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Posts Tagged ‘upcycling’

…are one of my favourite stitches. I must have worked hundreds of thousands of french knots from the odd few dropped into something else…

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…to the full on french knot extravaganza that is the (still unfinished) Victorian box project.

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I find them invaluable in upcycling jewellery. I’ve added them to rings, earrings and pendants and the lovely textural quality of the closely packed knots never fails to get people’s interest. This one is set in a vintage silver setting and is available here in my Etsy shop.

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So when a friend asked me to upcycle a pair of earrings for her, my first thought was french knots. The earrings were a pair of sterling silver creole hoops which had been partly channel set with some baguette cut marcasites. Unfortunately the marcasites appeared to have been stuck in with school glue and most had fallen out. A local jeweller told her that it would cost far more than the earrings were worth to have them reset properly. So rather than scrap them, she asked me to work some upcycling magic!

I cleaned them first, to get rid of the glue residue and bring up the silver.

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Then I worked a row of french knots in silk thread on a piece of dyed pelmet vilene, carefully cutting it down to fit the channel which is about 2mm wide!

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Breathe, be grateful and relieved that you haven’t cut the thread or trimmed the vilene down too far and do the other one!

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As she lives locally I was able to take a slight detour on my daily walk and post them through her letter box. She was delighted!

I also found an interesting pendant when I was sorting a lot of broken jewellery and immediately thought french knots.

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I used some variegated silk thread again and stitched one french knot through each hole. Each knot has two wraps and is big enough that it won’t slip back through the hole.

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They fill the space nicely.

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The purple and gold of the thread made me think of drifts of pansies.

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So that’s what I named it and it’s just gone into my Etsy shop here. I think it will be a long while before I get fed up with these gorgeous little stitches, which is just as well, considering there is a still a long way to go on the Victorian box!

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Cleaning a load of broken vintage jewellery the other day I immediately spotted two obvious opportunities for upcycling in the form of the two brooches in the middle, both missing the central focal stone.

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And both crying out for ribbon roses! First the gold and pink diamante brooch.

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This has a silk ribbon rose stitched onto coloured pelmet vilene with nested detached chain stitch leaves and a shiny rayon french knot nestled in its heart. Available in my Etsy shop here.

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If the round brooch was small, the bar brooch is even smaller, with the central bezel tray I was looking to fill measuring just over 1cm wide!

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Time to scale down to 2mm wide silk ribbon and single strands of silk thread to create a tiny spray. I love the way this turned out – even though I know it’s stitched, at first glance it looks like micromosaic!

Also available in my Etsy shop here.

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I was playing with some scraps of upcycled felt a while ago that I’d made in the washing machine from some 100% wool garments that were past wearing. I added some broken jewellery pieces and a kilt pin that had been part of a job lot of broken/unwanted jewellery and came up with this little pendant brooch.

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From this brooch came the idea for a workshop and some more samples. Firstly, an octagonal piece of broken earring, a scrap of felt and sheaf stitch, detached chain stitch and french knots in a funky variegated thread became this brooch. Finished off with beaded blanket stitch around the edges and blanket stitch to attach it to the pin.

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I realised that some little metal tags from my found objects box looked like the bodies of fish and so I started another sample, stitching them down with long and short stitch to create flamboyant tails.

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Palestrina and feather stitch creates fronds of seaweed and also helps hold the ‘bodies’ of the fish in place, and french knots form the sea bed.

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I like all my samples, but those fishes have a special place in my heart – they came out exactly as I’d imagined them!

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As my middle one finally left home in the summer her bedroom, conveniently downstairs, is now vacant. After an industrial strength cleaning session (who says teenage boys are cleaner/tidier than girls?!) it is now a thing of beauty and I have been slowly moving my jewellery making stuff in. It is fantastic to now be able to leave my work where it is instead of being at the kitchen table and having to work around mealtimes, which is probably why I’m being more productive.

I cut and shaped a badly dented vintage bangle and drilled a couple of lovely nuggets of Seaham sea glass which I then combined to make these earrings:

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They’re available here in my Etsy shop, but I am sorely tempted to keep them for myself!

I’ve also combined some more sea washed china and vintage settings.

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Stamped a music design onto a piece of beachcombed clay pipe stem and added a vintage earring drop to make a pendant, available here.

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Inspired by the found objects piece I did for the Guild meeting last month I embroidered french knots and starburst jump rings onto a piece of painted fabric…

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…to make a new centrepiece for a vintage brooch.

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I found the most amazing tropical blue nugget of Seaham sea glass which perfectly fits a vintage silver brooch which you can find here.

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And another incredibly rare piece is this tiny pink sea glass heart, for which I have finally found the perfect match – a sterling silver heart pendant.

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Thanks to my new work space, I’m on a roll – just have to hope my middle one doesn’t want to come home to her old room too often…!

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Sorting some of my beachcombed treasures led to a couple of pieces of jewellery. First was a chunk of school ruler which had frosted beautifully in the waves. I paired it with a piece of beachcombed metal swarf with a lovely milled texture to make a brooch, now available here in my Etsy shop.

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Then I managed to find two vintage panel bracelets which are great for setting with sea glass and pottery like this one. There is just something about blue and white sea-washed china that I love.

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I also like to use panel bracelets to turn groupings of odd vintage earrings into unique assemblage bracelets. The theme that developed here was floral soft blues and greys with a central enamelled dragonfly. Available here in my Etsy shop.

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I also managed to list the brooch I made during show week from a scrap of felted woollen jumper, a vintage kilt pin and an odd earring drop and it’s available here.

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Definitely in my blue period!

I’ve also had a bit of a spurt with one of the pelmet vilene accordion book memory journals I’m working on. This one is based on a visit we made at the end of March to the North Sea Observatory and Anderby Creek beach in Lincolnshire. The shell strewn beach was unlike anything I’ve ever seen on the North Sea coast and then we had a stroll along the sand dunes to the lovely¬†Anderby Beach Cafe for lunch before heading back home.

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I stitched a fragment with cast on stitch and one of the big flat holed oyster shells in the summer but then things lapsed until a piece of evenweave gave me an idea to do a piece of pulled thread work. I used natural coloured silk thread and Diamond Stitch to create a random pattern like ripples in the sand.

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Then I added some dried seaweed, a clam shell with a hole in and a little piece of driftwood.

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I love the very clever Anderby Beach Cafe logo which uses part of the structure of a traditional deck chair as the initial ‘A’ and the hot dog I had for lunch that day, using local butcher’s sausages was delicious. So that quickly led to a hand painted and stitched applique ‘receipt’ on calico, featuring a splodge of ‘tomato sauce’ to remind me of how much I enjoyed my lunch!

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Ideas forming for the North Sea Observatory and the Cloud Bar…!

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Are all you need to make jewellery! I bought a lovely vintage fruit spoon at a car boot sale recently. The heavily raised pattern of fruit and foliage in the bowl reminded me of some glass and polymer clay fruit beads I had been saving for just the right project.

First I removed the handle and smoothed and shaped the stub left.

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Next, I drilled holes in the stub and the end of the bowl to take jump rings for the chain and the beads.

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The beads were clustered with some fabulous little polymer clay leaves onto a head pin to echo the cluster of fruit in the centre of the spoon bowl.

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Lastly I added a vintage silver tone chain. It’s available here in my Etsy shop.

The zip pulls came from a Studio Ghibli ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ backpack that my middle one had used to complete destruction but the heavy brass zip pulls, each embossed with Totoro were still in perfect condition. The rest of the bag was only fit for the bin, despite my best efforts, but with the addition of two picture jasper cushion beads and some vintage brass coloured findings, the pulls became these:

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Also available here in my Etsy shop.

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I’ve been trying to get on with some stitched fragments for my accordion memory journals for a while.

Firstly, the Kew Gardens journal. My plan is for this to document the visit I made at the end of July and focus mostly on the incredible Chihuly glass exhibition. I have a list of ideas for pages and started the title page last week which is part of a leaflet backed on a piece of calico. I’ve put a line of whipped running stitch through the middle of the letters and am outlining them in back stitch.

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Outlining finished and beading started. I am really pleased with the effect of the random blue bugle beads over the stems and am looking for some iridescent seed beads that I know I have somewhere for some of the teardrop shaped ends.

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The Anderby Creek journal from the end of March has also finally been started with a scrap of crinkled fabric which I love for its suggestion of ripples in sand and a holed oyster shell. I attached the shell to the fabric with long stitches through the holes which I then buttonhole stitched over to make buttonhole bars.

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I wanted a bobbly effect like seaweed, so I used cast-on stitch pulled round to make little circles along the length of the buttonhole bar.

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Completed and stitched into place in the journal. One page completed, seven to go!

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Last summer my middle one bought a Tintin t-shirt from a lovely shop in Durham when we were on holiday and to her delight, it came in a paper carrier with a bold graphic of Tintin and Snowy on each side. I think she liked that as much as the t-shirt and I promised to make her a notebook from it. I bought some Tintin postcards to use as the covers and finally a couple of weeks ago, I decided it was time to get on and make it.

I laminated two pairs of postcards back to back for the covers.

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Then I carefully cut up the bag so I could use every bit of the graphics and the Tintin wording up the sides.

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I had to add an extra piece of paper from a 1970s educational poster (The Pied Piper of Hamelin to be exact) to make the signatures even,

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…but I was pleased that I managed to include all of the main panels of the bag.

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I used waxed white polyester thread and Coptic Stitch to bind the book.

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Finally a job off the list and a daughter delighted.

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I had a very enjoyable day at Scunthorpe Arts Showcase at Heslam Park last Sunday and as it quietened down in the afternoon, I cracked on with the stitching for the locket insert I showed you last week. The rose bush now has daisies underneath with petals no more than 2mm long.

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The inside of the locket was a bit shabby so I lined it with more of the silk carrier rod. It has such a luscious lustre.

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I also played with some needle felting to upcycle a silvertone pendant blank. One of the children said it reminded them of Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ picture, which was very pleasing! The background is a mixture of merino wool and silk and the spirals are tiny scraps of hand spun crewel wool.

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We also had a family day out in Filey, on the Yorkshire coast.

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It is a delightful unspoilt seaside town with the most amazing stretch of sand with rock pools at the north end. It yielded enough treasures to keep me happy.

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I’m particularly pleased with the fossil shell I spotted in a rock pool.

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And the heavily crazed piece of pottery.

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We were entertained by the cutest hermit crabs in the rock pools, enjoyed great fish and chips and had a fabulous day out.

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