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!

Monday, 16 September 2019

A garden escape

Inspired by sketches I made earlier this summer of some beautiful oriental poppies we spotted on the grass verge, I decided to create an abstract pendant within an embossed copper frame. I painted my design on some stretched cotton, and added just a hint of pearly and metallic paint, so that it has a lovely sheen.

Now I'm wondering what other abstract designs I can come up with, based on the still abundant blooms on the patio. I'll get out there with my sketchbook tomorrow!

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Capturing the beauty of autumn in bead embroidery

Subtle changes herald the approach of autumn. Mornings feel cooler and the hedgerows are beginning to take on their autumn hues. The bramble in particular, favours a colourful costume, as her leaves turn the most beautiful shades of yellow, red and purple.

Over the years, I’ve spent many happy hours with watercolours, trying to capture the beauty of autumn leaves and berries, sometimes sitting outside, or sometimes with a sprig on my desk in a jam jar. So I already had a good folder full of reference material to base my necklace on. I've also noticed that the hedgerow that borders our front garden is full of sloes this year, so that is something I'm keen to include.

A painting from my autumn sketchbook 

I love the bloom on these rich purple berries and hunted out a large bead with just the right finish to it as well a a treasure trove of other berry themed bijouterie. I did a quick sketch of what I saw in my imagination.

Having been happily experimenting with painting on silk, I decided to make painted bramble leaves in all their autumn glory. The photo below shows the leaves in the first stages of construction. The wire armature was covered in wire wraps and gave a good firm anchor point to attach them to the background support fabric.

Combining my love of painting nature with making jewellery has meant hours of creative bliss and this lustrous creation is the end result. It’s quite close to my original sketch I think.