Sunday, 4 October 2015

Viennese Waltz - update 7

I can't believe another 3 weeks has gone in the SAL!  I only realised when one of the organisers, Clair, emailed to remind us, so I whipped this baby out and put in.... wait for it... 2 whole threads!  Here's where I was:

And here's where I am:

Masses of difference, eh?

In case you've forgotten, I'm stitching this as part of a three-weekly SAL, aiming to get us finishing our pieces, either new pieces or WIPs.

You can go and see what the other participants have been up to here:

Tuesday, 29 September 2015


Mr CA and I went on a fab silversmithing workshop ran by the local college at a local venue The Textile Workshop.  Yes, you read that right, Mr CA came with me!  It's his first time to one of my craft classes but it's something he's fancied giving a go for a while and we have talked about it in the past.  I found this class on the Textile Workshop's website and as it was £38 per person for a 2-day course (excluding materials) there was no way I was passing it up!

It was a great class, the tutor - Lisa Pearson - was brilliant and we both enjoyed it.  Mr CA will be my beautiful assistant, demonstrating the various stages we went through to make these rings.  (I made these rings, Mr CA made a masculine one for himself).

We started with 2mm silver wire which we bent around a ring mandrel and hammered with a rawhide mallet to get it to the correct size and a perfect circle.

As there was an overlap, we used a piercing saw (like a hacksaw) on a bench peg to saw the join between the overlaps to make our ring bases.

This is what you come out with after that stage:

Then comes the fun bit - soldering!  The join is painted with flux which is a liquid that helps the solder to run.  A tiny pallion of hard solder was added to the join and then you use a blowtorch to melt the solder into the join.

It is quenched in cold water, then placed into pickle - an acid-based liquid heated to 60 degrees centigrade - to burn off the fire scale.  It's then rinsed in cold water.  Then it was time to file to get the joins lovely and perfect.

It was about this time that I became so engrossed in what I was doing that I forgot to take many more photos!  At this stage you could hammer the ring with a ball pein (round) or cross pein (wide and short) hammer to create a texture.  I did that on 2 of my rings.  I forgot to say at the start, we were making a set of 5 stacking rings, though I quickly discovered my fingers are too stumpy for 5 rings, so I made a set of 2 stacking rings to be worn with 1 spacer, and a single ring to be worn with 2 spacers.

I cut out these shapes from 0.8mm silver metal sheet using the piercing saw we used to cut the rings.  It was quite tricky and fiddly but I didn't cut myself.  I hammered some dots on one of the flowers (that's what they're supposed to be!) and for a tail of the bunny using a centre punch which is a spike you hit with a hammer.  There's a lot of hammering in silversmithing!

I shaped the flower using this.  This is a doming block and the doming punches to use with it.  I put the flowers into the concave slots, then hammered the punch on top to create the curves.  I made a couple of silver balls by just heating a small piece of silver, then soldered these into the rings.  The ring tops were then soldered onto the bases using easy solder, pickled and rinsed.

The penultimate step is to clean up the rings using needle files and them emery paper of various grades until the rings are as perfect as you can get them.  As you can see in the above photo, the soldering process leaves them white.  We put them into a barrel polisher and they came out all sparkly!

Here are the spacer rings with the bunny, can you see the light glinting off the spacer rings?

I had a bit of time left, so I used a piece of copper to cut some circles using a circle punch, then domed them in the doming block.  I drilled top and bottom, except for one which was just drilled at the bottom.  I plan to do some enamelling on them and turn them into a pendent.

I also used some more 2mm wire to make necklace connectors.  I spiralled them using pliers which was really difficult as the wire was so thick.  I then ran them through the rolling mill which flattens them.  I have plans for these, hopefully I'll show you before too long.  I also pierced out the heart, though I didn't have much time for finishing it properly.  I think I'll texture it, then I can use it in a piece.

Well that was a long post!  It was a brilliant class and I WILL be doing more silversmithing!  I'm on the waiting list for an evening class, but I also intend to do some at home... watch this space (but not too soon, you know how it takes me an age to get to anything!).  This class was also responsible for pulling me out of a depressive episode which just shows the power of craft!

Friday, 25 September 2015


So I made a pig.  Mum bought the pattern and an FQ of fabric at the Festival of Quilts and asked me to make him for her. He is weighted down and holds a basket for threads.  I'm not sure what made me decide he was a he.  It's not like he caused my any trouble at all.  Do you randomly assign things as male or female or is it just me?

The pattern is by Cross Patch.  I've got no idea who designed the fat quarter as it was selvedge-less.  I had an urge to sew and, coincidentally it was an empty Sunday so off I went.

The pattern was quite good, other than it didn't give any instructions at all for making the nose!  As you can see in the photo above, the snout is rounded, but pigs have a flat nose and the pig in the photo had a flat nose.  There was even a template to cut his nose out of felt.  I wung it and it was fine.

The eyes are embroidered on, I'm not that happy with them, but you can barely see them as the ears flop over the top all the time anyway.  Another thing overlooked by the pattern designer is a tail and I didn't think to add one in.  This could be a Manx pig.

There is supposed to be a yo-yo on his bum somewhere, but having made the yo-yo as instructed, I thought it looked silly on his bum so I left it off.  It was my first ever yo-yo.  And my last.  Don't like them.

I used a Tilda fabric to line the basket in mum's other favourite colour.  She's going to use it when she's beadweaving to catch all the bits of beading thread that get cut off.  She also said she'd use it for keeping her scissors in after finding a small collection down the side of the sofa cushion.

He's weighed down with aquarium gravel so sits very sturdily and securely on a table top, waiting for bits of loose thread.  At the end of the pattern I was instructed to sew the basket tabs to the bottom of the rabbit's feet.  Good job I didn't get confused and go and sew up a rabbit...

If you are a pattern designer, can I suggest proof-readers??

Monday, 21 September 2015

Bezellling with Khoeps - not the pyramid

As this is a jewellery post, you can probably guess that I went to another workshop at the Bead Shop Nottingham.  I do have ideas of my own for jewellery, pieces half done, patterns I want to try, but my illness/condition just seems to get in the way a lot of the time.  I know I've mentioned it a few times recently, but it is a big part of my life, like it or not (and I don't), and I've stopped being so scared of people finding out that I'm depressed.  Anyway, back to the subject of the post.

The workshop was to create a pendent or brooch using Kheops beads bezelled round a Rivoli.  Did that sound like I was speaking Greek?  I'll break it down.

These are Kheop's beads:
Kheops Par Puca 6mm Beads Pastel Turquoise
Before you start thinking my photography skills have improved, the photo is stolen from the Bead Shop's website, but I give them so much free advertising, I'm sure they won't mind.

This is a Rivoli:
Swarovski Foiled Rivoli Crystal 14mm
It's a round crystal made by Swarovski, (photo stolen again).  We used an 18mm diameter rivoli in the class.  It's rounded on the front, but kind of pointy on the back.  This allows you to encase the sides in a beaded casing and it'll stay put.  Oh, here we go, I've stolen a photo of the back:
Swarovski Foiled Rivoli Crystal 14mm

Bezelling, or creating a bezel, is the way that you encase the sides of the rivoli, holding it in the middle of a piece of beadwork.  What I've done below is made a bezel round the rivoli, then added rows of Kheops and Swarovski bicone crystals.

I just couldn't capture the colour very well.  The Kheops I used are the same ones as the first photo on this page, the sead beads are clear and turquoise, the crystals are turquoise too.  I've added a couple of size 8 beads on the back so that I can add a piece of silver beading wire through and hang it very simply.  You never know, in a few months when I get round to it, I might even post a photo!

Thursday, 17 September 2015

smashing and sticking

A couple of weeks ago, me and wonderful mum went to a mosaic workshop with Lily Mosaics.  She's local to us in Nottingham, so if anyone in the area is interested, I'm happy to pass on her details, she's a great tutor and mosaicing is great fun.  I think I just made up the word mosaicing.  Spell checker doesn't like it anyway.

I completely failed to take any photos during the class, I was having too much fun choosing tiles, using tile nippers to cut them up and sticking them in place.  We had a choice of a mirror, a tray, a plaque or various MDF shapes we could cover.  I chose the tray and drew round two MDF birds for my pattern.  This is how far I got in class.

To be fair, Lis said I didn't have to leave and she'd help me finish it even though the class was over, but I was feeling very tired (and came down with a depressive episode that evening), and said I'd finish at home.  The depression grips me and I'm never able to do much craft work, it takes away my motivation, that's why blog posts have slowed down a lot over the last year or so and I haven't been doing as much sewing.  When I started to feel better, I got out the mosaic and finished it off.

The main background and bird tiles are ceramic tiles, their beaks are made from glass shards (the same kind of glass I used when I made my stained glass window).  The domes are... well they're domes!  The ones on the right are really shiny and pearlescent.  I also used some glazed ceramic shapes, buttons for the tails and some pieces of millefiori for the eyes.  The flowers next to the big bird's beak are also millefiori, it's just so beautiful.  Millefiori I mean, not my mosaic.

When all the nipping and gluing was done, I grouted it.  Waited overnight to clean the grout off the tiles, then grouted a second time for the places where the grout had sunk.  The day after I cleaned it off really well (whilst watching Special Forces: Hell Week - one of Mr C's programmes that I was made to sit through and became hooked on!), then polished it with a soft cloth.  I'm really pleased with how it turned out.  I've bought a tester pot of paint to paint the tray with, I will show you if I ever get round to it!  Mosaic will definitely feature more in my future, I just need to find things to mosaic - wonder how the buns would feel about mosaiced (another non-word) hutches?

To see and buy Lis's work or one of her excellent kits, you can visit her website here.  That's not an affiliate link.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Viennese Waltz - update 6

Apparently it's been three weeks since I last showed an update on my cross stitch piece - Viennese Waltz by John Clayton.  I can't believe it was three weeks ago!  I think I must have accidentally slept for a week at some point...  Today is my last day of freedom before I go back to work tomorrow.  I had a whole week off.  Mr C and I took a silversmithing class on Monday and Tuesday, then I had bead classes on Thursday so I threw in the whole week.  I'll be updating you soon!

The above photo is where I was three weeks ago.  The below photo is where I am now.  I moved the frame slightly but I have finished his whole leg and shoe, I've also added quite a bit to her dress.  I had a semi-successful trip to Hobbycraft on Friday to buy the threads I'm running out of to complete the background.  The codes were for DMC threads, except 210 and 211 which were a completely different shade!  I did my best there, matching up 210 almost exactly and not worrying about 211.

I'm enjoying stitching her dress, but I'm wondering if I should go back and finish off that boring background first.  When I've finished the figures, there's a big of "floor" at the bottom which will be boring too, so maybe I shouldn't get the most interesting bit done first?  But then, when did I ever have willpower?

In case you've forgotten, I'm stitching this as part of a three-weekly SAL, aiming to get us finishing our pieces, either new pieces or WIPs.

You can go and see what the other participants have been up to here:

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Rowendean embroidery

At the end of July I showed you the little embroidery I'd started working on.  Mid August I finished the main panel.  There is another smaller piece which is mounted on the mount... you'll have to wait until I've finished it to see what I'm talking about!

I can't live with those french knots on the beach.  I said I was going to leave them but I can't, they're going to have to come out.... It could be a problem as the straight stitches below are stitched from the same lengths of thread so I hope I don't lose too much...

I also said in my last post that more Rowandean kits were going on my wishlist, well I went to the stand at the Festival of Quilts and another kit came home with me.  I love stitching these so expect to see it make an appearance fairly soon!