Crafting Crofting

Some stuff I’ve been making

I’m developing my metalworking these days, something about making a lot of noise bashing copper sheets and wire with a hammer is very appealing. I love making beadcaps for that reason and I think they turn a bead into something extra.


I really like seeing earwires embellished with tiny beads and have added some antiqued czech glass beads to these sterling silver wires I’ve made, held in place with fine silver wire.


Copper is such a beautiful metal, I think it has so much more depth than silver. I love the way light reflects off flattened copper wire. Finished these earrings off with a little ceramic bead.






Sponge cake and ‘flooer’ buttons


Neil’s Maw and Paw were coming for cake and tea last Friday pm so I baked a sponge cake with our hen’s eggs and layered it with our gooseberry jelly and fresh cream, then sprinkled with icing sugar. It went down very well.DSC05186






Yesterday I spent all day making ‘flooer’ (shetland name for flowers) buttons and stitch markers from polymer clay using slices of clay from the flower canes (think sticks of rock) I’d made previously. These are all laying on ceramic tiles ready for curing. Just trying to boost my stock for a craft fair I’m doing in Tingwall tomorrow. Hope the weather holds and lots of people come.

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Flowers and paint


So I’ve taken up watercolours again after several years absence – why did I ever give this up? On a cold winters day to be working with such pure colour is incredible and at this time of year when the garden explodes with colour its good to get it down on paper. I love the shocking colours of the orange tulips and purple honesty.



DSC05167DSC05168I became intrigued with handmade sketch books and making them myself. Not sure how this would work I didn’t want to spend hours learning bookbinding so I decided on a simple denim rectangle (old jeans leg) with several folded pages of quality watercolour paper sewn down to the denim. The sewing thread is then wrapped around a button to secure the book shut.This is my first painted page in the little book and I have made several. The style of painting inspired by Alisa Burke’s blog – I prefer a lighter touch usually but you can’t beat her style for colour impact.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t like big and don’t think I would ever attempt a large (anything bigger than A4) landscape or still life. All my samples are really quite small and for the time being thats what I’ll paint.

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The internet is a fantastic library and I can spend too much time ‘researching’  artists and fellow students. Other blogs that have inspired me are written by Kaye Parmenter, Rose Anne Hayes and Laura Moore all are inspirational including Alisa Burke and I thank them for sharing their work.



Some new beads

These were made with foils and translucent clay which I made up into  necklaces using brass spacer beads and findings. The last image is of beads threaded with leather cord and gorgeous silvered glass rondelle spacer beads.

I love trying new techniques in polymer clay, trouble is I can never remember how to do it again – note to self, write the process down!

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I made some buttons earlier, here is a small sample all packed and ready for selling!

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Preparing to dye

 DSC04976Geraldine’s fleece has been soaking in a large bucket of soft water for a few days, which was changed daily to loosen dirt etc – this process is very suited to ancient breeds like the Shetland, something to do with how much lanolin is in fleece but in any case it  really makes the eventual wash much easier.


DSC04978Several very hot washes with no agitation but plenty of soap later, thank goodness I have a large deep sink.




DSC04977Oops think the camera has steamed up! Now in the huge pot with lots of vinegar just coming up to simmer. The fleece needs to be just covered with liquid but I’m afraid I don’t measure anything and just eyeball the amounts of distilled white vinegar. This fleece has been divided into two and probably about 750mls of white distilled vinegar added. Be warned the kitchen (and house) will smell very vinegary for a while but it is needed to set the dye.


DSC04979Again sorry about the pic, you can’t see it  but the fleece is starting to gently bubble – just before that I splodged (technical term) food grade acid dye in a variety of colours – cooked until the surrounding water was clear. My house is sort of off the grid as we have a septic tank which has lots of little beasties doing what they do best in it and woe betide anyone who puts any nasty chemicals in. When the dye is exhausted (phew by this time I know I am) I turn the whole fleece over with tongs or masher which I keep just for these occasions and check for any white bits. These in themselves are not a problem and if left to be spun in when dry would just make the colours lighter and more pastel. If there are lots of white bits I just chuck in more vinegar and more dye and leave for another 15 to 20 mins or so. Much of this technique was inspired by Ashley Martineau of Neauveau Fiber Art who is a very talented fibre female and one whom I admire.


DSC04980 This is one fleece now drying outside in the sun, but two batches of dyebath. This means  I split the wet fleece into two batches but they went in after one another. This really saves on water and heating etc. So once the dye has exhausted remove the fleece – I just pull it out with the masher into the sink to drain. The waiting fleece goes into the remaining liquid with a vinegar refresher and another set of colours. One batch was yellows, reds, orange and green and the second was purples, blues and pinks. It does take a while to dry here and as yet I haven’t been able to spin as I’m still waiting.


My BeadBod


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This is my lovely little studio where I can lose myself for a couple of hours – looks messy doesn’t it, but I like to think of it as ‘creative chaos’ which is sometimes how my muses inspire me. This little portacabin at the side of my crofthouse has to function as fleece storage and processing, all my polymer clay work, where I construct my necklaces and bracelets and now since I became a member of the craft trail the BeadBod is also my sales area.  I have gorgeous views which I’ll post later.


First steps in the BeadBod

I’m just about to continue working in my little BeadBod making jewellery, yarn and felt after its ‘re-arrangement’. Previously I sat by a beautiful sunny window overlooking the voe and fields but found the sunlight too strong a light. Direct sunlight has a draining effect on colour so you’re never quite sure how the blends are going to look. So now I’ve moved my desk into the back and rearranged the shelving and storage and I’m almost ready to go.