Lavender filled pillow

Thursday, April 28, 2016

It's been a while since I've done any embroidery, so I worked on this little project the last couple of days. It was actually quite quick to make. I recycled some linen fabric from an old pair of trousers for the pillow base!

For the embroidery motif I went with Forget-me-not flowers, one of my favourites. So I did a few sketches in pen and watercolour to study the shape and form of the flowers before coming up with the final motif.

I went over the design with black pen so it would be easier to see when tracing it. I used a water soluble pen to trace the design onto my piece of linen. I haven't tried any other methods of transferring a design yet.

I embroidered all the stems and leaves first in a sage green using a back stitch and stem stitch. I really like how the stem stitch looks.

Next I added all the yellow centres to the flowers using french knots, I made them pretty chunky because I wanted a bobbly look! : )

I used three shades of blues for the Forget-me-not flowers, mixing up the colours over the whole design so it didn't look too flat.

Once I had everything filled in, instead of wetting the entire piece I used a clean, wet paintbrush to go over the water-soluble pen lines to remove them.

I made a small bag from white cotton to contain the loose lavender, my machine sewing skills are actually pretty basic, it's something I need to work on! I left a small gap on one side so I could fill it up.

I used dried lavender that I gathered from the garden last year, it's amazing how strong the scent still is, especially when you rub some between your fingers.

For the pillow I used two squares of linen, pinned them facing each other and machine stitched them on three sides before inserting the lavender filled bag. I pinned the remaining side and stitched it closed on the machine. I probably could have done something more fancy for the closure but like I said I'm still learning!

I'll be keeping this near my pillow at night, lavender is great for helping you sleep, I usually use some blended lavender oil (just some rubbed on my belly!) if I'm having trouble sleeping and it always sends me off into a lovely deep sleep! : )

Wall Hanging

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

I just finished another weaving, this one took a while to complete because I'd been working on other projects but it's nice to see it finally finished. As before I took a few progress shots along the way.

I made some adjustments to the loom by adding a second row of pins/nails to the top and bottom of the loom. I felt the gaps were too big between the pins and the extra pins would give me a neater finish. I also found some better cotton thread for the warps instead of the wool I was using which had too much give in it, this cotton was a lot more stable.

I did start off with a sketch of how I wanted it to look but I did make some alterations along the way. The hardest thing I found was keeping an even tension when weaving the triangles.

The cotton warp thread made such a difference to the end result, the edges were straighter and the finished wall hanging sat much flatter.

I used a nice chunky roving type wool for some contrast in texture. If you're interested in learning how to hand-weave using a lap loom I highly recommend the video tutorials over at Creative Bug, the class for beginners takes you through everything you need to know.

If you have lots of wool in your stash then this is the perfect craft for you and you don't need much to get started either. The Weaving Loom is another great resource and packed full of information and inspiration. I hope you have fun exploring this tactile craft! : )

A few more seed packets

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

I'm just getting over a dose of the flu, I don't get sick that often but I guess it must have been the changeable weather we've been having, snow one minute sunny the next!

I shared some illustrated seed packets in a previous post for a secret seed swap, you can read all about it here. Well I was asked to make a few more because some people didn't receive their packets in the swap, which I was happy to do.

I used the same format as the previous ones I made so it didn't take too long, using watercolour and black pen. I gathered lots of pea seeds from my own garden last autumn so I had plenty to share. I left some on the bushes to dry out, I think the pheasant might have nibbled some but he couldn't reach the higher ones. I've sown some already this spring and they're ready in the cold frame to be planted out next weekend, weather permitting! I also included some Sweet Pea and Nicotiana seed packets because you can't have enough flowers in the garden, right?

I'm busy having a bit of a clear out of my studio at the moment, it's become a bit cluttered and it's time to get things in order!

Forest Painting

Monday, April 4, 2016

We had a great Easter but it's nice to be back to the tranquility of my craft room! I had some unexpected painting commission work last month, which made a nice change to my usual work.

I usually have my camera with me when out walking and snapped this forest scene a while ago, just because I liked the light. I usually work from photos although it's nice to work plein air, it's not very practical sometimes, especially with the Irish weather! I took a few progress shots of the painting as I went along.

It takes me a few weeks to complete a painting, mainly because of the concentration involved and eye strain that can occur. I can only work a few hours a day on a piece and I find the morning light is better to work in, I never paint using artificial light, it really affects the colours!

I'm pretty happy with how this one turned out, it's 16"x12" acrylic on stretched canvas. It's destined for a local hotel, after framing, along with two more paintings purchased.

It's back to my usual paper crafting work now! But I'm hoping to squeeze in some garden time later, lots of seeds to sow right now! Have a great week! : )

Secret Seed Swap

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

My other passion apart from illustration and crafts is gardening and when an opportunity arises for them to come together in some form or another I get pretty excited! So when I read about the Secret Seed Swap being organised by Lyndsey at What You Sow I knew I had to take part!

To make the basic packet I simply opened up an old seed packet to make a template and drew around it. The illustrations I drew in black pen first then coloured with watercolours. I added some handlettering using watercolours. (Excuse my scruffy work table!)

The instructions for sowing are on the back of each packet and I made little tiny envelopes for the seeds to go inside the packets to keep them safe! (labeled on the front!)

After I'd finished making them I thought I better wrap them up nicely since I put so much effort in creating them!

So I wrapped them up in some of my hand-printed wrapping paper made using some lino cuts and pigment ink. Which also led to making a little note card! I hope my swap partner likes their gift of seeds!

That's all for now! I hope you're inspired to make your own seed packets and give them away as gifts or take part in a seed swap. This project was a lot of fun to make and it'll keep on growing! ; )

Mollie Makes Doodled and Foiled Eggs

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

I have to say it feels pretty great to have something you designed published in a magazine but it's always extra special when your work makes the cover! I was thrilled when I was approached by Mollie Makes (I'm a big fan!) and asked to do a project for this issue. I love Easter crafts, especially decorating eggs so this project was right up my street! I had to create doodle designs for some of the eggs and I had to foil some eggs too.

I used papier mache eggs (you could use real blown eggs too but they're a lot more delicate!) for my designs and painted them with white paint. There are so many possibilities with the doodles you could use for these and you could make them as simple or intricate as you like.

For the foiled eggs I was a little nervous about using metal leaf (I'd only used metal leaf flakes before) but I was surprised to discover it's not that hard at all! I did use proper size (glue) for metal leaf and applied that to the egg first, then I simply wrapped the metal leaf around it. It's really cool to buff your little golden eggs with a cloth! I love how the painted eggs with mottled foiling turned out too.

If you'd like to make your own doodled and foiled eggs, pick up a copy of issue 64 of Mollie Makes today to read more about the process, step-by-step photos included!  : )

Workshop at Craft Makers

Thursday, March 3, 2016

This Saturday the 5th of March (from 2-4pm) I'll be teaching a workshop at Craft Makers in Tralee, Co.Kerry. It's a beginners Block Printing workshop and you'll be learning how to make your own stamps from rubber carving blocks. You'll also learn the techniques of carving soft lino (much easier to cut than normal lino!) and printing your designs.

We'll be starting with carving the rubber blocks because it's very easy to carve, just to get you used to using the carving tools. Then we'll have some fun stamping with them before moving on to the soft lino and learning some more advanced techniques, showing you some of the creative possibilities, like making your own patterned paper, gift wrap and coordinating greeting cards.

Should be a fun crafty day for all. Hope to see you there if you're in the locality! : )

Quilled Easter Eggs

The March issue (154) of Cardmaking and Papercraft Magazine is out now. For this issue I was commissioned to make some quilled Easter eggs! Purely quilled Easter eggs are quite a challenge to make and are not that robust, so the version I made still give the look and feel of a quilled egg but are still totally usable (to fill with yummy treats!) The base for the quilling is a split papier mache egg, painted with stripes and the quilled pieces are attached to this. I love how they turned out! There are full step-by-step photo instructions in the magazine, so pick up a copy today from your local newsagents to find out more!

A little weaving

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Last year I had a little taste of weaving with a mini loom that came free with an issue of Mollie Makes magazine, I can't remember what issue it was but it was a 140x160mm tiny loom. It wasn't until Christmas that I got a chance to try it out, I posted a pick on my Instagram feed at the time - you can check it out here. I made a teeny tiny little wall hanging using the mini loom but I loved the process and the tactile nature of it. I really wanted to make something bigger but I didn't fancy buying a lot of expensive equipment but it turns out you don't need much to get started at all!!

You can pretty easily make your own lap loom, I found a few different tutorials on how to do this and all you need to do is make a basic wooden frame with four bits of wood, secure with L-shape brackets at the corners and add your pins/nails to the top and bottom of the frame. Creative Bug has a fantastic set of video tutorials on weaving for beginners, it covers everything from building your loom to creating fancy stitching! I highly recommend it!

I made this weaving with wool I just had in my craft room, I had the wool roving from needle-felting, I love how it adds more texture and dimension. To create the shaped fringe at the base I used a simple triangle of card as my guide. I didn't have much chunky wool but you can use several strands of wool to create a similar effect. I also added a little embroidery stitching to mine because I wanted some more details.

It's hanging in my craft room now and like most things, as soon as Isabelle saw it she said "can you make me one?" - so of course I'll have to make one for her room now! : ) I'll make one to match the colour scheme in her room and attempt to have a heart shape in the centre, we'll see how it goes!

Swing Cards - Cardmaking and Papercraft Magazine

Friday, January 29, 2016

I can't believe it's the end of January already! I've been working on various projects so I haven't had much time to blog but I can share some swing cards I made for the January issue of Cardmaking and Papercraft Magazine. Full instructions are in the magazine along with templates at the back! That's all for now! : )