Showing posts with label Craft. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Craft. Show all posts

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Little Betty

I have been meaning to post a photo for a while of this little beauty that I received as a gift from my parents for graduating. It is a miniature sewing machine (which actually works by turning the handle!) with a tiny needle felted wren perching on top. I am especially fond of its name 'Little Betty' since Betty is also the name of my cat!

My house is full of trinkets and treasures which I have collected over the past few years - If I see something interesting or unusual at flea markets, vintage fairs or charity shops I can't resist buying them! Each piece has its own history and story and I like to imagine who they belonged to before me or who created them. To me these are the things that make my house a home, so I will go on collecting until I eventually run out of room!

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Using natural dyes

Whilst creating work for my degree piece I began experimenting dying fabrics using natural pigments and products. Years ago I attended a textile workshop where we used rusty objects to dye and stain fabrics which I was surprised to discover produced some beautiful results. Since my latest project focused on the life and work of honeybees, I was keen to use natural dyes to create the fabric used in my textile work since I felt this would work well with the context of my piece. A quick internet search led me to a whole abundance of blogs and tutorials about using natural dyes. From spices such as turmeric to dandelion roots or red cabbage you would be surprised by how many things that you probably already have at home or in your garden that you can use to produce some really effective dyes.

For my honeybee work I was focusing on the symbolism of the colour yellow, so I stuck to using turmeric, onion skins and dried plant extracts from yellow flowers such as weld and madder. If you want to grow plants specifically to use as dyes there is a great website  was able to find a great UK website which sells many different flowers seeds. If you are impatient to get dyeing and see some results, they also sell dyes, flower/plant extracts and mordants. That particular website was a great resource of information for me when it came to getting started with dyeing - they provide some really useful tips and information on which are the best fabrics to use and how to prepare your fabric so that the colours will last. 

Weld - a great flower to use either dried or fresh to create a yellow dye

For a recent commission I was asked to create an embroidery of a sweet pea so decided to use this as an opportunity to experiment with some purple dyes. A quick trip to the supermarket provided me with some red onion skins, beetroot, red cabbage and black beans and after soaking my fabric in vinegar to mordant it, I soon began to get to work with the dyeing! Each dye produced a different colour - all of which were lovely but it was the red cabbage which created the nicest shade of purple. I also used a couple of different fabrics - thin muslin cotton, silk and a thicker cotton/calico which also led to a lot of variation in the tones and shades of each dye. Bear in mind that it is always best to use natural fibres when dyeing to produce good results. Below is a picture of my finished piece. All the fabric used was dyed using red beetroot then layered up an embroidered onto.

I really loved the process of natural dyeing - it may sound silly but it is so satisfying to see such great results so quickly just by using products that are so simple to attain! It is definitely a process I am keen to learn more about and continue to experiment with. The possibilities If what you can do are endless... 
Below I have left some links to some of the blogs and tutorials that helped me get going, as I said there are so many out there each of which describe different techniques and methods. I have also included the website of artist India Flint. A innovative  textile artist who has really taken things to the next level with her methods and use of natural dyes.

Enjoy exploring and experimenting!

Folk Fibers blog -  yellow and red onion skin tutorial


Monday, 8 June 2015

Upcoming workshops!

On Sunday the 21st of June I will be running a craft workshop in Bristol to create unique accessories for the upcoming festival season! For details and information please visit my website here

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Degree Show work

After what has seemed like a very long time I am finally about to complete my degree in Drawing and Applied Arts! The last few months have been an exciting and stressful whirlwind of manically making work, meeting deadlines and trying to decide what to do with the rest of my life...
The degree show exhibition opens this Friday from 6pm at the BowerAshton Campus, Bristol. All the arts degrees will be exhibiting final year work at the University so visitors can enjoy every kind of art form - from fashion to photography. You can visit the website for our degree here, it features examples and information about all the students creative practices. Everyone on the course has worked so hard these last few weeks to create an exhibition which is full of diverse and inspirational art.

 In my last post I wrote about the project on bees I was about to begin and my time spent with Skep maker, Martin. Well throughout the year I have been continuing to explore this theme, gathering information and myths and stories about the lives and livelihood of honeybees. I then created prints, embroideries and and a series of sketchbooks and most significantly made a large human sized bee home weaved from willow! 
The structure of the willow bee hive is inspired by the traditional skeps as well as the homes of solitary bees. It took several weeks of working on it until I was happy with the shape and form, I loved working with willow although it did present many challenges and limitations.
I will be posting some photographs of the finished willow dome as it is exhibited at the degree show, but for now here are some sneak peaks of the artwork I have created throughout the year in response to the theme of honeybees.
More images of my work can be seen on my brand new website!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Finding hope

Lately it has become almost unbearable to follow the news and current affairs; from the terrible fights in Gaza, to the heartbreaking news of Robin Williams death, it seems that everywhere we turn we are faced with stories of tragedy and suffering.

However I feel it is important at times like this to appreciate human acts of true kindness and good will - because if you really look hard enough you will see that these are taking place everywhere too, its just we have come to overlook and dismiss them as we go about our day to day lives.

This week I have a personal story of kindness that I wish to share:

I have recently taken an interest in bees and beekeeping, and since I am about to embark on the third year of my art degree, I have decided to make this the theme and focus of my work. Over the summer I have been researching and gathering information about all things bees - from scientific information about all the different species, to ancient bee keeping traditions, folklore and myths. 

During my research I found some pictures of these beautiful bee skeps, which were traditionally used to keep bees in as well as moving swarms of bees back into a hive. The bee skeps are made by hand using straw and cane, however it is something of a dying craft as modern wooden hives are now more popular and skeps are not used so often.

I have a fondness for traditional crafts and therefore was delighted to stumble across the comprehensive website of Martin Buckle - an experienced bee keeper and talented skep maker. I decided to email him and enquire about doing some work experience or a one to one skep making course with him. I was keen to not only learn how to make a bee skep - but also to gain an insight into the life of a craftsman and how his beekeeping and skep making became more than a hobby but a way of life.

To my surprise Martin not only agreed to offer me one to one tuition in skep making, he also kindly offered for me to stay in his home with him and his wife for a few days instead of booking into a hostel.

I intend to write a separate blog post with lots of pictures and examples of the skeps and other creations I made during my stay with Martin, but for this post I just want to focus on how kind and gracious Martin and his wife were to me. I was not expecting him to offer me one to one tuition - however not only did he provide that, he also graciously welcomed me into his home, sharing his stories and endless wealth of knowledge and experience and sent me off equipped with tools and materials and plenty of inspiration  for continuing my work. 

Getting to know Martin and his wife Pam was an absolute pleasure - they were such an interesting couple and we found plenty to talk about. They refused any offer of payment for my stay or the tuition and materials that Martin gave me, insisting that it had been simply nice to have me there.

Experiences like this may be rare but I really feel that if everyone became a little more open to trusting the kindness of others, to making the effort to share and connect with someone you may initially have thought you had nothing in common with, then we could all gain so much.

It is important in times of darkness to hold on to every moment of joy and wonder. A smile from a stranger, a conversation with a shopkeeper, hearing the laugh of a child or having a hug from someone you love - these tiny, overlooked snippets of hope and love should not be dismissed, should not be overlooked. Just because they do not speak to us as loudly as some of the shocking headlines of the news it does not make them any less important or valuable. Appreciate every act of kindness, reflect on and soak up every brief flash of happiness, even if it last just second - it is precious and should be treated as such.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

DIY Festival bum bag

It's an exciting thought that this time next week I will be with all my friends at Glastonbury Festival! Hopefully I will be sat on a stone of the Stone Circle - watching the sunset and enjoying the buzz of the crowd. Last year was my first time at Glastonbury and I was so apprehensive before I went, however like most people do I fell in love with it and could happily spend every summer going!

I thought I'd share with you a DIY I made last week in preparation for the festival - an essential accessory for carrying any valuables or vitals that you need close to hand. Bum bag/fanny pack -whatever you want to call them, they are definitely a must have for any festival.

Mine was made using completely recycled materials - the embroidered fabric was from an old dress that I used to love but had a stain on it; the lilac fabric was from a throw that used to cover my sofa!

Ralph my Cat helping me make the bum bag!

You will need:

Pretty fabric or material  (at least 25cm x 10cm)
A zip that measures the same length as your chosen fabric
A belt (this can be a belt you already own or a new one. You could also use some brightly coloured bias binding or some pom pom trim would look great too!)
Extra fabric for belt loops (7cm x 2cm)

Step 1 
Cut two pieces of fabric so that they are the same size and shape. You can make the bum bag as big as you need - the one here measures 15cm x 30cm which is quite a nice size as I can fit my purse, ID, phone and anti bacterial hand gel in it!

Step 2
Pin your zip in between the two lengths of fabric making sure that the front of the zip is on the same side as the front of your fabric

Step 3
Sew on your zip. I used a sewing machine but you could hand sew ; just make sure you use strong thread and perhaps do more than one line of stitching to make sure it is secure.

Step 4
In order to create belt loops, take two strips of fabric and cut them into equal lengths measuring roughly 7cm x 2cm. The length of these can vary depending on how thick your belt is but don't make them too thin as they need to be strong.

Step 5
Pin the belt loops onto each end of one of the rectangles of fabric. Make sure they are at least 1.5cm away from the edge to allow for seam allowance. Once you are happy with the position, stitch across the end of each loop several times so they are firmly attached. It is important that the belt loops are strong enough so if your fabric is quite thin it may be worth doubling it up to create the loops which is what I had to do with mine.

Step 6
Pin together your bum bag around each edge so the front side of each rectangles are facing each other and on the inside. At this point make sure you open the zip so you will be able to turn your bum bag the right way once you have finished!

Step 7
Sew neatly around edges making sure the seams are even. Turn the bag inside out through the open zip. It should now just resemble a finished purse!

Step 8
Thread your belt through the loops and ta da! One complete festival bum bag! The good thing about this design is that you can either change the belt or make more than one bum bag for the same belt so that you can have one to match every pre planned festival outfit!

I did have a photo of me modelling the bum bag but I looked a bit weird so I'll upload a better one of me using it soon!

I hope you enjoyed the DIY - make sure you also check out my DIY festival water bottle holder here

Sunday, 2 June 2013

For the love of books... Part 1

I happened to go to a literature festival on Friday where one of the authors was discussing the merits of  a Kindle over a traditional paper back or hardback book. For me personally there is absolutely no contest. I hate the idea of Kindles. There is nothing more beautiful or precious than a book and I would hate to see them die out. I have many happy memories of reading in bed, on a beach, curled up in a chair. I love keeping copies of my favourite books that have been re read so many times they are dog eared and fat, to share a favourite novel with family and friends.

And what about all the wonderful art and design books that are still available in our book stores? Beautifully illustrated children's stories with colours so bright that they stick in your memory more than the words themselves. 

Photographic books showing nature and all the wonders of the world. I am no cook but even I linger over the huge section of cookery books which always look so appealing with hand drawn illustrations or tempting photographs. 

And don't even get me started on the smell of books! Not just old ones either... one of the best parts of re starting school in September was the anticipation of getting your brand new books with crisp white pages and that new book smell.

Books are for collecting, sharing, loving and passing on.

Some images and wise words of wisdom from other bibliophiles:

"Isn't it odd how much fatter a book gets when you've read it several times?” Mo had said…”As if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells…and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there, too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you like a pressed flower…both strange and familiar." - Cornelia Funk, Inkspell

"Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic." - Carl Sagan

Monday, 18 March 2013

Why I love Handmade

Found this quote today whilst looking for inspiration in the University Library which pretty much sums up how I feel about handmade art and craft!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

A Package Of Love.... DIY

Many people seem to hate Valentines Day and find it depressing - but I reckon it's a good excuse to show all those you care about that you love them instead of just your partner. I put together a little package of love for my Grandparents to give them something to smile about on Thursday. 

The package included a card, lots of patterned paper hearts, some hand made heart hand warmers and instructions of how to use them.

Making the hand warmers is really easy:

1. Pick pretty fabric and cut out two heart shapes, pin right sides together and sew (leaving a small gap)

2. Turn inside out and fill the heart with rice. I also put some dried lavender in mine so they smelt nice too!

3. Sew up the small gap and voilĂ ! All you need to do is pop them in the microwave for 20 seconds or so and then put them inside your gloves to warm up cold hands! 

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Mosaic Woodpecker

I am creative because I have an equally creative Mother. She made this in just one day! She has been going to mosaic courses for a while and has made some amazing creations. Anyone who assumes that mosaics are tacky should see some of the beautiful things that have been created by my Mom, her class mates and tutor - they are works of art.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Winter Mittens

For Christmas and Birthdays, I like to try and hand make the presents I give whenever possible as to me it feels so much more personal and a good way to show the people I care about how much they mean to me. This Christmas was no exception and any spare time I had from work I spent creating and crafting! Below are some photos of the mittens that I hand made and embroidered for my Mom. 

I used a wool blend for the outside of the mittens and lined it with pink fleecing so they were extra warm and snuggly! The lace was cut from an old vintage scarf.

Maybe next year I shall make a scarf to match!