmas cake recipe she made every year with the 5th year ‘O’ level classes. It was and is idiot proof and we’ve made it every year since. It was even used for all three tiers of my wedding cake.

My little one has decorated gingerbread Christmas jumpers from Morrisons.

I’ve managed a few lunchtime stitching sessions while on supply to add some more lazy daisy flowers to my stitched initial. It’s been a useful exercise as I’m now sure that the flowers are far too small compared with the stems and a two hour workshop would not be long enough to get very far with this design. I’ll make this one into a birthday card and work another sample, this time using perle rather than one strand of stranded silk!

And lastly, a couple of assemblage brooches. The first one was a bow brooch with pendant drop that had been languishing in my shop for a while. I’d originally created an embroidered drop for it but I’d never liked it very much – it’s too big for the bow and the colours are decidedly dingy and I deactivated it a few months ago.

Gold tone items can vary massively in colour and the bow brooch is quite a light brassy shade so I was delighted to find a vintage heart locket that matched it nicely. With the addition of some dangles made from a broken necklace it’s now here in my Etsy shop.

The other new make started out as a strange looking vintage brooch rather like an old-fashioned dip pen. It had the perfect recess in the end to inlay something and I wanted to add a finishing touch to the top too.

Gathering some ideas together.

I bought a job lot of porcelain jewellery pieces from eBay a while ago and partnered one of the lustre discs with an odd earring to make the end piece. I decided to go for the embossed silk carrier rod rather than the felt to inlay into the top section. Once the choices were made, the actual making up of the brooch was pretty quick.

And it’s available here in my Etsy shop – still time to shop before Christmas!

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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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The snowflakes brooch take two is completed and has worked much better this time around. The blue silk makes the snowflakes really stand out and the actual snowflakes are definitely better executed. I finished it by gathering it round an oval of buckram to stiffen it…

…and then made another plain piece to cover the gathers on the back. I ladder stitched them together and then stuck the resulting ‘sandwich’ into the brooch setting.

I also got round to making the practice piece for the Chihuly Reeds to trial the alcohol inks. I was concerned that they might either run off the metallic fabric and bleed into the back ground or the applique stitches would wick the ink down into the fabric, but in fact, neither happened. There is some bleeding, but that was where I touched the tip of the brush onto the fabric – not easy to avoid, given the size of the piece.

Onto the main piece, feeling much more confident. I did catch the background fabric in a couple of very minor places but I think the variegation of the back ground fabric helps to hide it.

Then I added the dried grass around the bases. I’m really happy with the way the combination of the metallic fabric and the translucent inks has captured the shimmering glass. Success number two!

And success number three is that the lovely The Old Stables Studio in Horncastle is going to stock my upcycled jewellery! I had a scenic run out there last week and met Kate, the owner, who is passionate about upcycled and handmade and happy to stock a selection of my jewellery. So that’s where Snowflakes Take Two will be going, as will this underwater themed locket which I finished this morning.

Fingers crossed – that’s all I can do at the moment.

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I’ve finally finished the English Paper Pieced patchwork page for my Kew Memory Journal with an embroidered branch across the top in split stitch and detached chain stitch.

Apart from the front cover it’s the first page I’ve fully finished. I really need to get down to stitching the snaps onto the Niijima floats piece – stalling again with only a tiny bit to finish! And the Reeds are closer to being finished that they were. There are only two more to stitch down but it is laborious putting the tiny stitches into the silver applique and not very interesting compared with all the other exciting things I want to play with – like snowflakes.

The plan was for the snowflakes to feature on the central insert for a broken vintage silver tone brooch. Indigo dyed fabric all hooped up and ready to go.

Improvising snowflakes in silk thread. So far so good. I liked the large and medium snowflakes and then I planned to seed the background with French knots for small distant snowflakes.

Ah…

Far too busy now and the detail of the bigger snowflakes is hidden. I added some blending filament to give them a bit of sparkle in the hope that it would help, but no. Definitely a back to the drawing board moment!

I’ve also upcycled a vintage watch face casing which was missing its face and mechanism. I found a sterling silver flower which had been a broken stud earring and fitted perfectly into the case.

Then I used an odd silver earring hook a fabricate a hanging loop and a loop to attach the baroque pearl dangle before adding a sterling silver chain.

I love silver and gold (gold tone in this case, I suspect) together and was so pleased with the way this worked out. If you like it, please check it out here in my Etsy shop.

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