Jun 30, 2011

A to Z of Crafts - F = Felting

Felting is one of the earliest forms of textile processing that we know and is used to produce a non-woven fabric - felt. The oldest finds containing evidence of the use of felt are in Turkey. Wall paintings that date from 6500 BC to 3000 BC contain felt appliques. In Southern Siberia felt was found inside a frozen tomb that dates from the fifth century BC. Roman soldiers were equipped with felt breastplates, tunics, boots and socks. Felt sheets believed to be from about 500 AD were found covering a body in a tomb in Norway. Today felt is still in use in many parts of the world, especially areas with harsh climates. More recently there has been a growing interest in felting with contemporary felt making designs and techniques becoming more widespread.

Felt is a non woven fabric formed when wool or animal fur is subjected to heat, moisture, and pressure or agitation.Felting is a simple technique requiring very little equipment and the main advantage it has over other textile techniques is in producing a finished product in much less time. The creation of felt using traditional techniques, welt felting, simply requires wool, water, soap and two hands. Wool is laid out in layers with each layer going in a different direction. Hot water and soap is added and gentle agitation begins. The process of agitation varies depending on the methods of the felter and the piece being created, but the result is the same. the more agitation, the tighter the resulting fabric. Wool fibres have scales and the process of agitation causes these scales to grab onto neighbouring fibres and interlock.

Needle felting, or dry felting, emulates the process of soap and water through the us of a needle. Felting needles have small downward barbs that entangle the fibres together. Needle felting is currently less practiced than wet felting but it is gaining in popularity amongst crafters and artisans.

Here are some great examples of felted products from members of the BrisStyle and Dust teams:

An Opal Pendant

As anyone who has been reading my blog for a while will know I love opals. So naturally I also love the opportunity to use opals when designing a new piece of jewellery. The opal I have used this time is called a Koroit Opal, it is an Australian opal mined in a place called, not too surprisingly, Koroit in South West Queensland. Koroit Opals are known for their deep, strong ironstone with magic patterns and inclusions of colour. Koroit Opal can be clean faced opal or have inclusions of natural brown potch, either way most Koroit opals are unique. The piece of opal that I have used has a gorgeous and distinctive blue flash near the top of the stone, as well as several smaller flashes of blue.

Because of the brown base colour of the opal I decided to wire wrap it in 14k gold fill, as I decided that this would compliment the colour of the opal than sterling silver. I wrapped the opal carefully trying to minimise the amount of wire that covered the stone so as to ensure that while the opal was held securely in place, the wires did not distract from it. I completed the pendant with a spiral above the stone, and two small sweeps of wire from either side, again above the stone, which themselves have formed a heart shape around the spiral. So there it is, the design behind my Australian Koroit Opal Pendant.

Jun 29, 2011

A to Z of Crafts - E = Embroidery

Embroidery is the art of decorating fabric or other materials with needle and thread or yarn. A characteristic of embroidery is that the basic techniques or stitches of the earliest work remain the fundamental techniques of hand embroidery today. Machine embroidery mimics hand embroidery but the stitches of machine work rely on the use of multiple threads and resemble hand work in their appearance not their construction.

Early examples of embroidery survive from Ancient Egypt, Iron Age Europe and Zhou Dynasty China. Embroidery was a very important art in the Medieval Islam world. Because embroidery was a sign of high social status in Muslim societies it became a hugely popular art. Elaborately embroidered clothing, religious objects and household items have been a mark of status in many cultures including ancient Persia, India, China, Japan and Europe.

Much contemporary embroidery is stitched with a computerised embroidery machine. Machine embroidery is used to add logos and monograms to apparel, as well as to decorate household linens, draperies and decorator fabrics that mimic the elaborate hand embroidery of the past.

Here are some pieces that incorporate some great examples of embroidery work from members of the Dust team:

Jun 28, 2011

Vote and Win Some Awesome Prizes!

The Jewelry on Etsy Team Blog have some awesome prizes on offer with their latest Summer challenge. All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning a great piece of jewelry is vote for your favourite piece in their anklet challenge, follow the blog, and leave a comment - simple!

Here are a couple of examples of the awesome anklets you have to choose between:

There are seven great prizes on offer, and everyone who meets the entry criteria will be in the draw to win - voting, and entry into the draw remains open until this Friday July 1st.

Just to whet your appetite, here is a small sample of some of the great prizes on offer:

So what are you waiting for - get yourself over to the Jet team blog and vote now! Good Luck!

Jun 26, 2011

Sunday Theme - Grey/Gray

Spelt grey by the English and gray by Americans, grey is a neutral colour covering in fact any shade on the spectrum between black and white. The first recorded use of grey as a colour name in the English language was in AD700. 

In a moral sense grey is either used to describe situations that have no clear moral value or to balance an all-black or all-white view. In folklore grey is often associated with goblins. The colour grey is also often associated with ageing or with the passing of time.

I love the colour grey as I believe it always seems so stylish and elegant and of course it goes so well with so many other colours.

Here is one of my pieces in shades of grey, my Laboradite and Sterling Silver Necklace - of course the laboradite, although predominantly a grey hue, does also show flashes of electric blue.

Here are some more great pieces using the colour grey - from the Jet team:

and some more from members of the BrisStyle team:

Making Use of Offcuts

When I am making bangles or pendants with square wire I often end up with too much wire because of wanting to ensure I have allowed enough wire for whatever design I want to end up with. This means that I can end up with off cuts of wire after finishing my design. However, I always put these offcuts of wire away to be used later. One of the great ways I can use these off cuts, depending on the length of wire, is for making simple wrapped earrings.

My latest pair of earrings, just listed, is one of those pairs of earrings. Having been doing some mixed metal bangles recently i have ended up with offcuts of both sterling silver and of 14k gold fill wire. I decided to form loops in each end of the wires, place several of these lengths together side by side, in a descending pattern, and then wrap the bundle up with some of my off cut half round wire. So that was how I made great use of some offcuts to form my Gold and Silver Mixed Metal Wrap Earrings.

Jun 24, 2011

A to Z of Crafts - D = Decoupage

Decoupage is the creative art of assembling and composing paper cut outs on objects for decoration. The word 'decoupage' comes from the French word 'decouper' meaning 'to cut out'. Decoupage is thought to have its origins in 17th century Italy, where paper cut outs were placed on painted backgrounds as an inexpensive alternative to hand painted furniture.

Commonly, with decoupage, an object like a small box or an item of furniture is covered by cut outs from magazines or from purpose manufactured papers. Each layer is sealed with multiple layers of varnish until the stuck-on appearance disappears and the result looks like painting or inlay work.

Here are a few great examples of decoupage work that I found available on Etsy.

Jun 23, 2011

Gold and Silver Bangle with Red CZs

My latest piece of jewellery, just listed, is my Gold and Silver Bangle with Red Cubic Zirconias. I'm really loving the mixed metals at the moment so that has been carried through with this bangle. The base of the bangle consists of both 14k gold fill and sterling silver wires, with the outer gold wires twisted. The Cubic Zirconias have been threaded onto the central wire which has been shaped in such a way as to make the stones stand out from the bangle with the other wires acting as a backdrop. The CZs are in Pomegranate Red and as they are faceted they catch the light beautifully. As with the majority of my pieces this is a one off unique design.

Jun 22, 2011

A to Z of Crafts - C = Crochet

Crochet is a process of creating fabric from yarn or thread using a crochet hook. The word crochet derives from the French word 'crochet' meaning 'hook'. Crochet, like knitting, consists of pulling loops through other loops but additionally incorporates wrapping the working material around the hook one or more times.

Indicators are that crochet was first introduced in the 19th century. The first written reference to crochet can be found in The Memoirs of a Highland Lady by Elizabeth Grant published in the early 1800s. By the early 1840s instructions for crochet were being published in England. These early patterns called for cotton and linen thread for lace, and wool yarn for clothing, often in vivid colour combinations.

The craft remained primarily a homemaker's art until the early 1970s when a new generation picked up on crochet and popularised granny squares. Although crochet underwent a subsequent decline in popularity it has since seen a revival of interest in recent years.

Here are some great examples of crochet work from members of the Dust team.

Jun 20, 2011

End of Financial Year SALE!

S A L E !!!

From now until the 30th June I will be hosting an End of Financial Year Sale in my Etsy store with 20% off everything! Thats right - for the next 10 days you can purchase anything in my store and receive 20% OFF. All you need is my Sale Coupon Code  - EOFYS11.  When you get to checkout just type in the coupon code and the cart will automatically apply the discount. So what are you waiting for!!!





Jun 19, 2011

Sunday Theme - Copper

Copper was the first metal used by our ancestors. It was first discovered and used by Neolithic Man about 9-10,000 years ago. Early copper smiths in Iran found that heating copper softened it and hammering copper made it harder. In this way they could shape copper into various useful items such as containers and utensils. Because of its beautiful colour copper was also made into jewellery and ornaments.

Copper is the most versatile and hence probably the most used of all metals, from conducting heat or electricity, to being used for water pipes. In fact the average home contains more than 90kgs of copper, from electrical wires, to plumbing to electrical appliances. Copper is also one of the most recycled metals with perhaps 70% of the copper now in use having been recycled at least once. Copper is also of course used widely as an alloy, mixed with other metals to form for example Sterling Silver (7.5% Copper, 92.5% Silver), Brass (70% Copper, 30% Zinc) and Bronze (90% Copper, 10% Tin).

As already mentioned, because of its beautiful colour, one of the uses for copper has been as jewellery, and in fact a copper pendant dated at 8700BC was discovered in what is now Northern Iraq. I like to occasionally use copper for jewellery and one of my favourite copper pieces is my Copper Byzantine Waves Chainmaille Bracelet.

Here is some more gorgeous copper jewellery from members of the JET team.


Jun 18, 2011

Lemon Chrysoprase and Sterling Silver Ring

It seems that most of my posts are about rings these days but I wanted to share another ring that I have just listed online. This ring features the delicately coloured gemstone Lemon Chrysoprase, which is simply gorgeous. The gemstone cabochon is wire wrapped in sterling silver and this wrapping then continues for the ring shank making for a smooth and comfortable fit. The shank on this ring is only fitted on one side of the stone, with the other end curling under the stone. This makes for a ring that is fully adjustable. So, my Lemon Chrysoprase and Sterling Silver Ring.

Jun 16, 2011

A to Z of Crafts - B = Beadwork

Beadwork is the craft of attaching beads to one another or to cloth, usually by the use of needle and thread, or soft flexible wire. Most beadwork takes the form of jewellery or other personal adornment, but beadwork can also be used for home furnishings, wall hangings, and sculptures.

Beadwork in Europe has a history dating back centuries, and it is also recognised as a quintessential Native American art. Glass beads were being made in Murano by the end of the 14th century, French beaded flowers were being made as early as the 16th century and Lampwork glass was invented in the 18th century.

Today a wide range of beading styles flourish but when thinking about "beadwork" as opposed to "beading" it is the elaborate designs that can be created through bead weaving, or through sewing beads to cloth that come to mind.

Here are a few great examples of beadwork by some fellow Australian artists:

Jun 15, 2011

Faceted Onyx and Sterling Silver Ring

This is the latest ring in my series of bold, statement, cabochon rings - my Faceted Onyx and Sterling Ring. The Onyx is so gorgeous and glossy and with the edges of the cabochon faceted it captures and reflects the light beautifully. The silver wire has a slight lightening flash pattern on top of the stone and the shank is then wire wrapped to ensure a smooth and comfortable fit. Definitely a ring for those who like their jewellery to make a statement!

Jun 14, 2011

A to Z of Crafts - A = Applique

This is the start of a new series, the A-Z of crafts, will probably aim to do a couple a week. I may get stuck on some letters but we'll have to see how we go.

In its broadest sense an applique is a small ornament or device applied to another surface. The term is borrowed from the French and means "applied" or thing that has been applied". Applique was first 'discovered' when clothes ripped and needed fixing so they used to sew over the top of the rip patches of different material.

In the context of sewing applique refers to a needlework technique in which pieces of fabric, embroidery, or other materials are sewn onto another piece of fabric to create designs, patterns or pictures.

Here are some great examples of Applique work from some members of the BrisStyle team:

Jun 13, 2011

Squiggly Rings

I have called my latest set of ring designs "Squiggly Rings" because to me that is exactly what they are. Effectively I am taking a length of 16g sterling silver wire, creating some squiggles with it, and then turning these squiggles into rings. There is a bit of hammering when the rings are on the mandrel, but that's it. Very simple, very cute. Apparently they may also be set to be quite popular with half the stock of my first set of rings selling out at the first market they appeared at. All I need now is some more 16g wire. So here they are - not yet listed, as I said half already sold, my first set of squiggly rings.


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