Sunday, 20 November 2011

Fiber rules ...

I've been getting back to my roots lately - using fiber (mostly wool) in my jewelry.  I've also been experimenting with painted metal and, weirdly enough, these two hard and soft mediums work really well together.

I recently got hold of a copy of Torch-Fired Enamel Jewelry by Barbara Lewis (it only took about 8 weeks to arrive, even though I had it on pre-order for ages).  She has some lovely ideas and projects, I highly recommend it.  Whilst this book is really about using proper powder enamels, I wondered if I could approximate the enameled look using paints.   

Surprisingly, it was easier than I thought.  Takes a lot of patience, building up layers and sanding back to get a subtle effect but the results are great and the finish is pretty tough too.

I tried using my husband's air compressor at first to spray the paint on.  After much cursing and blocked nozzles he suggested I go and buy some spray paint (the sort graffiti artists use) from the local hardware.  I'm going to give wire bangles the paint treatment next - I'll need to field test them to make sure the finish is tough enough for wrist ware before listing.

I also got my crochet hook out this week for the first time in ages and knocked up these bangles by covering vintage metal bracelets with yarn.  I discovered some hand painted handspun wool in a local yarn shop. The beautiful colours of the different skeins (one of them is called 'clown vomit) worked so well together I wanted to find a way to use them all in the one piece.

The last bit of good news is that I discovered (or rather my daughter did) - an online photo editing software.  It's much better than Picasa, so I've given my new (hated) digital camera a reprieve ....

'til next time ...

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Excuses, excuses ...

So lately it feels as though I need to start all my posts with an apology for being remiss in posting - sorry!!!

We've been pretty busy here though.  My mother-in-law has, cross fingers, finally sold her house so we've been helping her organise herself. She's moving to a smaller place and it's not an easy task sorting through a life-time of stuff,  working out what to keep and what to cull - lots of hard decisions to make.

It's spring here in Australia and the weather is picking up the pace. After what feels like an eternity of dreary cold and wet, we've been treated to a couple of glorious sunny days. Yes, indeed it does get cold here in Oz, although I didn't realise this when I moved here - I thought it was hot all the time and everyone had pools - terrible mistake.

The appearance of the bright sun inspired me to try something different with my jewelry this week and be a little bit brave in the use of colour and textures.

I love the free form crochet work of Prudence Mapstone and have always wanted to try my hand at it .   It's not easy getting decent yarn out here in the country so, a couple of years ago, I bought a free form hand bag kit which came with lots of different fiber, yarn and textiles.  Of course, I never got round to making the bag but I've used some of the bits and pieces in this piece.  I also dug out my old wool tops and needle felted a couple of beads (I reckon I stuck myself at least five times - those barbed needles really do hurt, I almost had to put blood on the materials used list, just kidding).  

For a complete contrast I also made a really simple bracelet from heavy gauge copper wire.  I was worried that it wasn't going to be robust enough, but I've worn it around the place and it's absolutely fine.

My favorite piece is this:

Dangling charms off a tube or central horizontal piece is becoming something of a signature for me. In this piece I used rubber tubing and covered it with some lovely vintage fabric I found in Brunswick Street in Melbourne.  I used mod podge to keep the fabric in place and it's dried hard as a rock.  I found the lovely little brass bell in a thrift shop and I covered the little wooden cotton reel with some variegated 4 ply yarn I have in my (enormous) stash.  Do you like the little felted heart?  I was worried it might be a bit twee, but I think it works OK here.  I'd really like to explore felting a bit more - both wet and dry. 

Sales are very slow on etsy.  I'm considering opening a shop on  There doesn't seem to be much in the way of alternative jewelry on the site though.  I know that Australian etsy sellers are generally finding it difficult to compete with the US sellers.   I've booked some show-case ads on etsy so I'll wait and see if these have an impact I think.