Welcome to my blog, random stuff about me and where I live, plus some bits about my jewellery.

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Thursday 28 November 2013

New ways to use Vintage Lace

I had a sudden inspiration the other day when thinking about the only craft fair I'm doing this year.

I have gathered a ridiculously large collection of old lace, I've used a small amount to make pieces of jewellery, but while thinking about what to make that would be 'Christmasy' I decided to make some garlands, or something like them.

The first idea was to gather a length of lace into a circle and embellish it with beads, I've started on that but it's taking a crazy length of time to make. The next idea was to gather pieces of lace into little 'flowers' and stitch them onto ribbon to create a garland. This has worked much better The first one is made from lengths of fine lace from a tray cloth, tightly gathered, stitched onto a ribbon and then stitched to a circle of wire.

The centre of each flower has an old glass pearl from a broken necklace. The lace is quite heavily stiffened as it was originally very soft. I'm very pleased with this.

The next idea involved an old length of fabric, it might be silk, but it might not. It was labelled as hand embroidered and it's sufficiently uneven that it probably is, this has become more of a bouquet than a garland but I love it. The 'flowers are very lightly stiffened, and the centre of each one has little vintage metal beads stitched into them, unfortunately they can't be seen in the photo.
 the ribbon in this one comes from the 70s, I know this as it was around the hat I got married in. The metallic braid comes from an old skirt that I bought second hand and then took to bits, I've owned it since about the end of the 80s.
I have a couple of other bits on the go but I shall have to stop at the weekend so I can get ready for the fair itself.

Friday 18 October 2013

Re-started Work

After 18 months of total meltdown, having been put in a position I've never been in before, I've finally persuaded myself to do some work.
I've restarted work on the blue and white piece.

It's started slowly but I'm getting back to normal .

Saturday 27 July 2013

Wedding Jewellery

I've made a few pieces over the last couple of years using vintage lace, for a while some of them were in a local gallery but they didn't sell so I had them back here. When I was looking through the stuff for something for a wedding showcase with UK Handmade I came across them again. I realised that I hadn't taken photos of some of them.
I have taken a series of pictures, including some on a mannequin head I bought recently.

I have a fairly large collection of vintage lace so I plan to make some more, I've also been collecting old and broken jewellery to use as focal points with the lace and beads.

This piece has a floral diamante brooch as it's focal point and is made on a fairly narrow piece of simple lace.

This one has a circular diamante buckle at the centre, and is made on the same simple narrow lace as the previous piece, there are five short strands of beads hanging below the buckle ending in vintage crystal beads, four small flat conical ones and a faceted teardrop, this bead came from a 1960s dress that belonged to my mother.

This piece uses a more fancy piece of lace, the lower edge is scalloped and it is made on a fine mesh, the focal piece is possibly an old brooch, or maybe part of a necklace, it consists of three large white stones in a slightly curved setting, the setting is probably brass.

All the pieces have bead woven ends to finish them and create the fastenings.

They would all make really lovely wedding jewellery, they also look great with a summery T shirt.

Monday 22 July 2013

Hello, folks I've just had a piece put in the Uk Handmade Wedding Showcase

Have a look if you are getting married, or thinking about it, lots of lovely things.
This is mine:

Wednesday 19 June 2013


I was inspired today, it happened on my local antiques and collectors market in Barnstaple, I found a 'thing' it's one of those nameless random broken things that turn up on occasion.
The man whose stall it was, selling lovely old stoneware and glass bottles mostly, told me it was found in Budleigh Salterton on a site dating from around 1928, a lady chatting to him suggested it might be one of those scissors holders from a chatelaine, it could be, but it could also be almost anything else.

Here's one side

and the other, the pictures were taken on an old piece of slate in my front garden.
It's broken off at the narrow end and a bit damaged at the other end as well.

I've started to clean it a bit, it's obviously going to take a while to get it cleaned properly

The 'thing', beginning to clean it.

It appears to be brass and made from a thickish sheet, rolled and joined down one edge, I would say it was never an expensive item although it has a nice  stamped and engraved pattern.

I have an idea to create a fairly flamboyant piece of jewellery, the image in my head has a fountain of beads coming out of the top and another falling from the bottom, can't decide if it should be a necklace or a brooch, the brooch option is harder!

This could be an opportunity to use all, or some, of the other 'things' I've acquired over the years.

Watch this space...............

Saturday 8 June 2013

Labyrinth Workshop

Spent a very happy day today, at St Anne's chapel in Barnstaple, working with environmental artist Linda Gordon, making a labyrinth to celebrate the North Devon Biosphere's 10th anniversary.

We started with an illustrated talk by Linda about the history and significance of the labyrinth and it's prevalence in so many ancient cultures. Following from that we drew a classical or Cretan labyrinth to instructions provided by Linda, a lovely meditative activity itself, this is a picture of a badge I bought years ago with a classic labyrinth on it.

 A drawing in my little A6 sketch book.

Having mastered, sort of, the art of drawing a 7 path labyrinth we went outside onto the grass and into the sunlight. Linda had laid out a cross of string to define the size of the labyrinth, she had worked out that each pathway should be 2ft wide so we laid the central cross of sticks with 4ft arms. To lay out the labyrinth you need this central cross, and then 4 'half squares' with a dot to mark the 4th corner of each of these 'squares', The picture below shows where these lines are on my hand drawn version. If you were making a proper labyrinth you would measure carefully and make an effort to keep the paths even. You can see that I definitely didn't do that!

The labyrinth is constructed by joining the lines starting with the top of the central vertical line joining to the top of the next line over, either right or left I suppose, whichever feels correct to you, I've gone right every time, maybe because I'm right handed. Linda's instruction indicated right but the one on my badge seems to be left handed.

There's a whole load of sites out there to find out about labyrinths, there's even an international labyrinth day.

We used sticks to build our labyrinth in the grass with Linda's patent measuring stick keeping us on track. Once we had it all laid out with a single line of sticks, we added more to bulk up the lines and give them more presence on the ground.

The finished thing looked really great and seemed to really belong there, among the daisies and including the odd jackdaw feather that had been found as we built.

Here's the finished labyrinth, I couldn't get high enough to fit the whole thing in on my little camera, but here is most of it, in the background you can see Linda leaning on her measuring stick, with one of the other participants. As you can see it was a gorgeous day and the sun dappled the ground through the lime tree canopy. amazingly the centre of the labyrinth seemed to be under the centre of this canopy, created by two large lime trees.

After lunch in the sun, we all walked the labyrinth, this is what it's all about, making the meditative walk around the paths. Once in the centre I noticed a great view of the sky, with the roof of the chapel framing it with the dancing lime leaves, so I walked in again with my camera and took a photo.

I love this picture, it's an image of me feeling calm and happy! Something that is quite rare these days, my life this last year has been pretty grim in places and I'd like to think this day is some kind of turning point for me. I intend that it will be.

I thought I would take a picture from ground level to show the labyrinth in it's setting, but it's almost invisible! I quite like that, it's a very ephemeral piece of art and the fact that my camera can't see it is really fascinating. Shows how good the human eye is compared to a camera!

The feather sticking up at the right there, is the entrance to the labyrinth and you can just make out some sticks in front of the tree on the left. I could see it clearly, how come the camera can't?

Here's a closer view looking across the labyrinth towards the centre from the right hand side

Thanks for a great day Linda, I've got plans for a small labyrinth in my back garden now, and I'll be doing something along jewellery lines I think.

This picture is from the news section of the biosphere website, me, with hands in pockets, Linda in the centre with a young fan and another participant walking the labyrinth.

Just as an aside St Anne's Chapel is about the oldest building in Barnstaple and a fascinating little place which is adding to the town's cultural life considerably.

Monday 27 May 2013

This my entry in the Creative Connections Monthly Craft Challenge, it's called Waterfall but I was going to call it rain so I hope you won't mind me putting it into the 'weather' challenge.
This one's not actually for sale any where at the moment but I'll probably put it on Wow Thank You soon. Or contact me with an offer?
Hi, been very busy trying my hand at a more practical kind of creative work recently. Discovered that the window frame on my living room window was rotten at the bottom, so I started hacking away at the rotten bits thinking I could fit a new piece of wood in to replace it. Well several days later I had cut the wood back entirely! Luckily a very nice friend was able to let me have a piece if wood that was more or less the right size so yesterday was spent re-puttying the bits that had fallen out as well and cutting a very thick piece of wood to fit. I had a visit while I was working from this little feller:

You can see the raw wood that I cut away, this was 3" thick and mostly rotten except for one section that had a knot in it and took a day to remove! Ever wish you'd never started a job. The big problem now is that it's raining and I didn't get time to paint or seal the new wood. I'll have to go out and tape some plastic over it because I think it's going to rain for several days, typical roasted alive for two days getting it in place and now it rains.

If you're getting married soon check this out, click the little link below to get to the place to enter.

TheCharmWorks.com Wedding Competition 2013

Sunday 10 March 2013

Mothers Day and mine and Theo's Birthdays

Nice day today, Mother's Day, my son gave me a lovely card and some yummy chocolate, Daughter in Africa at the moment. I went out into the snow this morning, rather pathetic snow but I needed to get milk and I wanted to go before it got any worse, as it turned out it stopped not long after I got back to my stepfather's house.
We've just had lunch, very un-traditional pasta, and rice pudding for dessert which I overcooked, not used to an electric oven!
I've had a nice 10 days here with Jack, a lovely time at my grandson Theo's 5th birthday party, some lovely presents for my own birthday which is the day after Theo's.

Theo, face painted as a skull, receiving a balloon alien at his party
Apologies for dodgy framing of picture, my camera had a broken LCD screen at the time so I had to point it and hope. Very pleased to say I have replaced it myself, chuffed to bits about that!

I took myself off to the British Museum on my birthday, to see the Ice Age Art exhibition. Definitely worth a visit, some absolutely amazing stuff, carved with bone tools by supposedly primitive people, alongside some contemporary artwork, reflecting the links to, and influences on, modern art of this work

These are some small sketches I made of 3 of the pieces, not brilliant but I wasn't allowed to take pictures, took 2 before they saw me but shhhhh! One didn't come out anyway.
Many thanks to the Foundling Museum for giving me a map when I took a wrong turn getting from Euston to B.M.
I'm mulling over how I can use the inspiration of the exhibition in my own work. I have some nice flat pieces of bone saved from dinners, I may have a go at carving some. See what happens.

Anyway, we had a nice family lunch yesterday, everyone who could be there was there and it was lovely.

Pretty snowdrops just to finish off.
Back to Devon tomorrow, please no snow!

Day out at Westward Ho!

Bit of a grotty day after all that lovely unexpected sun recently, we had decided to go to Westward Ho!, well known as the only place with punctuation as part of it's name. We realised that we'd never been there, despite living here for 7 years and having visited the West Country loads of times on holiday.
It's a nice Victorian village, with a broad sandy beach, it has a pebble ridge behind the beach which is probably part of the sea defences. There are plans to 'do up' the village a bit with a nice revamped green behind the beach, nice modern seating and lots of glamorous sea front apartments.
Being awkward types we walked along the pebbly, rather' bouldery', bit on the left hand side of the beach, which becomes ridges of slatey rocks leading out to sea. There's a nice tidal swimming pool in the rocks, where we watched a black Labrador having a lovely swim!
After lunch in a nice little cafe we walked along the prom towards Abbotsham Cliffs, very windy but rather a nice walk.
At the end of the village, standing alone on the edge of the cliffs, is a terribly sad old house, it looks Edwardian or late Victorian, and is completely neglected and falling to bits, lots of lovely stained glass all getting vandalised by stone throwers. It's all marked as private keep out and there appears to be a camera in one of the windows! What a waste of a lovely building, there's rusty scaffolding on it in places so maybe someone is trying to bring it back to life.

Walking back along a concrete covered pipe I discovered that this is a fabulous source of Anomia Cepa shells, otherwise known as Jingle shells, they are a variety of small clam which live attached to the shells of other sea creatures or to rocks, even to each other if no other surface presents! This means that their shapes vary considerably,so much so that they were called Anomia, meaning nameless, as they look so different from each other. I've found a few on my local beach at Ilfracombe but we found loads at Westward Ho!, they seem to have a thicker shell than the ones I've found before but they have great colours and are really iridescent both on the outside and inside.

Here's today's hoard soaking in soapy water to get the sea off them! Aren't they pretty!

I have two pieces of jewellery made with these shells so far

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