Friday, 22 June 2018

Foxy messenger bag

It was my boyfriend's birthday at the beginning of June.  This is the first birthday we've celebrated together and so I had no idea what to buy him!  He's very ethical and won't buy anything that's not fair-trade and ethically sourced, so I thought I'd make him something, that way the only slave labour is my own!

This is a free pattern from a blog.  To my shame, I can't find the link.  I was sure I'd put it in a "WIP" pinterest board, but I can't find one on my profile!  It wasn't so much a pattern as a bit of a how-to.  I changed the dimensions and the strap construction and added a zipper pocket inside.

His favourite colour is orange, so I wanted orange fabric.  I thought a waxed canvas would look nice and be fairly masculine (not that he cares about gender stereotypes like that, he's rather partial to pink).  It was really hard to find and so I had to forgo looking for organic fabric (which he would usually chose - he's also a bit of an eco-warrier).  The lining also isn't organic as I couldn't find any fox patterned organic fabric that I liked.

The 2 magnetic snaps and the handmade scroll were from Sew Hot at the Bag Retreat which is where I started sewing this.  I also bought the zips there.  I added a zip pocket in the lining, as you have to have a zip pocket.

This is a very special zip pocket though... look...

Bicycle fabric (yep, he's a cyclist, nope, he doesn't own any Lycra), and...

Another, hidden zip pocket!  This time lined in the waxed canvas.  No, that's not a person in a hat at the top of the photo, it's my hand and a blur!  

Apparently I thought you'd like a closer look at the pocket lining!  No, the fabric isn't upside down, the photo is.  Again, it was surprisingly hard to find bicycle fabric and impossible to find organic.  The problem was that 99% of the bicycles had baskets on them!  I didn't want a cutesy bicycle.  

More Sew Hot hardware there.  I messed up this strap.  I like the way I did it - I folded over 1/2" on either long side of the waxed canvas, and slightly more on the bicycle fabric, then sewed one to the other.  No turning!  I hate the usual method of strap making and much preferred this.  Problem?  I forgot to interface and forgot to add fusible fleece!  So the strap is very thin and a bit uncomfortable.  I nearly didn't give him the bag because of this (obviously I'd left it til the last minute and didn't have time to make another), but in the end I did, with a promise to make him a new strap.  I'll do that tomorrow at quilt guild.

I put a few little treats in the bag for him and he seemed really pleased.  I knew that he would appreciate hand made (he loved the crap sloth I crocheted him!) but have no idea if he's just being polite!  He has been carrying it around so he can't be completely mortified by it!

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??