Friday, 14 September 2018

Paint by Numbers Quilts

My lovely friend and fellow guild member (despite the fact she moved to Canada 2 years ago!) Kerry has written a book!  It's out now and we're having a blog tour.  Paint by Numbers quilts are really something innovative, and not only for quilters, but for anyone that likes playing with fabric.  The tour starts on Monday, go and check it out!

Monday Sept 17 - Kerry @ PennyDog
Tuesday Sept 18 - Deirdre @ C&T Publishing
Wednesday Sept 19 – Anita @ Daydreams of Quilts
Thursday Sept 20 – Sarah @ Coopcrafts 
Friday Sept 21 – Krista @ Poppyprint 
Monday Sept 24 – Elizabeth @ OP Quilt
Tuesday Sept 25 – Wendy @ The Crafter’s Apprentice
Wednesday Sept 26 – Angela @ Heart of Charnwood 
Thursday Sept 27 – Leanne @ She Can Quilt 
Friday Sept 28 – Katy @ The Littlest Thistle

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Studio update

Hello!  I disappeared then... not that I've been very good about blogging consistently over the past year or so.  I went on holiday, I had intended to post before I went, but ran out of time and then didn't want to advertise that I was away.  I mean, I am THAT famous that surely everyone knows where I live and all the local criminals read my blog...

So, I showed you the floor I was laying in my craft room/studio.  You can see that post here. I've nearly finished...

The weekend before I went away, I laid the beading between the skirting and the floor.

I don't think I did too badly with my corner mitres!

I did the window wall last as it involved the 2 pipes and I thought it would be complicated.  It really wasn't!

The slight gaps are bigger in the photos than in real life, but I have already been round and pollyfilled them.

I had to cut a rebate for the plug sockets (3 of them!).  It wasn't really difficult, though I didn't have the right tools and had to use a big hacksaw.  I could have done with a jigsaw for this.

Bit of a mess by the door frame.  I wasn't sure what to do here.  After cutting and gluing it all, I showed my (engineer) friend at work on the Monday and she told me how I SHOULD have done it.  Ah well!  This will be behind the door anyway.

So, next up is sanding the filler and then a quick coat of paint.  I bought white beading to avoid painting but wasn't counting on my clumsiness and it's scrapped in many places.  Then the room arranging can begin!

Thursday, 23 August 2018


Good morning,

I just wanted to make you all aware of something about leaving comments on my blog.  If you are a no-reply blogger, or are on Wordpress, I can't see your email address to reply to you.  Since the European Data Protection law came in, I also can't see who you are by clicking on your name, so I can't reply on your blog (if you have one).  I used to have the email addresses of Wordpress bloggers who commented often (Alex, Jane, Chris...), but I changed email programmes recently (my previous messages used to go into your spam!) and no longer have them.

So, what would you like me to do?  I can reply to your comments on my blog, but that relies on you remembering you left a comment and coming back to see if I've replied yet.  You could also give me your email address in a comment (I'd suggest leaving a comment, then leaving your email address in another comment, then I won't publish that to the blog).  Any other suggestions?

UPDATE: It seems that if you are no-reply, if you tick the box for "email me follow up comments", I can reply on the post and you will get an email notification.  HOWEVER, I don't know that you've done that unless you tell me!

UPDATE: Sarah found a link to tell you if you're a no-reply blogger and how to fix it:  CLICK HERE.  Thanks Sarah!  Feel free to share far and wide people!

Monday, 13 August 2018

Festival of Quilts

It was the Festival of Quilts at Birmingham NEC last weekend.  I didn't go last year so as I had no plans for the weekend, I thought I'd take myself off there.  It's only about an hour and a quarter drive - but it gets expensive.  The ticket is £16, but then they charge an additional £12 for parking!  Add to that all the shopping you end up doing...

I took loads of pictures of quilts, but I can't show you any of them as I didn't take pictures of the name of the maker...  I'm afraid you'll have to go elsewhere if you want to see quilt pictures - I'd try instagram.  

I am, however, going to show you what I bought.  It wasn't much compared to usual show hauls for me!  I couldn't really justify buying much as I have done almost no crafting recently!

This is a half metre of bicycle fabric to make a new strap for Z's bag.  Long overdue!  I had ordered some online, but when it arrived the bicycles were about 4" tall, so too big!

I've been itching to embroider recently, but everything is still packed away (news on that next week).  I thought I could remedy that with a piece of fabric and some nice threads for a simple embroidery.  The fabric is Riley Blake something or other (sorry, I'm rubbish at knowing what fabric is!).  The threads are: (left) a sparkly rayon by Stef Francis, a Finca pearl 12 in variegated pink, a green silk from a stall whose name I have forgotten.  I looked at some DMC embroidery cottons, but thought I knew where my boxes of threads were at home.  I had a look.  I don't.  

This meant I needed a small piece of muslin to back the embroidery.  The olive oil soap is for felting which I've been itching to do for a while.

A couple of pretty fabrics.  The one on the left is very familiar but I forgot to pull it out and look at the selvedge.  The one on the right was a possible contender for embroidering.

Pre-printed Sashiko fabric which I'll do with normal embroidery cotton, probably in a rainbow.  

And this teddy-bunny kit.  I could not resist it.  There was a sample on the stall and I fell in love - so I splashed out.  Ah well, teddy-bear making is on my list of things to try, so I might as well!

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Copper Embossing - craft class

A short walk from my house is an old wholesale market.  It has been regenerated and boasts a pub, a brewery and tap room, cafe, Vietnamese cooking school, artisan chocolate maker, a shop full of hand-made goods (where I did the lampwork class) and a coffee roaster, among other things.  It's a lovely area and a great destination as they've been hosting a lot of events.  I've been to night markets and outdoor cinema there recently.  Anyway, there is also a craft shop.  It's called Curious? and although I've seen it, this was my first class there.

The tutor was Dawn Feeney who I have seen around at craft fairs and admired her work.  We were doing copper embossing.  

We were given a mouse mat, a selection of tools and a small piece of copper to practice on.  Dawn did a demonstration and showed us what kind of textures can be created using the various tools.  We got to work experimenting.

Then we had a go with the colours.  These are faux enamel paints - Pebeo Fantasy Moon and Pebeo Prism.  I have had a go with these before when I did a mixed media class at the Bead Shop, and I have some at home.  

The paints sit nicely in the little wells made by embossing from the back using a metal stylus and then flattening down the front with a wooden tool.  This was just a trial piece, so I tried a few colours out and experimented with running the colours together or layer blobs of one colour over the other.

Then we got to work on our main piece, which was a copper blank about 20cm square.  I'd sketched out an idea.  Being crap at drawing, I had to stick to patterns!  I started with a heart (I drew round a paper template for that) and filled it with boxes to put paint into.

Some radiating lines to section off the background, and I experimented with different patterns.  The line based patterns are embossed from the back and debossed, by embossing on the front.  I love the texture this creates, with three different depths.

For the circles, I embossed from the back, and then went round them from the front to make the stand out more.

Time for the colour!  I wanted to use teal/turquoise/blue/green as these are my favourite colours.  I added in a bit of pink for contrast.  Originally I only painted the one section in the heart pink, but then felt it was a bit unbalanced, so added pink in some of the circles too.

I took some close up shots, but I didn't think to take a picture of the finished object framed.  In a lovely touch, we each got an IKEA box frame to take away!  Dawn lightly mounted my picture with masking tape, but as the paint was still wet, I have to re-mount it more securely before I hang it.

You can make out the different textures of the paint in some of these pictures.  The Fantasy Moon looks like the surface of the moon with tiny craters, and the Prism is more abstract - the pink paint is Prism.

I thoroughly enjoyed this class.  Great venue with coffee and cake provided, and Dawn was a good teacher (much better than my last craft class experience!).  I'd love to take another class with her, but alas, there's not really much more to learn!  It's more a case of practice and experimenting.  You can also cut out the images and shape them, but that's something to try at home.  She did say she could do a class at her home using heat to create colour effects (there's a great example here on her home page, scroll down).  We weren't allowed to do that at the venue due to health and safety restrictions!

I can see me doing more of this, it was relaxing and enjoyable.  I just need to get some more work done on the house (studio nearly done!) and finish off summer really.  There are too many festivals/gigs/events to go to during the summer for me to get much craft done!

Friday, 20 July 2018

Craft class - Pottery throwing

A very photo-light post today as it's about the pottery throwing class I went on, and being covered in clay is not conducive to handling your phone!

I threw a pot at the Manor House Hotel back in 2014 when I had a fab week there with my mum.  Since then, I've wanted to try it again, but could never find a class.  There is a regular class near to where I live, but it's at the same time as silversmithing so I'd never made it.  Then I noticed you could book a one-off class on a Sunday.  So I did.

10 of us gathered round a table and learnt how to wedge clay.  At this point, I was already a bit mistrustful of the teacher as she seemed rather rude.  As it turns out, it did not bode well.  Clay wedged, we went through to the throwing room where the teacher gave us a 10 minute demonstration covering everything from centering the clay to bringing it up, taking it back down, making the hole and drawing it up, then cleaning it up and cutting it off.  Then we were let loose.  Great, my favourite way to learn.

This was my workstation.  An electric wheel and a stool.  My first fight was to switch the machine to left handed.  The teacher had asked if anyone was left handed, just me, then told me I would try to throw right handed.  Having watched the demonstration, I knew I couldn't.  I just don't have any control with my non-dominant hand.  She was very pissed off with me.  Turned out that throwing left handed involves nothing more than pressing a switch on the side to change the direction of the wheel and moving the foot pedal to the left (which I did myself) which she also fought against me doing!  Years of sewing on a sewing machine meant that I KNOW I can't control speed with my right foot.  But what do I know?

So we began. At first there was much laughter, but then things started to go wrong.  No problem.  We were a room full of beginners, of course things would go wrong.  When they did, the teacher said, very aggressively I might add, "that's not how you do it!  Do it how I showed you!".  Hmmmm....  After being yelled at a few times, people stopped asking...

I was having trouble making my hole.  I could centre the clay and draw it up, but as soon as I put that hole in the top (to make a pot), it went off centre.  She refused to believe me.  Said the problem was it wasn't centred at the start.  So I showed her it was... then she'd walk off and not watch the bit I was having trouble with!

I threw 10 pots.  9 of which collapsed.  The survivor (which is crap!) is in the middle of the photo above.  At that point, I went home!  She said I could throw some more, but what's the point?  I was unable to solve my de-centering problem myself and she just gave me abuse if I asked for help...

(Mine is the one at the bottom).  NOT a good class.  I will NOT be going back.  I don't think pottery is my "thing", but I do think I could do better than this.  Maybe I'll try again with another teacher, if I can find one.

I have chosen not to name the teacher or the place I went to learn as I realise this is a very scathing post.

If my pot survives the kiln (which I doubt!) I will come back and show you the pot.  Oh, another thing!  She said they'd be ready in about 3 weeks.  I asked if she'd email us and she said she doesn't have time to email us and we have to email her to ask if it's ready.  So she doesn't have time to send one group email, but does have time to answer 10 people asking if the pots are ready (and if they're not, these 10 people will email again)... customer service??

Friday, 13 July 2018

Silversmithing - end of term

Silversmithing ended for the summer last week.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to go to the last class as I fell down the stairs at work and badly sprained my ankle!  At the time, I actually thought it was broken, luckily, it wasn't, but it did mean I couldn't walk or drive.

There were three pieces I wanted to finish before summer.  The chain necklace I've been making for months which just needs to be cleaned up, I'm more than half way across.  This I could actually do at home, then just pickle and barrel polish it in September.  Secondly, the spinner ring which is a replacement for the one that didn't spin which was a replacement for the one that became too big!  And finally, a silver pendent using gold from my mum's wedding ring.

The pan-ultimate lesson brought some disasters.  See that raggedy bit towards the top left?  I melted it.  I heated it too much whilst annealing.  I had to file the whole things down.  I filed for about 90 minutes.  Ouch.

I took this picture about halfway through the filing!  You may notice that the join also split.  Oh dear, not going well!!

This is a new piece.  Sorry for the sideway-ness of the photos.  Apparently you can't rotate in Photobucket without it making a mess of the photo.  The bars are argentium, which I used in my brother's ring.  This makes it easier to attached the tiny gold circles which are cut from mum's wedding ring.  I used a hydrolic press with a set of circle cutters to cut such precise circles.  The idea was to attach them, then run them through the rolling mill to make an inlay, but I decided I liked them standing proud.  I just need to add tube to the back and clean them up and this will be ready.  Sadly, it will have to wait til September now, thanks to the fact I'm so clumsy!