Oh where has the time gone? (I’ve just spotted the copyright message for the site is 2017!!!)  A few days ago we went for a walk locally and the weather was lovely, so I thought I’d re-start the blog with some photos.

Signs of spring:

Setting sun through the trees:

The only way I could persuade my phone (camera!) to take a photo of catkins was to have it in silhouette:

My walking companion (small child running away – again…):

More catkins:

Pretty sky:

The moon (honest!):

Silver birch:

Pretty bark and moss:

Until next time…

Solstice plus one

Last night I had a lovely evening discovering encaustic art.  I had a wonderful time playing with an iron, melted wax and a lot of colour.

It was great fun and messy – yet quick and easy to clean up.  And the smell of beeswax was delicious.  I think I’m going to have to do more.

Last night was the solstice and when I got home the highest white clouds glowed in the twilight:

And today I’ve been admiring tulips on a tree:

Experiments in Fimo

The Fimo and glass pendant I made at the weekend is now varnished (to protect the mica) and strung onto cotton threads. (I tried to buy more at the weekend but the selection in Hobby Craft was extremely poor, so it’s strung onto brown cotton).

I’ve also been trying out some new techniques. This swirl pendant was a lot of fun to make.

I tried making faux mokume gane (faux because I’m not working with layers of metal). During my first attempt I got carried away and rolled my block too many times, meaning the colours were almost blended together. I decided to use the cutoff scraps from my first attempt and have another go. So my mokume gane is somewhat random, but still interesting. I added flowers from a cane I’d made.

This resulted in a patterned sheet that I used to make a few hollow doughnut beads.

During my creative researches, I discovered that polymer clay doesn’t play well with all plastics. Polymer clay (in its raw form) contains a plasticiser, so any plastics of the same type will react with the plasticiser ruining both the clay and the plastic item. Plastics that are safe with polymer clay are polyethylene terephthalate (PETE – #1 when recycling), polyethylene – either low density (LDPE – #4 when recycling) or high density (HDPE – #2), polypropylene (PP – #5). Acrylic is also safe. Plastics that are not safe include polyvinyl chloride (PVC – #3), vinyl, and polystyrene (#6) from which things like CD cases are made.

It’s always good to know what the real thing should look like – so here are some mokume gane rings in precious metals. Very beautiful. I think this is quite funny, really. Mokume gane is technique to make woodgrain patterns in metal and faux mokume gane is emulating the metal in polymer clay 🙂

Hollow Bead Tutorial
Swirly Lentil Bead Tutorial
Plastics and Polymer Clay
Plastics by Numbers

Indian Summer

We’re having some lovely autumn weather at the moment. Which has enabled a couple of nice walks at Anglesey Abbey with the children. The second visit was prompted by my son managing to delete the contents of his camera’s memory card, complete with some lovely photos from our first weekend visit, when trying to copy them to the computer!

This morning I spent teaching binary complete with props – a set of weighing scales and ounce weights (plus extra pretend weights at 32, 64 and 128 ozs). This afternoon I went to Creating Space and made a pendant that incorporates a dichroic glass cabochon I made a few years ago.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been trying to get back into modelling with Fimo (polymer clay). The clay has changed from the Fimo I used years ago, so it’s taken some getting used to. This is made with Professional Fimo with mica and the glass cabochon, photographed before curing in the oven:

I’m looking forward to finishing this off and making it into a necklace.

Business Card Tutorial

Last summer I made my own business cards for Open Studios. These were great fun to create and allowed me to show off my handspun yarn! They were also considerably cheaper than ordering cards and used normal A4 card. The trick to making professional looking cards is how you cut them out.

I’ve created a template in word that can be edited. Feel free to change the fonts and font sizes, add colour, a logo, pictures or photos. Make the changes in one of the card spaces in the table and when you are happy with it select it and use copy and paste to paste it into each of the other business card cells in the table. Cutting lines are marked around the edges of the sheet but not on the business cards themselves. This means that when you cut the cards you’re not trying to deal with a line on the edge of the card.

A4 business card template in Word 2007 format

I printed my business cards onto 280gsm acid free recycled kraft card. I was able to use my printer’s manual feed and an alternative output slot (not onto the tray) so that the card went straight through the printer without it being bent. You’ll need to explore the options on your printer to see what’s possible. Also check your printer and choose a card stock that isn’t thicker than your printer can handle.

As well as the card you will need a sharp craft knife (I used a scalpel blade for this), a metal edged ruler and a cutting mat.

The sheets of cards fresh from the printer:

We’ll only cut one sheet at a time (do not stack the sheets hoping to make this quicker – it’ll be harder to do clean cuts on the sheets below).

Start by cutting the horizontal lines. It is easiest to cut lines from top to bottom, so turn the card around by 90 degrees before cutting. Use the marks at the edge of the card to line up the ruler and cut. Ensure you make the cuts above the top cards and below the bottom cards, it is easy to miss these. Leave the edges of the card uncut, but make sure you’ve cut right across the width of the business cards.

Like so:

Once all the horizontal lines have been cut, then turn the card back upright and cut the vertical lines. Start with the one on the right hand side, then cut the middle line.

The first set of cards will drop out at this point. Finally cut the line on the left hand side:

All the cards have been cut from the sheet.

They make a nice neat stack:

At this point you can stop. However, I wanted to wrap yarn around my cards. Ribbon may be added instead or fabric could to glued to the front. To wrap the yarn I added notches to the edges of the cards. Mark the edges of the card where the notch is going to be. I used the craft knife to mark a number of cards at once. Mark top and bottom (the cards in the photo are upside down at this point to mark the bottom, so the mark is made closer to the right hand side):

I then used a hole punch to make a half-hole at the top and bottom edges at the card:

Finally I wrapped the yarn around the card, made a reef knot and trimmed the ends of the yarn:

I hope you’ve enjoyed my tutorial. I’d love to hear your thoughts and if you’ve made your own business cards – please leave a comment below. Until next time…

Keep Crafting!

White Rabbits!

Oh my, it’s October. Summer seems to have gone in a blink. But this is because it’s been very busy. There’s been:

  • Open Studios
  • Tour de Fleece (I didn’t quite manage to spin every day)
  • Impromptu Home Schooling (for just 10 days when our relationship with my son’s school hit a brick wall)
  • Coach trips to the beach
  • Lots of walks
  • A weighted warp loom on display in a Viking exhibition
  • Knitting art yarn on trains
  • Spinning at Cambridge Rock Festival (where I discovered the music of Doris Brendel)
  • Panicked buying of school uniform. Almost every item for my oldest has to have the school name and logo, even the socks for PE (which was the only item I was confident on the sizing for)!
  • New schools for both children
  • And sunsets!

Now suddenly it’s October! The nights are longer than the days and I have to admit it’s no longer summer. We’re nearly 4 weeks into term and we’ve just had a lovely weekend (though there does seem to be rather a lot of homework). We visited the lovely Anglesey Abbey today to see their Dahlia Festival. It was muddy underfoot but a kaleidoscope of colour as always.

How’s your summer been?

Open Studios

The first weekend of Open Studios was brilliant. A vibrant show from four textile artists and a very busy time with lots of visitors. Here are a few pictures from the show:

If you are on Facebook, then The Silk Spinner’s Studio has posted more pictures of our show.

We are open again this weekend (8th & 9th July) from 11am – 6pm both days. We are at Harlton Village Hall, Coach Drive, Harlton, CB23 1EN. We are number 137 in the Cambridge Open Studios guide. Come and see us!

Open Studios and Tour de Fleece

I’m taking part, once again, in Cambridge Open Studios. I’m exhibiting with three other textile artists at Harlton Village Hall. I wrote a piece about us a couple of weeks ago on the Creating Space blog. Today was our first day and we will be exhibiting tomorrow and next weekend as well.

It was also the start of the Tour de France, and therefore also the start of the Tour de Fleece. I missed it last year – but this year I’m back in the saddle and managed to do some spinning during our Open Studio:

And now…

I’m not quite sure what’s happened to the last two months. I feel like I’ve blinked and been whisked from Easter to the school’s Whitsun holiday! I have a number of projects in progress (more on those soon).  However, last night I decided to get the dye pots going:

Two slow cookers ready to begin dyeing.
When I bought the slow cookers I intended one for dyeing and one for cooking dinners. After a few months where the second one hasn’t been used once, I decided that I would use both for dyeing!

A little while ago I bought some commercially scoured and carded batts of Shetland. These sounded just the thing to include in my spinning kits (I’m currently writing the instruction booklet). However, when they arrived I was exceedingly disappointed. I’d not noticed that the website said that they “may contain vegetable matter”. Sadly they did contain VM, and rather more than I thought was acceptable. However, as the warning was there I didn’t feel I could return them. So they’ve been sitting in my lounge looking like an expensive mistake.

It struck me recently that they could be dyed and then re-carded, so that’s what I’ve been doing. I split the 200g batt into two halves and dyed each half.

After drying I was interested to see the patterns on the batts (this may be something to try with better quality batts prior to felting)

I separated one of the halves into sections of different colours and put it through my drum carder to make 5 small batts.

I’ve been able to remove larger pieces of VM when I see them and more has dropped out during the carding.  There are still pieces of vegetation in the batts, but they are significantly better than before.

In my last post I introduced my Etsy shop. My food-colour dyeing kits are now also being stocked in my friend’s organic food shop. So, if you are in the Cambridge area or passing junction 11 of the M11, then you can see the kits in person at Organic Health in Hauxton*. The shop is a lovely stockist of hard-to-find organic food and special diet (including vegetarian, dairy free, gluten free, soya free, egg free and wheat free) food. It also stocks ecological cleaning products and a range of natural toiletries. The shop’s open on Thusdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 9am-5pm.

* Organic Health, Church Rd, Hauxton, Cambridge, CB22 5HS