Friday, 15 June 2018

A memory ring

I actually finished this ring a few weeks ago, but I have been struck with a mystery virus which means I've mainly been lying on the sofa, watching TV and moaning.

When we lost mum, I kept hold of her wedding ring.  My dad is the most unsentimental person in the world and treasures his memories of mum rather than her possessions.  I am not over sentimental, but this is her wedding ring.  However, I don't much like yellow gold, it's far too big for me and it's not something I would wear.  After a quick discussion with my brother, we decided I'd make a piece of jewellery for each of us using some of mum's ring.

My brother wanted a skinny ring.  After seeing a demo by my silversmithing tutor a couple of months ago on how to inlay gold into silver, I knew what I was going to do.  The wire in the picture above is argentium.  It is basically sterling silver with 1% of an element called Geranium in it.  This means it doesn't need soldering and will fuse to itself.  This was my first time using it.  The ring is mum's wedding ring.

I pierced a piece out with a saw and filed the edges.  This was incredibly emotional.  I didn't think it would effect me like that, but it did.

The sliver of yellow gold was then inlaid on the silver wire before forming it into a ring.  I don't have many pictures of the process, but I took a few of the finished ring.  I hope you can make it out.  After picking, filing, sanding and barrel polishing, the yellow gold went very dull and hard to make out.  My brother reports that it is becoming more yellow as he wears it.

The yellow is to the right of the centre in this photo.  You can also see where I fused it at the back.  I didn't do a great job, but the lack of solder meant I couldn't hide the join more.

The sliver is more obvious in this photo.

Next up is a pendent for me.  Not sure if you'll see it soon as we only have 3 more classes left before the summer break and I've also been working on a necklace for the past 300 years that I'm trying to finish!

Wednesday, 30 May 2018


Just a quick post to say that I just checked my comments section, and it seems that I no longer receive all my comments by email!  I had no idea some of you had commented.  So sorry if you thought I was ignoring you.  I'll try to sort it out...

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Papercutting - craft class

I have wanted to try papercutting for a long time.  I bought an Exacto knife at Harrogate a couple of years ago.  I bought a book, or maybe two.  I have paper.  But I never cut it.  Why?  No idea!  I knew a class would give me the push though, so when I saw one advertised at Two Little Magpies, and on a weekend, I jumped at the chance.  If you live near Nottingham, I definitely recommend these classes.  They are such good value.  It wasn't expensive, and not only did we get the expert tuition, coffee and biscuits, we also got to take away our knives, a spare blade, a pile of templates printed on lovely paper AND the cutting mat! 

We started with a little practice.  We worked from the back, and then turned over to see the results.  I started with the easy shapes at the top and then moved on to some curved shapes and some letters.  Can you guess Z's name?  (as if it wasn't obvious anyway!!).

Please turn your screen upside down for this shot!  This is the first go at a "proper" template.  It was quite chunky and was numbered from 1, starting with the easier shapes and getting harder.  After that we had free reign to try any of the templates we'd been given.  There was a huge variety and some seemed very hard for a beginner, but we were assured we could do it.  And we could!

Here's what I started with - remember you cut from the back.  Apparently it varies from designer to designer, but on this one you cut out the lighter colour, leaving the dark colour as the finished product.

Like this!  Yay!  It was only a 2 hour class, but I had plenty of time to cut another.

This was a bit tricky because of the curves, but mainly because I was getting a little tired.  The class actually ran over as the tutor is far too lovely to kick people out.  I was the first one to leave as I had plans but others stayed there cutting.  I have more templates to tackle and I will!  I thoroughly enjoyed this craft and it's something I definitely want to do more of.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Why I'm not doing much making...

I know my blog posting has become a lot less frequent recently.  That's because I haven't been making much - other than at my weekly silversmithing class and any other craft classes I go to.  I thought I'd show you the reason why.  My craft studio was always on the top floor of my house.  My lodger now resides in that room and I'm in the process of decorating a room on the 1st floor (middle floor) for my studio.  It's taking forever as I work full time and enjoy my free time too much to spend it all decorating!

This is how my craft stash currently looks:

I am actually itching now to get the room done and unpack my stash so I can get making!  I still have quite a way to go though!  I must be the world's slowest decorator....

Friday, 11 May 2018

A present for a friend

I am now at that age where my friends are turning 40.  Yes, I'm 40, good guess!  It was my oldest friend's 40th last weekend, 2 weeks before the event I suddenly realised I needed to buy her a present.  She's not an easy person to buy for... I decided something handmade would be more suitable.

I'd been thinking about an idea of making a pendent using 3 different size circles.  I cut them out of 1mm thick sterling silver sheet using a circle punch.  The mid-sized circle was left blank.  The larger and smaller circles were texturised before punching them out.

The smallest circle is patterned using a centre punch and hammer to make tiny indentations.  The largest circle was rolled through the rolling mill with a skeleton leaf.  I adore this pattern and have it in mind for some future makes.  As the pieces had burrs after punching, I had to file and sand to clean them up.  The smallest circle got a stick soldered to the reverse and the larger two had holes punched through.

This "stick" (a piece of 0.8mm round wire) was inserted through the other 2 circles, then I just used the round nosed pliers to make a bail before filing and sanding the edge.

It was really hard to take photos as I had put it in the barrel polisher, meaning it's very shiny!  I've just put it on a bought trace chain, also in sterling silver.  

This was a pretty quick make.  When I told my tutor my plans, she said I could get it done in half a session.  It actually took me a session and a half, but I work really slowly and do rather a lot of talking and eating!

Oh, and yes, the friend liked it!

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Stencilling a floor

A couple of years ago, I came across a blog post by Mrs H about her new studio floor that she and her husband had created.  Then, last year, after the bag retreat, I had the pleasure of visiting Mrs H's home and seeing it in person.  It stuck in my mind.  I knew that one day, I too would create a floor like that.

So I am!

I read through the blog post, and Mrs H sent me some extra details to help me.  I then bought some MDF, cut it to size, screwed it down, filled the seam lines and screw heads, sanded and painted 3 coats of dark grey paint.  Then for the fun part.  I procrastinated this for ages as I was sure I'd mess it up.  Above is the stencil which I bought from Dizzy Duck Designs.

I painted over it using the same emulsion in pale grey I'd used for the walls in that room (it will be my new studio when I FINALLY finish it).  Then I was scared... the moment of truth...

Yay!!! Go me!!  Thanks Mrs H, thanks Dizzy Duck Designs, thanks Dulux!  I was sooooo chuffed.

I carried on, overlapping the stencil each time to line it up correctly.

Except where I didn't!  That line without dots was my mistake when doing the second row.  I will go back and fill it with dots later.  This is how far I got before I had to give up for the day.  I'd already painted an airing cupboard and a ceiling and I was tired!  It's quite slow going as it requires precision, also the stencil needs washing and thoroughly drying every 5 or 6 applications.  Hopefully I'll be able to show you the finished room soon...  Just got to finish stencilling, then varnish, then do the beading, then sort out the faulty window, get a radiator fitted, put up curtains, sort out the light fixtures, move my furniture in and set up my craft stuff...  so... end of summer maybe??

Sunday, 29 April 2018

The Bag Retreat

Not last weekend, but the weekend before, was the bag retreat with the inimitable Mrs H, bag designer extraordinaire.  I drove down to South Wales on the Friday morning, arriving just after lunch at the lovely hotel.  Bag making was already in full swing in the bag-making room!  I have absolutely no photos at all of the retreat I'm afraid, I was far too busy sewing, chatting, eating and nursing my hamster bites.  I was bitten by my goddaughter's hamster whilst dropping off Colin for them to babysit.  She got me in 3 places, on 2 fingers and I was still dripping with blood the next day!

This is the Double Flip bag, pattern by Emmaline Bags.  The lovely Janelle was at the retreat, sitting at my table.  I met her at the retreat last year and it was fab to see her again.  Not only is she a top notch bag designer and supplier of the best hardware, she's a fab person too and I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with her.  She supplied one of our free retreat patterns and that's what I chose to make.

The hardware on this bag, including this "handmade" label, is all from Sew Hot who had a pop-up shop at the retreat.  I also bought the faux leather used for the base and handle, and the rest of the bag fabrics from Sew Hot.  The outer is an Ombre Metallic Dot.  No idea who designed it or manufactured it... sorry, I'm rubbish at knowing about my fabric!

Due to the hamster bite, I hadn't been able to cut my fabric and fuse my interfacing prior to the retreat, as had been my plan.  This meant that the entire Friday was spent cutting out and interfacing.  Oh, and eating.  The food was amazing, and very plentiful!

I usually add extra inner pockets to bags, but I didn't need to.  Me and Janelle are on the same page about pockets and it has an inner zip pocket, and 2 slip pockets (to which I added a couple of lines of stitching to also create a pen holder).  There are also the two big pockets that form the double flip, and a secret slip pocket at the front.

I used that gorgeous teal fabric for all the lining, except the zip pocket, for which I used a scrap of red fabric with white dots.  I used metal zips for the first time.  It came on a continuous roll with several of the zip pulls included.  It was nowhere near as scary as I'd thought!

It hangs really nicely when carried.  The main inner is between the two pocket flaps.

Below you can see the secret pocket at the front.  It has a rivet either side of the opening to reinforce the stitching.  I didn't use rivets though as I've had no success at home with them so haven't bought a rivet press.  Instead I used Chicago Screws which were a revelation for me!  I LOVE them and will be investing in different sizes and colours to use on all my bags.  There are screws on the handle too.  This particular hardware is all gunmetal, which, along with nickel, is my favourite.

I finished the bag on Saturday night and spent Sunday cutting out and starting to sew a messenger bag for Z's birthday which is coming up in June.  I got pretty far with it, but haven't finished it since I got home as I'm still decorating and rearranging and decluttering and sorting out my house!  News of that coming to a blog post near you soon....

Yes, it was a lovely sunny day for photos!