Friday, 3 December 2010

Art Clay Silver - Mrs Owl Brooch - WIP

Thought I would share with you my new venture into making silver jewellery. Now I have always wanted to learn silversmithing, but have yet to find a suitable evening class in my county, so was more than tempted to try a much easier and accessible way of making my own silver jewellery using Silver Clay.

Some of you may ask - What is this Silver Clay stuff?? Well - it's almost magical stuff in my opinion - it is recycled silver particles bound together with an organic binder. Basically it looks like clay, acts like clay and can be moulded like clay. Once you have made your shape, you then burn off the binder (using a butane torch, in a kiln, or get this - on your gas hob!) and you are left with a piece of silver which is usually 99.9% pure silver (unlike Sterling Silver which is 92.5%).

It was invented in the early 90's in Japan. There are two main brands - Art Clay Silver (which I have been using) and Precious Metal Clay. It's not cheap though - a 50g piece will set you back around £60. And it can be a little tricky to work with as it dries so quickly (you can also buy slow drying clay though). But on the whole it is the most fantastic stuff in my opinion - and I'm sure  I will be making a million things from this! (Check out my flickr gallery for my latest creations!)

So here is my run through of how I made my Mrs Owl Brooch -

  1. This is the final brooch - photographed on the lapel of my grey woolly jacket.
  2. I started out with an initial sketch of the owl - my first attempt looked too much like a cat so I wanted to emphasise the eyes a little more.
  3. Using Sculpey Mold Maker (a professional type plasticine which you can bake in the oven to harden) I started sculpting the main shape.
  4. Wings and feet are added.
  5. More detail was added using whatever I had to hand (mostly pens and pen lids!) - the holes for the eyes were made using the glass head of a pin!
  6. I managed to follow my original sketch quite closely (amazingly!)
  7. I then baked the Mold Maker - this hardens it to a hard rubbery texture.
  8. Using Silicone Rubber - in a two part mix specially formulated for making impressions of objects I made a cast of the owl.
  9. Here you can see the original and the cast - this picks up the detail quite well but is tricky to work with as it hardens in around 15 seconds - so you have to work very fast!
  10. Using Badger Balm I painted every nook and cranny inside the rubber mould so that the clay would release more easily.
  11. Here you can see the silver clay pushed into the rubber mould. Again I had to work quickly here as the silver clay starts to dry out after a couple of minutes!
  12. After about 4 hours on the radiator the clay was dry and I released it onto my wire mesh. Unfortunately I had not made the back of the legs thick enough so then broke off! :0(
  13. Using another piece of clay I had attached a sterling silver brooch backing - there are much better and neater ways of doing this though!
  14. With the protective cage over the clay I turned on the hob on full heat (with the extractor fan on!). After about 30 seconds the binder catches light and you see a small flame which quickly burns off. The piece will shrink a little now. I then set the timer to 5 minutes and allowed the piece to heat over the hob as it glowed salmon pink.
  15. At the end of the five minutes I picked the owl up with tongs and quenched in cold water to cool it down.
  16. At this point the owl looks white - this isn't clay, it is the silver particles standing up, so what you need to do is use a wire brush to smooth these particles down by brushing firmly in the same direction to reveal a silver finish. You will notice that the brooch backing has discoloured - this is what happens when you heat sterling silver and can be corrected by "pickling", but as I planned to antique it anyway I just left it.
  17. You can further compress the silver particles (microscopically) to create a shinier finish by using a burnisher - I use an agate burnisher as it is less likely to scratch.
  18. To pick up the detail I decided to antique the owl using Liver of Sulphur - you only need a couple drops of this in warm water. It's really stinky though - smells like rotten eggs! About 20 seconds in this solution darkened the silver nicely. You can play around with how long you "dunk" your piece to see how dramatic an effect you can create. Then using silver polish and a cloth I polished the darker finish from the raised surfaces to finish the piece off.
  19. In this shot you can see the original, the rubber mould and the final silver piece. I could have tried moulding the owl directly into the silver clay, but as I am new to this I preferred to make a mould - plus it means that if I can make more exactly the same now! (Although this used 30 grams of silver clay - so wasn't cheap to make!
  20. I tried attaching the feet again for this shot, but alas they don't want to stay on - so Mrs Owl is legless!
Hope you found this of interest and that it inspires you to try making something yourself!


Saturday, 13 November 2010

Meringue Mushrooms!!!

Just discovered these amazing little guys - Meringue Mushrooms!

Yes, they are meringues made to look like mushrooms - held together with chocolate and dusted with cocoa - wonderful!!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Momento Carousel from my Big Sis

My wonderful sister Zoë surprised me with this handmade carousel recently which documents everything from my engagement celebrations, Hen Do, Wedding and Reception.

It is so clear that she put so much time, thought, effort and love into it.

Every time I flick through it I notice something different. Each page has a pull out section with a little surprise on it.

Zoë is an obsessed scrap-booker and used so many pretty techniques in this piece, including sections taken from the wedding invite and even the train tickets from the Hen Do!

Thanks Zo - you're the best Sister ever!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Pom pom pom pom pom!!!

Those who are familiar with my flickr gallery may already be aware of my penchant for pom poms!

They are such wonderful little fluffy things, totally impractical most of the time, but so very happy and frivolous! I am currently in the early stages of a new pom pom related product which I will hopefully be able to launch in my Not on the High Street store before Christmas (oh no not the C word!!).

I have made so many of the little blighters I think I could make them in my sleep now!!

Monday, 9 August 2010

I made this !! Button Brooches

Slowly getting back into making bits for my Not on the High Street and Folksy stores lately.

My newest line are my colourful wooden button brooches.

Nice and cheery - even if the British Weather doesn't follow suit!

Saturday, 31 July 2010

The Big Day!!!

Hi Everyone - so sorry not to have updated this sooner. Those married people who are reading this will completely understand how hectic things are in the weeks after the event! Things seem to be getting back to normal now, I have had my professional shots back, sent out my Thank you cards and caught up with my washing - so now with the blogging!!

I have decided not to add all of the images onto my blog, instead I have used my very favourite shot, which for me encapsulates the whole day. This was taken in front of the most beautiful pink barn door in a small holding across the lane from the pub where we had our sit down meal. For those interested in seeing some more photos from the day please visit my flickr gallery and check out my sets of not only the pro shots, but photos taken by our guests, processed images and also the preparation!

So where do I start? Well - it was the most magical day - this is something I'm sure every bride says about her wedding day. The sun was shining, the back garden looked amazing (after the whole week before was spent decorating it!), everything was organised and even my hair had turned out well after a last minute trip to the hairdressers to add more highlights and then having to wash my hair in cold water the night before! As the wedding was at 11am it was an early start, so my parents, sister, sister in laws and friends Jo and Mandy (who were responsible for the make up and photography respectively) all arrived bright and early.

The flowers arrived on time, and I was amazed at the unusual hydrangeas used on the bridesmaids bouquets, really wonderful! Unfortunately my peonies hadn't opened in time, so they were just buds, very pretty still, but not the big pom pom flowers I had wished for. Jo did an amazing job on the make up for myself and the bridesmaids, she's a miracle worker! We even had time to spare for a photo shoot in the garden which turned out amazingly! Then the lilac morris minor convertible arrived, driven by the fantastically named Andrew "Charlie" Chaplin - in a smashing 50's inspired outfit!

We married in our local registry office - the Archbishops Palace in Maidstone, which as registry offices go, it's pretty special. It's a very old stone building right next to the river with a herb garden and small park behind which many (including us) use for photos. After a short wait in an adjoining room, with a few last minute shots it was show time! The bridesmaids all looked so pretty in their colourful pink and lime green shrugs, and polka dot and floral dresses. They also had smaller versions of the fabric pom poms in their hair.

Dad was suited up with his lilac floral shirt and tie. And not forgetting his vintage grey converse trainers (these were the same as Wayne was wearing, he didn't know that both my Dad and his Dad were wearing these also until the day!) He looked so cool - much better than a stuffy old morning suit! I entered the Solar Room to the sound of Glenn Miller Moonlight Serenade (one of my faves). It was so touching to see all our friends and family there, smiling, wearing a wonderful mix of bright pretty colours (as I had suggested on the wedding blog). Then I saw Wayne, he looked so handsome, and nervous, but smiling still. He seemed pleased to see me too - which was a bonus!

The whole ceremony didn't take than long, and flew by. Although I did manage to start blubbing during my vows, which set everyone else off! Oh yes, I almost forgot, I did also get Waynes name wrong - much to everyone's amusement! Doh!!!

After this we all flew out the building, gave and received lots of kisses, then had some formal shots taken in the park behind. At this point I must mention my photographer. My good friend Amanda Jayne Stewart, never will you see a more hard working photographer. She has such a lovely way of dealing with the guests - who can be unruly at times! She manages to capture so many wonderful formal and informal shots, and did a truly amazing job at documenting the whole day, including all the little details I had worked so hard on. Details of Amanda's (Mandy's) website are below in my thank you list.

So then onto the pub - the beautiful Horseshoes, gastropub in East Farleigh. It's one of our locals, and was the ideal location for our informal gathering. We basically took over the back half of the pub, where we had our own bar, toilets (most important), lounge area, patio and restaurant! The restaurant section is is a lovely conservatory like building, with wonderful beams, vaulted ceiling and an eclectic mix of vintage chairs and tables. The manager Paul Stewart was most accommodating and enable us to tailor the room to our specific needs.

At this point though, I cannot go any further without mentioning the truly inspirational Haylie Harrowell - owner of Violet Weddings. Haylie is a super organised, knowledgeable, hardworking and lovely lady, without whom I couldn't have survived the day (or the run up!) I contacted Haylie early on in the planning when I realised that to have the reception in the back garden with food and entertainment meant I needed help. Like many people I'm guessing, I always thought wedding planners were for the rich and famous. Or are an extravagance nonetheless - how wrong I was! Having Haylie help plan and organise the day was completely invaluable. A good wedding planner will actually save you money! Even for the reassurance side it is money well spent! Not to go on too much about money, but our wedding was on a tight budget - the whole thing (excluding the honeymoon) came to just over 5k. Not bad I think considering what we achieved. But to stress my point, having Haylie on board was the main reason we managed to keep our costs down without compromising on anything! Details on how to contact Haylie are below.

Ok - so whilst our guests were enjoying the Pimms in the lovely sunshine, Wayne and I nipped off in the Morris Minor to the small holding across the road. It is owned by the lovely Ann Moon, who was so very kind and sweet to allow us to use her property for our mini photo shoot. The idea of this was something I'd had from the very start, I'd seen some lovely images on flickr (check out these galleries of inspirational images I gathered from the world of flickr) of couples stood "shaker style" in front of agricultural buildings and really loved the quirky, twee, arty feel, so was amazed when I caught eye of Ann's pink barn door just across the lane from the pub - perfick! So as you can see from the image above it really works with the vintage 1950's feel I was aiming for.

Then after the wonderful food and drink at the Horseshoes (amazing quality, extremely tasty by the way!) we all set off back to our house - a 5 minute drive from the pub. When we arrived the band were setting up, Waynes's ipod was on, playing his fabulous playlist (which started off with Buddy Holly (our first dance was "True Love Ways"), Glenn Miller, Billie Holliday, Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis - classics to get everyone in the mood for the band!! Even before I met Wayne, I knew two things about my wedding day (as I'm sure every girl does) at my wedding it must have fairy lights, and a live band! The band we chose after about 3 weeks of researching was Brighton based Greggi G and his Crazy Gang. A four piece jive band who were perfect for my theme. As well as the marquee we had also hired a stage for the back of the garden for the band to play from - it was a little tight (sorry guys) but it didn't seem to affect the glorious sound they made!

So to set the scene - you had the large open sided marquee, filled with bunting, fairy lights, martha stewart tissue pom poms and seating made from straw bales - we even made a sofa from them! The band at the back on their stage (of course also with bunting, fairy lights and pom poms!), the dance floor in the centre then on the left hand side trestle tables with polka dot and floral oil cloths, a plethora of cake stands, jars of sweets, punch bowls, candles and all around were scattered the assortment of vintage bottles and jam jars I had sourced throughout the months before. These were filled with either tealight candles or the mix of pretty flowers we bought from our local supermarket!

Inside the house were the main attractions - the chocolate fountain and the cake! Wedding cakes are funny things. Some people spend hundreds of pounds on them, then moan that they didn't taste very nice, or hardly anyone ate any. For a start, I knew for sure I didn't want a traditional cake, and then the only other option seemed to be a cupcake tower - but everyone does this now - as pretty as they are I wanted something else. Luckily flickr came to the rescue again as I came across the doughnut wedding cake!! Here's a link to my one. The stand was cardboard - not the most glamourous material I know - but cheap and recyclable! To pretty it up I covered it with Cath Kidston wrapping paper - alternating between polka dots and florals. Then the toppers - I spent so so long thinking about this - until Haylie suggested the obvious - mice! For those who don't know, in my crafting world I am most know for my sock mice - they have been my most successful creation by far. So it made sense to make my own mice! This time I chose not to use socks - maybe a little too much foot association considering food is involved! So I then used the linen from my wedding dress - oh the dress, I should have mentioned this already!! Will do after this section! Ok - back to the cake! Both the Wayne and Shelley mice were made from linen, and instead of the usual button eyes I used miniature black glass eyes used in toy making. My mouse had a pink chiffon petticoat and a mini pom pom sash, whist Waynes had a grey felt waistcoat, complete with pocket and handkerchief! Then the doughnuts themselves were Krispy Kreme, original glazed and chocolate sprinkled. Although you can get this type of doughnut cheaper in the supermarkets they really don't taste anywhere near as good as Krispy Kreme! I will never forget the gasps of delight everyone made when I lifted off the cover! Brilliant!

Right then - the dress! So, as I mentioned in previous posts the idea of finding a wedding dress filled me with horror! That was until I realised I could have any kind of a dress I liked. I very quickly settled on a 1950's tea dress style, which just HAD to have a colourful petticoat underneath! My friend Sass Tetzlaff was the obvious choice to make this dress for me, she has made more wedding dresses than I've had hot dinners (!) I managed to find a roll of Irish linen on eBay for £20, just what I had wanted, then I came across Annabella Designs who can custom make petticoats in a variety of styles and colours - so I chose a pink and blue tulle petticoat - not too full, as I didn't want to look like a toilet roll holder! After just a few fittings Sass created my dream dress, which was finished off perfectly with a hot pink silk sash, and a teal blue shrug. I then added my own finishing touches with the pom pom and ribbon corsage! A bit bonkers, but fun and colourful!

So - the rest of the day went well. The drink flowed, the music was popular thanks to Wayne's tireless efforts in putting together a diverse mix of old and new songs for each stage of the evening, Haylie and her partner Andy worked so hard (and so discretely) at laying out the food (and cooking some of it too - sorry!), the flowers, the drink and making sure everything was running to schedule! The punch went down well, and even though we had the doughnuts and the extremely popular chocolate fountain even the sweeties in jars were scoffed - our lot certainly do have a sweet tooth!!

After the scrum when the bouquet was thrown, the band had packed up and DJ Wayne was in effect, the heart lantern had been lit (say no more), the evening then whizzed by in a blur of twinkling lights, dancing and laughter - our Perfick Summer Fete Darling Buds of May wedding. What a day!

So here I must thank all of our friends and family who helped us create this day, for the gifts, the crafting, the generosity and kindness, that made everything even more special than I had ever dreamed it would be.


Wedding Planner - Haylie Harrowell - visit website
Photographer - Amanda Jayne Stewart - ajsphotography - visit website
Bouquets + Buttonholes - Girlflower - visit website
Wedding Dress - Sass Tetzlaff - please contact me for details
Petticoat - Annabella Designs - visit folksy page
Morris Minor - Andrew "Charlie" Chaplin - please contact me for details
Chocolate Fountain - Chocoholics Delight - visit website
Band - Greggi G and his Crazy Gang - visit website
Wedding Rings - Charmian Beaton - visit website
Marquee - Four Jays Group - visit website
Letterpress Invitations  - Blush Publishing - visit website

And a special thanks to:-
My amazing sister Zoë for her help, support and thoughtfulness.
My dear friend Jo for her makeup, beauty and crafting skills and all round support.
Our friends Darren, Leza, Steve & Sam for their help with the preparations.
My Mum & Dad and Wayne's Mum & Dad for their generosity and help.
Ann Moon, for the use of her barn door and tractor!
Ron and Glenn for the Straw Bales
Krispy Kreme Bluewater

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Papered Parlour - Hen Afternoon!!

A little later than planned, but I just had to blog about my wonderful Hen afternoon at the Papered Parlour in Clapham. To be honest, the idea of a hen party filled me with dread. I just didn't know what to do. I knew what I DIDN'T want to do (strippers, L plates, plastic willies etc), but it took me a while before finding the right thing.

I started off thinking of cupcakes and cocktails - two things I really like. There were plenty of High Tea options at fancy hotels to choose from, and the odd cupcake decorating classes. I knew I liked the idea of something crafty to do, but the local options were very limited in Kent, so realised we may have to go up town.

In desperation one day I resorted to asking my Twitter followers for suggestions and the lovely Monda-loves suggested the Papered Parlour to me - and I'm so glad she did!! I googled them and found their site - link which had everything I had wanted, craft, cupcakes and cocktails!!

We started off the day on the train - in First Class no less - drinking bubbly, eating chocolate cupcake lollies which I made for everyone, and all wearing our corsage flowers made by my lovely big sis Zoë (Zed Designs) who had also put together the most wonderful goodie bags filled with brooches, bangles, magnets, mirrors, hairclips etc many of which she had bought from the very helpful Anna from Lilies and Daisies I felt very spoilt indeed!

We were made to feel very welcome on arrival at the Papered Parlour by Claire, the decor in the Parlour section was adorable, with reclaimed doors as the bar, vintage teacups hanging from the beams and Buddy Holly playing on the original 1950's record player - wonderful!

I choose the silversmithing- ring making class, so that we could all make something we could keep forever. It was quote challenging, but every single one of us made a ring to be proud of by the end of the 3 hours. We learnt how to measure, anneal, shape, solder, file, sand, hammer and stamp a strip of silver until it resembled a real life ring!!

Here are some of the photos from the day!

Thanks Papered Parlour for a wonderful experience - and thanks to all the girlies for joining me (especially my gorgeous sis for her thoughtfulness!)


Sunday, 30 May 2010

Not long now!!!!

Apologies for not keeping up with my blogging of late. Struggling to find any spare time at the moment. Four weeks yesterday until the Big Day! Wow - how did that happen. A word of advice to anyone planning a wedding - everything will take longer to sort out and cost more than you expect - so start early and save where you can!!

Even on our small "budget" the costs are mounting up - despite my overuse of Ebay!!

So the bunting is finished - yay!! And the favours are all set up - just waiting the final edible treat to be popped inside - be warned that I have gone overboard on the favours, most people seem more than content with an organza bag and five sugared almonds - not me, I have spent hours and hours researching, painting, sewing, threading, cutting, printing, sticking and melting (!) and all for something that most people will probably leave behind on the tables!! I have seriously lost the plot!!

I have so enjoyed making all these things though - this point may have been lost along the way! I'll never understand how people can buy the same old things as everyone else when with just a little thought (and fun) they can easily create something unique and memorable. The whole wedding planning process has made me even more passionate about my crafting and how personal it can make your day. I know it's not to everyones tastes, and not all people want to or are able to make things for themselves - but anything that moves away from the typical wedding look is a good thing in my books and shows people can add your own personality to the day!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Squeaky Bunting!

Now as soon as I sit down in my mini studio and even think about making something a small furry animal appears in front of me. Squeaky in particular is a big fan of interrupting my crafting and likes to make sure she is the centre of attention.

Here you can see Squeaky nestled down whilst I was marking out my triangles for my bunting! Unfortunately after she finally got the hint and moved on she left a lovely trail of fur all over my lovely Heather Bailey fabric. Hmm hairy bunting - nice!!

By the way I am making over 70 metres of bunting for the big day - mostly to decorate the back garden and the marquee. It's a big job, but will make up such a large part of the look it will be worth the while. You can see some of my triangles behind Squeaky in the second photo, and another sneaky peek on my flickr gallery. Fingers crossed I will get it all done in time - wish me luck!!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

The Pom poms continue! . . .

Still in the middle of my pom pom frenzy! Even made a group on flickr to indulge this obsession - For the Love of Pom Poms would love for you all to take look, join up and even add some of your own pom pom creations to the pool!

Have added some of my latest uses of poms poms - firstly as decorative gift wrapping using chiffon pom poms - these are so pretty and super quick to make! Then, wait for it - a HEART shaped pom pom!! These are a little trickier to make (I have used the clover heart pom pom maker), and the instructions will scare the life out of you but it is well worth the effort. Made several of these into a garland for my friend Jo's birthday.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Sneaky Peek - Favour Labels!

Little name tags for the wedding favours!!

My hands ache from all the cutting and threading, but that's one more thing to tick off the list!!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Monday, 5 April 2010

I made this!! Rag Pom Pom!!

Now I promise I am not being sponsored by Clover, but, I must urge people to buy one of their amazing pom pom makers! They are such a clever design that makes pom pom making so easy and professional. They come in lots of different sizes from tiny 20mm to big huge ones - and even heart shaped! I bought mine on eBay, but you can get them from lots of different craft supply shops too. Here's what they look like . . .

To make a pom pom you just wrap your wool, embroidery thread, fabric etc around each pair of semi circle arms (which hinge out of the centre) - there are two pairs of arms by the way - make sure you wrap your chosen material around the two together. One you have filled up the two semi circles you push back to the centre, making sure everything is together securely then using a sharp pair of scissors or snips cut all the way around. Loop a ribbon or strong thread in between the two discs - give them a wiggle to make sure the they reach the centre then knot very securely!!

To release the pom pom I find it easier to open the hinged arms on each side then pull the whole thing in half (the two discs are held together with a pin in the centre). Give your pom pom a fluff, trim off any straggly bits with a pair of scissors to tidy up and hey presto - a pom pom!!

Here I have shown a pom pom made from very roughly cut scraps of leftover fabric. Some of these strips were only a few inches long but that doesn't matter - they just need to be long enough to wrap around the arm once. So this is a fantastic way to use up all your leftover scraps of fabric. What do you all think?

Sunday, 21 March 2010

I made this!! Flower Corsage Ring Cushion!!

Apologies in advance to the Best Man, but I have made a ring cushion for my wedding.

This may not be the final version - want to try a small one in silk next, but I wanted to put some of my new Heather Bailey fabrics to good use (and of course my pom pom makers!!)

Monday, 15 March 2010

Wedding Invitations . . .

Originally my plan was to make these myself - I have a decent printer - know my way around a computer and am known to be a little crafty - but after researching other peoples invites on flickr I came across some beautiful examples of Letterpressed invitations by Bella Figura.

This led me on a search to find a UK based Letterpress company - it wasn't long before I came across the wonderful Blush Publishing! The ever diligent and eternal night owl Mark Moran was extremely helpful and patient whilst I dithered about what design I wanted. Originally I had planned a funky square invite with motifs representing myself and Wayne. Wayne would be easy - an xbox controller (!) and maybe mine would have been a pair of scissors or a needle or a mouse? But as the wedding plans took shape and the vintage element really kicked in I just had to work this into the theme!

Quickly I decided on a 1950's postcard style and used an example from the fantastic resource which is deviantART to use as my inspiration. I really wanted to incorporate my own artwork for this and knew deep down that computer graphics would look too stiff so I dusted off my sketchbook and got to work . .

Once the artwork was finished, I scanned it, tidied it up in Photoshop then turned it into paths for Illustrator where I could work on the text. I have always loved the look of old fashioned typewriter fonts, they remind me of my art school days when I used my old Olivetti to create many a bizarre text based piece! But I also love the trendy carnival style fonts you see a lot these days. Every waking minute I spent trying to get the look and the wording right - I even sent what I thought was the final proof off to be printed with several errors in my haste and bleary-eyed state!

But shortly after everything was finalised Mark and the clever bunch at Blush turned my design into the loveliness which is below. Even the cute wrapping added to the wonderful experience which is letterpress!

Even after all the agonising over the design and wording the hardest part was writing on them - so wish I had nicer handwriting . . .