Fantasia

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This is my new spinning wheel – the Kromski Fantasia! I bought an unfinished version and spent the last weekend painting it all before putting it together. The main reason for getting the unfinished version was that it was quite a lot cheaper – like 20-25% cheaper than the varnished versions and I wasn’t very keen on the look of the varnish finishes. But now it’s finished I love it so much and am very happy I was forced into painting it all.

I’ve been thinking about getting a wheel for about six months and I went back and forth on whether I would really get a lot of use out of one and looking at all the options and repeatedly putting the fantasia into a shop basket but then sleeping on it and deciding to put it off for a little while longer. My main reason for waiting was that I’ve never spun on a wheel and I worried about buying before trying and ending up with something I found uncomfortable. But the only reasonable option for trying out some wheels – the local spinners and weavers guild – wasn’t an option because they only meet on Wednesdays and I’m busy at work. After months of looking though the fantasia had all the features I wanted and was really the only model I could afford. The price jumps up extremely quickly if you want any more exciting options. So I went for it…

…things didn’t start well though. The wheel arrived last week and was left on the doorstep even though we were in at the time. When I found it I saw that the box had clearly been dropped and was badly damaged. There were quite a few more holes than you see below.

On opening the box I was relieved to find that most everything was in ok condition. The instructions were all scrunched up, which does’t matter, but also the wheel itself was damaged which was much more upsetting.

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The damaged part was small though and shouldn’t affect the spinning so I didn’t complain as the only outcome would likely be to have it replaced at much time, stress and expense. I would be painting the wheel anyway so maybe I could try to hide it a bit.

All parts were unfinished and the wooden parts would need different treatment from the MDF wheel. After researching all the options I decided to oil the wood with some sort of curing oil. I chose “worktop” oil in the end which is some blend meant for solid wood kitchen surfaces. It was easy to apply and gives the wood a very subtle pink tinge. I applied 3 coats to all the wooden parts over the course of the weekend.

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lessons learned – use gloves! for the first coat I didn’t bother and I didn’t realise it happening but I ended up with a solidified layer of oil all over my fingers which was very difficult to remove and felt very unpleasant. I used gloves for the remaining coats. Secondly, since I hadn’t put it together yet I didn’t really realise how the pieces fit together and unwittingly oiled shut the slits of the rods connecting the pedals to the wheel. These slits are opened up to put the whole thing together. A pizza wheel worked really well to split them apart again :)

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The wheel is mainly made of MDF and this needs special treatment – you can’t just paint it with whatever you want because of how super absorbent all the fibres are. So first I gave it a coat of MDF sealer which promised I would only need a single, quick-drying coat and then be able to do whatever I wanted. What I wanted was something light and painterly and I dug out a collection of emulsion paint sample pots I bought on sale and have had stashed away for ages. My first attempt looked like this:

when it was dry I flipped it and painted the back and then when that was dry I looked at the front again and decided I wasn’t keen any more on the obvious paint strokes or the hints of yellow. I started to paint a second coat with a fluffier, blended look. I wanted to apply (imitation) gold leaf and rather than wait for a second coat of paint to dry and then glue the gold I thought I would just use the wet paint to stick it. This worked well and I applied a big chunk in one place then tailed it off around the wheel.

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once the paint was dry I brushed off all the loose bits and worked the gold into the grain of the paint for a crackly, distressed look.

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I then applied a coat of spray varnish to seal the gold. This is likely not really needed and I only applied it because we had a half can spare from a different project and I wanted to prevent the fake gold from reacting with moisture in the air. probably I’m being overly cautious and there would never have been any issues but now my mind is at ease.

Then it was just a matter of putting it together!

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This was pretty easy and didn’t take very long. only a couple of bits were tight and difficult to push into place but the instructions were clear and I knew what needed doing at each step.

Ta da!

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and then of course it was time to try it out. It was very squeaky until I gave it all a bit of oil and now it’s running smooth and silently.

My first attempt was a disaster! :)

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I was pedalling like I was on a mountain bike and this wound the wool so much and so tight it was springing all over the place.

In my next attempt I tried to counter this by drafting at high speed to match my manic feet and this worked to a certain extent but the yarn I ended up with is crazily chunky. I went through 100g of wool in an hour and got 53 meters of super chunky stuff that I have no idea what to use for :) it was fun though and I was mostly just getting used to how the whole thing worked. Happily, although the finished yarn is all thick and thin, I seem to have achieved overall consistency – when plying the two 50g chunky, thick and thin singles I ended up with only a very short length of one single left over – the two singles were almost exactly the same length.

I’ve relaxed into it now and am trying some thinner stuff with gentle slow pedalling and it’s going well so far. This fibre is some crazy mix I ordered along with the wheel. it’s got super slippy bits. shiny bits, fluffy crimpy black bits and they all want to go different ways but it’s keeping me on my toes :)

I think spinning thin is the way to go to for me for now just to make the fluff last longer and not run out super quick and have to buy more!

chair revamp

A quick post to show you my kitchen chair transformation – they were originally covered in black leather (I think leather – may be fake leather). The surface was deteriorated and peeling away on a couple of them so I decided to recover the seat pads. I had some nice cream and purple floral fabric with birds, a staple gun and a tin of Scotchgard. It was fairly simple to unscrew the pads, cut off the old cover and staple on the new one.

before (this was the worst one, some were ok)
during – naked chairs!
after – pretty!

stained glass

I’m currently decorating the room I use as an art/craft studio and home office. It used to also be a spare bedroom but we got rid of the old bed over Christmas and so I now have lots of space. One ugly feature is the window – it’s a wooden sash window but doesn’t sit right in the frame so is drafty and doesn’t easily open. The double glazing is also blown out so there is always condensation and milky patches between the panes.

I can’t afford to get this repaired (or more likely, replaced) at the moment so I wanted to try and make it look a bit better for a while. I stumbled across self adhesive film rolls that give a stained glass effect online and then saw that they stock them (for half the online price) in Wilko. £6 and one evening later and my window looks great! I’m happy that it doesn’t cut down the light all that much but the colours are beautiful and cheerful even when not in direct sun.

fairly easy to apply… if you cut it to the right size…

It obviously doesn’t look like real stained glass when you’re up close but it also doesn’t look cheap and tacky. And you can just peel it off when you get bored of it. I also gave the frame a new coat of white gloss and started to paint the room in a green I chose ages ago.

paper automata 2

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In my first post on the paper models you can make from the paper automata book we saw a bowing jester and some jumping sheep. Here are the other two models – a pecking chicken and a flying fish. I think the chicken is the simplest model of the four – it had the fewest pieces and has the simplest mechanism – as you can see in the video below though it is very nicely implemented – the chicken springs back up with a nice pop when you let go of the lever. The flying fish was, I think, the most complicated model of the four – quite fiddly to put together in places. The wheel only turns in one direction – I’m not sure if this is intentional or if I slightly misaligned something. All four models are really nice and for ~£5 I think this book is a good buy. It would make a nice present for someone interested in paper craft and/or automata. I think they are too complicated for children but it could be a nice thing to do together with kids.

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These models are from the templates in a book called Paper Automata by Rob Ives. I was impressed at the sturdiness of the finished models – everything is made in multiple layers and reinforced with 3d bars. The moving parts are all done in such a way that the movement is controlled at all times and joints won’t wear with use.

The book has four models to make all with different mechanisms. The first two here are the motley man who takes a bow with a flourish and three little jumping sheep. See below for some videos of each.

rainbow mitts

I’ve just posted off these colourful fingerless gloves for a friend’s birthday next week. I’m slowly crawling my way around learning to knit properly. I’m currently trying left handed again but eastern style (I think… it’s a bit confusing) and that seems to be working well. I can knit fine in any of the styles but it’s been purling that has held me back – I think I now have a comfortable way of doing it – stitches are moving from the right needle onto the left, yarn held in my right hand, back leg of the stitches leading, yarn held behind and wrap the yarn anticlockwise. switching from knit to purl to knit is fairly seamless this way and much less awkward than other methods I’ve tried. 

These mitts didn’t need any purling though so I didn’t have to worry about that. I used this barn mitt pattern from Heather Gorman on Ravelry and the tiny sock wonder circular needles pictured above.

spin

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My trip to the British Wool Show last weekend inspired me to try spinning. I looked up the local branch of the guild of spinners, dyers and weavers and they were nearby (yay!), had a spinning group (brilliant!), actively encouraged complete beginners to come along (perfect!)….  but they meet only on Wednesday mornings….  so just a group for retired people and those without jobs then.

*sigh*

This is a brick wall I repeatedly run into. Any new art or craft activity I become interested in I look up local groups and most of the time there are a few but they only meet during working hours. There is a regular knitting & crochet session just a stone’s throw down the road every Tuesday morning that I’ve never been to and plenty of arty stuff going on around Berkshire but it’s all midday, midweek unless it’s part of a special one off festival and these are often centred around families and art for children.

It makes me very sad. I don’t want to have to wait until I retire to enjoy my creative interests with other people.

I’m really happy to have found the Reading Sketchers group, as the organisers seem to also have regular jobs so meetups are predominantly on weekends, but anything wool related and it seems I’m on my own for now. YouTube will need to be my guide and community. In particular, I’ve been finding the introduction to spinning videos from Abby Franquemont very helpful.

So, I set about making a drop spindle to give spinning a try. Essentially you can spin with anything that resembles a stick – I’ve seen people do great things with just a chunky knitting needle or a chopstick and toy wheel or door knob. I searched all over the house and couldn’t find any ready made round thing that I could use. I did have half a box of resin though so I mixed some up and poured it into makeshift moulds (the pink is a silicone soap mould, the top one is the bottom of a 2l fizzy water bottle and the bottom left is a little plastic container lid. I added various stuff into the resin, partly for interest and partly to bulk up the resin so I didn’t need as much.

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I bought a length of dowel from a little hardware shop and I already had a threaded screw hook. The length of dowel was £1.09 and long enough to make 3 or 4 spindles but I also found a tapered chopstick that I thought could be good.

Once the resin had set (24 hours +) I removed the pink one from the mould and cut the plastic on the other two close to the resin (the plastic would sort of come off a bit but not easily so I just decided to leave it – it doesn’t really make any difference)

I then drilled a hole in the centre of each, slightly smaller than the dowel diameter and pushed it on. Because of the tight fit I didn’t need any glue to fix them but I think the thinner one below on the dowel might work loose over time as the resin piece is quite thin so I’ll add some glue in the future.

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I ended up with one large top whorl and one smaller bottom whorl spindle as you can see here. These two are pretty much the same weight, around 32g each which is the recommended weight for a beginner spindle so that worked out great :)

The large, flower shaped spindle didn’t work out because the hole I drilled was too large for the dowel but also because it was very heavy – over 50g on it’s own – so I didn’t bother trying to make it into a working spindle.

of the three lots of fluff I got from last weekend’s show I decided to try out spinning using the grey Swaledale, shown below at the bottom packaged into a little bundle.

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when unravelled, the air floofs back into it and you end up with quite a large cloud to play with :) This is 100g

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I’ve discovered I prefer to spin anticlockwise, contrary to how everyone seems to say they do it, I’m thinking likely due to being left handed. I doubt it matters though – it’s just for me to play with and use anyway. It seems to be going well so far – I’ve mostly been trying park and draft as I’m quite slow at drafting so if I try to draft as it spins then I hardly get started before it’s spinning back the opposite direction. It’s making my back ache quite a lot – I’ll need to look at my posture :) I think I will not try to be too adventurous and will just leave this as a single ply – It’s fairly thick and not wonderfully even but in a charming way (I like to think!)

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I’m not sure if I’m putting the correct amount of twist into it – I guess I’ll find out when I try to use it and it either breaks or goes twiddly. I understand that after it’s been spun you then soak it in hot water and do other things to set the twist – I don’t know how much twist can be set this way though, or if that’s even a sensible question.

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Party dress cards

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This is a really cute and versatile card design. I’ve mainly used fabric scraps but if you only have paper/card then that would work fine too. Below I show you the steps to create these cards and they’re pretty straightforward and quick. The time consuming (and fun!) part is picking the combination of fabrics for each card.

1. you will need card blanks for the backgrounds, scraps of fabric or patterned paper and whatever bits you have lying around for embellishment (beads, sequins, bits of card, ribbon, whatever) – for these I used washi glitter tape (3 x 5m rolls for £1 from the pound shop), polka-dot fabric tape, tiny fabric scraps, round plastic ‘gems’ and little paper punched butterflies. You’ll also need scissors and double sided tape (or glue if you don’t have tape but it’s a bit more fiddly and takes time to dry.)2018_05_07_partydress_card (3)2. choose a colour combo you like of a card blank, two scraps of fabric and one or two embellishments.2018_05_07_partydress_card (4)

3. cut a strip from one of the fabrics (thin fabric, netting, lace, etc. works best for the under part of the dress), and a vague dress shape from the other fabric. I thought about giving you a template to use for this but part of the charm of this design is the unevenness and variability of the shapes – it gives them life! Cut a long triangle then cut off the pointy end (the top) and cut two notches either side about a third of the way down from the top (forms the waist). stick a piece of double sided tape about the same length as the bottom of the dress piece a couple of cm from the bottom of the card.

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4. beginning at one end stick the long fabric strip to the tape, folding it as you go to form ruffles.

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5. add another strip of tape over the top edge of the ruffle and a few pieces on the back of the main dress piece and stick the dress down.

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6. cut a few small strips of washi or fabric tape (or ribbon or fabric or paper/card) and add as a belt and straps.

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7. optionally add any further embellishments you want – here I add some little paper butterflies in gold to match the bottom of the dress.

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If you have any scraps of lace then this works really well and if you stick to white/cream/pastel colours then it could easily be a wedding dress instead of a party dress.

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In this card the main body is made of washi tape instead of fabric and little plastic beads are used as buttons for embellishment.

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you can also try some crazy colour and pattern combos – it’s only a greetings card – have some fun!

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My best tip would be to keep in mind that there are no rules, do whatever you like and go with the flow – embrace any fraying or asymmetry that happens.

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shiny crochet sardine

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This little guy has been swimming around in my head for a while now.

Today he finally got out.

I always thought pilchards and sardines were different fish. Actually, I never thought that before today. This is the first time I ever contemplated pilchards. But I wanted to know what to call this post so i looked them up. It seems to depend where in the world you are but generally pilchards are longer than 15cm long so this is a sardine :)

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darning socks

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I have lots of socks with holes in the toes. It seems a shame to throw them out just for that. Today I bought a little darning mushroom to make fixing them easier. It’s cute and painted to look like a mushroom.

I just used a regular little needle and ends of normal sewing cotton I had lying around. I wasn’t too bothered about the colours but now I quite like having one red patch and one blue patch :)

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old chair, new chair

tired looking kitchen chair with peeling fabric

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unscrew the seat pad

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couldn’t get the staples out so just cut off the fabric

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staple on new fabric, pulling tight all around

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stapling done

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and the front – looks nice and neat!

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screw the pad back in – all the rough edges are hidden

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tada! brand new chair

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The fabric is not waterproof so I’ll need to get some Scotchgard or similar before doing the other three chairs.

bead & jewellery bowls

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These bowls are made from air dry clay and decorated with watercolour and acrylic gold paint. I experimented with a few different methods, shapes and styles. Some are large and deep for finished jewellery and some are shallow with a spout for beads during jewellery making that can then be easily poured back into their bags. Read on for a step by step and some tips if you want to try it for yourself.

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I picked up the air dry clay from Hobbycraft with no particular project in mind and it sat around for a couple of months. It was £3.75 for a 1kg block and I used about half to make all these bowls. So that worked out at ~16p each. Plus a bit of paint – call it 20p per bowl. Other things I gathered were talcum powder to stop the clay sticking to my hands (something I read online somewhere and it worked really well), a rolling pin, a scalpel, a silicone mat to work on and a round bottomed glass.

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2. My plan was to roll out the clay to ~5mm thick, cut out a circle and mould it around the glass bottom into a dish shape. Then pop it off, put it to one side to dry and repeat – easy!

hmmm, not so easy. It rolled out and moulded ok but it would not “pop off” the glass. It just peeled off the glass and instantly became a flat disk again.

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3. alternative plan needed. I would need to leave the bowls on the glass until dry. many more glasses needed. I ran around the house like a headless chicken, gathering up anything that would do the trick. I found a few things but didn’t want to risk ruining anything so only a few plastic lids.

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4. This set back also gave me the opportunity to try other ways of making the bowls. A few I just moulded by hand as you would generally imagine working with clay. Another method was to slice into the rolled out disk around the edge and then overlap the sections. the fewer/deeper the cuts, the deeper the bowl with sloping sides. Lots of small cuts gives a shallower dish with vertical sides.

5. I thought that moulding a spout might be difficult but actually it was fairly straightforward and just kind of fell into place. Once all the bowls were shaped I put them to one side with the intention of leaving them to dry overnight.

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6. About 40 minutes later I happened to be walking past and saw that the bowl moulded around the blue glass had cracked in half!

7. Of course, the clay would be shrinking as it dried! It was too late to save this bowl but I needed to take the other bowls off the glasses before they also cracked. They mostly popped off fine and held their shape. (now they pop!)

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8. one did crack as I peeled it off but not all the way through so I rushed it to the sink and patched it up in a scene that was not in the least bit evocative of Demi Moore in ghost. Since it was so soggy I thought i’d experiment with dripping and splashing some paint and see what happened. I liked the effect and left it hoping that it would look just as good once dry.

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9. The next day I splashed paint (watercolour) on all the dried bowls and let that dry.

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10. I then added gold acrylic paint to the edges in various ways to finish them off.

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the cracked/repaired/swayzed bowl dried great btw

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the little spouted bead bowls also turned out great

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epoxy resin jewellery

I’ve been experimenting with resin the last few months and finally at a point where what I’m making is good enough to wear and sell. I’d like to share some of the process with you.

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I watched a lot of tutorial videos and read some blogs while I waited for all the supplies to arrive. It seemed there were lots of things to be aware of:

  • mixing needs to be done very carefully so as not to introduce bubbles
  • but mixing also needs to be very thorough so that it cures correctly
  • proportions of the two epoxy parts need to be measured carefully also to ensure correct curing
  • whatever you mix in to the resin to colour it could also effect curing
  • maybe I need release spray so the resin doesn’t stick to the moulds?

This was my set up for the first attempt. I had my A and B epoxy parts, silicone moulds, mixing sticks and pots, oil, a paint brush, toothpicks and grease-proof paper:

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plus some metallic leaf (silver, copper and gold) to embed in the resin.

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I brushed oil into the molds so that the resin wouldn’t stick and measured out 10ml of part B followed by 20ml of part A. Then I started mixing. very slowly and very carefully for ages and ages :)

For my first few attempts I tried various different substances to colour the resin – the results were not always predictable:

acrylic and oil paint did not work well at all. It just wouldn’t mix into the resin but stayed as small solid lumps:

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nail varnish mixed in well but whatever colour it was in the bottle the resin always turned a yellowy beige colour – ok if that’s the colour you want I guess…

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colourant for soap worked ok but was really tough to mix in – I guess it’s water-based and just didn’t want to integrate.

I saw a few tutorials using eye shadow – this was great but only gave slight tints of translucent colour. I wanted to experiment with a more opaque finish – acrylic ink was quite successful.

I now have some ‘official’ epoxy colourant but it’s good to keep experimenting I think.

everything I tried cured perfectly but sometimes it took a very long time. The time on the box says 24 hours, the reviews said more like 48 and I would agree with that. It’s winter here and the temperature makes a big difference to setting time. It’s more like 24 – 48 hours in the airing cupboard or 3 to 4 days in a regular room.

I got a bunch more moulds and realised that the oil (or any other release substance) was not needed. You need to be careful and ease the rings out gently but I’ve never snapped a ring trying to get it out of the mould. I have squashed them though because it’s too soon and they’re still soft! Even the thin rings are very strong once fully set – there’s no way I could break one with my hands – probably if you purposefully propped one up and then stood on it in solid shoes you could do it.

after a few rounds of this and seeing that everything turned out ok in general I started to experiment. Since the setting takes such a long time I might as well use that to my advantage. Monitoring the moulds over time I started to take the pieces out when they were not yet completely solid. soft enough to cut and shape but solid enough to hold their shape and not pick up finger prints on the surface. By cutting with a scalpel and then applying more metallic leaf I could achieve some great effects looking like raw stone, carved stone, or some kind of metallic ore.

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then I left them to set for a few more days and brushed on a fresh layer of clear resin to seal the metal leaf. A few more days for that to set and then we’re done.

final touches for all the rings included sanding down any rough or uneven edges with increasingly fine sandpaper and then a quick polish.

 

Nice hat Angelina! (drawing with thread)

Today I went to a freestyle machine embroidery workshop in Oxford, where we learnt to draw with thread and a sewing machine.

The first challenge was attaching the right foot to the machine! A cool little springy thing. and remember to put the feed dogs down. Then put the material in a hoop and we were away – some wiggly practice:

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more!

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Then I got a bit carried away and ended up accidentally folding the corner of the material under, tangling all the threads and somehow sewing the hoop inside so I had to cut it out…

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For my final practice I drew a little bird. Here we were trying out the technique we’d use to copy a photo – drawing a simplified version of the image onto pattern paper and then sewing straight through it:

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on to the main event! choose a photo, draw a simplified version onto the pattern paper, tape to the material in the hoop and sew sew sew! Hi Angelina, nice hat :)

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rip out some bits of the paper, leave others. Decide which loops and loose threads to trim or leave long

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Then finishing off the eye and eyebrow details

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There was a bit of time left at the end so most of us decided to have a go at some simple applique

Here’s me proudly holding my applique hot air balloon

When I got home later I added some hand stitched birds to finish the scene:

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And finally here is a collection of all the creations from the day compiled by freestyletextiles (check out their Instagram through the link below for more photos)

My machine jammed and tangled a lot (I’ve had it about 15 years and I don’t think I really take care of it properly…) but to be honest all the wiggles and jumps and clumps just added to the effect. It was a really cool morning and I now feel confident enough to give it another try at home. Eleanor was a great teacher and let us take home a hoop and some other materials so we could have another try straight away.

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eyeball brooch

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Below are instructions for making a bloodshot eyeball brooch for Halloween or maybe a gift for that difficult to buy for friend :) If you’d prefer to buy one ready made then you can do that from my shop: bloodshot eyeball brooch

What you’ll need:

  • small amount of white felt
  • tiny amounts of black and either blue, green, brown or other iris colour felt
  • safety pin or other brooch fastener
  • cotton thread in each of the following colours:
    • white, red, black and your chosen iris
  • white crochet cotton or thin wool
  • various needles to suit thread and wool
  • a marker pen
  • sharp scissors

1. with the marker draw two circles on the white felt of the same size (free hand or find something to draw around. I used an ink bottle) and cut out

2.  choose one to be the front and sew on veins with the red cotton thread, branching out from a central point. Machine sewing is quicker but hand sewing gives you much more control.

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3. cut a small circle from your iris coloured felt (for the iris… obviously) and an even smaller circle from the black felt for the pupil.

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4. with matching coloured cotton sew the iris over the veins on the white felt. Again, you can use a machine or hand sew.

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5. with white crochet cotton (or you could use thin wool or regular white cotton thread) sew a small patch of white on the black pupil.

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6. with black thread sew the pupil on top of the iris.

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7. for the back take the other white felt circle and sew the safety pin (non-opening side!) or other brooch back to the centre with white thread/cotton/wool.

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8. place the two white circles together and sew all around the edge with white cotton thread to finish, making sure to tuck any ends from previous sewing inside. You could also add a little stuffing to make the eyeball slightly rounded.

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9. wear and enjoy!


Copyright & Legal Stuff: I’m happy for you to sell items you make from this pattern but the images and words are mine – I worked hard writing & testing & photographing so don’t copy or distribute any part of this pattern. If you want to share it then link to this page. Thanks & happy sewing


crochet brooches (2)

Easter bunny

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Easter bunny brooch – felt with pom pom tail. Fairly simple to make if you have the right tools – a very sharp yarn needle is needed to sew on the tail and safety pin – mine is sort of flattened and triangular rather than a normal cylindrical shape so it cuts through the felt. I’m sure it’s a particular needle meant for a specific job but I don’t know what this is and can’t find anything similar in a search.

What you’ll need:

  • a sharp yarn needle (see above)
  • a regular sewing needle
  • a small amount of brown felt
  • a small amount of stuffing material
  • scissors
  • a safety pin or other brooch back
  • a small amount of white yarn for the tail
  • a small amount of coordinating yarn to attach the pin
  • brown cotton thread

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  1. cut two Matryoshka / Russian doll shapes ~5cm tall and two ear shapes as in the photo above
  2. with the white yarn make a tiny pom pom by wrapping the yarn around a fork or just your fingers, tying off and trimming
  3. use the yarn needle and coordinating yarn to sew the non-opening side of the safety pin onto one of the body pieces of felt, as shown below
  4. use the yarn needle to sew the pompom onto the other felt body piece

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5. place the two body pieces wrong sides together and sew around the edge using the smaller needle and brown cotton. sandwich the ear pieces between the body pieces and sew through all three layers as you go around.

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6. when 2/3 of the way around add a small amount of stuffing to the body and then complete sewing around

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7. Sew all around again to secure the shape, tie off and sew through the body to hide the ends

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et voila!

if that seems like too much hard work then you can always buy a brooch from me instead. Currently featuring the diamond and strawberry brooches shown below, i’ll be adding more soon. Happy Easter!

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Fish & chips brooch

Friday is fish and chip supper night!

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This was inspired by the “peas” on my pizza slice brooch. Also I was itching to make something with silver thread. My favourite part though is the little final touch of a felt lemon slice. You can tell that these are fish & chips from a restaurant rather than the chip shop because:

  1. The fish has a head
  2.  you only get four chips
  3.  the chips are huge

🙂

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Pizza slice brooch

This is my favourite brooch so far. If no one buys it then I’ll happily wear it myself instead.

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The crocheting for this was done in the same tightly packed way as for the oyster shell. It doesn’t need to hold a 3D shape like the shell but it’s good to have a solid and robust feel to the fabric. The toppings were great fun to come up with and I’m very happy with the combination of crochet thread applique mushroom, beads and button. In my mind the button is a slice of pepperoni and the green seed beads are basil because that’s my favourite topping combo but if you fancy a veggie-tastic pizza slice then the button could easily be a slice of tomato and the beads could be peas. I’ve eaten a lot of pizzas but I’ve never had peas as a topping. I think they’d work though – if sweetcorn is good then why not peas :)

Oyster shell brooch

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This is the improved version of my shell brooch from last week. It is smaller and sits properly when attached to a lapel. I used a very small hook in order to create a thick and sturdy fabric that will hold a 3D shape. It makes your hands ache but is worth it. I created uneven rings of brown, then purple, then beige. I then surface crocheted rings in contrasting cotton and metallic thread and finally added the cluster of glass beads and a drilled pearl. The back is a separate brown piece of crochet to form the outer shell and has a safety pin attachment (I’ve tried various brooch backs and they are either fiddly to operate or not very secure – safety pins are brilliantly perfect for the job). I didn’t use a pattern and just went with the flow to get the feel I had in my mind.

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If you want to try making one then my main advice would be to use a hook at least half the size that is recommended on the yarn, crochet tightly and practice crocheting around the safety pin. If all that sounds like too much hard work then you’re in luck as I decided to open an Etsy shop to sell some of the things I make. I’ve also put a few other brooches on there that I’ve been beavering away at and will blog about them soon.

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Snowman army

Getting a head start on Christmas I spent a fun few hours creating a little army of snowmen. Very easy to do in front of the tv – a circle of white acrylic and while it’s still wet stick on a little heart and carrot nose, no glue needed. Once dry then add a face and arms with permanent ink. I’m not usually this organised but saw a similar card on Pinterest and was inspired. I like the thickness of the paint and that you can see the brushstrokes.

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The cards are all slightly different sizes but I’ll be making my own envelopes so that doesn’t really matter.

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balloons

balloons 1balloons 2Balloons from a ball of blu-tak. I wanted lots of balloons and thought about carving myself a stamp from an eraser or something but then they would all be identical. A ball of blu-tak provided slightly different sizes, shapes and textures, which was perfect. and quite messy :)

quick and easy DIY envelopes

Here is a really easy way of quickly folding your own envelope from a A4 sheet of paper. This is to fit an A6 size greetings card. No template or cutting required. The key part is positioning the card as shown in the first step below. It doesn’t need to be exact but you want it to one side, on an angle and with a small margin around all corners. Once folded then just secure the last flap with either a square of double sided tape, a sticker or, as I’ve done here, a wax seal (flamingo!). Practice a couple of times with printer paper first if you’re not sure.

diy envelope from A4 paper

bath time

bath time

Lidl were selling cheap craft supplies so I bought a punch set and a new glue gun. There was a little rubber duck punch which gave me the idea of doing a card featuring a bath. Here I also used their flower punch for the bath feet and taps and a different flower punch for the hair (flowers cut off!). For the bubbles I just used a normal stationery hole punch.

peacock from hearts

peacock card

still experimenting with my new heart punch; the tail of this peacock is made entirely from hearts. ~five flat to give a background and then seven folded in half to create feathers. I didn’t have double sided paper so I first glued gold and patterned hearts together back to back.