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June 2024
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Amanda’s Necklaces

I was teaching a netted necklaces class down in London a couple of weeks ago for the Beadworkers Guild, and asked everyone to send me photos of their finished necklaces. I always ask, but don’t usually receive anything, so I was bowled away when I received this stack of photos from Amanda Tinkler (who’s been coming to my Beadworkers Guild classes for the last three years)!

(If you’d like to make similar necklaces then you can either click here to check where I’ll be teaching classes next, or visit my Etsy or Folksy shops to buy the patterns.)

Here are the photos of Amanda’s necklaces – aren’t they fab?

These necklaces were from this year:

Autumn necklace by Amanda Tinkler

Autumn necklace made by Amanda Tinkler

Victoria Necklace by Amanda Tinkler

Victoria necklace made by Amanda Tinkler

Regal necklace made by Amanda Tinkler

Regal necklace made by Amanda Tinkler

These ones come from the 2010 class

Simple necklace by Amanda Tinkler

Simple necklace made by Amanda Tinkler

Hearts necklace by Amanda Tinkler

Hearts necklace made by Amanda Tinkler

Daggers necklace made by Amanda Tinkler

Daggers necklace made by Amanda Tinkler

These were made on the 2009 class

Leaves necklace by Amanda Tinkler

Leaves necklace made by Amanda Tinkler

Fans necklace by Amanda Tinkler

Fans necklace made by Amanda Tinkler

Swags necklace by Amanda Tinkler

Swags necklace made by Amanda Tinkler

Close up on Swags necklace by Amanda Tinkler

Close up on Swags necklace made by Amanda Tinkler

Japanese Thimble Making

After drooling over all the glorious needlework at Ma Mercerie blog I decided to try my hand at Japanese thimble making this weekend, using the instructions kindly posted on the blog.

My first Japanese thimble

My first Japanese thimble

Overall, I’m quite pleased. Sure, my stitching needs work (and I’d use a totally different thread next time), but for a first attempt I think it’s pretty good.  And it was a lot of fun to do (and a nice size for an afternoon stitching project), so I’d make more – in fact I definitely will, as I’ve now ordered a kit from the Ma Mercerie Etsy shop!

And she’s finished!

Drum roll please….

I’ve finally finished the doll I’ve been making!

All done

(click on the pictures to see larger versions)

The bodice gave me some trouble, but was finally completed. It’s made from silk, embroidered with beads and couched metallic thread, and trimmed with hand-dyed lace (that I prepared at this workshop – knew it would come in useful one day!).

If you click on this to see the larger picture, you can see the bodice more clearly

After that, I made her sandals (with a beaded flower at the toe), a vine trailing up one arm, an armband for the other and a necklace. The wings (which I’d made earlier) were then attached as the final step (they got left to the end as otherwise they tend to get in the way…)

From here you can see her bracelet and a bit more detail on the wings

The wings are green/bronze angellina fibres on a pale gold organza with some machine embroidery to bring out butterfly wing patterns. Copper wire was then stitched across the top of each wing, and a green crystal bead added to the end of each wire.

The wings are backed with organza

Although it’s felt like a difficult birth a few times, I am pleased with how this doll has come out – I’ve now got to make another one for my brother!

Ankles elegantly crossed...

New doll commission

Back in 2005 I made a doll as my entry to the Beadworkers Guild Challenge.  The theme that year was ‘In Full Bloom’ so I made a flower fairy, and named her ‘Bloomin’ June’ – and was thrilled when she picked up the prize for ‘Member’s Choice’ that year!!!

June is busting out all over...

June is busting out all over...

June was based on a pattern in Patti Medaris Culea’s book ‘Creative Cloth Doll Making‘, but with oodles of beadwork, and was a lot of fun to make. So I was thrilled when a regular visitor to Patchings asked if I could make another doll for her, this time around a green/brown/cream colour theme.

It had to wait until I’d finished moving house, but I’ve been working on the doll on and off for the last month. First off I made the torso and head, and stitched on enormous quantities of hair.

Start of the new doll

Start of the new doll

Her eyes are glass, hand-painted with a small amount of glitter.

Once that was done I moved onto the arms and legs, with beaded joints.

Enjoying the sunshine

I also added a few eyelashes (the individual ones from Boots work a treat).

In the last couple of days I’ve managed to add a headdress…

Stars and flowers and leaves...

… and yesterday she got a skirt.

Lots of different fabrics went into the skirt...

...together with some machine embroidery.

Now I’m frantically couching metallic thread onto her bodice as I’m hoping to finish her soon!

Antique Textile Fair

Headed off to Manchester today to visit the Manchester Antique Textile Fair organised by the Textile Society.  I’d never been to anything like this before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  It was quite a strange experience, with some stands piled high with scraps and oddments jostling for space with expensive antique dresses, embroideries and hangings. At times the event felt like a rummage sale, with people frantically sorting through boxes of lace and baskets of handbags gradually shedding beads, and you HAD to use your elbows if you wanted a really good look at something.  Some stalls didn’t interest me at all, but this was a large and varied enough event that I easily found lots of things to ooh and aah over.  There was some stunning beadwork, with pieces from all over the world, and I was very tempted by some bead-knitted purses, many beautiful bags and purses with cut steel beads (so tiny!), and a belt with a very intriguing construction, but in the end I had to admit my bank account couldn’t take the strain.

I did give in and buy myself a few bits though.  I got a small stilleto with a mother-of-pearl handle, some beautiful filigree hairpins, a piece of batik fabric from Textile Techniques and this lovely piece (I’m not sure, but I think it was from Jenpatola)

Photo of patchwork piece bought at the Antique Textile Fair

Isn't it lovely?

It’s a patchwork piece made using embroidered sections from old Kashmir jackets, and I fell in love as soon as I saw it.

Close-up on the centre panel

Close-up on the centre panel

I can’t quite get the colours right in these pictures (they’re very rich, with the red roses really singing out), but you can see how dense the embroidery is.  I’ve now got it laid out on my table (where I think it’s going to live) and I’m enjoying a good gloat at all my goodies 🙂

Millefiori Goldwork

No posts for a while, as between Christmas, moving house and starting a new job I’ve been pretty busy.  But last weekend I headed down to Hampton Court Palace to take a course at the Royal School of Needlework, and that seemed like the perfect opportunity to start blogging again!

It’s a wonderful place to take a course.  The building is stunning; I’ve not been since I was taking History at school, and just seeing it again made me resolve to come for a proper look around soon. After signing in at the staff gate we were collected and walked over what felt like most of the building before reaching our destination.  The classrooms are on the third floor, and we were given the option of taking the stairs or a tiny Edwardian lift – I’m not keen on lifts so I got my daily exercise trotting up the staircase.

The course we’d signed up for (I was attending the course with Mum) was a one day ‘Goldwork Millefiori Brooches’ workshop with Jenny Adin-Christie (she’s running a two day version of the class in May). I was a little worried that my embroidery skills might not be up to scratch, but Jenny was a great teacher and the class didn’t assume any previous experience of goldwork (which I’d never done before!). I’d chosen to make the Rose Brooch, and a kit was available with all the necessary materials.

Rose Goldwork Brooch

The brooch I made during the course

I didn’t quite finish the brooch during the course.  I’ve filled in the background at home, and will need to cut it out of the fabric and finish it as a brooch.  The instructions for finishing up are extremely clear though, and Jenny made sure she’d demonstrated all the necessary techniques before the end of the day so I’m happy I’ll be able to finish it off. (Of course, in the week since we took the course I’ve filled in the background on my brooch, and Mum has stitched a further 4 – show-off!)

All in all it was a lovely day.  The setting was lovely, everyone was friendly (although we were all focussed on our work!), and the teaching was excellent.  We’re now eyeing up more courses at the RSN…

If you go down to the woods today…

I’ve taken the plunge, and I’m joining in with October FolkFest over at Folksy (where you try and list one item every day for October) to fill up my Folksy Shop.  I should think I’ll be doing a blog post later about some of the great stuff that’s being listed, but for today I’m writing about the reason I fell down on this challenge on only the third day!

Mum makes wonderful mohair teddy bears (and if you’ve not seen them yet click here), and each year two ladies come up for the weekend to take a course with her.  This year I decided to tag along for the second day, get on with my beading and catch up with the gossip.  Had a lovely day, but we didn’t finish until quite late so I never got around to posting my Folksy item for the day…

Yvonne and Anita with their finished bears

Yvonne and Anita with their finished bears

And here they are with their finished bears.  The bear with the green nose on the left was made by Anita (at the back, on the right), the panda was made by Yvonne (back, left) and the yellow bear was made by Mum out of some hand-dyed mohair from Barbara-Ann Bears.   You wouldn’t think it to look at them, but these bears were all made from the same pattern – it just goes to show what a difference the furs and slight differences in technique make!

Visit to the Festival of Quilts

Last Saturday I went with Mum for a day out at the Festival of Quilts at the NEC.  I’m not a quilter, but you can always get me along to a textile or craft exhibition and after seeing the fabrics, threads and books for sale together with the amazing exhibition and competition quilts I really fancy giving quilting a go.

Once we’d walked into the exhibition area this is the first quilt that caught my eye…

Phoenix Rising

'Phoenix Rising' by Ferret

I loved the colours and the detail added by the quilting.

Close-up on 'Phoenix Rising'

Close-up on 'Phoenix Rising' to show the detail added by the quilting

The next quilt was surrounded by people oohing and aahing – and no wonder!  It was a stunning minature quilt (about 12″ square) that had not only won the top prize in its category but had also been awarded Best in Show.  It was a thing of beauty, and so precise!

A picture of 'Mission: Impossible 2'

'Mission: Impossible 2' by Kumiko Frydl

This quilt using a Hawaiian applique design from the 1930s also caught my eye, I loved the colour contrast and convoluted design.

A picture of the quilt titled 'Kaui o Na Molokama'

'Kaui o Na Molokama' by Pippa Moss

My geeky side was drawn to this quilt.

A picture of the quilt titled 'W Bosuns and the Top Quark'

'W Bosuns and the Top Quark' by Janine Ayres

And the op art look of this one almost makes you dizzy when you stare at it.

A picture of the quilt titled 'Punto Óptico'

'Punto Óptico' by Manoli Lozano

And finally, this one caught my eye just as the tannoy announcements from the organisers were begging us to leave at the end of the day.

A picture of the quilt titled 'A Future and a Hope'

'A Future and a Hope' by Lynne Quinn

At the end of the day we staggered blinking into the sunlight outside the NEC, shattered but clutching all lovely things we’d purchased (I got some more fabrics to go with the Bali batiks I bought a few weeks back – soon I’ll have enough for a quilt!).  I think we’ll be going back next year…

Profile in Bead Magazine

I picked up my copy of the latest issue of Bead Magazine on my way home today, and got to see my profile in print! They’ve written a lovely article about me, and I’m really thrilled to see it. There’s also a project/pattern from me giving instructions to weave my Daisy design.

I forgot to mention (and really should have) that I also had a project in the last issue, giving details of how I shade my beadweaving and giving the patterns for my Three Trees design. The issue’s off the shelves now, but you can still order it from the magazine’s website, or you can click here to buy the project online.

One of the tree designs

One of the tree designs

Bishops Castle, Chester and batiks

It’s a glorious weekend, so we headed out for the day.  I’ve been hankering after making a patchwork quilt for a while, and with our interest in batik raised by the class last week we headed off to visit Textile Traders in Bishops Castle.

Bishops Castle

Bishops Castle turned out to be a very pretty village, if somewhat vertical!

Textile Traders specialise in fabrics from Thailand, Java, Malaysia….  We were in seventh heaven, and in the end I think I was very restrained.  I kept to a pack of four fat quarters of Balinese gold ‘Prada’ cloth, a larger square of batiked cotton with a stylised floral design, a metre of woven fabric in pinks, purples and orange, a beaded belt from Indonesia and a vintage Javanese hair pin!

My stash from the day

My stash from the day

After that we headed off to Chester (yes, I know that’s not the next logical step from Shropshire on our way back to Nottingham, but we had shops we wanted to visit in Chester too 🙂 )

Looking down Bridge Street

Looking down Bridge Street. You can see the Rows above the shops.

I love the way that in Chester town centre you can shop on two levels!  Above the ground levels shops you get the Rows, a second walkway set into the buildings at the first floor as a gallery with it’s own range of shops and cafes.

Steps up to the Rows

Steps up to the Rows

A day with Eekbatik

At the Festival we saw the lovely work of Marie-Thérèse King & Sarah Jones, who are Eekbatik.  They run workshops from The Fold in Worcestershire, where they also show their work, so yesterday I set off there with Mum as neither of us had ever tried batik before!

Playing on paper

Playing on paper

We started off by drawing with wax on paper, so that we could have a play with the different tools.  There were several brushes together with some cantings and kyskas.  It was great to start off working on paper, both to produce more in the day but also as when we first started with the tools the wax went everywhere!

Mum's practice piece on paper

Mum's practice piece on paper

Once the wax was on we got to play with the dyes.  They came in fantastic bright colours and were great fun to use.  We then put the papers to one side to dry, and starting sketching out our designs on fabric (using a thin cotton stretched on a wooden frame).

My second practice piece on paper

My second practice piece on paper

I took a book on The Matyó Roses with me for inspiration, and sketched out a design based on embroidery patterns.  This took FOREVER and I was only able to get a small part of the painting done before we broke for lunch (which we had at the Eco Cafe at The Fold, and I’d really recommend their chocolate and beetroot cake – yum!).  After lunch we all worked like crazy to finish painting the first layer on the fabric, then do a second layer of wax and paint on both our sheets of paper and the fabric.

My finished batik

My finished batik

We just managed to finish in the time, and have the wax ironed off our work ready to take home.

Mum's finished piece

Mum based her design on the folk art of Edit Halász

The Fold was a lovely venue that looked wonderful in the sunlight, and the food at the cafe was very enjoyable.  It was a bit hard to find as it’s not signposted until you’re right on top of it, and I think it could have been made easier to find your way around the site.  Also, several of the artist workshops were closed (although we bought a really nice piece from this lady), and the cafe shuts at 4pm, just as we were coming out of the workshop ready for a drink and some ice cream before the trek back to Nottingham.

Overall though, it was a really good day.  Marie-Thérèse was a great teacher, and I really felt we learnt a lot.

Oodles of doodles

With all the stress (and fun!) of preparing for the Festival and surviving through it, I was just looking for something relaxing to do when Mum pointed out the Joggles newsletter to me with a link to this article.  So I read round a bit about Zentangles and did this in my doodle/sketch book…

My first doodle

My first doodle

That was loads of fun, so Mum bought us small sketchbooks at the Festival and I’ve enjoyed myself decorating the cover…

Gold pen on the notebook cover

Gold pen on the notebook cover

… filling up the first page…

Filling a page with doodles

Filling a page with doodles

… from there I went on to do a heart…

Heart doodle

Heart doodle

… and I’m now working on a flower.

Flower in progress

Flower in progress

If you want to give these a go yourself then you could check the official Zentangle site, see this Squidoo lens for some tips and starting points, or else just do a Google search for images to get you inspired!

Flower in progress

Flower in progress

Day three at Patchings – with added sunshine!

Today the weather was lovely and people came out in droves.  Dad came in with us, which meant that we could all go for a proper look round the Festival.

The marquees in sunshine

Each year there are a number of painters demonstrating and talking about their art, at various sites around the Festival.

Demonstration in progress at the Artist and Leisure Painter marquee

The World Owl Trust have also come along for the last few years, and this year are giving talks on the work they do – greatly enhanced by the prescence of this beautiful Barn Owl.

Isn't it lovely?

The blacksmith always draws a crowd, and it’s fascinating to see him at work.

There’s also been live music each day, with today being the Carlton Brass Band followed by a folk duo (I didn’t catch their name)

They were great

If you’re thinking of visiting tomorrow is the last day.  It’s a really great show this year, with exhibitors such as Wongsam Design, Wendy Darker, Tracy Whinray, Sheila Gill, Sky Blue Designs, Minimal Marzipan, PennyDog Jewellery, Glyn Matthews, David Bellamy and Jenny Keal, Just Soaps, Kerry Richardson, Daisy Designs, Derwent, and Fizgig to name just a few.

I’ll be sorry to see the event end, I’ve been having a wonderful time!

Day 2 at the Patchings Festival

The weather cleared up and the sun came out!  Thirty-two coachloads today, and so many cars we moved onto the overflow car-park.

As the sun came out, people began enjoying the courtyard for a quick break between looking at exhibitions

I’m all talked out, as lots of lovely people came visiting who were interested in finding out what we do.  In between chatting I was working on some chain maille, and Mum was working on a miniature bear in a pale green fabric (who we decided to call Grasshopper).  After placing the last stitch she was showing him to me when he was bought on the spot!

Farewell Grasshopper, we barely knew you

We quickly labelled and photographed him, and then Grasshopper set off to his new home.

We’re looking forward to tomorrow, the weekend is usually very busy with more of a mixed crowd of visitors.

New Moo cards and the Patchings Festival

Yesterday my latest order of Moo cards arrived!  They look fab as always – I particularly like that fact that you can now customise the back, allowing me to add a picture of mybeaded tree I’ve started using as a logo.

Yummy new Moo cards

Some of my yummy new Moo cards and box

The beaded champagne bottle is a new picture I’m trying on a card, I’m really pleased with how it’s come out.

This was perfect timing as today was the first day of the Patchings Art, Craft and Design Festival.  As we’ve a studio at Patchings we’re exhibiting at the show, and it’s definitely an occasion you want to have plenty of business cards on hand!  Sadly, it’s been drizzly all day, but that doesn’t seem to have affected the visitors – I believe we’ve had 30 coachloads today together with plenty of individual visitors.  We always get a lot of art groups on the first day, which means plenty of people interested in talking to us about what we do.

I’ve not had a chance for a proper look round the show yet (just a quick look into the Jewellery and Mixed Media marquee when I was putting balloons up), but it seems really good – I’m looking forward to a proper look round tomorrow.

I’ve been playing with resin over the last week or two, so put out a display of some new magnets made in bottle caps with various inclusions and a charm dangling from the bottom.

Bottle cap magnets

These were SO MUCH fun to make!  I’m now playing around with some bezels we’ve made to try and include resin in jewellery – hopefully I’ll get the first of these finished tomorrow.

Right, time to get everything together for the next day of the Festival…

Typing left-handed…

…because my right hand is covered in henna!  I really fancied having it done for the Patchings Festival, and we had all the necessary stuff (henna, lemons, etc), so Mum’s just finished doing my hand for me.

My hand decorated with henna

Henna drying on my hand

I’m now sitting here carefully looking after my hand, applying lemon and sugar while trying not to flake it off.  A nice break as otherwise we’re on last minute prep for the Festival and keeping our fingers crossed it doesn’t rain!

The Beadworkers Guild Challenge

I’ve been a member of the Beadworkers Guild for about 8 years now, and when I can I really enjoy entering their Challenge.  Each year they set a theme and invite their members to submit work inspired by it.  This year the theme was ‘Music Matters’, and I made this doll, Brunnhilde.

A picture of Brunhilde

It ain't over till....

I wanted to do a comic piece based on the quote ‘It ain’t over till the fat lady sings’, so she had to be a valkyrie from Wagner’s Ring Cycle.  I adapted this fabulous pattern for a singing doll, altering the face a bit and making her shorter and stockier.  She’s got a chain maille skirt with a beaded bustle, a beadwoven bodice with fringing, a bead embroidered shield, carries a spear and has a winged crown on her head.

Side view of Brunnhilde

Side view of Brunnhilde

A shot of the whole doll

A shot of the whole doll

I had a lovely time making her, and then sent her off to be judged.  The Judging is held at the AGM, which I wasn’t able to attend this year (the first time in 8 years I’ve not made it!).  But I got a call last Sunday to let me know I’d won my category!!!  I’m so chuffed about this, and thrilled that others like her as much as I do.  You can see her, and all the other brilliant entries, on the Guild website.

And another class

So this post is running a couple of weeks late, as I’ve been poorly sick for a bit (nothing serious, just a virus-thingy that knocked me back a bit).

Both me and Mum were supposed to be going on another workshop with Janet Humphrey (who’s just launched her new website), this time on Victoriana.  Mum’s had a bad back the last few weeks, but I still made it out there, along with most of the people who were on the Venetian Glory workshop from my last post.  This time we’d all brought a selection of lace, and spent the morning dying our lace (and some of Janet’s stash) with silk paints.  The weather was gorgeous, so we were able to hang them out to dry while we broke for lunch.

Our lace samples, drying in the sun

Our lace samples, drying in the sun.

The idea was to then use motifs and sections of the lace in a small embroidered panel, with a bit of a Victorian feel to it.

My lace

My dyed lace samples, together with backing fabric, ready to start stitching.

My piece isn’t very far along yet, but it was another great day.

Textile class

On Saturday I went with Mum to the Venetian Glory textile class run by Janet Humphrey.  The class was to make an over-the-top embellished pouch bag inspired by some that Janet had seen in Venice.

The bag I made

Here's the bag I made

We started off with a base fabric (I used some Indian silk, Mum used a piece of hand-dyed velvet), and stitched on ribbons, lace and fabrics to embellish.  After making the outer part of the bag it was further decorated with flowers, beads and sequins, before making a lining and finishing off with a tasselled drawstring and loop to hang it from.

And here's the bag Mum made

And here's the bag Mum made.

It was a lovely day.  We didn’t really learn anything new, but it was great to have a day making something just for the fun of it.  And always fun to meet people who don’t look at you oddly when they see the size of your fabric stash!  We’ve got another one in two weeks on Victoriana – not sure exactly what’s involved but it does include dying lace.

Me and my Mum

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day over here, and having read this post on Etsy about crafting Mothers and daughters I wanted to write about my Mum – without her I wouldn’t be sewing/beading/knitting/drawing…

My Mum

Mum sitting in the snow at the Budapest Christmas Market - see the beaded necklaces at the stall in the background?

For as long as I can remember Mum’s been teaching me to make things.  One of the first crafty things I remember was Mum showing me how to stitch a snail shape in chain stitch.  All my teachers and relatives got handmade presents until I was in secondary school – cross stitched pictures, painted wooden spoons, orange pomanders…  I can even lay the bead obsession at her door – she taught me to make headpin earrings when I was about 8, took me to bead shops, and bought me my first seed beading book.  We laugh at the same things, she encourages me when I’m down or stuck, and gives me a kick whenever I need one!  In a minute I’m off to cook her a lovely (hopefully) meal, but I also wanted to say Thank You Mum!!!

Me and Dad

Me and Dad at the same Christmas Market - I was only allowed to put up a picture of Mum if I promised there would be one of me too!