Tuesday, 29 January 2008

365 / 163 - From Sketches to Patterns to Prototypes

We had a super-slow day at work yesterday and I spent rather a lot of time sneakily sketching British butterflies:
Of course, I was then so excited at how well some of the sketches had turned out that I had to try some out the moment I got home...
... the yellow one is a Brimstone butterfly, the blue one is Adonis Blue and the in-progress white and orange one is a species called Orange-Tip. I also tried out petal shapes for daisies, and (seriously thrilling) made a prototype Bluetit which is on the wrong colour background and lacking an eye! The idea for the bluetit (and, in fact, for a whole range of British garden birds) came when I was idly sketching possible shapes for a robin back in December, and it is wonderful to have fully realised the idea. Here's a shot of all the sketches I made - initial robin sketches, a sketch working out how to represent bluebird markings, and then a neater drawing to base a pattern - along with the pattern pieces and prepared felt shapes:
Then here's the final drawing and the finished applique for comparison:
He's turned out to be rather a cutie I think, and I'm very glad as the bluetit is one of my very favourite birds. The pages of my bird books will be well thumbed over the next few weeks I think as I'll be adapting the pattern for all sorts of different species....

There won't be any more 365 photos from me for a little while though, as I'm going away for a few days (leaving the boyfriend to fend for himself, haha). I shall still be blogging though, continuing my "featured crafter" series showing off some of the amazing talent in the Crafting 365 group.

PS Yay! My pansy pin got a mention in an Etsy article posted today about Colour Theory - apparently I "used the split complementary color scheme of green, purple and yellow to create a balanced color contrast". This is news to me but lovely to get the mention - particularly amongst so many lovely featured items! I have a sneaking suspicion that my pansy was on the Etsy front page with those items the other day but it sold and I missed it... ah well. Nice to see it turning up on the FP this afternoon anyway:

Monday, 28 January 2008

365 / 161 & 162 - Badgers and Other Bits and Pieces

I managed to forget to write a blog post yesterday - oops! So there's two days worth of sewing antics to catch up on... Saturday I was determined to finish the oak leaves begun on day 148, and did finally finish them all (hurrah!). Here they all are on Sunday morning in my hi-tech photo lab, otherwise known as my kitchen windowsill:
Then yesterday (Sunday) I made a batch of violet brooches and sewed together a small group of badgers (a "cete" of badgers if you like). Here are the badgers, frolicking happily amongst the violets:
I continue to be obsessed with spring flowers, planting lots out in my little garden and sketching plenty of new felt designs. After all this batch making I am itching to make Exciting New Things again so, fingers crossed, there should be some new pretties coming very soon.

In felt-related news... I met a real life "fan" of my work at the weekend -one of the girls at work had found my shop via I Like and recognised one of my pins, which was rather a nice feeling! Also, my work got a lovely mention in a post called "handmade heaven" on Design Sprout and Etsy's Storque chose that week to review Design Sprout as a recommended blog so I got a mention there as well and my oak leaf pin popped up on the front page for a little while:
I've also been playing around with the poster sketch tool on Etsy to create images of my brooch "collections" (click on the images to view them larger), I rather like seeing them all together like this. Woodland brooches:
Teatime brooches:
Floral Brooches:
Also: in my tea-obsessed post the other day I neglected to mention that you can buy a Keep Calm mug here (the boyfriend has already demanded that I buy him one).

And: one of my current Etsy faves Kate Wilson has been shortlisted for the Alternative Turner Prize (works by young artists inspired by this year's nominees) please do go vote for her!

Saturday, 26 January 2008

365 / 160 - Violets and Camera Settings

We went to see some friends last night, so I took a few works-in-progress along with me in a little box and stitched away during all the chitchat. I was supposed to be finishing a batch of red teapots and embroidering lots of oak leaves but I got a little distracted by the temptation of a new idea - making a variation on the forget-me-nots brooch, with violets instead:
I think they look rather nice, the purple is a quite delicious colour and I'm already planning to wear this brooch on my favourite purple jumper. Violets always remind me of the Italian scenes in E.M.Forster's novel A Room with a View - during English Lit GCSE we had it drilled into us that Violets = Italy = Love - and I think they mean faithfulness.
I'm delighted with the photos of them, too (although my camera battery ran out before I got all the angles I wanted). I've been playing around with the white balance on my camera, with very satisfying results. My little camera does a wonderful thing where it measures the light and adjusts the white balance automatically, getting rid of that annoying blueish tinge and making the colours seem much more true. I didn't think to take a picture actually using the camera's standard settings for comparison, but here's the first picture I took - taken with yesterday's white balance settings - as an example of the blue tinge and the not-quite-right colours:
And then here's one with the white-balance corrected (and before I did any cropping and tweaking with my photo editor). Such a difference.
I'm also experimenting with a different backdrop for my photos. After trying out various colours backgrounds a while ago I've decided to stick with the clean crisp white, and the friends we visited yesterday kindly gave me a leftover white tile from one of their DIY projects to try out as a backdrop. I feel a photo-taking session coming on sometime soon...

Friday, 25 January 2008

365 / 159 - Building up my Collection, plus: Tea Things

I continue to be working on little batches of my designs - yesterday I finished a batch of pansies, and started sewing together a batch of red teapots. As well as helping me build up a stock of items for sale, the batch-making process is helping me build up my own personal brooch collection as I've finally got enough of certain designs to be able to keep one for myself. Here's the collection so far, including the newest addition (the pansy) ...
As you can see, there are plenty of designs still missing - ie lots of batches still to make!

In non-crafty news, I have stumbled upon a shop selling excellent mugs for your tea. Discovered via Hazel Nicholls' blog (in turn discovered when she left me a comment), SuckUK sells a drink selector mug enabling you to display your tea/coffee tastes and also a colour-matching mug to help you make perfect-strength tea or coffee. The latter reminds me of the Pantone mugs and the work of Onkar Singh Kular, who also designed a charming "pair" of three socks (the 3rd for when one gets lost) and a picture frame with a built-in spirit level (as I'm preparing to frame some pictures this one appeals to me particularly strongly!). While I'm on the subject of mugs, if you've never seen the Dunk Mug it's really worth a look. A mug with a built-in biscuit holder? Just genius, although as a friend of mine commented "it doesn't hold a whole packet though, does it?" (I do eat rather a lot of biscuits...).

Back to Hazel Nicholls for a moment though - what lovely things! This image particularly caught my eye:
It seems in my mind to be a sort of biscuit-obsessed version of Anthony Burrill's Work Hard and Be Nice to People. A copy of "Work Hard" is waiting to be framed and hung up somewhere in my house once I can work out where to put it... probably somewhere near my cheap-as-chips Keep Calm and Carry On poster (in my kitchen and much looked to during times of culinary crisis!). To continue with all this going-round-in-circles I'm doing today, checking out the fancy screenprinted versions of the Keep Calm poster (handprinted, lovely soft colours: delicious!) I found that Keep Calm Ltd now stock one of Hazel Nicholls' pieces and also (wonderful, wonderful) this completely cracking tea-themed poster:
- you've gotta love that little teacup inside the A! One last bit of tea-obsession before I sign off: a Crafting 365 photo from Seaurchin of a spilled drop of tea photographed for glazing inspiration. A quirky image in itself, I think this photo is a great example of finding inspiration in the everyday.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

365 / 158 - A Blue Thread Crisis

Yesterday evening was rather blissful: a pile of old films to watch, and my work-in-progress pile to attend to. Lots of spring flowers to finish, and more to begin, but I also wanted to make some blue teapots - or at least one so I could take photos of it today. Unfortunately, I don't have the right sort of blue thread...
All those blues, but not the one I want! A trip to the habedashers is called for I think...

In other news, I found a great little quote about Etsy in this article on the BBC:
"I think there's generally a resurgence in hand-made, home-made stuff in response to globalised, generic goods," she said. "The Primark Effect, if you like: the equal and opposite reaction to that physical law would be The Etsy Effect."

Oh, and I have been blogged a few times... First up, I was completely delighted to see that my little blog has been added to the daily reads list on the ever-awesome Cuteable. My tea addict pin got a lovely mention over on the 16sparrows blog, various 365 members have been blogging the project and giving me a mention in the process (thankyou all!), Cindy bought some of those great tea buttons I got off Etsy a few weeks ago, my moustaches showed up on the (new and rather interesting) Autonomous Artisans blog, and my abstract mobiles were featured on Craft&Found. Hurrah!

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

365 / 157 - Pastels for Spring

I continue to be springtime-obsessed, eagerly awaiting the flowering of my spring bulbs and doodling all kinds of floral patterns. My work pile for yesterday evening was suitably spring-like, as I had to finish the mobile strands I started last week (lovely soft pastels) and then spent several absorbing hours stitching batches of primroses and embroidering teeny forget-me-nots.
I am absolutely determined this year to make things in small batches, so I have a bit more stock to play with and I'm not having to re-make things in a rush when I don't really feel like it because they've sold out. I made a list yesterday of all the things I need to make batches of, and there are rather a lot to catch up on! My itch to make exciting new patterns all the time won't help much, either, but at least I am making a start.
Making batches can sometimes feel like a chore, but for the moment at least it is proving enjoyably soothing. The newness of the designs must help - I may be totally sick of forget-me-nots in a few weeks time but right now I am entranced, and embroidering them all is keeping me totally absorbed.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

365 / 156 - Finished Florals and some Teapots

Ah, sunshine, how wonderful. And with sunshine comes the ability to take product photos so (most marvellously) the assorted brooches I finished last night can now be listed in the shop! I am rather itching to get them listed (beaming with pride as I am) but I shall try to be good and space the listings out over the next few days instead of splurging all at once.

Here's my workbox from yesterday -
- I finished the pansies, primroses and forget-me-nots I was working on and made my first few teapots. I continue to be really pleased with how the pansies turned out, though they are showing up in the photos rather more blue than in reality. Ah well.
I love the soft yellow of the primroses - I'd actually accidentally filed the felt I needed for these away with the creams and beiges in my felt stash, it is so creamy a yellow. Gorgeously soft, too, lovely 30% wool felt. Yum.
The forget-me-nots feel like a real triumph, especially as my too-small-bead frustration the day before turned out to be a great piece of luck as desperate to get them finished I was hunting about in my stash for something suitable and found lovely bright yellow embroidery thread. I had been a little concerned about the beads becoming too dominant, and the little white embroidered detailing getting lost, but with embroidery thread yellow dots instead of beads the overall effect is (to my eyes at least) really quite charming. The teapots have turned out nicely, too, lovely and chunky-looking:
Unfortunately I have made rather a mess of our coffee table over the past few days with all this sewing - the plan to pack everything away at the end of the evening only works when I actually tidy up and I've been rather lazy! Lots of tidying to do today...

Monday, 21 January 2008

365 / 155 - Spring has Sprung...

... well, it has inside my head, anyway. Outside it is cold and grey and living up to today's reputation as the most depressing day of the year but inside my brain I am obsessed with spring! I've been buying plants for my little potted garden, delighting in primulas and bunches of daffs down the market, picking tomato varieties to grow this year, and working on lots and lots of new flowery brooches. I have been rather distracted looking at gorgeous flower photos on Flickr like this and also this, but I have got some sewing done all the same. Many more designs to come, but here's what I'm working on so far:
Primroses (the small ones are prototypes you may have spotted on the blog a while ago), Pansies and in-progress Forget-Me-Nots. The latter are supposed to have little yellow beaded centres but the yellow beads I acquired by cannibalising an old necklace are too tiny and my local haberdashers don't have any yellow seed beads. Foiled!

It is deeply satisfying to have worked out how to make a felt pansy, as they are such complicated little flowers and every one seems different, but after much sketching they are finally finished. Of course as it's not actually yet spring, I've got to wait for a sunnier day before I can photograph and list these new flowers but they should be in the shop sometime soon (fingers crossed).

Many more flowers coming soon and also - I shall let you in on a secret - teapots! I have been trying to draw a teapot properly for just ages and today I finally got one looking how I'd like a teapot to look (a sort of Platonic ideal of a teapot), round and fat and friendly-looking. Time for a celebratory cuppa, I think.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

365 / 154 - Tea, Glorious Tea

I do like a nice cup of tea. I drank a lot of tea yesterday, and finished the batches of teacup brooches. Here they are, all finished, in a very satisfying heap:
The red teacups will be in the shop this evening, as long as I remember to list one! I was supposed to yesterday but got distracted listening to the radio instead. Oh well.

Today being Sunday, there's not much going on and I am planning an afternoon working on new patterns and getting a few odds and ends sorted out, so hopefully some new things to show off tomorrow if all goes to plan! Enjoy the rest of your weekend...

Saturday, 19 January 2008

365 / 153 - Teacups and Featured Crafter Knithappens

I'm rather sleepy today (up a bit too late with our guests last night!), which gives me an excellent excuse to curl up with my sewing instead of doing any actual work. I've been cutting out lots of felt these past few days in preparation for sewing lots of batches - just the sort of simple repetetive sewing I want to do this evening, hurrah!

Yesterday I turned those felt doodles into brooches... I made a quick colour swatch chart of my newly aquired felt (for easy re-ordering) ...
... and I worked on a batch of teacup pins:
As you may notice from that picture, I've made a red version of my spotty teacup. I planned originally to also change the background colour, but decided against it. I think they look so fresh and cheerful against the yellow, they make me think of breakfast in a country kitchen on a sunny day. I also (really tragically) love how my sewing co-ordinates with my pin box in that photo!

I also got some truly excellent tea-themed post from knithappens -
- what a great box! Knit aka alabamawhirly knows that I like a nice cup of tea, even adding one to my custom-ordered gloves, and today when I came to look through her Crafting 365 photos to write this little feature it was (rather predictably) the tea-themed ones which caught my eye.
Knit has been gracing the Crafting 365 group with shots of her awesome knitting for 137 days now, starting with this brilliant mohair spoon...
... and yesterday inspiring huge amounts of crafty jealousy with this shot of her stash:
She says "I have loved being part of crafting 365, seeing the way that my fellow crafters work, marking the high points and the lack of inspiration moments. I am amazed at how my own work maps out, I know I make something everyday but it has been fantastic seeing it alongside other people and the support and comments from other crafters. It has been and is an inspirational project to be part of" ... and she was sweet enough to blog about my recent article here.

Friday, 18 January 2008

365 / 152 - Felt Doodles

I have been doing lots of crafty stuff but have no time to blog about it all as we have people coming round for dinner and I have to tidy up asap!

Quick 365 photo though - a rather low-quality scan in fact - of some speedy little felt "doodles" I did last night for Bunny & Heidi's Doodle Challenge. Each little felt picture was made by cutting out felt pieces freehand (no time to make a pattern) and stitching rather speedily, they took between 10 and 15 minutes each from start to finish:
They're illustrating "How big is a tiger?" (he's just a fat kitten), "Spork attack!" (an aggresive spork), "Snug as a bug in a rug" (or on a cosy velvet cushion), "No place like home" (which makes me want to make a whole series of felt houses) and "If I won the lottery, the first thing I would buy..." (would be a very fancy mug for my tea). They'll be one of a kind badges for my shop sometime soon. Right, gotta go and tidy things...

Thursday, 17 January 2008

365 / 151 - much craftiness, much mess

Okay so yesterday I did allow myself to become a little distracted from the crafty tasks in hand but still: lots of craftniess was achieved! Praise be!

After a comment on my Flickr about how neat and tidy I am, I was forced to admit that it's all lies and that most of my 365 photos of "my workbox" are staged for photographs. Not having my own workspace where I can spread out my felt etc and leave it lying around, I have to get out my evening's supplies and works in progress and then clear them away again in the evening so when I take my 365 photos you see what I have unpacked from the night before (if that makes sense). I thought today I would show off the debris that my crafting creates, and deliberately left the chaos out overnight:
If you click on the photo it should take you to a heavily annotated version, so you can see what all that stuff is ... but basically it's lots of felt, some admin, some pattern pieces, assorted wips, and there's a cup of tea and some chocolate in there somewhere too. The supplies will get packed away neatly (though where a lot of that felt is going to go I'm not sure yet, as my stash has more than doubled in the past week!), the wips will go back in their box, the admin will get put in my towering "to do/file" pile, etc etc and we'll be able to use our table again!

What did I actually make last night? Well, I cut out lots of pieces of felt for various designs that I need to restock, I finished the first of the little oak leaves and I made a couple of new things too - alphabet pins (to be a custom item, your choice of letter and colours) and a badger!
I'm really pleased with how the oak leaf turned out, and the letters are just how I wanted them but gosh the badger makes me smile. It took me rather an age to translate my initial badgery sketches into a finished brooch (hares are giving me similar trouble) but he's rather a cutie in my opinion:In exciting shop news: I've decided to offer a discount to customers who send me customer appreciation photos, ie pics of people wearing my brooches etc. If you buy something from my little shop (or have bought something in the past) and send me a photo of yourself enjoying your purchase, I will put it up on this here blog and you will get a 10% discount off your next order. Discounts will be issued as a refund via paypal after purchase (excluding shipping costs), and there's only one discount per customer - but you can of course send me as many pictures as you like! :)

PSST - if you've sent me pics before now you must give me a shout and give me permission to put them on my blog or you won't get your 10%

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

365 / 150 - lines and circles

Last night my crafty task was to finish sewing all the pastel circles together for the mobile strands I'm working on. I thought I'd managed this but as I was packing up I found a sneaky little set of circles that had hidden from me, so one more still to go before I can sew everything together. I made a start on the embroidered lines on the oak leaves, too. Such an enjoyable process...

I am determined to get lots of sewing done this afternoon & evening instead of being distracted by housework or the internet or any of the many things on my to do list, so just a short blog post today. If all goes to plan though I shall be back tomorrow with lots to report! :)

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

365 / 149 - Fame, Fortune and Felt

Well, two out of three anyway. After my tree stump being on the Etsy front page in the morning, my acorn showed up in the afternoon (thanks to Siansburys for the screenshot!)
... and then late in the night my Crafting 365 article was published. Hurrah!

Fortune as (as yet) escaped me but yesterday afternoon I got to go on a felt-buying spree in Hobbycraft (thanks to my very patient boyfriend) and on the interweb. I appliqued lots of green oak leaves, too, but it's the newly-aquired felt stash that gets to star in my 365 photo:
So much delicious colour...

Oh, and I got great Etsy post today - a print for my kitchen from Bombus, parcelled (characteristically) in a map:
She sent me a gorgeous vintage postcard of lupins, too! So lovely:

Stop Press: Crafting 365 Article published, yay!

Just a quick (late night for me!) post to say hurrah hurrah the article I wrote about the Crafting 365 project has appeared on Etsy. Please do go check it out, and follow the links at the end to some lovely things made by the group members (some seriously talented guys and gals).

Monday, 14 January 2008

365 / 148 - circles and leaves

Yesterday was a day for cutting things out whilst drinking tea and chit-chat-chattering away to some friends. More oak leaves in preparation for lots and lots of brooch-making, and some pastel felt circles to make three extra strands for this mobile:
I also did a frankly astonishing amount of housework and generally felt pretty organised... until the evening when I remembered all the things I was supposed to have done over the weekend & totally forgot about! Oh well.

Today, lovely Etsy post from paperbluebird - more of the zinnia cards I like so much (I've even framed one for my wall) - check out her great presentation:
Nice ribbon, sweet free gift, cute tag with handwritten note and cute moo business card. Lovely.

Oh, and it seems that this "Faux Bois" themed treasury (featuring my tree stump) was on the Etsy front page this morning. A very nice thing to discover on a Monday morning!

Sunday, 13 January 2008

365 / 147 - oak leaves and featured crafter Ladyfort

Here's my workbox from last night...
... I finished the batch of large green oak leaves and made a start on some brown ones, including finally using the sketches I made in the autumn to make patterns for smaller leaves. All lovely relaxing stuff.

I was supposed to be taking pictures of my new moustache pins this weekend, ready to list them, but did I remember yesterday when it was sunny? No chance. Now today my camera is refusing to focus and the pictures I have taken are "servicable" but no more. Oh well. Here's the new design, anyway, embroidered to match my moustache disguises & with proper brooch backs instead of safety-pin fasteners:

Time for another featured crafter...
Ladyfort aka Sallyent aka Tinkering Textiles is a lady of many alias and many crafty projects, including founding the Manchester Craft Mafia and just this week starting an Etsy UK group on Flickr. She describes her work as "textiley things with an eye for detail" and her pictures are always full of delicious fabric prints, gorgeous vintage buttons and inspiring crafty magazines. Her love of detail extends to her packaging - this is one of her Etsy parcels...
... where else could you order something and have it arrive looking so beautifully presented? Just lovely. Her recent 365 entries are a great example of how through the 365 project you get a sneak peek at the development of other crafters' projects. On day 91 she showed us supplies for a new idea...
... and on day 92 we saw the idea take shape:
(I rather like the version on day 93, too, great fabric choice).

Sally's own thoughts on the 365 project? "Crafting is something I do for me - and that's why it always come bottom of the list! So being part of crafting 365 just gives me that extra push to get something done when I sit down of an evening. Seeing other people's process bit by bit helps me think about different ways of doing what I do. And I love the support we all get when we are in danger of lapsing!"

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