Wonderful Writing Workshop

Last Sunday, I attended a taster workshop to learn about dip pen and brush pen styles of modern calligraphy.  The course was hosted by the The Modern Calligraphy Co. and is one of Kirsten Burke’s range of classes.  I chose it after being inspired by Kirsten’s YouTube videos and trying out one of her books.   The workshop itself is set in an idyllic location in the West Sussex countryside and, despite looking a little austere from the outside (it’s a converted Victorian sub-station), the interior is stunning; bright and airy and adorned with inspirational artwork.

The welcome was warm and friendly and was accompanied with mugs of tea, coffee and biscuits. Each of the wannabe calligraphers had a work area complete with hand lettered name tag, tools and worksheets.  I was on a table with two lovely ladies, Hilary and Barbara, and we managed to do a lot of nattering in addition to our calligraphy!

Our fab instructor was Maisie and she had a relaxed, informative and entertaining style of tuition which I very much enjoyed.  We were also lucky enough to have a guest instructor, Sophia, who was veryhelpful,  encouraging and supportive throughout.  The day started with a demo from Maisie and then we were straight onto guided exercises learning how to use a dip pen and ink.  The first of these exercises were drills, so practicing downstrokes with heavy pressure and upstrokes with light pressure to get the hang of the thick and thin lines and how often to dip the pen.  These exercises, whilst not appearing to be very interesting, are essential to building muscle memory to enable one to produce beautiful calligraphy.

During these exercises, we also had a go at blending different colour inks to create ombre writing – very cool!

We then moved onto letters and were taught how to use metallic paints with the dip pens instead of ink.  This produced absolutely stunning results, even on my beginner attempts!

Next was a demo on brush pens showing the variety of types of pen and ways to use them and then we were back to our drills again, trying out a multitude of pens.  Again, we were shown the different ways to blend the colours and were encouraged to play around.

Next stop was a scrummy lunch.  And it was HUGE!  There was a massive buffet style selection of cold meats, cheeses, warm quiches, breads, olives, salads, dips, fruit and cake, plus hot and cold drinks.  It was a lovely day too so we were able to sit in the garden to eat our lunch and be refreshed ready for the next task.

In the booking confirmation email from Maisie, we had been asked to think of a 4-8 word phrase which we would turn into our own art work.  Kirsten herself gave us a demo on how to structure the word art, and then we started off sketching.  It was a really interesting exercise; working out which words to put where, what style of lettering to use, whether to use capitals or lower case, what colours etc.  Once again, all the instructors were on hand to offer advice and encouragement.

The phrase I chose was a quote from my Dad, which he often utters after explaining (once only) how to do some D-I-Y job that he could do in his sleep, and either me, my sister, Mum, Mr L (or anyone else for that matter) is currently messing up and will require the explanation repeating!  I thought it would make a great Father’s Day card.

Once the design was finalised, I went over to the light box to trace the design onto the card.  I was using the dip pen since it was a small project so I decided to have a little practice on my scrap piece, trying out different colours for the ‘shout’.

After completing the writing, I added some tiny splatters of ink and gold paint and left it to dry, mounting it onto a black card base when I returned home.

There’s a small shop at the workshop selling the products we used so I bought myself a dip pen starter kit, an inspirational book and some of those gorgeous metallic paints.

Mr L requested a card for his Dad for Father’s Day so I had a go with my metallic marker pens and dropping inks from great heights for this card!

Lastly, for a bit of fun, I made this for Mr L from the cats!

I enjoyed the workshop immensely and am currently trying to persuade Mr L that he’d enjoy it too as it’d be great fun to do together.  There are full day and half day sessions, evening sessions (with wine and canapes – how civilised!) and family friendly workshops.

If you’re interested in attending a workshop, you can find out more at

www.themoderncalligraphyco.co.uk

Sophia can be found at

www.thehanddrawnbean.co.uk

 

p.s. If you’re reading this on 16th June 2019 and fancy a go, you can get the ultimate beginner’s guide to modern calligraphy free in the Mail on Sunday.  Yes, you will have to be seen buying the Mail but you can always wear a disguise! 😉

 

 

 

12 Days of Christmas Ornaments

You may recall my post back in February when I had started my set of the 12 Days of Christmas felt ornaments stating that I had started early in the hope that I might get them all finished in time for Christmas?  Well, I’ve finished them already – shock, horror!!  I’m completely amazed myself to be honest.  I think the main reason for this success is because the pattern is so well written it makes it easy and the ornaments are sooooo cute that as soon as one was finished, I immediately wanted to move on to making the next!  Whilst it’s the 12 days, there are actually 15 ornaments as the partridge has a pear, the goose has an egg and Mr. Leaping has a heart, bless him!  Well, the song is about true love after all.  In case you’re thinking I’ve gone completely doolally and numbered the last 4 wrongly, there are several variations of the carol; these ornaments are based on the original carol from 1780.

Firstly, and unusually for me, I did what the pattern said and purchased wool blend felt.  I have a stash of acrylic felt but the pattern specifically said that you wouldn’t get good results without using wool or wool blend felt.  I can see now how that might happen as the edges are whip stitched with a tiny seam so the acrylic felt probably wouldn’t have held.  The absolute most important step was to preshrink the felt which was done by soaking each sheet in cold water for a few minutes then placing on a towel, lightly pressing to remove excess water then leaving to dry naturally.  Each 12” piece shrunk by at least an inch so the pieces would have been all sorts of shapes had I skipped this step.

My drying rainbow tree of felt

The designer recommends using the catchily titled Sulky™ Printable Sticky Fabri-Solvy, now renamed to Sulky™ Printable Stick ‘n’ Stitch.  I got mine from Amazon from a US craft shop but there are craft shops in the UK selling it now.  This stuff is absolute GENIUS! After printing out the pattern on normal paper and checking that the print was scaled properly by using the handy measure guide on the pattern, you just put in the sheet of Sulky™ and print.  All of the pieces required are printed and it’s simply a case of rough cutting around them and removing the backing to adhere them to the felt colour of your choice.

The embroidery is designed to be the star of the show so the pattern encourages you to choose contrasting floss that really stands out.  I found choosing the felt and floss colours to be one of the hardest jobs.  My threads were a bit of a mess, all bundled up together in an old wash bag so I treated myself to a floss organiser, complete with thread bobbins.  This made my floss selection process a lot easier I can tell you.

Next job was to sew the embroidery.  It’s mainly back stitch, a bit of running stitch and lots of French knots.  I used to hate French knots and did substitute some with seed beads for the first few but I guess I became better at them with all that practice and I don’t mind them at all now.  Once the embroidery was complete, the pieces were carefully cut out…

…then soaked for 15-20 minutes in cold water to dissolve the stabiliser and then left to dry face up on a dry towel.

One day, when I was feeling particularly brave and artistic(!) I decided to try my hand at making the heads for days 8-12.  The pattern offers great tips for eye and mouth placement.  After lightly drawing the features with a pencil, I then coloured them in with fabric marker pens.  These were great as they didn’t bleed into the wooden beads at all so the images are really crisp.

Shrunken heads!

The construction is largely the same in that all pieces are sewn with wrong sides together using a whip stitch and matching floss.  Depending on the ornament, interfacing, cardboard, pipe cleaners, wooden beads, fabric markers and cocktail sticks may be needed in addition to fibre stuffing and fabric glue.  The instructions for constructing the ornaments are really clear and easy to follow.

So, a mere 2½ months after I began, the whole gang is finished.  Woohoo! And here they are…

A closer look at Days 1-4…

Days 5-8…

Days 9-12…

Even the backs look  great too!

I’m now working on a storage box for the ornaments as they are too precious to be thrown in with the rest of the Christmas decs.  Watch this space for that post!

These ornaments are a bit fiddly to make at times but not so much so that it put me off finishing.  In fact, I’ve enjoyed making them so much, I’m going to make another set in a more limited colour palette.

If you like the look of these you can find out more on Larissa’s website, where there are links to her shop to buy the patterns together with lots of tips, techniques and colour scheme ideas.  There are also lots of inspiring colour palettes on Instagram at #twelvedaysornaments and #mmmcrafts.

www.mmmcrafts.blogspot.com

 

 

 

OMG! Commemorative Artwork

My dear friend, Lorie, established a charity called Project 71 which supports war veterans who, for the most part, live in our local area.  She works tirelessly to raise funds and raise awareness of the charity so that, at no cost to themselves, the veterans can enjoy lunches together, trips abroad, for example to Normandy and Arnhem, for the veterans to pay their respects to those who didn’t return home.  Project 71 also provides assistance to the veterans in the form of lifts to places, providing mobility scooters, doing the shopping or just visiting at home or in hospital to have a cup of tea and a chat.  Lorie has a group of volunteers from all walks of life that help her to provide these things for the veterans. The work they do is humbling and amazing in equal measures.  Please visit their site via the link below to see the wonderful things they do.

http://www.project71.co.uk/

Just over a year ago, Lorie sent a request out to crafty types via Facebook, to see who would be interested in producing some fabric artwork to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Operation Market Garden.  The artwork is based on the plate produced by the Market Garden Veterans Association for the 50th anniversary.

The only rules were that the finished badge should be 6” tall and as wide as necessary to keep the proportions right.  Any crafting media or technique using fabric or wool could be used providing they could be joined together as the finished badges would be sewn together and mounted onto a background of parachutes and aircraft.  The finished article will be donated to the National Liberation Museum (Nationaal Bevrijdingsmuseum 1944-1945) in Groesbeek, Netherlands in September 2019 as part of the 75th anniversary weekend.

I chose to make the 50th Infantry Division

and 101st Airborne Division.

The 50th Infantry Division was a division of the British Army whose insignia features two Ts which apparently represent the three main rivers, the Tyne, Tees and Humber, from the recruitment area of the Territorial Army, of which the division was a part before the Second World War.  I immediately saw this design as a crocheted piece and set about creating a stitch grid onto which I could transfer the design.  Then it was simply a case of single crocheting the stitches in the appropriate colour.

The 101st Airborne Division (“Screaming Eagles”) is a light infantry division of the US Army who were engaged in numerous operations during World War II.  This insignia cried out for appliqué so I got out my felt and Bondaweb and got to work.  First I scaled the insignia on the computer so that the image was just under 6” tall.  I then traced this onto tracing paper as the reverse image is needed to trace onto the Bondaweb due to it being attached on the back of the fabric by ironing.

The next step was to carefully cut out the images and adhere them by removing the backing and ironing them in position.

I hit a slight snag when I started to appliqué the letters as the felt was not holding its shape and the resulting mess was not acceptable!  I experimented with various styles of attachment and found that stitching over the entire letter produced the best result, but not using felt as the fibres stuck up through the gaps between the thread.  I remade the letters using yellow fabric, coloured the centres of the letters with black sharpie (cheat!) and sewed over the whole letter using a closely spaced zig-zag stitch.

Top shows the experiments, bottom is the finished piece.

Now it was time to assemble the piece.  I used a piece of khaki linen fabric and quilted it in a diamond pattern and then simply attached the badge pieces on top.

The edges of the piece were finished using the overlocker to get the piece to the correct size.

These are some of the other pieces of work that other crafters have made.

I’m looking forward to seeing the finished piece once Lorie has finished the construction.

Project 71 is a small charity where 100% of the money donated goes to supporting the veterans.  If you would like to donate and help out this very worthy cause, please click on the link below.  Any donation will be much appreciated.

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/panicbutton

 

 

 

Crochet, Cards and….Christmas!

This week has involved a veritable feast of crafts!

Firstly, it was my Mum-in-Law’s birthday.   Despite her saying that she didn’t need anything, you can’t not get anything for your nearest and dearest.  I crocheted a blanket for her from a pattern called Rosslyn by Helen Shrimpton….

….and made her a set of birthday cards.

Next was her actual birthday card which was inspired by another SU! demonstrator from Mituso Crafts who kindly shared a YouTube video on how to make a pop-up wiper card without using any dies for the mechanism.

After making a mock-up of the mechanism to check I could make it work(!) I set to work stamping and colouring in frogs.  At this stage, I didn’t really have a design as such in mind, but I knew I’d need a few frogs!

The front gives nothing away about what’s inside.

This is the inside once it’s opened.

And this is the card in action!

Second this week was the start of the new series of The Great British Sewing Bee.  I LOVE watching this programme.  I’m not sure that having a limited time restriction would make the creating quite as enjoyable for me. I like to get started, shilly-shally about a bit, get distracted doing something else entirely, and then go back to what I was doing in the first place!  Anyway, it’s very apparent there’s a very talented bunch on the programme this year and I look forward to seeing what they create in the coming weeks. So, it got me thinking about sewing and whilst it’s not clothing, it is a sewing project that I’d planned to create this year in time for Christmas.  The project is hand embroidered ornaments depicting the song ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ and I figure I’ve got 9 months to get them all done – now that’s my kind of timescale!!  There are 15 decorations as it’s only one per day plus a few extras (like the pear), not 12 lords a-leaping etc. as I’m certain that making 78 would put me well into my ‘I’ve had enough of this project’ zone!  The patterns are by Larissa Holland and are not cheap but they are comprehensive, very well written and the designs are beautiful.   A full blog post will be forthcoming later in the year but for now I have completed the First Day: the partridge and the pear.

The reverse side is not patterned but does have the day number embroidered in a lovely font.

The third thing this week was, of course, Valentine’s Day.  Mr. L Loves Valentine’s Day and had requested a few hours’ access to my craft room and some supplies.  He made a really cool pop-up card, with a design which he cut out with a craft knife, and bought me a lovely bottle of fizz.  I stamped a card for him using the Baby Bear set and pyrographed a fun little sign for his man cave.

 

 

 

Links:

Helen Shrimpton: https://crystalsandcrochet.com/

Mitosu Crafts:http://mitosustampin.blogspot.com/

Mmmcrafts: https://mmmcrafts.blogspot.com/

 

Images © 2019 Stampin’ Up!

Playing at Pyrography

You’ve probably worked out by now that when it comes to crafting, I like to have a bash at new things.  Before Christmas, I’d been reading about pyrography and watched a few YouTube videos and thought it looked like something I would enjoy doing.  I was lucky enough to receive a pyrography machine from Mr. L for Christmas, together with some sycamore plywood blanks to practice on and a book showing how to do various techniques and patterns.

Off I went to play with my new toy with much enthusiasm. To start with, I tried some shading patterns and then writing letters.  I then had the idea to stamp some of my card stamps onto the wood and burn over them, since I can’t draw for toffee! This was a very effective plan and so then, having built up my confidence, I decided to try my hand at drawing trees freestyle and put a setting sun behind.  Oh yes, running before I can walk is one of my mottos!

Anyhow, I decided a project was required rather than just messing about so, since my dear friend’s birthday was coming up and I’d bought her a bottle of gin and an engraved gin glass, I thought a presentation crate would be just the job.  I bought a crate from Hobbycraft, surfed the internet for gin puns and downloaded some jazzy fonts for writing said puns.

The words and phrases were scaled so that the size was suitable for the crate and also a reasonable size for burning, printed out and then traced onto the crate using graphite paper.

According to the book and the members of the Facebook pyrography group I’ve joined (great for advice and inspiration), some woods are easier to burn than others.  All recommend staying well away from pine as it’s very difficult to work with.  You’ve guessed what my crate was made from! Well, even with my very limited experience of pyrography and only having my sycamore plywood to compare it too, it was indeed tricky to work with; lots of smoke, a few flames and the nib sinking deeply into the wood at times.

But I got there in the end and was pleased with the overall look – although I’m sure it wouldn’t win any pyrography awards!

Once all the sides were complete, I put some packing ‘wotsits’ in the bottom and then topped that with some shredded paper to hold the goodies: an engraved gin glass, a bottle of King of Soho gin, a measure, 2 cans of tonic water and a couple of tea towels hand stamped with drink related images.

Once everything was in place, I wrapped the crate in cellophane and finished with a printed band and a bow.

This was the card to go with the gift, another one using the eclipse technique and  the Stampin’ Up! Half Full stamp set.

Carole loved both card and present which made me very happy indeed.

 

 

Images © 2019 Stampin’ Up!