Jewellery making inspired by the Shipley Art Gallery’s collection

I am currently working with a women’s group in Gateshead and over the last couple of months they have been learning how to make jewellery. Using these new skills, the women are making some pieces to go on display which are inspired by the jewellery designer Nora Fok, whose jewellery is on display at the Shipley Art Gallery. Her pieces are very delicate, often gentle shades of white and quite beautiful. Saying that – they are also very bold!

In our latest pieces, we are working with wire (even garden wire), beads and Beadalon’s monofilament illusion cord. These are some of the pieces I have made so far, in preparation for our last stages of the workshops.

Starburst ring, inspired by Nora Fok.

Starburst ring, inspired by Nora Fok.

The ‘Starburst’ bracelet below, was made using a French knitting bobbin, knocked up from an old wooden cotton reel and nails – as they would have been made traditionally. I do find most French knitting ‘dollies’ don’t work particularly well.

French Knitting bobbin.

French Knitting bobbin.

Starburst bracelet, inspired by Nora Fok.

Starburst bracelet, inspired by Nora Fok.

Using wire, I created this bracelet by wrapping the top section around a marble and the bottom section round a lid of a bead tin, then fastened them together.

'Up-do' ring, inspired by Nora Fok.

‘Up-do’ ring, inspired by Nora Fok.

The last piece I have made so far inspired by Nora Fok’s works, is this ‘illusion cord’, twisted ring decorated with beads.

'Illusion' beaded ring, inspired by Nora Fok.

‘Illusion’ beaded ring, inspired by Nora Fok.

My daughter’s have also been having fun creating some pieces, as they never like to be left out and I shall take their rings along to this weeks workshop as further ideas.

Middle Mini Obsesivcreativ's  ring inspired by Nora Fok.

Middle Mini Obsesivcreativ’s ring inspired by Nora Fok.

Little Mini Obsesivcreativ's ring inspired by Nora Fok.

Little Mini Obsesivcreativ’s ring inspired by Nora Fok.

Once the jewellery making equipment was out and my juices flowing, I have also made a few Steampunk inspired pieces to!

Butterfly sitting on vintage Czechoslovakian coin, with 'diamonds'. Ring.

Butterfly sitting on vintage Czechoslovakian coin, with ‘diamonds’. Ring.

Roses on vintage Maltese coin. Ring.

Roses on vintage Maltese coin. Ring.

Still work in progress. Layered necklace with found, recycled and broken jewellery.

Still work in progress. Layered necklace with found, recycled and broken jewellery.

Over the next week or so and particularly on Instagram, I’ll update you with the jewellery pieces we have made in our workshops for the Shipley Art Gallery.

Advertisements

How to: Broomstick Crochet

Broomstick Crochet is a traditional technique dating back to the Victorian period. It is a very decorative technique which can make the finest mohair’s, to the cheapest polyester and the chunkiest wools, look beautiful – whether by giving them a spider web feel or an architectural structure.

Finished Broomstick Crochet Scarf

Finished Broomstick Crochet Scarf

To make this scarf, I used some beautiful wool my husband bought me for Christmas. It is called Jitterbug, made by Colinette, 100% wool, 4 ply and 400yds in length. It’s not cheap, but the colours available are fabulous! He bought it in a lovely wool shop called Woolaballo in the pretty market town of Hexham.

To make this scarf you will need:

1 x 4mm crochet hook (larger if using chunky wool)

1 Ball of wool, sock weight/4ply

1 x 15/20 or 25mm knitting needle (the larger the needle, the bigger to loops)

Wool needle to finish off the ends.

Stage 1:

Cast on in multiples of 5 (for each loop series). I usually cast on 40 chain stitches, plus 2 for turning.

Crochet cast on

Crochet cast on

Stage 2:

Crochet 3 rows of double crochet (40 stitches on row)

Foundation of Scarf

Foundation of Scarf

Stage 3:

Using your crochet hook, slip stitch one loop from the top of each stitch from the previous row and hook it onto the large knitting needle. (Not lady like – but I do find it helps to place the knitting needle between my knees to do this!) If you started with 40 stitches, you should aim to have 40 loops. (The odd one more or less is fine as you can correct it later*).

Loops onto the knitting needle.

Loops onto the knitting needle.

Stage 4:

Next row. Pick up 5 stitches (loops) together with the crochet hook and double crochet 6 times into them (first set of stitches only). Continue picking 5 stitches together across the row, but now just crochet 5 double crochets into each set. You should now have 40 stitches on your row again.

Picking 5 stitches together with crochet hook.

Picking 5 stitches together with crochet hook.

Stage 5:

At the end of the row, you should now have a pretty ‘fanned’ effect across the top stitches.

Fanned and twisted effect caused by Broomstick Crochet.

Fanned and twisted effect caused by Broomstick Crochet.

Stage 6:

Now, double crochet 2 more rows. Then, as before, make slip stitch loops into the tops of the 40 stitches and place them onto the knitting needle.

Making new Broomstick Crochet loops onto the knitting needle.

Making new Broomstick Crochet loops onto the knitting needle.

Stage 7:

Continue this way until you have reached a length you are happy with for your scarf then cast off last stitch and fasten in all your ends.

Keep working further rows.

Keep working further rows.

The beautiful fanned, texture of Broomstick Crochet.

The beautiful fanned, texture of Broomstick Crochet.

Besides making scarves, I have also used this method to make lovely warm neck collars for the tops of coats and small, more fitted snoods which work well as a roll neck on a jumper. Once you know how to achieve the technique, there’s lots of beautiful things you can make.

Below, is a ‘figure of 8’ snood which I made for my niece. This was made using organic, aran weight, Welsh wool. As you can see, this weight makes the Broomstick Crochet less ‘spidery’ but it gives it a lovely architectural look.

Broomstick Crochet Snood

Broomstick Crochet Snood

*Occasionally, you might find that you end up with 39/41 loops. Don’t worry about this as you can amend this by picking up a batch of 4 or 6 loops to correct the number and ensure you still crochet in a multiple of 5 double crochet stitches to rectify the mistake – no-one will know.

In the orginal photo of the scarf you can see at the top of this blog post. I wrapped the scarf round twice, then placed the two ends of the scarf over each other and pinned it with a brooch. This creates a cowl/snood, very warm effect.

The brooch was made using the last length of the wool. To make it, I French knitted a length, folded it into a flower shape, which I stitched together. Then I decorated it with a piece of broken jewellery in the centre and stitched beads around the edge. This can now be used to keep my scarf together (which doesn’t have to be just an outdoor scarf) or used to decorate a jacket or bag.

French Knitted brooch.

French Knitted brooch.

W.I.P Potrait of a Green Man, week 2

Sometimes there are rapid changes to this portrait, other times it can be terribly slow and frustrating. I am very happy with the stage I am currently at but have plans for further embellishment.

Portrait of a Green Man, testing frame size.

Portrait of a Green Man, testing frame size.

Below is close-up of the cap, which has been hand stitched to create a ‘herringbone’ tweed effect.

Detail of Cap

Detail of Cap

Hand stitched into the beard, using embroidery silks, are images of rosemary, violets and pink flowers – some even flowing out of his nostrils!

Detail of the beard.

Detail of the beard.

Using acrylic, I have painted the books behind the Green Man in heritage/natural colours which reflect the colours in the beard and my plans for the Green Man’s jumper.

Heritage painted bookshelves.

Heritage painted bookshelves.

With these colours in mind, I started embroidering oak leaves onto the Green Man’s jumper with a Robin sitting on one of the branches!

Silk stitching the robin over yesterdays sewing!

Silk stitching the robin over yesterdays sewing!

Embroidery Silk Robin.

Embroidery Silk Robin.

Over the next week, I intend to start embellishing the books on the shelves, colour the beard further, paint the Green Man’s shirt and add some hand stitched writing along the book shelf, maybe from a poem or lyric from a song.

Portrait of a Bearded Man W.I.P

In preparation for continuing my series on War Poet portraits (Isaac Rosenberg next), I thought I’d ‘warm up’ my creative skills, which have had a bit of a Christmas slow down, and produce a fun portrait of someone near and dear. Hence I have started a portrait of my husband, who is a sometimes strange bearded man. He is finding the process a bit concerning, as with the way I work, it’s a slow build up before you can really see how it’s looking and a stitch line slightly in the wrong direction is slower to correct than a pencil line.

The initial process, is to create a machine sewn outline of the portrait, which was day 1’s work. Using my photos as reference, I tried to create the unruly shapes the beard makes.

Day One, machine stitched outline.

Day One, machine stitched outline.

Next, I worked on the face – which needs more work and a few wrinkles… – and the cap. The cap has been hand sewn in brown, fine thread to create the textures and weaves of a tweed style cap. The shirt and jumper have been machine stitched in. The shirt I intend to paint but the jumper may well be treated like the cap, with extensive stitching to represent knitted stitches.

Day Two, tweed cap, face and clothing.

Day Two, tweed cap, face and clothing.

Behind the portrait, I have decided to place book shelves, which we have spilling over in our house, and I thought they would be a great way to create biographical references of the sitter using the spines of the book. I have also started to turn the sitter into a bit of a ‘Greenman‘, he has Rosemary running through his beard and out of his nostrils and will have Violets, too.

Day Three, rosemary and book shelves added.

Day Three, rosemary and book shelves added.

Eventually, once I have finished the majority of the embroidery, I will then start to paint the portrait. I have not decided whether to use layers of tea dye, as I did with the War Poet portraits, or to use acrylic as I did on the portraits of my daughters. Each day, my plans change and new ideas develop.

Watch this space…

The Three Sisters

The Three Sisters

Handmade Christmas presents

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope 2015 brings health, happiness and plenty of creativity to sooth the soul!

I thought I would post photos of the many gifts that we sent and received at Christmas that had been handmade with plenty of love. Some of them you may have already seen, others will be new to you. I hope you enjoy looking at them all!

Lion applique drawstring bag.

Mini OC’s Lion applique drawstring bag.

This one I just love! My eldest daughter, who’s 11, made this at school as a Christmas present for her cousin (19), who she adores. She received a special merit for it at school, which I think she rightly deserves as it shows great creativity and design.

Mini OC's Francesca Fox and Molly Pup

Mini OC’s Francesca Fox and Molly Pup

I know you’ve seen this one before! But so cute!! My middle daughter, who was 9 when she made these fab creatures, made Francesca Fox and Molly Pup for both her sisters for Christmas. Her sister’s were both delighted with their new animal friends!

Mini OC's Kitten lino print

Mini OC’s Kitten lino print

My eldest daughter has enjoyed learning to lino print. She cut, printed and framed this lovely picture and gave it to a couple of her close friends, her Grandma and her little sister – who it was originally created for. She has chosen a lovely colour for the print, which she mixed herself.

Mini OC's stocking for her TedTed

Mini OC’s stocking for her TedTed

Mmmm! When a certain someone gets an idea into her head, she really can’t be stopped. My 9 year old decided that her teddy might get presents for Christmas if her also put a stocking out! So, she went ahead and knitted this stocking with no pattern, all by herself. She knows how to increase and decrease, so all I did was recommend some wool – another Poundland purchase!! Ribbon was found in the ribbon tin and she plaited the tie top.

When she realised there may be a chance TedTed may not receive Christmas presents, as Santa doesn’t normally give them to teddies, she made him a set of hat, scarf and gloves to go in the stocking! Again, no pattern or parental involvement!

Broomstick Crochet Snood

Broomstick Crochet Snood

I plan to blog a ‘How to:’ about Broomstick Crochet over the next few days, as it’s a beautiful technique and can make any wool/yarn look fabulous. I made this broomstick crochet snood for my niece as she’d seen a similar snood which she wanted me to make for her. Which, as a good Auntie, I did. She also received the lino print of a Crested Tit, which you can see below.

Lino Print Crested Tit

Crested Tit, lino print.

I also made some of my close friends some lovely applique cushions, like these I was selling in my studio.

Inside my studio - cushions, crocheted hats and chocolates!

Inside my studio – cushions, crocheted hats and chocolates!

Besides Christmas, it was also my middle daughter’s 10th birthday and I finally finished knitting her the Triceratops I’d started last year for her birthday!! (It feels good to finish a W.I.P!!) She absolutely loves all things to do with dinosaurs and so she absolutely loves her – she’s been called triSARAHtops!

Knitted Triceratops

Knitted Triceratops

I’m sure I’ve missed a couple of other handmade gifts out but he’s my husbands very important contribution to our handmade Christmas. He made our lino print Christmas cards, which are simply delicious!

Mince Pie, lino print, Christmas Cards.

Mince Pie, lino print, Christmas Cards.