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Friday, 27 February 2015

Making Ear Wires

Hi Everyone
The Mini Project today is making simple silver earring wires.
I'm basing my sample on an almost finished large batch of earrings for an order where I needed different styles/ sizes of earring wires. I have a great technique for making identical wires to share. The technique is adaptable to different sized beads which is particularly useful. My process involves using pliers and wire cutters but you could use any solid round shaped item at the desired size (rather than the bail pliers I have). I would suggest you do need wire cutters for the job.
I've made a few photos collages to illustrate the key points. My initial measurement is 7cms - the wire is doubled to give a 14cm length of silver wire. This will give you a pair of quite large hooks. Silver is expensive so you need to be sure of the measurement. Practice and prepare samples using cheap wires.

(5) could be made using basic round nosed pliers or a small screwdriver if you don't have a bail tool. It's tricky to hold the wire flat for turning but it can be done. In (6) - I've bent the wire over in the opposite direction to give me the size of the hook. Again, if you do not have bail pliers, you could use a large pen to do this. Wait until you have separated the hooks before checking and possibly trimming the final length of the hooks (8). Often, a tiny adjustment is required to make each wire the same length. In (6) the wires look different lengths but it's just the angle of the photo. In this case, I didn't need to trim.

There is a small element of waster in the snipping of the hooks (7) - however, I think it's worth the final result and the minimal time taken to make identical hooks.

I do need to finish off the ends with a file and close up the bead fitting.

When I first started to make wires in this way, I couldn't believe how quick and easy it is. I think it's worth buying some basic tools to do the job. Buying ready made hooks in sterling silver is expensive and for a small investment in tools you could start making your own and ultimately save money.
Here is a photo of the tools I use -

I hope this has inspired you to make your own earring hooks.
Have a great weekend.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Imitation Game Episode 6

Hi Everyone
My Imitation Game episode today has bad news - its not going so well. I'm still not there with my striped beads. I have a few bead examples and Im not happy with the results. I need to do more experiments. The beads I've made are OK and will be great for specific designs but not my Imitation Game project (read back to Thursday posts for details).

I do, however, have another technique to try - all is not lost ! I very rarely give up on anything !
My new approach will be the actual construction of the striped clay. I found this on Pinterest and all the links are there on my Boards (in Tutorials). The clay is extruded and laid upon a base layer of clay. The extruded lines are then rolled to press all the pieces together. I want my lines to be different widths - this idea seems perfect. I can add several lines of the same colour to give me the width variation. I'm hoping this technique will allow me to be more creative with the stripe design.

I'd rather lost my way before finding this idea - there's hope now that I can produce something new. I will prepare a few options for bead making. I want to get away from the bead shape for a while and simply get the clay design the way I want it. I think, this method will allow me to experiment with some colour combinations too.
I'm inspired to get going again. Thank you. To Linda Runeckles for the Pin.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Cup Cake Necklaces

Hi Everyone
Techniques and Tools Day again today. Last week I talked about making little cupcake charms for necklaces. I've made up my batch and am ready to turn the necklaces into gifts. I'm using little paper boxes and simply decorating the boxes with paper rosettes.
I've pondered about the inside of the box and I'm going to wrap the necklace in co ordinating (colour) tissue. However, the Charm Necklaces need to be on display (to be chosen) before they can be wrapped.
My technique today is the simple decoration of the little boxes. I'm making about 20 for a charity event and need to be mindful of the budget. As a result the whole project is done with a very limited range of materials.
Here is a look at a few examples of the finished, polished charms.

I wanted each charm to be different and suggest different flavoured cakes. The customers will be children so the colours needed to be bright. I'm also going to make the rosetted bright too. My examples here are prototypes and just to get the sizing right. This is a good way of (very quickly) making plain boxes look quite sophisticated. The quality and colours/patterns of the paper used for the rosettes can really add vale to any wrapping. The die Im using perforated the paper strips and its a question of folding and adding a tiny bit of glue. The finished rosettes is incredibly strong.

These Charm Necklaces are part of a larger batch and I will look at some of the other items next time.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Bella's First Kit

Hi Everyone
It's Tuesday and that means it must be The Making Framework discussion today. If you are following the Tuesday discussion you will know that Bella (our Maker Student) is about to embark on her first Making Project. She has chosen to go for the Button Earrings Kit. This kit is identified as a Starter Kit and needs minimal tools/skills to complete in 2 hours. Last week Bella received her Basic Toolkit and now she also has the Button Earrings Kit in BLUE.

The Kit contains a couple of introductory Fact Sheets : Conditioning Clay and Curing Clay. These Fact Sheets cover the initial 'what to do' questions when starting from scratch with any polymer clay project.
The kit also contains the correct amount of clay for several pairs of Button earrings and one pair of Sterling Silver earring posts as well as a small amount of acrylic paint and a small amount of polishing wax. The kit instructions introduce a series of experiments to familiarise Bella with polymer clay and begin to find some interesting surface textures/patterns. Examples are provided and Bella is also encouraged to find her own. The kit covers how to embed the earring post into the body of the earring bead and how to finish the surface design with the paint and the wax.
Each kit also includes a little box to keep the earrings safe or could be used as a gift box and a small plastic box to keep small amounts of unused clay and act as a working storage/ organiser container.
Bella has decided to attend a group workshop to work with her first kit but wanted to try out the clay exercises before the class workshop. She may buy additional posts at the workshop to make more earrings if her experiments work well. She will share her experiments before the workshop and of course her final earrings (having attended the workshop) next time.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Developments for Bella

Hi Everyone
It's back to work day after half term. Not sure I'm ready ! I actually 'work' all the time, sometimes thinking rather than doing but mainly because I don't think of what I do in the negative work word. I think what I'm talking about is the routine of being a Mum during school term time. I love the freedom of ignoring the clock (sort of). Anyway - it's back to routines today.

Talking of routines - it's Monday and therefore it's time for my Make Art Monday episode.
Last episode, I talked about creating a new Miss Mitchell piece - to be known as Bella (Mitchell). I've not started my piece (on paper) although I've thought about the piece and what I want to do with it.

In addition to thinking about painting portraits/ characters, we went to the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh on Saturday. What a fantastic experience. The whole day was wonderful and I was so inspired by so many portraits. The Gallery had an exhibition of BP Awards portraits which were amazing. I'm very excited by lots of ideas running around in my head. These are particular favourites from the day.
I see a little bit of Bella in this Flora MacDonald painting.

I want to try and bring a slight realism to the new Bella portrait. I still want to retain the doll characteristics but with some more realistic eyes and possible mouth ? Let's see where I go.
I loved the BP Award exhibition. Amazing work on a grand scale. I especially liked this one :

I also loved the Beauty by Design exhibition. Delicate lace in dramatic black pieces. I've enough material to keep me going for a few months !

Today, I plan to do some initial sketches for Bella. I will have them to share for next Monday.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

More Felting

Hi Everyone
Another quickie felting project - it's worked out well ! I'm almost there with the delicate petals I was after. I'm now thinking about little elements of decoration. I've added some embroidery thread into the orange/blue flowers and am thinking about some tiny beads on a pink/purple combination (no photos yet).

I want to use the flowers to decorate some little boxes and have decided to leave the stems un-felted in order to securely attach to the paper card of the box.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Re worked felted flower.

Hi Everyone
I've been out and about shopping with my kids today and am also suffering from a severe head cold (not necessarily caused by the experience). I feel a bit under the weather but have spent a little time trying to sort out my felted flowers from a recent workshop (and yesterday's blog). One of my two flowers (the pink version) had not been sufficiently felted and was having trouble standing up as a flower should. I re wet the flower and worked on the bits that needed more felting but was not sure if I would end up spoiling the shape - it looked as if things would go that way. In the end, I used a needle felting method to give the base of the flower more substance. I also added some more colours to various parts of the petals. The result is great. I'm considering adding some beads to embellish the flower but I'm not sure ? I'm going to sleep on it and decide tomorrow.
Here are a few photos to share the new look flower :

I guess the difference is not apparent if the before and after photos are not there. I didn't take photos to illustrate the two. However, I know it's so much better and am quite pleased with myself.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Felted Flowers

Hi Everyone
It's half term this week and I don't usually blog but I just thought I would share some photos from a great wet felting workshop. Our local Tuesday Making Workshop produced these lovely flowers with the help of Yvonne (our leader for the session).

My photos are not brilliant but I was especially inspired by the options to integrate the lovely bright colours. I love the way the felting process takes its own twist and both the colour and the shape are slightly out of control. In my case, everything was out of control ! I was thrilled with the results.

I'm inspired to make some small versions to top my little boxes. I mentioned these boxes on Friday and shared some papers flowers I was testing out. I'm not experienced with felting but I think I can come up with something. I will share my experiences over the next few days.

Bye for now.
Thanks for reading.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Paper Flowers

Hi Everyone
My mini project today is a small paper flower. I'm developing something I need to embellish lots of little boxes. I need to make so many that the job has to be easy and reliable. I've been trying out a few designs and am not totally convinced I have the right item. Here are a few images of the samples :

I used these tools to make up all of the samples. A die set from Paperartsy and my Sizzix machine. I'm using scrap paper at the moment but will choose a bright small print paper when it the real thing.

Each flower from the first photo collage is based on the simple petal shapes of the die. I've cut 3 shapes from the middle size die.There are so many YouTube videos showing how to build the rose style flowers, I've put a link at the bottom. The other flowers are simply layered petals which have been scrunched. I adapted the petals as I tried to find an easy/quick technique and I think I like sample 2 - from my collection. I'm still wondering about another way ? Some of my flowers have little brads holding the petals together and some are just glued. When I have the definitive, I will show the detail.

Have a great weekend, thanks for reading.

YouTube link here

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Imitation Game 5

Hi Everyone
The Imitation Game Project (look back each Thursday for details) has lacked my attention yet again this week. I've tried out an aspirin style bead and am still not totally convinced it's what I'm after ? I want something different and this bead is very much like many other beads (in character) I've made.

I've got a few beads in the colour samples (bottom left hand square) but the necklace will not be particularly special. I'd like to change my idea of the clean cut round bead and go for a large but organic round shape and will move back to my stripe idea. I will keep the Aspirin Necklace as a design but not for my Imitation Game sample and with smaller beads.
I'm going to use the colours shown in my sample photo and make some striped organic shaped beads later today. I will then review what I've got. I'm certain about the silk tie for the necklace - it's navy silk so I have a clear decision to work around. The plan is for a long necklace at the moment.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Making Moulds (2)

Hi Everyone
It's techniques and tools day today.
Last week, I made some little moulds to develop cupcake charms. My first attempt was unsuccessful - the shape did not work for me and the mould needed to be much larger - my small mould distorted the shape of the finished cupcake and getting it out of the mould almost destroyed the cupcake altogether.
I decided to look for a new shape to use as a master rather than making my own. I particularly wanted ridges in the base to mimic a cupcake case. Eventually, I came across a pen cap which looked as if it would do the job.
I made another mould. Here it is :

The new cupcake base was the correct size and seemed perfect for the job. All I needed now was to add the cupcake decoration.
I've used an extruder tool for the main job. Here it is in pictures :

The first cupcake developed like this :

I tried a few sizes of hole with the extruder tool and the smaller version worked best. I've a range of little cupcake charms and will show their finished state next time.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Bella and her first kit.

Hi Everyone
I'm looking at the Making Framework today and Bella (our virtual maker) has received her basic polymer clay making kit. I thought we could share the contents of her kit today.
The kit comes in 2 parts - a Curing Pack and a Basic Tool Kit.

The Basic Tool kit is the following :

This very simple set of tools with the addition of baby wipes and kitchen roll is all you need to get going. You will need a way of Curing (hardening/cooking) the clay but Bella will do this in a local workshop. Bella may wish to Cure her work at home in future months and there is a basic Curing Kit which she can purchase for the job.
Here are a few photos showing how to set up the Curing Kit :

In the kit there are 2 small aluminium trays, 4 clips, single piece of grease proof paper and the most important bit :

This is an oven thermometer. Having the oven at the right temperature ie according to the label on the clay or in specific kit instructions ( this tends to be 110c - although you should always check). The clay must be cured according to instructions or it will not correctly harden.

Monday, 9 February 2015


Hi Everyone
My Make Art Monday item for today is a plan for an adapted form of Miss Mitchell (a very old folk art doll painting). I've resurrected this painting to develop an image for the first virtual maker (the focus of my regular Tuesday item, read back for details). I needed to provide a character to the project and have chosen Miss Mitchell, she will be known as Bella. The original painting is a young, child like character and I want to change the face and make it more mature. I also want to work on the eyes. The original eyes are very simple folk art style and I want to have a completely new look. I'm not sure how this will turn out. I will go with whatever turns out.
I love this painting and it's around lots of examples of my work including jewellery packaging as well as gift cards and fabric. I'm not losing this version, I'm just creating another. I like the colours as they are but I may end up changing the combinations - not sure.

I will use a few weeks to develop Bella and Im starting today with my pencil sketches. Will share my progress on Mondays over the next few weeks.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Polymer Tags

Hi Everyone
My mini project this week is a polymer gift tag. I've made these tags a few times and they add a lovely touch to a gift or used as a label tag. I'm hoping to use the idea to make label tags for a planned jewellery workshop. I'm not sure exactly what I want the tag to say but I think it could be the title of the workshop project ? I will play around with a few words and decide on the size of the tag I need.
I have some metal letter stamps which I use for the job and the size of the letters combined with the length of the words will dictate the size of my tag. I find short words work well - the tags can get much too big with longer words and phrases.

I came across this particular version of the polymer tag on Pinterest and it comes with a great tutorial. I've added it to my Tutorial Board on Pinterest. The lettering stamps are smaller which allows for more flexibility in the tutorial. However, I'm stuck with what I've got so I will work with it.

Here is a link to tutorial Check out details

I want to make some round versions in a range of colours - I've added a few words to the round shape above to illustrate my idea. The words I've included are probably too many and my thinking will be to add a paper version as above and find a great word for the polymer tag - something inspirational. The heart shaped tag would come in handy if you need to send a Valentine gift - maybe I need one myself !!

Have a great weekend, thanks for reading.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Imitation Game

Hi Everyone
Thursday's are about my Imitation Game series and the current project is making beads inspired by some lovely work from Jayne Flannigan as well as a dress fabric by Victoria Beckham (see below).

I've done very little clay work towards my project this week (other commitments taken over) but I've sourced the colours and mixed the clay. I've also decided on the individual shapes of the beads and that the first item will definitely be a necklace. I'm using the circle and half circle shapes as my starting point.

I need to experiment with the thickness of the beads and how I want to thread through the beads. However, I will use a navy silk bow to tie the necklace at the neck, I've been waiting for a project that would incorporate the fabric bow idea for some time. I think, I'll try out a number of sizes for the necklace. I'm a little wary of very large beads but think in this piece that's what's required - not sure at this stage - how large to go ?

I know I want to use a crisp cut line for the clay which will require a cutter and I suspect the size of my cutters will determine the size of the beads. I've been thinking about using a large aspirin style bead or making a hollow lentil bead. My experiments will need to direct me. I've dedicated an hour of my day so will move things on later.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Making Moulds (1)

Hi Everyone
Wednesday's are reserved for my technique/tools spot and today, Im making small silicon moulds for polymer clay charms.
I have a commission job to make some small charms for a kids sale in a few weeks and am playing around with some new ideas.
I've seen a great little cupcake charm which would be good for the job. I've settled on that as my starting idea.

My final item needs to be very small (smaller than the version Im using as inspiration) and will attach to a short silver chain. I did consider buying a mould for the job but couldn't find one small enough. My solution is to make an original and create a mould for the base of the tiny cupcake. It's more difficult than you imagine ! However, I always find the hard way !

I wanted to create a little cupcake case shape and make a few to choose the best. I'm still not totally happy with my shape so may change the original. The silicon mould is a 2 part mix job - very simply mix the 2 separate coloured substances and mould around the shape. The whole thing is very quick and works great. However, I made the mistake of trying to pack as many trial cupcake bases into the silicon as I could and have managed to squish the shapes inside the mould. The replica bases have come out slightly damaged and I need to make another mould. I will make just one mould this time and resist lots of fiddling. Most of the issues in this project are to do with the size. However, I will get there !

Here are a few photos of the mould development and original shapes.

After the silicon had set, I needed to trim the edges of the mould spaces; it's a fiddly job but necessary to get the new shape out of the mould without distorting the shape.
The pink shape is the new base and as you can see - it's OK but there are some imperfections and the whole point is to make a precise shape (quickly) I did wonder if the indent lines on the base would show ? - they do show but I'm wondering if they should be more fluted and swirl around the base ? I will try another shape and compare.

The development of the cupcake is limited (so far) - with only half the cake (almost) developed. I will work on the project later today and share the results in the next instalment. I will be using another tool for the next bit, so great to share again.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Introducing Bella

Hi Everyone
Today, Bella has arrived on the blog and has signed up to the Making Stuff Project (go back to the last few Tuesday's to get more information on my Making Stuff Project).

Bella is a virtual student maker on the programme. She will embark on her first making project today and has chosen the Doughnut Necklace Project. She was attracted to this particular project by seeing examples of final necklace options (linked to the project information). Each necklace uses the same bead development but with different finishing styles and threading options.

This necklace is an introduction level project which should take around 3 hours to complete. I will be describing how Bella manages her way through the project. I hope to follow her progress and capture each detail in order to share her experiences - good and bad.

The first stage is to get the project details and acquire the equipment and materials. Here is a little background about Bella and her specific circumstances. Bella lives in a rural village and attends a High School in the market town of Morpeth, Northumberland. She has seen an opportunity to get involved in the Making Project via the school website and thinks the project could help develop some new skills. Her daily timetable is full of exam subjects and there are no spare regular blocks of time to get involved in craft and making. However, the Making Stuff idea is to allow for flexibility and provide the support and resources necessary for each individual maker. Her plan is to get hold of the first project and manage herself through the project. If she needs extra support there will be access to online videos as well as photo tutorials. There is also a drop in support surgery on Tuesday's in the school X Room Workshops. A Facebook page is planned to support the project and will be a great place to share ideas and provide peer support.
Bella has ordered her Doughnut Project Kit as well as a Basic Tool Kit and a Curing Kit via thepapersac shop. She will pick up her order next Tuesday from the X Room Workshop.

Next Tuesday, I will be there to share the contents of her order as she opens it up.

Thanks for reading

Monday, 2 February 2015

Make Art Monday

Hi Everyone
Another weekend over (big sigh !) and we had a great time this weekend. It was a family birthday weekend - lots of very special meals and a few lovely days out with lots of little treats. I bought a watercolour painting class as a present (whole day and I got to go too ! ) on Friday - lovely. A class of very nice people and a tasty lunch. I was well out of my comfort zone !
Here is my effort.

Watercolour is not my thing and I do tend to struggle, however, I did enjoy the class and the whole day. I'm going to make one or two changes to the painting today - as my Make Art Monday piece. The lower brown hills in front of the high mountains need some attention. I won't do too much as its a 'place/stage' in my watercolour development but I would have changed the hills if time had permitted on the day.

Thanks for reading.