Friday, 31 August 2012

Little felted pod...

Once upon a time there was a little felted pod. He started off a lot bigger but got felted and pulled and shaped and felted.... again and again. And he began to shrink, just a little. At one point you couldn't even see the lovely colours on his surface there was so much soap. But he began to notice that he could keep his organic curves better now and he was kind of liking the deliberate lopsidedness of his shape.

When he was put beside the other stones in the garden, he thought he was the best dressed Pod in the neighbourhood :) He had lovely ochre yellows and grey/green contrasts with some nifty highlights in there too. And as if to prove that, he was now getting lots of attention from someone with a camera, obviously admiring his looks!

So he maganimously obliged and gave a few poses showing off all his lovely colours from many angles. Click, click... and a close-up? Of course, don't mind if you do..... did you catch that lovely orangey/yellow detail?... you did! Excellent :) Click, click......

And then.... it was over. Pod relaxed again, contentedly basking in the sun. It would be nice, he thought lazily, to have some other little pods to talk to. Stones weren't the greatest of conversationalists. Maybe he could persuade the pod maker to create him some company? Now there was a very good idea.......

......and then they could all live happily ever after :)

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Felted pod - part one

Last night as I was finishing my blog post,  I had the notion of making a small felted pod, to get back into felt making again and explore 3D forms more. I just wanted to keep it a simple form so the colour and fleece qualities would stand out more.

I have lots of fleece in my stash but my favourites are the hand dyed ones I got from DT Craft & Design when I joined their Fibre adventure club a few years ago. Each month you got a dyed colourway with several types of fleece: roving, tops, silk tops, etc. Each bag was like a little treasure trove arriving each month :) I never got round to using it all so it's been sitting there waiting for the right project to come along - and for me to have enough energy to do some lovely felting again.

'Lovely lichen' -  Fibre adventure club december 2009

I must say I have sorely missed felting. I've really enjoyed my afternoon up to the elbows in fleece, soap suds and bubble wrap! I didn't realise how much satisfaction I get from playing with fibres and all that tactile yumminess!

I chose to work with 'Lovely lichen' as it had some gorgeously soft roving with contrasting delicate silk tops, and I was thinking these pod shapes would look interesting mimicking stones, or weathered dry stone walls - with lichen on them:)

The simple pod form uses a resist technique. In this case, I used a plastic circle inside and wrapped fleece around the form, alternating each flat side as I went, building up colour and tonal values. The detail and decoration went on as the last layer.

I've wrapped the layers and started fixing the top detailing in place here. The silk tops was a bit slippy and didn't want to bond with the roving much. I gave it extra rolls and more pressure with the bamboo mat and it mostly fused. I'll have to remember that next time I use it so I can open up the silk fibres more to get a better grip.

This was as far as I got today before my energy ran out. But I'm pleased with how far I managed. I haven't been able to do any felting since I got chronic fatigue so this is a huge step forward for me. I love felting but it is one of the most demanding techniques energy-wise. So today was also a test to see if I could manage - and I have a nearly finished pod -YES! :))) It has definitely taken me much longer than before but that doesn't matter - as long as I can felt again!

So what needs to be done to finish? I've got to the stage where I can now cut an opening for the pod and take out the plastic. The felted circle has now shrunk enough to be smaller than the plastic disk so it needs to come out, and the fleece - and the silk - is all well anchored in place. So next I have to felt the cut edge, smooth out the side seams, then start shaping the pod. So not much left to do, and then some photos. Felt can reflect the light and bleach out the colours, so capturing the true colours could take a while. It would look lovely on a stony beach, wouldn't it? :)

Well, I'm off  to bed now, to recharge my energy batteries for tomorrow. There is a pod waiting to be finished:)

See you all soon!
elaine x

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Beaded wrap bracelet

Ta-da!! We have a finished beaded bracelet to reveal today:) I've really enjoyed working on this one, very logical, simple to thread but has built up into a nice complex bracelet overall.  It has a rather medieval feel to it doesn't it with all that dense beading.

We left this partway through row 2 yesterday. That row was quickly finished and I was pleased I remembered the pattern without too much of a refresher. Row 3 was very simple to do as well. I was expecting some complex interweaving to hold those middle beads in place but it literally threaded straight down the middle!! I was happily surprised it was so easy, hehe :)

The pattern suggested finishing off with a clasp fastening like a bar and circle but I used my last one up on the snakey bracelet last week so I decided to improvise:) I used a decorative metal button from my stash instead and made a re-inforced loop from the dark purple seed beads for it to fit through. I strengthened that loop so many times it's not breaking, no way!

I spent quite a bit of time photographing this evening trying to see how best to show off the pattern and the button. One thing I've done a lot of this month is brush up on my photography skills with all these final shots!! It's fun when you have the time to spend, playing about with different coloured backgrounds and presentation styles. I need to work on it so when I open my Etsy shop it'll look professional - I hope!

I didn't manage to catch the daylight in time today so I might take some more photos tomorrow and compare the difference. No rain, please!

I am feeling a lot more confident with the beading patterns now so I'll be hunting for some more patterns to try next., the more complex the better! I might even try and design one of my own soon, lol!

Well, there are only a few more days of the August creative challenge left so just enough time to squeeze a few more projects in, don't you think? I think I know just the thing........ :)

See you all tomorrow,
elaine x

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Beading in progress......

I decided to work on a smaller project today and chose a slightly harder looking beaded bracelet to try. This has been in my tutorial folder on Pinterest for a while but I wanted to get the hang of the basics of beading and pattern reading before I launched into this one. The tutorial for this is extremely detailed and has very clear visuals to follow but the instructions are in Hungarian. If you have done just a little beading like me, it is do-able, just follow the photos and have a laugh at google translate as you go!!

My favourite so far is:

8 persons in the forward strand, and three eyes visszaöltünk recorded on the back of seed beads, from which the fibers stand up and the four eye-circle forward binocularly the thread.

The mind boggles, lol! It does make sense when you are making it though - google translate has had me laughing most of the evening ;))) Out of curiosity, does anyone know what visszaöltünk means??

It really is a lovely pattern and isn't as difficult as I thought - despite google's 'help'. It is taking a bit longer than I planned so I thought I'd record what I've done so far and give you a feel for how the bracelet is shaping up. It's constructed in rows, wrapping a 6mm bead with size 11 seed beads, using the little picot on each unit as a joining method for the next row. Once you get the hang of the pattern, you just carry on till it's long enough for your wrist.

My wrist takes about a 7" wrap so I've beaded a little under and left a little space for the clasp. Hopefully a perfect fit. This is the end of row 1, ready to link row 2 with the little picot decorations.

The original pattern has two rows like this and a filler row between them as being the whole construction of the bracelet but I imagine you can make this wider by adding more rows. It would be lovely as a larger cuff too, don't you think? It's beginning to come together now the second row is on it's way and I'm looking forward to seeing it when the third row fills in those middle spaces and it becomes a more solid wrap.

Time for me to call it night now and finish off my three eyed visszaöltünk tomorrow :))  ( I really should find out what it means just in case!!)

See you all tomorrow!
elaine x

Monday, 27 August 2012

Bubbles, bubbles everywhere

After a few days knitting over the weekend I've managed to do enough of the camino scarf to show you how the bubbles are working out. Very yummy indeed! The zauberball was an inspired choice I think as it's slow graduations are working well with the size of the bubbles.

Now I'm working with the pattern, it's quite a simple construction but gives a more complex visual result. I think that's a bit of a theme for me:) Anyway, I love how this pattern uses the tight and loose tension to create waves and the lace circles. It doesn't look quite like this when I'm knitting it though! Lace knitting never looks like the real thing till you stretch it out and pin it at the end. But I wanted to see how it was going to turn out so I pinned this little sample to have a peek. I'm liking this a lot :)

Another knitter on Ravelry who used zauberball suggested that one ball should be more than enough for a nice long scarf or half a ball for a short tuck in the jacket length scarf. I'm thinking why not go for the whole ball as it's going to make rather a bright statement anyway!

Ooh, and can you imagine this as a wrap - maybe in a more subtle colourway - monochromatic perhaps? I'd love to see the pattern over a wider piece. I have visions of duck egg blue or pale sandy colours for some reason. Not very me I know but I think it would be very beautiful in a quiet, delicate colourway. Hmm...

I've only completed two bubbles as yet but nearly at the third one. I like when it comes to dropping the stitches and the bubble appears :) I do double check my pattern and stitch count before I let the stitches run though - check twice, drop once!! Once you get going though you can see pretty easily where the drops will be. I can, now I'm getting into the flow of things, watch the tv as I go and the pattern is easily memorised so you don't have to live with the chart under your nose all the time either. As long as I get the changeover row right then it all flows nicely.

I think though, I'll be saving this for evenings and getting some more jewellery or beading back into my days or I may be seeing bubbles in my sleep!! And after lots of short day projects this seems to be working up really slowly - for me anyway!

See you all soon,
elaine x

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Camino bubbles

Today's been a busy day of mostly painting the ceiling with a little bit of knitting. It wasn't quite meant to be ceiling 90% - knitting 10%, but the painting just kept going on and on..... and one coat wasn't enough so it went on and on.... again! Hoorah for my friend who phoned and made me stop, lol!!

I really should try that the other way around, shouldn't I? Start with the knitting first and then squeeze in the painting. I obviously got my priorities skewed!!

So after said phone call and a lovely homemade pizza, I decided it was well past time to start my weekend knitting project. I've been eager to try Camino Bubbles out since I spotted it last week. My first quick sample used my own dyed yarn but the colour runs were too short for this design so I'll just save them for something else. I haven't dyed any new graduating yarns yet so I thought I'd have to put this on hold. But as I was yarn rummaging, I found a lovely bright ball of Schoppel-wolle's Zauberball in colourway Fuchsia. Seriously yummy find. And it's going to be just perfect - long stripes and gorgeous colours:)

I haven't got far yet but I can tell the colour gradations are going to be just lovely. The deep purple is going to run into a deep fuchsia soon, then onto red, vermillion and orange. This is going to be one bright scarf! But I think this pattern is designed for just that so it's going to be really exciting to see both the pattern and colours emerge together.

It's a very clever little design using tension and ladders to create the distortion from straight lines - a very nice knitting challenge indeed. And that makes me Happy :)) I'm sure I can squeeze in another hour of knittting yet tonight, don't you think?
See you all soon, hopefully with a knitting update. Fingers crossed that ceiling looks finished in daylight because tomorrow it's knitting in the lead, painting nil!

Friday, 24 August 2012


While I was updating Ravelry today, I remembered I hadn't shown you how this lace crochet sample dyed up last week. This project goes back a bit, to the end of last year in fact where I was deconstructing a lace pattern I liked that had no instructions to follow so I thought I'd have a go at writing one out for myself. The aim was to design and make my own lace crochet parasol inspired by these images herehere and here.

I'm quite comfortable with crochet and the general construction of stitches but I've had less experience with the more complex crochet lace designs. So last year, I was sampling a few out and getting the hang of how pieces increased in the round and how to build the complexity of structure and pattern into a design. There are some amazing patterns out there that are dismissed because they look too 'doily'- like, but I've learned a lot from my doilies! 

Working out the lace pattern design

I learned how to increase evenly around the circumference, and that the tension is sooo important. If you mess this up then your whole pattern can go out of shape, even with strenuous blocking and pulling back into shape when it's wet at the end. I also got the feel of when that was happening before I got to the end which helped a lot!! There was a lot of crocheting and ripping back as I went so this little sample has had a time of it:) 

But once I understood how to make an increasing circle regardless of the complexity of the stitches, I could then become more free with the pattern. As I was following an existing piece rather than designing from scratch, it was quite easy to place the pattern elements into each portion of the circle. This sample uses a filet stitch and chained threads so it is easy to see how it grows as you crochet.

I originally decided to use a silk/wool undyed yarn instead of cotton as I wanted a softer edge to the design. I'm not convinced that this is the best yarn for the job but the sample certainly does have a 'soft focus' look to it! It handled the wear and tear of sampling well but it you can see the slight wool content giving it fuzzy halo - slightly.

Saying that, it isn't as noticeable now it's been dyed. Being mostly silk it has taken the acid dyes well but not as intensely as the sock yarns. The dyeing was another tester to see how well the colour took and how easy it would be to hand paint a pre-crocheted sample. Very easy! In fact it absorbed the dye quicker than the wool and the colours bled into each other for quite a ways. Less is more in this case!

So it's answered the question of  'do I dye the yarn and crochet, or crochet then dye?' Crochet then dye!! As much as I love dyeing yarns, I can get much more control over the colour gradations this way and as the circle gets bigger and bigger, the colour proportions would stay the same width. A pre-dyed yarn of equal colour blocks - like a graduating yarn - would make smaller and smaller bands the wider it got. Not what I want myself but cool if that's the look you're going for:)

Well, that's the testing all done. So am I ready to design and make that parasol? :)

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Sea glass ring

I've been looking forward to sharing the sea glass ring I made on my day workshop last month. I was so excited to get the chance to take this course as I've never had the opportunity to learn the basics in  silversmithing techniques before. The course I attended was the Sea glass Jewellery course which runs several times a year at my friend's Gallery/studio here in Cornwall, UK.

The course gave you the opportunity to create a piece of jewellery that incorporated a piece of sea glass. Some people had their own stash but there was plenty on hand for me to choose from. I loved this sea green colour and as I have small hands, it needed to be chunky and dinky at the same time :) Did you know how many different colours sea glass comes in? There were electric blue pieces, sunshine yellow and deep orange as well as pale turquoise and cloudy whites - it was hard to make up my mind. The yellows and turquoises were particularly nice.

We all went for making a ring - which is harder than a pendant apparently, lol, but the example rings were so lovely that I was drawn to them. Then onto the fun bit - the learning!!

The class had a mix of abilities - some had done a bit of working with silver before and others, like me, had none at all. But I felt that was a better mix for learning. Our teacher Rebecca was soooo good - you could easily tell she was an expert! - and I managed to grasp how to shape, solder, use that mini blow torch confidently:) and construct my ring from her demonstrations and individual guidance. As the group was a maximum of 6, we got lots of 1 to 1 time, for which I was very grateful. I was good at following each step but needed more time to learn how to correct the mistakes as I went. But it's all good - I like mistakes because I learned so much more than if it had gone swimmingly the first time!

The filing and polishing at the end was when it started to look like a proper ring. Suddenly it was clean from solder and heat - and SHINY :) And that's when it hits you - OMG, I've just made this ring!! From nothing - like wow! A total dizzy headrush moment, lol! and such a feeling of accomplishment I can tell you. I was on cloud nine all the way home!

This course certainly made me re-think my comfort zones in my own work. It was a huge confidence booster and helped me consider expanding my work to incorporate new materials and techniques. If I hadn't done this, I might not have got into researching jewellery techniques, beading or wrapping wire, or set myself the August challenge to push myself further in my work. A catalyst indeed.

If you are interested, you can find this course and other glass/jewellery courses over at the Jane Smith Glass website. Jane produces amazing glass work, I just love her wall panels - worth a visit:) So many courses I'd love to try - precious metal clay, making your own glass beads - yes please!!

So I'll be collecting coloured sea glass the next time I'm at the beach, lol - I fancy making a pendant :))
See you all soon!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Snake bracelet :)

Hooray! My parcel of beads arrived today :) which means that today's creative project is bound to include lots of beads. This wasn't on my to-do list but I found this when I was looking at another tutorial and that was it, all the rest were put on hold. Youtube is good for that isn't it? You start someplace and end up miles away with something completely new and unexpected!

Why this one caught my eye was it uses the right angle weave stitch that I learned for the monastic pendants last week. I wish I had found this sooner as working last time from just a schematic with two needles was a little more difficult than following this video. I also chose this as the video was produced by Kelly from Off the beaded Path, who designed the jubilee beaded earrings I posted a few days ago, and her videos are always very thorough.

So with my bead list to hand, I started sorting though my new beads - rummage, rummage:)

6mm round beads
4mm round beads
Size 15 seed beads
1 clasp
1 beading needle
2 metres of 6lb fireline

Video ready? Righty-ho, ready to go!

This right weave bead pattern uses only one beading needle and I found it a lot easier actually. I had a little trouble keeping the beads tensioned as I threaded at first but I got the hang of holding the thread pinched between my thumb and index finger to stop it slackening when I picked up new beads. That made a LOT of difference.

This design is worked in two layers: the woven green beads first and then the purple wrapped layer second. So only two simple techniques to learn. I went for a colour contrast but if I had more size 15 seed beads in my stash, I'd have liked to have used a rich gold colour with the greens - yum!! I'll have to save that for the next one. Oh yes, I'm sure this one will be made again, and again....... :)

In the next one, I'm going to try working around the woven beads twice as I go for more re-inforcement. It feels secure enough and probably doesn't need it but I'm curious to see if it will hold the beads in place better as I go. It does bug me that the thread is obvious at the sides even after the second layer. Maybe I need to use a less obvious colour of thread or play around with bead sizes to get a better 'fit' so the thread is less visible. Maybe two wraps of thread may make it even more noticeable - probably! I'll let you know how it works out.

Now I'm off to sort out my beads into compartments - a bit sad but so much fun, lol! See you soon for some more creative experiments :)

elaine x

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Spiral green vessel

As I was working on design ideas for the wrapped yarn samples over the weekend, I decided to finish the green sample that I showed you last week. The sample was designed to work on the flat and be part of a much larger suspended wall piece like 'sunburst'. As I didn't like the joining method that kind of stopped it in its tracks.

So what to do with this little sample? Although this was a tester for wrapping several wires together, it also tested the support method for larger organic shapes. This has worked well and these shapes moulded into a small vessel hold their form successfully. I think they would be even stronger with the wrapped method so I'm very excited to try that out as soon as possible.

I still like the design ideas I had for the large wall pieces so I'm wondering how wrapping would give me more flexiblity of design there too........ and what if the circles vessels were wrapped, how would that affect the stability of the structure - could I go bigger and bigger?? It would be so cool to have something large enough to actually walk inside - imagine!! 

So many possibilities! Got a lot of sampling to do before I get there but let's see where it goes :)

See you all tomorrow,
elaine x

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Jubilee beaded earrings

So this was the project that started me making beaded jewellery. I was following a link from some jewellery pictures on Pinterest and ended up at Off the Beaded Path's how-to video of these lovely earrings. They looked super complex to do and a bit of a challenge - so obviously I was interested :) I followed the how-to video closely which was very, very good indeed. So that decided me. This I had to try.

I didn't want to commit to buying a huge amount of beads in case I found it frustrating or too fiddly so I opted to buy her kit version on her Etsy shop as a treat to myself - and it was really nice to have all the right beads and findings to hand for my first attempt! There are four colourways but I liked this version best. Much more subtle than the red, white and blue version!! (click the shop link if you fancy seeing that :)) I didn't have to wait long for delivery from the US to the UK either so within a week, I was able to get beading.

The kit was great - all the beads needed, thread, beading needle and a very detailed PDF instruction booklet on disk. The book was easy to follow as well but I preferred the video myself as it was literally in real time and I could see every stage as she went - and it was super easy to pause and fix anything as I followed.

This was maybe a little ambitious for a first project as the bead weaving is quite complex compared to a lot of other things I've tried this month - like the monastic weave - but if you have patience with yourself and follow the video or booklet then you end up with a huge sense of achievement as well as a lovely pair of earrings. It teaches you a lot about the construction of beaded designs too which was really helpful.

Because I got on well with the how-to video, I've subscribed to her Youtube channel where you can see all her new jewellery how-to's every week. There's a good back catalogue there if you're interested too. So many projects I'd like to try but I have to wait till my beads arrive - sigh. But I've earmarked a few bracelet designs there and on Pinterest so I'm all ready to go as soon as that parcel arrives at the door!!!

Still got a lot of painting and decorating to do this week but I have mananged to start the Camino bubbles pattern I mentioned yesterday. Knitting is always good to relax with so I'm looking forward to doing more of that tomorrow.

Hope you've all been having a good weekend, see you soon!
elaine x

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Creative update - 2 weeks in!

1. turquoise ring, 2. waves and ladders, 3. copper wrapped earrings, 4. Sparkly!, 5. swirl sample, 6. spiral pendant, 7. Hand dyed yarn, 8. firebird, 9. turquoise ring, 10. green shield 2, 11. turquoise monastic weave, 12. copper bracelet, 13. knitted bracelet

It occurred to me today as I was looking through all the projects so far that we are two weeks into the creative challenge this month - already! So I thought I'd put together a little mosaic of everything so far. The rainbow bag and the colourwork didn't make it to the final cut but hopefully the bag will make a reappearance nearer the end of the month.

It's interesting to see when you give yourself an open ended project like this what you actually decide to spend your time doing. There's a lot more jewellery going on than textiles isn't there! But I'm glad that the vessels are making a comeback even in a small way. I'm thinking that the green swirly wrapped yarn sample (bottom left)  is big enough to be moulded into a vessel - excited to see what that looks like!

And I'm wanting to try out more experimental knitting - patterns with a bit of a challenge to them. One that caught my eye today was the lovely Camino bubbles pattern by Kieran Foley. I've already printed out the pattern and have the yarn ready for that. If I get a chance I'll start it tomorrow. There are a lot of charts so I'll give myself some time to work it out first, but hopefully it will be a quick fun knit :) Looks like a lot of Knit/Labs patterns are quite challenging so I think I'll be back to try some more after this one too. If you're on Ravelry, you can check out their pattern page here or go to their website instead. Definitely worth a look.

Back tomorrow with another project for you but till then enjoy your weekend:)

Friday, 17 August 2012

Monastic bead weaving

After making the rings yesterday, I fancied trying out this bead weaving technique. I have more of those turquoise blue beads I used for the ring and I thought it would make a nice chunky necklace using this technique. First though I tried out a small one to get the hang of the threading. I've tried double needle beading before so I kind of knew how this was going to be constructed but I used a schematic for reference as I went though. (Edit: Sadly this link is no longer working but I have found another great site that shows a great step by step tutorial for this here )

This technique is called monastic bead weaving or right angled weave - if you go to Youtube there are many video how-to's. They were very helpful to get a basic understanding of construction although I wanted to add small seed beads so I had to adapt as I went. Took a few attempts to get what I wanted but I got there. After taking this pattern back a few times, you certainly get to know it well:)  The Amethyst weave uses 6mm AB glass round beads which have a lovely pearescent sheen to them, and size 11 metallic plum iris seed beads. In certain lights the gold comes out more than the plum so it gives lovely subtle contrast.

Then I moved on to the lovely turquoise chunky beads. These are about 8mm compared to the 6mm amethyst ones above, and I used some white pearl size 11 seed beads in between on a 6lb crystal fireline. I think the nylon thread could have done with being a bit thicker as these glass beads are heavy!! It was a bit more difficult to keep the weaving in place as I worked but once I re-inforced the structure by going around the beads again, it pulled everything more into shape and made a stronger finished pendant.

I added a seed bead loop for a chain or ribbon but I'd like to use a more secure method of hanging next time. A chain may eventually break the thread and then it would all unravel - not good! I'm sure I've seen some other methods on my travels, I'll have to find them and try them out. 

I am really enjoying the beading and learning all the new patterns and construction methods, although I need more practice on good finishing where the thread doesn't show quite so much - well, that or some clear nylon thread :)

There might not be so much creative time over this weekend as I've been postponing the painting and decorating in the living room. So the sooner I can get that done, the sooner I can get back to play! I do have a few projects I've done quite recently that I'd like to show you, especially the silver sea glass ring course I went on last month and my first beaded earrings which I love. It really is a shame I don't have pierced ears you know. The irony isn't lost on me :))

Till tomorrow, paint brush in hand, goodnight!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Wrapped rings

Today, I woke up very late but still tired and realised I've been pushing myself just a little much lately. My chronic fatigue has decided to kick in and slow me down, so today I decided to have a no stress, relaxing day off. Of course I only lasted a few hours before I started to tinker with some wire..... and then some beads.... then I was hunting for a tutorial in my pinterest folders..... and voila, some wrapped rings kind of just appeared :)

First the turquoise one with silver wire. The method is really simple but fiddly and I found that it makes a huge difference if you have the proper gauge of wire as it makes bending these forms so much easier. Of course as I'm just starting, I'm using what I've got on hand - which probably isn't the right weight at all! Apparently they recommend gauge 20-22, I think that's about 0.6mm? I'll have to get gemmed up on all this so I can achieve a more professional finish for the effort put in. No fun fighting the wire every time, is there?

As I felt I hadn't got a hang of the wrapping properly I decided to make another one and thought maybe twisting two strands could give an interesting finish to a simpler bead. Of course, my hand drill was in the shed and it was absolutely pouring down outside but I made a dash for it! And this is the result, a burnt orange bead with smoky coloured wire, twisted with two strands and wrapped.

I rather like the twisted effect on this one and with the darker coloured wire, gives it an older, antique feel. Just the right amount of texture to balance the slight grain on the wooden bead. This one wrapped easier as the wire was much lighter and more flexible. Good for the stone wrapping but possibly a bit flimsy for the band of the ring. I'm thinking three twisted strands might be about the right weight. I'll have to try that out.

The last one I made was this amethyst glass bead with silver coloured wire. This wire is nice and sturdy for the band but a bit tough to wrap but after two rings down, I thought I'd give it another go to see if it was just me needing more practice or the wire :) A bit of both I think!! So I wrapped, practiced and tried hard to get as even and precise wrapping as I could. Twice. The first one was way too big for my fingers as the circular dowelling I had instead of a mandrel was just a bit wide for my fingers - perfect for male size though. So I improvised and the second one now fits me nicely.

I still need a bit more practice but the right weight of wire is going to be the best way I can improve my skills I think. I'd like to make some more but I'll wait till my bead order arrives first so I can have more choice of stones - it's late though, so I hope it's not forgotten or lost somewhere in the land of freight and customs :(  Fingers crossed it arrives soon!

See you all tomorrow, as always, good to have you along;)
elaine x

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Spiral pendant

Today has mostly been about designing and bending wire into swirly shapes ready for some yarn wrapping sampling tomorrow. It took a bit longer than I expected to get it all prepared so running a bit late tonight with the blog.

I did manage to do a little playing around with wire and beads as well though. I found some more wire today that wasn't copper so I thought I'd try its thickness out for swirling and wrapping. Very nice weight for the swirls. I don't have any thin silver for the wrapping though so I used a smoky coloured wire instead. It doesn't look quite as contrasting in daylight as the picture but I do like the antique quality it gives.

The beads are a mixture of glass, wood and seedpod giving it a more natural feel. Using the dark cord instead of a light silver chain also lends to the overall boho chic thing going on :) This is made as a pendant but earrings would be lovely too.

Would you believe it took me longer to choose beads than make the pendant? I seem to have a lot of small beads that are lovely but won't fit over the thickness of the wire so I'm going to start honing my bead radar when I'm out and about from now on!

I haven't decided if I'll introduce beads to this sample yet. There's lots of potential so I'll see as I go. It will be good to introduce colour tomorrow too, it looks rather plain without it's covering yet. I've got another few new yarns to try out for wrapping so it will be interesting to see which ones work with this new design sample. I'm thinking something colourful could be fun. 

Well, that's a lot of wrapping planned - I think I'll need a good film to watch as I work :) Thank you as always for joining me and a big hello to everyone new following me here on the blog. It's good to have you here :)

See you all tomorrow with some colour progress!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

To crochet or to wrap.....

Yesterday's little experiment in wrapping made me go hunt out my old vessels sketchbook and samples. I wanted to revisit my ideas with these new techniques in mind and see how I viewed them now. Well, the first thing I thought was - OMG! I can't show you this!! The finish on this green sample is terrible!! Seems like all that small jewellery wrapping has given me a finer eye for the finishing than I had before. And I thought I was being fussy then:) Compared to the wrapped wire, this crochet version looks a lot heavier by comparison. But it's all good. It means I'm making progress! Also the wire ends bent over were just a temporary solution till I found a better way of finishing the wire. Now, I have several solutions I can try. What difference a year makes.

It was very interesting though as my design ideas are still just what I want to achieve, so it was just the techniques that were holding me back from producing them. It will be a good starting place for new work and hopefully I can develop and refine them with less practical limitations in the structure now.

sketchbook design from last year.

It is amazing how similar this sketchbook drawing is to the ideas I'm making now - even to the wrapping detail. The little shield design was for a large wall piece I wanted to make then, but I'm thinking it would look lovely as a piece of jewellery now - with some simplification, I think!!

You can also see with these earlier samples that the dyed yarn has only subtle colour variations. I liked this fact at the time but now I've seen the smaller colour runs in my new yarns, I've changed my mind. Although the subtle details in the greeny/blues are lovely close-up, from a distance they look a solid 'green', not much distinction at all.  I'll have to play some more with colour before I get the balance completely right I think. But it's getting closer:)

I do like the crochet stitch ridged detail down one side, especially around the spiralled ends but it does seem to get a bit messy when it joins another strand. The yarn wrapping avoids that problem entirely. So is the crochet slip stitch wrapping necessary or will just yarn wrapping by hand be a better solution and give a cleaner finish?

I think I will try a small experiment and reproduce a section of this design using the new yarns and wrapping instead of the crochet. It will be interesting to compare and contrast the results. That will certainly be a two or three day project at least so I'll post my progress as I go. I'm sure a few new jewellery techniques will be tried out as well. I keep finding new inspiring images and techniques I'd love to try and I like having little projects on the go as well as bigger ones too. I'm also expecting a little order of beads sometime soon so that is bound to distract me somewhat :)

Well, it's been an interesting day looking through my sketchbook and seeing what ideas I had then. It's obvious I hadn't managed to push the design side a lot so I'm eager to get past the practicalities now and onto exploring the new ideas!

Off to catch a good nights sleep now to be all fresh for tomorrow, so thank you for accompanying me today on the creative journey. See you all soon!

Vessel experiments

Today I've been pulling together all the ideas and techniques I'm wanting to use in my next set of experiments for some new vessels. One newly dyed yarn skein, wrapping, swirly copper and here we have the visual beginnings of something organic that can grow and morph into any shape, form or direction.

The sticking point for me with textile 3D forms has always been supporting the form without compromising the asthetic of the piece. The wire works well to a point but closed units like the circles have flexible joins that destabilise the piece the larger it gets. Using the wrapping technique as well, I'm hoping that this issue will be resolved. If support is no longer an issue, then I can be much freer in the design and organic elements of the form.

So today has been really exciting! Putting these lightbulb moments to the test :) This little sample is testing out so many things: multiple wrapped strands, exposing the copper swirls and does it work with the dyed yarns? And does this type of dyeing technique suit the wire wrapping? How to hide the yarn ends, how to smoothly taper from the covered wire to the bare copper .... you get the picture! So many questions.

And I got pretty much all the answers I needed today too. The wrapping technique I'm pretty impressed with. It gives a neat tight finish in the yarn as well as in wire so that is a big plus. It's more difficult to colour match when the organic strands meet but I think they look okay. I kind of messed up one of them trying a different method to interlock the threads so I could keep the two separate colours - where the orange strand meets the purple one. The technique worked fine, it was just my lack of finesse that spoiled it! A bit more practice needed I think :)

The new yarn worked out a lot better than I thought too. I've come to learn with these vessels that yarn looks completely different than it would knitted up. You learn to look at the yarns with a different eye. This yarn had small runs of colour so I could get more colour changes in each small piece. And although it looked kind of boring as a skein, it looks so much better wrapped here. Quite a subtle palette for me but still lovely rich and intense colours.

The next obvious step is adding beads and metal or glass inclusions in the larger spaces. There are still some techniques I'll have to master yet so it will take some time to get all the elements I want into the vessels  - but I'm getting closer! I'll have to try a bigger sample to test the solidity of the wrapping first before I get carried away with the decorative details, lol!

It will be good to be able to see all these ideas I've had for so long appear in reality. This turned out so much better than I expected today. When it feels important that everything works out well, you kind of prepare yourself for things to go pearshaped :) But no pears today, and if there are a few hiccups then who knows, it might make it even better than the original intention!

See you all tomorrow!

Oh yes, if you want to see any of the earlier vessels you can find them here or just click on the gallery tab at the top of the blog. Links to each piece are under the slideshow ;) 


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