Saturday, 31 May 2008

Another One!

This is the other wooden disk, this time with daisies and a little brass bird. Luckily for me, my son went to London today and kindly bought me some more wooden discs....

Friday, 30 May 2008

Why Didn't I Buy More of These?

Whilst at Aura Bead Store in London, I bought a couple of wooden discs, not really sure what I'd paint on them but sure I'd find some use along the way. Today I painted one of them with a little jungle scene, varnished it and had the brainwave of hanging a little wooden parrot bead in front. The whole pendant is on a soft brown suede thong with a hand-made hook fastening. It is choker length. I am SO pleased with how it's turned out....I will try not to keep it for myself, honest! The annoying thing is, I only have one more disc and I've already painted that sky blue with a view to a different scene. Ah well, I guess this will remain an exclusive for now....£12 + P&P

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Seaside Memories Necklace

When I met Toby from Natural Attrill on Tuesday, he gave me a very pretty vintage rectangular mother-of-pearl charm, which I fell in love with for it's colours and air of nostalgia. I wanted to make a necklace based around it using various seaside related charms and marine-coloured beads, and above all I wanted it to look old. The above is the result - it's two pieces of antique-look chain hung with too many treasures to list them all - gulls, fish, shells, pearls, you get the idea. Perhaps it looks like Grandma's trinket box jammed with years of bits and pieces, but that was the look I was after. It's pretty and all mine........

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Country Garden Bag & a Trip to London

The Country Garden Bag above is what I have been working on for about a week now. It started off as a simple clutch bag in some of the white cotton tape yarn I bought at that car boot sale in order to utilise a metal clasp I wanted to try out. Knitting up the main piece was the easy part, as was sewing in the lining. Then came the ordeal of sewing it to the metal frame - I don't know if you have ever tried to sew around corners through holes in metal with a straight needle, while at the same time making sure two layers of fabric are tucked neatly away inside - not easy. In fact, about a million miles from easy....easy is a dot on the horizon! I skewered myself so many times with the needle, always somewhere especially painful, like down the side of a fingernail or the back of my hand (don't ask!) and then while dealing with the agony, trying not to let my blood get on the pristine white bag!

Then it seemed a nice idea to use the other colours in this yarn (Papua by Adriafil - gorgeous!) to create a flowery I crocheted strips down the lines of the knitting stitches to represent grass, leaving a few inches dangling at the bottom of the bag - two evenings' work. Then I set about making crochet flowers & knitted leaves and sewing them in place, some on the bag, some on the dangling blades of 'grass' - another 3 evenings' work. I finally finished it last night by sewing a little glass ladybird bead on one of the flowers and breathed a heartfelt sigh of relief! I'm debating on whether or not it needs a fine chain shoulder strap...

This will be on sale at the Goodwood Organic Farm fair, Chichester, on Sunday 1st June, but if you'd like to get to it first, it is £25 + P&P.

Talking of the above fair, I shall not only be selling the crafts you see on this blog, but also touting for business with regard to pet portraits. If you fancy immortalising your beloved companion (humans too!!) here's your chance! I shall bring along my portfolio and plenty of business cards - better get in quick because if the project possibly in the pipeline (still don't want to jinx anything) comes off, I shall be a very busy lady for quite a while.

Yesterday I had a brilliant day out in London where I met up with three bloggers who I 'chat' with on a regular basis on-line - Penny & Toby from Natural Attrill and Sybille from Magpie Magic. We had arranged to meet up at the World Cafe in Covent Garden, but where did we all run into each other? Yes, the bead shop opposite! Had a lovely lunch, comparing and swapping beads, getting to know each other, and then had a wander round the shops before a final coffee at Covent Garden Market. Great fun and I hope something we will do again in the future - I promise next time not to be such an airhead and make sure my mobile phone actually has some credit on it........

Friday, 23 May 2008

Ups & Downs

What a funny old 48 hours! It's been a busy time with some highs and lows. I acquired the above semi-precious stones yesterday - the family of a little girl where I work are leaving next week for Australia and the mum brought in a box of these saying it was her collection since she was a child but she'd forgotten to pack it in the container and was unable to take it on the plane, would we like them. Nobody could think of a use for them in reception class that wouldn't be a total waste, so they got given to me. I felt for the lady in question - I remember having to leave most of my possessions behind when we returned from living in Greece and it was awful. So I made her a necklace last night with a few of them so that she could have a little piece of her collection with her - didn't have time to photograph it unfortunately.

My mini-anvil arrived - what fun that is!! It is a great help when hammering wire and I'm very pleased I bought it - let's hope my skills improve accordingly!

Got a new Amigurumi book - the patterns are not very exciting, but at the back is a gallery of various people's work and I soooo want to try and make the tiniest green chameleon out of cotton...wish me and my eyesight luck!

On the downside, we sold our beloved VW Beetle last had to be done, as with my SO now working in Belgium the poor car was just sitting outside in the elements being neglected. Plus we have a 'new' car (new to us anyway) to pay for, so the Beetle had to go. It was quite a wrench seeing it being driven off, but at least the man who bought it is an enthusiast and was already planning what he was going to do to it so I guess Dolores has gone somewhere where she'll be appreciated....

Half-term began for me today - hooray! Ghastly day at work with a mega meltdown by a little boy with a heap of problems, which scared the rest of the children considerably and left me and the teacher pretty upset too. I'm just glad I have a week in which to chill out and get on with some arts & crafts. Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Leaves & Lilies

Another necklace featuring bashed-wire leaves - it's a case of having found a shape that works and using it to death I think! This time the leaves are from brass wire, and I have combined them with three vintage pink lily beads and some assorted green glass lampwork beads. They are hung on a hand-made chain using figure-of-eight links this time, which adds a bit of weight to the whole thing - it feels lovely and substantial when worn as well as having the obligatory tinkling noise! Very pretty and feminine - the flowers and leaves work well together and have a fresh Spring-time feel to them. £16 + P&P

The little bracelet is not for sale - it's a gift for a colleague's birthday - hope she likes it!

I'm currently working on some sketches for a very exciting possible project - don't want to jinx it by telling everyone, but keep your fingers crossed for me!

Sunday, 18 May 2008

One Zebra - Finished!

And that's how much spare time I've had this weekend! Finished this this afternoon, ready for the next one whatever that may be. This is in watercolour with touches of ink. If you are interested in buying it, please get in touch - if not, it's going into the Best of Hampshire Artists exhibition this summer.

Bags & Blackberries..

That lot of yarn from a car boot sale the other day has served me well - the above is another bag made from some pretty ribbon and fluffy acrylic mix that I picked up. It is fully lined with white cotton, has a plaited handle and three crochet flowers with button centres as decoration. £15 + P&P
I have more of the same yarn but in shades of deep pink, and that will probably be my next project - except I have been sent another dress to knit for WearDowney. Eek! It's just as well I have stocked up well for summer fairs as the dress will take a fair bit of time, but at least it's guaranteed payment.
I don't remember where I picked up this glorious Italian yarn - probably from a shop as I only had the one ball and I know it's expensive. If this had been 50p per ball, I'd have a stock of it!! So, the challenge was to make something small to show off the yarn without wasting it. This is a small pouch-like bag which could be used for and Ipod or DS as it has a shoulder strap and closes with a tie. The sides and strap are crocheted in purple cotton yarn. Little bit funky - the yarn just begs to be stroked too! £10 + P&P
I have been struggling creatively to think of how to use my new found skills (and I use the term loosely!) in wire-bashing. I have made a lot of mistakes and thrown an awful lot of wire in the bin and decided to stop for a while until inspiration struck as it was an expensive way to play! Yesterday, while walking the dogs in the pouring rain, I was looking at the hedgerows and the fast growing nettles and brambles. The new shoots of the blackberry brambles caught my eye, as they all had three serrated leaves and made a very pleasing shape which I wondered if I could achieve with wire. Happily, it all went really well with no mistakes and soon I had five leaves complete with serrations ready to be 'aged' in the oven with the baked squash (baked squash is not a prerequisite to the aging process, that was our supper...)

Later, when they had cooled down and achieved a subtle glow as opposed to the bright orange of copper, I put them together with some hand-made blackberries and little white flower shaped buttons which were perfect as the blossoms. (Now I know why I hold on to all buttons & beads I come across in my travels!) Years ago in my teens I had a book which had a few pages on just about every craft you could care to name. One section fascinated me in particular and that was the art of making life-like berries & fruit using beads that was apparently very popular with Victorians. I remember struggling to create a few berries back then but not knowing what on earth to do with them - well it's taken 30 years but I've finally found a use for them! Oh yes, it's a necklace by the way on copper links with black seed beads - £20 + P&P

Having seen Sybille's mini anvil, I couldn't resist and have ordered one for myself. I can't wait to get it although I have a feeling I might look like Gulliver gate-crashing a Richard Dadd painting....

Finally, the zebra is progressing really well and may even be finished today - lots of spare time as my other half is still in Belgium and not coming home this weekend.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

The Zebra so far....

It has been a frustrating time for painting, the past ten days or so. There just hasn't been much spare time and without at least an hour to devote to it, I can't settle at my desk - and I can't paint in the evenings as the light is just too poor and I'm too tired. So the zebra is making slow progress. I am pleased with it so far, however. The initial sketch seemed a bit odd, but as I've worked, I have discovered what was throwing it off (one of the legs was slightly at the wrong angle and it made the whole animal look like it was about to keel over!) and corrected it.

So far I have painted in all the stripes, but still have to complete the shadows and shaping as well as making him a bit grubby - no animal is that pristine! The legs are still ghost-like, and the mud and water are far from finished. Quite a way to go, but it is a journey I am enjoying immensely.

For those interested, this is painted in watercolours, although I have used my black brush pen to add depth to the stripes at the base of his belly and to the left of his head. I used to follow the puritanical watercolourist rules, but these days have come to the conclusion that whatever gets the results is worth doing - why do a half-baked job for the sake of saying you followed the 'rules'? The phrase 'mixed media' covers a multitude of sins!!

Monday, 12 May 2008

Lilac Rose, a knitted confection!

This is what I've been working on for the past few days - it hasn't really taken that long but it's been a busy weekend. It's a small shoulder bag in a lovely yarn made up of lilac mohair, a white tape and a very fine strand of greenish sparkle. I've decorated it with three knitted roses with leaves and a few vintage AB clear glass beads scattered about to represent dew drops. It's fully lined with simple white cotton, and has a crochet/plaited handle. Actually, maybe it did take that long, there's quite a lot of work there! This is £15 + P&P

On a slightly sour note, I was very disappointed to have put an awful lot of work into preparing stock and setting up a stall at the previously mentioned dog show at Calthorpe Park and then sell NOTHING! Wow....that's a real downer. And despite there being about 100 devoted dog owners, only two people showed interest in getting a portrait of their faithful companion done. Goodness, I do hope this isn't the shape of things to come in this difficult financial time or I shall have to throw in the towel and admit defeat! The next craft fair I'm attending is the Goodwood Home Farm Open Sunday on the 1st June - let's hope the people of Sussex will be a little more open-handed!

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Blue Butterflies & Red Roses

I've had these two hand-made glass butterflies for years - we bought them in Devon at Marble World (I think that's what it was called). I've never known what to do with them until now - I spent the afternoon fashioning them into a pair of earrings. They are on gold wire with matching blue glass hearts and beads. They are £8 + P&P

This is my Dark Rose bag - remember the yarn I got on Sunday? Well, the two balls of varigated red just cried out to be made into this completely OTT little bag. It is knitted, with knitted roses and leaves together with black beads, sequins and flowers sewn on, as well as a long red satin cord handle and just to top it off, a pair of sexy tassels. Too much? Who cares! It is also lined with some rather lovely Liberty rose print cotton. It will be on my stall Sunday, but if you'd like to grab it first, it's £20 + P&P

I shall be manning a stall at Calthorpe Park School Companion Dog Show in Fleet, Sunday 11th May 12- 3p.m. There will be a selection of the knitted and felt dogs and cats, jewellery and examples of pet portraits. Let's hope the weather keeps up!

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Car-Booty & a Sneaky Peek!

Oh I just love the summer months when the car-boot sales start up again! I trudged round out local one today fairly disappointed at the amount of complete rubbish on display - who really wants a grubby snaggle-haired Bratz doll or someone's really quite nasty mis-matched china? But then, two stalls before the end, I came across a treasure trove - three cardboard boxes stuffed to the brim with knitting yarn at only 50p per ball! Boy, was I regretting coming out with only £10 in my purse!! But I still managed to grab all the above, a selection of the best bits and enough to calm my yarn cravings for a while....yes, I know I got a ton of mohair not that long ago, but every junkie needs their fix!

After that little windfall, I spent the rest of the morning at the local exhibition painting the above, my latest zebra. Please bear in mind that it is a long way from finished - even the bits you see aren't finished yet - but I thought you might like a taster.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Fun with Wire & Beads!

I was just taking a break from sewing yesterday (my eyes hurt!) and experimenting with wire links when I got sidetracked by the beads on my tray. I 've had a little collection of 'animally' beads in a box for a while now and not done anything with them - found two tiger-striped ones and came up with these earrings. Daft I know, but I like them - it's the sort of thing I'd wear for sure! They'd be £5 + P&P

Yellow is not a colour I like unless it is on a flower or a lemon, but I do like these citrus beads and thought it might be fun to combine them with some rich blue beads on a brass link chain. Very bright and cheerful. £15 + P&P - that is if I don't break it while trying to 'age' the wire....

Got well and truly stuck in to the latest painting and the initial drawing has turned out well. The stripes fit the zebra which is always a bonus and never fails to amaze me that I can get them correct without any artificial drawing aid. Now to the paint, first wash is down and the next step is slow, time-consuming, monotonous and I simply love it - the stripes! And a whole Bank Holiday weekend in which to do it - bliss....