Saturday, 11 January 2020

Glorious Goldwork

I rather like January despite the cold damp weather. I’ve always found it a peaceful, reflective month in which to plan projects for the coming year, brush up on old techniques and find out about some new ones. At first glance nature seems to be pausing too, but of course she never really sleeps, as the green spikes of bulbs in my garden, and the tiny buds and tightly furled catkins along the hedgerow testify.

December is often too busy to get much crafting done, but is an ideal time to catch up on reading. I’ve treated myself recently to a wonderful set of ‘tomes’ on traditional Indian jewellery. Hours of happy study to look forward to within its 600 or so pages – it’s so heavy I struggle to lift it!

I love the rich multi-layered look of the skilfully crafted pieces and it inspires me to create something using a rich colour scheme of golds with some jewel like accents. I did some quick doodles last month and one of those provided a starting point.

 One of the techniques I’m keen to explore this year is ‘goldwork’ which uses a variety of textured metal threads and wires. Traditionally it is often done on a background of silk dupion, which ties in nicely with all my recent experiments with this material. I’ve also treated myself to a variety of goldwork threads and materials and I can’t wait to start creating some exciting new pieces with them.

January promises to be a very enriching month craftwise!

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Enthralled by threads and fabrics

Rediscovering working with fabrics and threads has been a joy over the last few months, and the latest piece has some pretty threads knotted to make a macramé chain for the painted silk centrepiece. The colours are inspired by a vintage china vase I keep my paint brushes in and  it has rather an oriental feel to it. Working in mixed media gives me the freedom to achieve some interesting surface textures, in this piece it’s a look of cloisionne enamelwork that I wanted to imitate. Working the intricate little knots proved a very soothing and pleasurable distraction from all the tidying, cleaning, reorganising and gift buying that Christmas demands.

My love of threads and fabrics started when I was about 11. My nan took me into Norwich to buy some sewing supplies. I’d been given my first workbasket not long before and had told her that I was keen to have a go at some cross stitching. We went to a sewing shop called Aldertons (closed many years ago sadly) and I well remember my excitement as we walked in and I saw the vast array of pretty threads and bewildering selection of fabrics. The old fashioned shop seemed to be bursting at the seams with crafting goodies.

Nan told the lady what I wanted to stitch (a needle book) and we were told that we needed a fabric called ‘Binca’. We thanked her and started to select some brightly coloured embroidery flosses – Every so often as we browsed though the shop she sneaked up behind us and boomed in our ears ‘Binca…… Binca….. never forget, you need Binca! Anyway we did indeed get a piece of Binca, as well as some lovely threads and as we were leaving the shop the lady followed us to the door and boomed after us again ‘BINCA…. Yes it’s Binca you need, don’t forget that will you!’ As we walked up Swan lane nan turned to me and chuckled ‘We never will forget that stuff is called Binca will we!’ And of course I never have.

I have a different more grown up workbox now, a treasured gift from my sister, and it is as delightfully full of crafting treasures as ever….. but not a single scrap of Binca. I’ve recently added a full set of DMC metallic threads and a beautiful brand new book of embroidery stitches to add to the vintage ones . The 11 year old me would have loved experimenting with those!

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Nimble needles

Like any keen crafter, I have an ever expanding collection of craft books. Being keen on mixed media, I have an excuse to buy books on a wide variety of subjects, from macramé to metalwork and everything in between! But it was a very small booklet that began my lifelong love for crafting.  I had been given my first ever sewing basket for Christmas, full of sewing notions such as needles, tape measure, pins and thimble. I begged some scraps of fabric from grandma and she gave me this little booklet.

Those nimble needles still help me – dear old back stitch and his friends help to make bead embroidered pieces and I recognised a distant cousin of buttonhole stitch when I completed the chain on my latest piece.

The tiny floral pattern I painted on the heart reminded me of those little scraps of flowery fabrics and my first adventures in needlework.

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Fascinated by ferns

I've been meaning to make a necklace featuring a fern leaf for some time. They seem to be such mysterious plants, flourishing in secret damp and shady places. There is a hint of the magical about them. Wanting to create a mossy appearance around the border led to some experiments with knotting around the painted silk section.

The Victorians were certainly fascinated by ferns, and collecting them was quite a craze back then. They never seemed content with just looking at nature, they had to dig it up and take it home. Special metal containers called vasculums were made so that the keen fern collector could ravage the countryside and keep their trophies fresh. I think I'll stick to painting nature and leave the real thing to grow and flourish!

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Michaelmas daisies in miniature

Funny what takes you back in time isn't it? This year I bought some plug plants on the internet - a lucky dip assortment for the patio pots. Such pretty things came up, including some wee michaelmas daisies. They remind me of my grandad, he always had them and they flowered until quite late in the year. My miniature version is still going strong out there on the patio, but it's far to wet this week to go out and sit. Instead I've been busy with the miniature painting brushes and seed beads, creating a pendant inspired by them.

I figured that I could incorporate a 'cabochon' made of silk and surround it with a bezel, to make something that had a vintage look to it, in keeping with a flower of cottage gardens..... and urban ones!