Sunday, 27 October 2013

Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn

Yesterday we attended the West Country Embroiderers' AGM at Totnes, Devon.  It was really lovely to meet so many friends and ladies that I had met at my workshops.  The AGM was celebrating 40 years since the foundation of West Country Embroiderers, so to celebrate such an achievement the guest speakers were Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn.  As you can imagine their talk, Rhythms and Counter Rhythms was superb and I am sure we were all greatly inspired.
Jan's pictures were landscapes, many of the same field but at different times of the year whilst Jean produced fascinating pictures inspired by her Victorian house whilst it was being restored plus pictures inspired by Charmouth and its fossils.  They described their work and explained how the pieces were created, such as, machine stitched, hand stitched, then use the Embellisher and then machine stitched and hand stitched again, thereby creating lots of layers.  Unfortunately I did not get any time to look at the pieces on display but the slides were sensational.
Sadly I had no opportunity to take photos but the images on this blog are from our bog garden.  Just imagine how you could give these amazing leaves the 'Jan and Jean' treatment regardless of your craft.

TRY - add another layer to your projects - maybe hand or machine stitching, one new technique or a colour you don't normally use - you could get a pleasant surprise!
A huge thank you to the ladies of Totnes branch for their excellent hospitality.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

South West Embroiderers' Guild AGM

Yesterday we attended the South West Embroiderers' Guild AGM.  It was extremely well organised and I met lots of people, some old friends and some new.  The AGM was held at a school and it was an extension to the school, where the traders were situated, that fascinated me.  I think the extension was mainly used as a music room because there were lots of instruments visible.
Part of my stand with embroidery threads, textured yarn and machine knitted felt.

The most wonderfully inventive fountain I have ever seen, consisting of an assortment of brass instruments which had probably been welded together with water spouting out, possibly, a trombone.  The roof to the left has grass on it and the roof with the solar panels also has shingles made from recycled tyres.  You can also see 'dead' pianos brightly painted and used as plant containers.
The inside of the 'music room'.  The instruments on the wall were real but beautifully squashed.  You may wonder what the plank is on the left hand side - it was a tree trunk.  If you look carefully at the right hand side of the image you will see that an upside down French horn has been used as a lampshade!  The walls of the building were about two feet thick and were insulated with either sheep's wool or straw bales.  Outside the building there was a vegetable garden, chickens and other assorted animals.  What an amazing environment for children to learn.

Monday, 14 October 2013

A Woolly Weekend

This weekend we attended the 'Woolly Weekend' at Kelly House, Kelly near Launceston, Cornwall.  As you would imagine the House was full of all things woolly ranging from fleece to exquisite products and gifts.  I took my Merino Wool Tops, Textured Yarns and Machine Knitted Felt bags and pictures to add to the woolly collection.  The fibres at the event ranged from many breeds of sheep fleece to alpaca fleece.  It was good to speak to my fellow traders on the finer points of fleece and find new fibres for the website.  I bought some amazing natural Gotland lamb locks. 
 Mary Toon, Felt Amazing, feltmaker and artist

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Rolled and Embellished Felt Bead Jewellery

Yesterday I gave a workshop for West Country Embroiderers at St. Stephen in Brannel, near St. Austell, Cornwall.  The workshop shows how to create felt beads which are embellished with either glass beads, hand embroidery or machine embroidery.  The ladies decided they would like to use glass beads and soon started adding their own ideas to make unique beads that would eventually become stunning jewellery.
The beads at the end of the day - the start of something special.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Merino Wool Tops - Cords (Part 1)

Here are the instructions for making cords from Merino Wool Tops.  They are great fun to make and are extremely versatile.
1.  Protect the work surface with plastic and/or towel.  Put bubble wrap (rough side up) on top of the towel.
2.  Take about 6" (15cm) Merino Wool Tops and divide in half and in half again 1" x 6" (2.5 x 15cm).  If you want a thicker cord use one-third or half the wool top.
3.  Pull off small pieces of wool tops and lay them on the bubble wrap.
4.  Sprinkle a little warm water on to the bubble wrap.  Rub the wet bubble wrap with Olive Soap.
5.  Gently roll the wool tops in one direction away from you.  If this is difficult add a little more water and soap.  If the bubble wrap moves, anchor it to the work surface.  If the cord becomes too flat it is because it is too wet, so dab away the moisture.  If the ends are too thin cut them off.  If the bubble wrap becomes dry add more water and soap.  As the cord becomes firmer roll using more pressure.  Continue to roll until the cord is very firm.  If you use Blended Merino Wool Tops or several different colours you will get a spiral effect because you have rolled in one direction.
6.  Gently rinse in warm water to remove the soap and dry on a towel.
Left - gold pulled from a quarter Merino Wool Top
Middle - granite pulled from half Blended Merino Wool Top
Right - scarlet/orange/mauve/magenta pulled from 4 Merino Wool Tops
Rolling the cord on bubble wrap
Finished cords 'before and after'