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Posts Tagged ‘upcycling’

Just to update, I’ve finished off the two pieces of embroidered upcycled jewellery I finished stitching at the market last week and listed them in my Etsy shop. The wreath brooch has gone from this:

To this:

And is available here in my Etsy shop. The lavender locket insert was at this stage last week:

And now looks like this:

You can find it here. I’m not sure why, but my head is crammed full of upcycled jewellery ideas at the moment. The latest creative splurge was instigated by this large brass brooch which was missing most of the catch. I thought the individual elements were pretty – especially the leaves – but I felt it wasn’t particularly desirable as a whole.

So I took the saw to it. The third flower was very chunky and gummed up with solder so I scrapped that, leaving me with the following elements. The three leaves and the wrapped stem section has been put aside while I figure out what I’m going to do with it, but I already had ideas for the pair of leaves and the two roses.

The roses were easy. I shortened the stems, drilled them, added vintage mother of pearl beads to the middles and turned them into a neat little pair of earrings.

I also trimmed and drilled the stems on either side of the pair of leaves…

…before doing a bit of upcycling of my own original work. Back in 2013 I took a silversmithing course and among the many things I made was a load of impressed and hammered brass discs, which I domed and fixed over the holes in some silk cocoons to turn into pendants.

They were not a success as the brass element was so heavy, they didn’t sit right, so have been languishing in a drawer. It occurred to me that I could deconstruct one, cut the brass dome into a calyx…

…turn the silk cocoon upside down, add beaded stamens and turn it into a flower to hang below the leaves. So I did.

I’m enjoying the creativity so much – just a pity that life and teaching has to get in the way!

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I’ve made a couple of pieces of upcycled jewellery recently that both have felt as a basis. The first is using the second of the two offcuts of hand made felt I was given by my lovely neighbour Lisa at the Artisan Market at The Collection back in June. I’ve already made the top one into a round found object mandala brooch which sold at Arttopia back in the summer.

I decided to make a barrette with the bottom one and cut it into a random curvy shape.

Next, auditioning found objects to decorate it…

…before I settled on a border of chunky vintage chain with a pressed brass motif, a larger clockwork cog and some unusual spiral wire wrapped chain links. I stitched everything down using simple straight stitches in a variegated mercerised cotton which echoes the pinks and purples in the felt.

I attached a barrette fixing to a piece of commercial felt for the backing and stitched the two layers together with a simple beaded blanket stitch and iridescent pinky-red/gold seed beads.

The second piece is a brooch and started off as a wet felted flower hair ornament which belonged to my little one when she was a lot younger. It doesn’t quite fit with the moody goth look she’s sporting at the moment and the felt itself was quite delicate so it had been pulled out of shape and was wearing very thin in places. I ironed it flat and having just processed some odd beads and a ring that all had a bit of a cogs and gears thing going on, had a bit of a play.

Next I stitched the pieces down with variegated turquoise and rust coloured thread.

And then cut the felt into the shape I wanted for the brooch, echoing the shape formed by the ‘cogs’.

Last step was to attach the felt and brooch back with beaded blanket stitch using some of my favourite iridescent turquoise seed beads. Not only is it a sturdy stitched edging but when you’re joining two pieces of fabric the beads sit nicely in the join and hide the edges.

Lastly, a thread chicken update on the Brantwood wallpaper motif. I made it: that is all I have left of the red!

I knew I had a little bit of wiggle room as I could have unpicked the red bar at the bottom of the leaves that’s supposed to be black, but I’m relieved it didn’t come to that. Next stage is the black (in fact a very dark grey called Night Smoke) stars.

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Thank you very much to everyone who left ideas and comments to help me out with the cover design for the miniature book. They were all really helpful and helped me think in different directions rather then the rut I’d got into. So hopefully I should be shortly starting to put something together; any progress is better than it hanging over my head.

It’s been a busy week on the work front and as I’ve managed to find a local outlet which is interested in stocking some of my upcycled jewellery, all my spare time this week has been entirely focussed on creating a new ‘collection’ based round clock hands. I’ve been making clock hand earrings for a while now, but this was the first time I’ve looked at some of the larger and more decorative single hands in my collection and although cleaning and polishing them takes ages, it’s been a lot of fun finding beads and chains and other odds and ends from my upcycling stock to turn them into pendants and necklaces.

The Art Deco style hand at the top was gummed up with tacky gold paint which was a nightmare to try and remove. In the end I had to file it off, which made a mess of the file, but left me with a rather nice ‘brushed’ sort of texture which went well with the selection of turquoise beads. I’ve teamed the decorative vintage hand at the bottom with a haematite doughnut and you can just see a lovely figured picture jasper bead inside it, like a little planet.

This unusual hand must have come from a very large clock and certainly something that size isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I think the turquoise nuggets, the faceted pale gold cat’s eye beads and the unusual vintage chain balance it nicely.

The black plastic coating on this elaborate hand made it nice and easy to clean up and as it has a bit of a gothy vibe I decided to add some lengths of beaded chain in red and black. I love the design of this hand and I think it makes an amazing centrepiece.

This Art Deco hand was a lot easier to clean than the other one and as it was a bit larger and had the open bar at the top, I was able to add an internal dangle of a pale brown dyed mother of pearl heart.

And lastly, this hand was lovely and shiny so the more modern looking blue and white art glass bead was a perfect partner.

I’ve also made a few more pairs of earrings and fingers crossed the collection is a good fit for the venue. You can only try these things and see how they go, but at least this place is within ten minutes drive, rather than best part of an hour away!

And just to remind ourselves that this is mostly an embroidery blog, here is the current state of play on my Ruskin wallpaper motif. We have stars!

I wasn’t confident that satin stitch was the best stitch to get even coverage over the stars, but after some research I liked the look of fishbone stitch, worked separately along each arm. It gives the right sort of coverage and with a different texture which I like but it’s a challenge keeping the stitches even at this scale.

However, the next issue is going to be thread chicken. Three more stars to stitch and I may not have enough red thread…

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I called the felted, beaded upcycled brooch ‘Clematis’ and finished it late last night – hence the rubbish lighting in the photo. I put it on its story card and took it to the Eco Fair at the Ropewalk in Barton upon Humber today and it sold. To tell the truth I was a bit gobsmacked and am feeling strangely bereft. I was so pleased with the design but it feels like I barely had the time to get to know this piece before it headed off to a new home. Very strange emotions. I’m also wondering if I under-priced it, which I suspect I did, given the amount of work in it… Anyway, lesson learned.

After the summery clematis flower I went more autumnal with the piece of jewellery I was working on at the fair today. Our stitch group (SEATA) always has the most fabulous Sales Table at each meeting with donations from other members to be sold for the group’s funds. Other people’s stuff is always much more interesting than your own! A few months ago I bought a load of machine stitched, embroidered, layered and melted autumnal fabric leaves which I could really see being used in upcycling projects but it wasn’t until a leaf shaped stick pin turned up in a recent lot of broken jewellery…

…that things started to come together. I chose two of the leaves.

And then combined them to make a spray with the leaf at the top of the pin becoming part of the base of one of the leaves. I’ve stitched them together going over the machine stitches in a very fine thread so they are firmly attached but the join is pretty much invisible.

And of course, the other ongoing seasons-related thing in the pipeline is September’s Move It On Project which is based on the four seasons. Summer has been moved on a bit, from here:

To here, with the addition of some stem stitch stems and buttonhole ring leaves.

I’m enjoying the simplicity of these shapes and as each flower makes up relatively quickly, it’s just what I need to feel I’m making some progress in spite of the limited hours in a day.

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Term has started and with it a three day a week supply teaching commitment which has at a stroke annihilated my stitching opportunities this week. I’m now teaching right across the primary age ranges from Early Years to Y6 and having to be involved in some planning and assessment as well, which has to be done at home. It’s a Catch 22. I can’t earn a living from my upcycled jewellery and textile art, so I have to take on supply work to pay the bills, but supply work doesn’t leave me with enough time to develop my creative side as a business so I can’t earn a living from it. Add to that my first cold germ of the new year, I’m feeling very frustrated and sorry for myself.

So, dribs and drabs of stitching is all I have to share this week. Last week I managed to find some more of the thread I needed to finish the leafy greens in my stumpwork garden. The last time I blogged about it back in July, it was looking like this:

Since then I’ve added more French knots to soften the hard edge of the path as well as finishing off the leafy greens and making a start on the weeds.

No movement on the buttonhole rings piece but I have done a tiny bit more on the Brantwood wallpaper motif. I’m glad I’ve continued with silk, but the thread is so fine I’ve been struggling to keep the satin stitch neat. I might try two strands in the needle and see how that goes.

I’m also trying to keep scratching the itch of wanting desperately to create upcycled jewellery. I came across this mid-century mother of pearl-set ‘Hollywood’ brooch in a recent lot of jewellery I was processing.

It was missing a section and it wasn’t that exciting anyway, so I decided to find something much more interesting with which to replace the mother of pearl discs. I cut six petals from a piece of hand made felt and added veins in whipped back stitch.

To hide the back of the stitching and give the petals a bit more body, each one has a back cut from some heathered green commercial felt.

They hide the little coloured diamantes, but I like the effect much better.

I’m connecting the two pieces of felt with a beaded blanket stitch in pale gold seed beads which are almost identical in colour to the metal of the brooch.

I’ve only had time to do one, but it’s come out so well I just want to get stuck into doing the rest!

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I’m trying to get stuck into processing some of the broken jewellery job lots which seem to have built up over the last few years. Partly so I can use the box I’ve been storing them in for my workshop folders but mostly so I can see what I actually have and start creating.

Processing is basically cleaning and sorting. As most jewellery is worn next to the skin, it can be…well, greasy. Sorry if you happen to be eating at this point. So a good scrub in warm soapy water with a firm bristled toothbrush is a must. I also put some of the all metal pieces into my barreller, again with warm soapy water and let it work its magic.

Then I sort out what I have. Some pieces are wearable, so I decide if they are worth listing on eBay or Etsy, taking to a car boot sale or popping into the charity bag. This leaves me with the proper broken bits. Occasionally it literally is rubbish, so if I can’t recycle it (usually only a tiny amount) then it goes in the bin. Some pieces need further breaking down, like stripping the beads off necklace fragments or separating useful components from an earring drop and then I’m left with the keepers which I sort into various boxes, depending on what they are, to use later, when inspiration strikes!

Often, inspiration strikes as I’m cleaning and this is what happened with the tiger cowrie shell butterfly barrette which some of you might have seen on Instagram recently. The lot I was sorting contained some ovals and circles cut from tiger cowrie shells. Two of the ovals had just one hole drilled in them so I made them into a pair of drop earrings, but the ovals with four holes looked like they would be a bit more of a challenge to turn into earrings. But added to two of the smaller circles…

The large black and cream bead was also in the same lot and was exactly the right proportion to become the body. A selection of orange beads from the orange bead department (which is why I sort my jewellery bits carefully) and some gold tone wire added the finishing touches and I stitched it down onto two layers of good quality green heathered felt.

Next, the cowrie shell pieces, which I stitched down in a geometric pattern with my favourite metallic Madeira thread.

Cutting the felt away around the edge once I’d done the stitching was a bit nerve-wracking, especially around the tail, where I needed something to be present underneath the beaded body, but not enough to be obvious.

The cowrie pieces had been cut from the top of the dome of the shell, so even though there were two layers of felt behind, there was still a bit of a void under the top wings. I filled this with some padding made from felt scraps before covering it with a butterfly-shaped piece of pelmet vilene for extra firmness and another piece of the green felt.

I connected my felt and vilene sandwich with beaded blanket stitch with dark copper colour seed beads to match the markings on the shell pieces and orange mercerised cotton to echo the touches of orange on the body. The beads also help to keep the blanket stitch even!

A first – a video on my blog! I hope this shows how lovely and sturdy it turned out with all the layers of felt and the beads have given the edging a nice solid feel too.

At this point I was still unsure whether to finish it as a brooch or a hair barrette and my poll on Instagram turned out exactly 50:50, which was no help. So I decided to go with what I think will be more saleable – a barrette – and stitched a new barrette clip onto the back.

You will notice, if you look at the ‘tail’ section that I’ve not beaded it. When I was joining everything I felt that the beads would be too big for the tight corners and I was struggling with very narrow pieces of felt which I didn’t want to shred, so I left it as plain blanket stitch. But the more I looked at it, the more I hated it. it was untidy, uneven and spoiled a result which I’m extremely proud of. So at the weekend I carefully undid the blanket stitch, fastened off the ends of the thread so I didn’t lose the rest of the beads and beaded the tail. It was a lot easier – mostly I think because the rest of the stitching was already done so the felt and vilene pieces were firmly held in place.

It’s the little details. And I’m finally happy for it to flutter off into my Etsy shop here

…along with my harlequin clasp.

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I’m not much of a one for kits usually as I have more than enough of my own ideas that I’m yet to get round to stitch, but some years ago I couldn’t resist a Liberty canvaswork card kit for 50p in a local charity shop. It was a slightly odd design – I’m still not completely sure what it’s supposed to be beyond a flower/flower bud of some kind – but an unopened Liberty kit for 50p was a no-brainer.

I started stitching it pretty much straight away, but soon came up against the first problem. The instructions suggested you use three strands of the six-stranded cotton provided, but I felt the coverage was far too thin so I upped it to the full six strands. As there was not an overly generous amount of threads in the kit to start with (and I bet it wasn’t cheap originally…) I soon realised that the chances of me running out of some of the shades of peach thread were pretty high. I’d probably have some matching thread somewhere but that would require turning out far too many boxes and bags… So that’s where it stalled and that’s where I picked it up last week for this month’s Move It On project.

After the stress of the Ruskin lace I thought a bit of canvaswork would be nice and soothing. Of course it wasn’t. It’s counted and anything counted has the potential to go seriously awry. I started by playing the peach thread chicken to see exactly how much I would need to find and in which of the four shades. The thread use wasn’t helped by the fact that the kit specifies tent stitch, which due to the extra thread across the back, uses up more than good old half cross stitch. As I neared the end of the threads, I wished that I had ignored the instructions and done it all in half cross stitch from the beginning. Especially as after having congratulated myself on completing all the pale peach and peach stitches, I discovered as I added the dark peach, that I had counted wrongly and the middle section of the lower right petal was out in at least two places.

I took out the scrap of peach before reason kicked in and pointed out that it wasn’t the end of the world and no one would really know if I just worked the dark peach and brick red round my ‘mistake’. However, the scrap literally was just enough to cover the few stitches – no room for a needle to work it – so now I was looking for peach as well. Luckily there was enough brick red but the dark peach has come up short.

I also couldn’t understand why I’d stitched some of the cream perle outline and not the rest, so as a break from trying and failing (of course…) to find a distinctly salmony-peach thread among the literally hundreds I own, I decided to finish the perle. Which is when I found the second counting error on the top left hand edge of the left-hand petal. This time I decided just to work round it and alter the last stitch to make the petal join. I really don’t think it’s noticeable so not unpicking was the right call. But so much for it being soothing and easy!

The shishas and couching pieces has moved on to here:

And I’ve been working on more of my upcycled jewellery pieces. This one has been a particular joy. It started off as two odd pieces of two separate mid-century belt clasps or clothing clips.

But one happened to be one with the ‘hook’ and the other had the ‘eye’, and when I idly put them together, they fitted beautifully and I loved the asymmetric shape they created.

Next I reset the missing stones. I was originally going to stick with the original clear diamantes but after finding that some vintage faux coral stones fitted some of the spaces perfectly and gave a fantastic pop of scarlet, I reset them with a combination of the two.

Lastly, I needed something to fill the curved spaces on the left. I had some pieces of a silk cocoon in the same bright red as the faux coral left over from this pendant I made a couple of weeks ago.

Cutting them to shape was a bit of a challenge but they have a lovely subtle texture and silk sheen which was almost impossible to photograph.

I’m delighted with the result and I hope it finds a good home when I list it in my Etsy shop later this week.

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Despite the heatwave and the end of term finally arriving, I have had a bit of a creative boost with both my stitching and upcycled jewellery making. I’ve completed my peas with little silk ribbon leaves worked in ribbon stitch – and remembered to show a finger for scale!

We’ve also had the last session for the stumpwork garden project at In The Stitch Zone which was adding strawberries. I started with trios of lazy daisy stitches to represent the leaves, which also come in threes.

Then I added paler runners with tufts of plantlets at the ends, flowers created from loose white French knots with a smaller tighter French knots in a thinner yellow thread in the centre and scarlet strawberries. These are a little too round for my liking so I may be tweaking them in some manner to make them look more strawberry shaped rather than like red flowers. So basically the garden is finished now in terms of elements to be added.

However, I still need to finish the strawberries, carry on adding French knots to soften the edge of the path, add some more leafy greens bottom left and finally, sprinkle some weeds throughout before I can mount it and put it to bed.

I’ve finally got round to using these tiny ribbon roses I stitched on some silk carrier rod at the Collection Artisan Market at the beginning of June…

….to upcycle a pair of vintage marcasite set clip-on earrings. Originally there would have been a large flat faux pearl in the central setting but when they came into my hands one ‘pearl’ was missing and the pearl coating of the remaining one was badly damaged so it seemed sensible to remove them altogether and create something new to complement the original settings.

It was a bit of a challenge to stitch ribbon roses that small, but I think I they sit very nicely in their marcasite frames and they do look very pretty on.

I’ve also been inspired to do something with silk cocoons. This pendant is a compete mash up of a hand made studio pottery porcelain button, two silk cocoons, part of a ‘silk’ flower, an odd earring, a stumpwork leaf I worked for some project back in 2010, and a reclaimed bale and chain.

Then, all enthusiastic about using up more of the silk cocoons and inspired by a jellyfish pendant I’d seen on Pinterest, made from a piece of sea glass and sections of chain, I combined a load of odds and ends of chain with some beaded sections and another silk cocoon to create this pendant:

Then I made a pair of jellyfish earrings using the bead caps I found when I went looking for a silver bead cap to go on the top of the silk cocoon for the pendant.

I do wonder if it’s a touch of displacement activity though, instead of tacking that Ruskin lace!!

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At the end of my two days at the Artisan Market at The Collection two weeks ago, my lovely neighbour, Lisa, gave me a couple of pieces of hand made felt she had left over from some wet felted vessels, in case I could do anything with them.

I certainly could! I decided to cut the pink piece into a front and back for a mandala brooch and the larger more orangey piece into an abstract shape for a barrette.

I used a variety of oddments for the mandala brooch, starting with a vintage bead cap and bead in the centre of a brass connector from a broken necklace. I added a second round with some more vintage bead caps, seed beads and some little springs which I salvaged from broken earhooks.

I did wonder whether to add a further round but I wanted to show off the felt rather than obscure it, so I stopped there and joined the front to the back (adding a circle of pelmet vilene inside for strength) with a simple beaded blanket stitch.

I’ve not had chance to do anything further with the barrette but I’m thinking of doing couching with some decorative chains… Another fun collaboration and I have a decent sized scrap left over which I can use for other things and some trimmings which I’ll wet felt into some dreadlocks. Nothing goes to waste.

I stitched the ring of leaves for another cauliflower in the block of three I’m planning for the stumpwork garden and while I was doing that I decided to take the French knots out of the one I’d already done. They were not only too white, but more importantly, too flat and even. I need to find a more suitable weight thread to stitch them back in.

And as you can see from the bottom left hand corner of the photo above, I’ve started fuzzing up my carrot tops.

It takes quite a while to carefully undo the twist of the coton a broder threads, so I’ll be saving that job for the next long committee meeting!

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This week has been a mad rush after our holiday, getting ready for a two day Artisan Market at The Collection in Lincoln this weekend, so there has been very little stitching and no movement on any of my projects.

Instead, I spent the week making earrings, brooches, Magpie Packs and necklaces, which are the only things in that list I managed to remember to photograph!

All the rushing to get everything together was well and truly worth it though. I was very happy with how the stall looked (I’m getting a bit of a standard set up now!).

In terms of sales I had a very successful weekend and generally it was a lovely market with a (mostly) fantastic atmosphere among the stallholders and the staff of the Collection, who were always available, cheerful, helpful and nothing was too much trouble. Although due to the sun pouring through the glass roof above me it was extremely warm, that was a small price to pay for such a good, brightly lit spot – so important when selling small stuff like jewellery.

I also managed some stitching in between the selling . I’ve been planning to stitch some tiny ribbon roses on dark blue silk carrier rod to set into these vintage marcasite clip on earrings.

Choosing the right colour ribbon took nearly as long as the stitching but now I can move onto doing the setting.

I also finished the stems…

…and started the ribbon embroidery flowers for a wreath brooch I’m upcycling.

I was lucky enough to have Lisa Tank, a talented abstract artist, as my neighbour for the weekend. I was very taken with some of her cards which had been made with sections from larger works and on the Sunday I bought some and promptly deconstructed one to add some abstract doodle stitching in stem stitch.

It’s textured watercolour on lovely thick paper and was a dream to stitch into.

A lovely artists’ collaboration to round off a lovely weekend.

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