Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Capturing nature with fabric collage

We’re just back from our daily walk. It was lovely out along the hedgerow today. I noticed a few different things in flower today, at this time of year things really start to change quickly. High up in a big oak tree we saw seven noisy jays – clearly not socially distancing! The bird life seems much bolder and more noticeable now that it is so much quieter.

I got down to have a closer look at the patch of celandines, paying close attention to the way the centres are formed. Yesterday it was dull and damp, so their little faces were closed. Today the sun was out and their glossy petals had unfurled. I’ve started my fabric collage pendant, couching the petals and leaves onto a painted background. The photo below shows it in progress. I use a piece of card with a aperture  cut out to see how the design works within the circular shape. I changed the shape of the leaves from my original sketch, to better reflect the actual heart shape of the celandine foliage - you really can't beat getting up close and personal with your subject!


I found some tiny size 15 seed beads and a gorgeous rayon embroidery thread to make a raised detail in the middle. I’m also including some gold thread – and it’s real gold! I have a selection of tiny bobbins of this precious thread that came with a goldwork starter kit and it’s a joy to use. For the first time in days I awoke this morning and my first thought was not about viruses and lockdown but about beads and threads.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Ideas for nature inspired pendants

It’s been a funny old week hasn’t it? We’ve all had to make some adjustments to the way we live our lives and even if you’re fit and healthy it can make you feel a bit weary. But there is still much to enjoy and Mr J and I are able to do our usual daily walk to see what’s happening in the wood and hedgerows.

After making some delicious pancakes for breakfast this morning I felt keen to start putting some ideas for pendants down on paper, ready to start painting, stitching and beading next week.


I think I’ll start with the ‘Springtime’ pendant first, it will be lovely to use a fresh palette of greens and blues with some yellow celandines in the background – the little wood was full of them yesterday. I’ll post some pictures as work progresses next week.

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

‘Guinevere’ - A neckpiece inspired by Arthurian legends

It’s very quiet here, living as we do at the end of a cul de sac with a field on one side of us. Usually there is the hum of aircraft from the local airport, but of course there are no planes just now. But beading goes on as usual, and crafting is a wonderful stress buster. I’ve had several emails from some of my usual online craft shops saying it’s business as usual.

My Oak Tree Crafts ‘Acorn Club’ beads arrived this week – lovely spring colours, so will inspire a catkin inspired piece I expect.


The Lakeland Crafts faux leather pieces have proved inspirational, and gave me the impetus I needed to make a start on something I’d scribbled in my trusty sketch book.



 I had some dicroic glass cabochons and some pretty clear glass beads that I wanted to combine, but the clear glass needed pepping up a bit to tie it in more with the cabochons. Faux leather pieces at the back of them makes them truly shine, a technique I will find useful in many more pieces to come as I have lots of clear glass in my collection.

My ‘Guinevere’ piece involved several happy hours of blissful beading. I recommend anyone to try beadwork as an absorbing way to craft some calm into the chaos that seems all around just now and a lovely excuse to have a parcel of beady goodies popped through the letterbox!

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!