Objects old, vintage, hand made or upcyled, and old techniques with a modern twist

Archive for January, 2015

Making Rings: Sketchbook to Reality

Rings scetchbook page-001

With a lot of craft projects I get stuck in to the making once I have the inspiration, rather than taking the time to draw the idea in a sketchbook, or work through different versions of the design. When making jewellery though, much more expensive materials are involved than in sewing or knitting projects (usually, knitting with qiviut yarn being a possible exception!), and processes like soldering or piercing (sawing) can’t be undone so easily.

Sometimes the initial idea isn’t of a finished piece, but inspiration in the form of a pattern, texture, gemstone etc. Using a sketchbook enables the initial idea to be worked through from this simple start to the design for a finished piece.

Rings scetchbook pageBecause of the nature of the craft, and the materials used, I usually do quite a few drawings before starting any actual making. There are still, however, plenty of times that I will change a design slightly during the making process, and I like the fact that there is still room to be spontaneous!

Rings 1

The rings shown here are the result of several pages of sketches and ideas. When I am dying to leap in and start making something I try to remind myself that the time spent sketching can save money (in materials), and usually results in a more cohesive design. On more than one occasion I have had what I thought to be a good design idea, but once I have started to draw it I’ve realised that it is impractical, or that the piece would actually look better with a few changes to the design. I have to confess to rare (?!) lapses in good sense though, and a couple of projects have had to be melted down half way through!

Rings 3

Monday Mood Board

Gemstone spectrum 1

I did quite a lot of knitting and crocheting around Christmas and the new year, but have found the time to crack on with a couple of jewellery making projects lately. The colours of these natural semi-precious gemstones are certainly inspiring.

Gemstone spectrum 2

I most often work with faceted gemstones, but sometimes contrast them with tumble-polished stones like the ones shown here. I collected many of the free-form stones when I was a child (although I didn’t know how to turn them into jewellery- I just liked looking at them!), but have also acquired quite a few since then from friends. It’s amazing that nature can produce such beautiful and vibrant colours!

Dyeing Vintage Lace DIY

Dyed Lace 3

Dyed Lace 2

As you may have noticed in some of my previous posts (here and here) I have a habit of collecting pieces of vintage and antique lace when I spot it in charity shops, or at car boot sales. A lot of the lace I use in sewing projects, depending on how old and fragile the lace is, and how intricate. When buying lace from cheap sources (rather than nicely washed, pressed and expensive from textile or antique dealers!) you often can’t tell how good the piece will look until you’ve taken it home and submitted it to a good wash.

Some old pieces still don’t look their best even after washing: often they are an odd grey or yellowish colour due to being washed with something unsuitable in the past, or they have some pale (but obvious on white lace) stains on them. I have some lovely pieces that aren’t are no longer their original white or cream, and have given them a new lease of life!

Dyeing Lace 1

In this project I used:

  • Vintage and antique pieces of lace
  • Dylon Fabric Paints
  • A ceramic plate or suitable work surface (to work on to avoid making too much of a mess!)
  • A paintbrush
  • Water

As I wanted to colour the whole piece of lace and wanted a soft finish, I first got the piece of lace thoroughly wet, and only lightly squeezed out the excess water before laying it on the plate. The next step is to wet the paintbrush in the water, and then use it to pick up a small amount of paint, brushing it into the fabric. For particularly pale colours the paint needs to be diluted with water before brushing on to the lace.

Dyed Lace 1

I used the strips of handmade crocheted lace above to test out colours and effects. When going for an ombre look, having the lace wet before applying the paint makes it possible to blend or fade-out colours.

Dyed Lace 4

To dye a whole piece of lace in one colour, a small amount of paint needs to be diluted in water, and then the lace is placed into this diluted paint and squeezed so that it absorbs the dye. The lace can be left a uniform colour (like the green and mint green pieces on the left in the above picture), or detail can be added (such as with the three pieces of lace on the right in the above picture, where a darker colour has been painted along one edge).

Dyed Lace 5

To make the dye permanent follow the manufacturers instructions (in this case the lace had to be left to dry, and then ironed on a high heat setting).

The once sad old vintage lace is now has a new lease of life, and is all ready to be upcycled and used in a sewing project!

Blue Skies and Raindrops

Raindrops 2

In a break between rain showers I took these pictures, looking up through the car sunroof (I wasn’t driving at the time!). The dark boarder provided by the play of light in the meniscus of the water droplets caught my eye, along with the contrast with the blue sky above.

Raindrops 3

Raindrops 1

Monday Mood Board

Winter skies 1

Here on the coast the skies are constantly changing: when the sun combines with dark rain clouds it creates some fairly dramatic skies. I love the light and colour contrasts often seen at this time of year (except on the days when it is just grey and raining of course…)- the slate-coloured sky in these photographs really makes the green of the grass pop.

Winter skies 2

Lambing starts in late November in Devon, so as you can see some of the ‘spring’ lambs are all ready fairly large!

More Knitting: a Colour-Block Scarf

Colour-block scarf 1

After lots of knitting (and other crafting of other kinds) before Christmas to make presents for friends and family, I am now working on a knitting project for myself- a colour-block scarf. I am using a seed/moss stitch for the bulk of the scarf: knitting on the ‘right’ side and then K1, P1 along each row on the ‘wrong’ side. I wanted the colours to speak for themselves, hence the choice of a relatively subtle stitch.

Colour-block scarf 2

As I’m using 3mm needles this isn’t the quickest of scarves to knit, but it’s nice to not have the deadline you get when knitting for presents! The yarn is lovely to work with (and definitely one of my favourites): ‘Sierra Andina’ by Adriafil. As the yarn is 100% extra fine Alpaca, it is very soft and warm for winter use- I’ve used it to make several pairs of cosy gloves, and a beautifully soft cardigan in the past. Hopefully it will be finished in time to use before the weather warms up!

Colour-block scarf 3

Monday Mood Board

Motto Mood Board 1

I hope that you are all enjoying a joyous January so far!

Happy New Year

I can’t believe that another new year has started- yes, I realise that it is actually January 5th today, so the new year is probably old news already. Last year ended in a bit of a whirlwind, so I am planning to use January to get up to speed with everything again. Hopefully 2015 will be a better year than 2014 (I definitely had my three runs of bad luck last year, so should be plain sailing for a while… right?)!

What ever your plans are for this year I hope that they all come to fruition, and that you have a happy and healthy 2015.


  Vintage Sewing Box (3)  'The Faces of Time' mood board

Hand Knitted Socks (2) Spaniel Embroidered Rosette

 # Mood Board- Kniting 1

  Dartmoor4 Flowers by the Sea

Pink flowers

Monday Mood Board

Orchids 1

A couple of my beautiful orchids are in full-flower at the moment, and the bright colours are very welcome at this time of year.

Orchids 5

Orchids 3

The lovely colours are a reminder of the spring and summer to come, and are inspiring lots of colourful craft projects…

Orchids 4

Orchids 2


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