Sunday 28 August 2011

Dyeing in a bag

Last weekend I went to my friend Aggie's studio to some dying in plastic bags based on Helen Deighan's book Dyeing in Plastic Bags: No Mess, No Fuss, Just Great Colours. I've been wanting to do this for ages and was surprised at how easy it was.

Soaking up the Dye
Soaking up more dye overnight

Drying in the sun

Trying out some stamping before stamping the dyed fabrics

Recording the mixtures

I dyed several pieces of fabrics, a T-Shirt and a couple of canvas bags. I was going to print on the canvas bags but my experiments were not sufficiently crisp for me to want to do it on the bags or t-shirt. I'll have to think of some other form of completing the decoration.

Saturday 6 August 2011

THe Brilliance of You tube and a necklace

I have a beadalon knotting tool which helps you to make perfect knots when making jewellery. I tried using it yesterday, with mixed success (and I did RTFM). I watched a you tube video about it last night. I think the video is different to the paper instructions and it looks so easy. I haven't had a go again today to test the theory. You Tube is a wonderful place to find step by step instructions on how to do things. People are so generous in sharing their knowledge.

I also watched a few videos about the coiling gizmo and learned how to open and close split rings - you don't pull them from right and left to split the ring, you do it forwards and backwards which means they go back into the proper place when you have finished. I also saw a video which included a section on making wire which has a hoop at both ends (I don't know the name for them) and discovered that I had been doing it completely wrong. If you are interested, look at 7 minutes 35 seconds on this video.

Using my new found knowledge, today I created a necklace from the Sculpey beads made yesterday.  I don't have making the wire with hoops at both ends sussed yet (I have a measuring problem), but this necklace is a lot better than the last one I made using the same technique. I have ordered a pair of jump ring closing pliers which I want to use to make the jump rings on this necklace oval rather than round. This means that the rings will be less likely to open. Click on the image to see more detail.


I have a bead roller which helps you to make perfect round and oval beads. I did re-learn, RTFM (Read the ... Manual). The bead roller instructions tell you how to cut the perfect size clay to put in the roller and we had at least 3 goes before I realised I had missed an instruction or two.

We made sculpey marbelled beads and also tried it out on Model Magic which is an air drying clay. (Good job I took photos of the packaging, this was for Mandi's benefit but I thought I had used Eberhard Faber PlastLight and had written several sentences about it in the draft version of this blog post).

Mandi did say that these beads were more round than the ones she had hand moulded because the new ones escape. I was also able to try out the baking stands that I made in the pottery class a couple of years ago. When I first made them, I didn't go to the class to pick them up and the teacher nearly threw them out because they looked useless. They are so, so useful! You can use a potato instead if you wish though.

Book Thongs

Mandi belongs to the Costa Brava branch of the  U3A (University of the Third Age). The branch are celebrating their 30th birthday this year. The craft group have a project to create book thongs. Mandi made 2 or 3 before leaving Spain for the U.K. but needed 10 all together. So, we had great fun creating them from my stash of threads and beads. We even made our own cords for a few of them using the Babyliss Crazy Braid. I bought my crazy braid from E bay and it is a lot cheaper than buying a conventional cord maker.

Our favourite is the first one from the left, followed by the second from the right. I pick up cheap jewellery when I can, and this was used for the favourite. Click on the image to see the thongs in more detail.

Rub-Onz Transfer Film and DECADry Creative Plastic

Mandi and I visited Hobby Craft in Gloucester for some art supplies, particularly for her. They are very expensive in Spain. Whilst there, I spotted some Rub-Onz Transfer Film. You create your own rub-ons by printing on the sheets using an ink jet printer. We didn't have time to work on a design (we were trying to use the lap top as little as possible due to an electrical crisis in the Stenning household). Any way, we created a sheet of hearts which were OK. I would like to try it again when I have a purpose for it.

We also played with the Creative Plastic. This is Shrink Plastic or Shrinkies for an ink jet printer. I cooked them in a fan oven (the craft electrical oven being out of bounds due to the electricity situation) and burned them. However, we did get to see the general effect. Also, I printed the back with a solid colour, it didn't dry and smeared every where, so if you decide to give it a go, don't do what I did, try using a half tone.

Before and After  Baking


Wye Valley Spa and Deer in the Forest of Dean

We spend Wednesday at the Wye Valley Spa. This is a recent find, as a result of a Groupon campaign. It is only 15 minutes from our house, which is remarkable given that we are in the middle of no where. I have photos, but would not be popular with my mates if I posted them into my blog! We are all in swimming costumes and of a certain age. I made the booking in late May, we were very lucky with the weather. It was sunny a lot of the time and we all got to swim in the outside pool.

On the way home we were very lucky and saw two stags. Mandi managed to get a couple of photos through the car window. I could have got closer ones had I not been a clutz and dropped the camera. Click on the picture to see it full size.

Painting with Bubbles and Salt Backgrounds

Mandi showed us how to create the above. Masking fluid was drawn/painted on to the paper. Washes of acrylic paint (it might have been water colour) were laid down, the stripes were blended to reduce the harsh lines. We then dabbed very diluted blobs of paint onto the picture and blew the blobs through a straw. Different blowing techniques move the paint in different ways. The next steps were to remove the masking fluid and add and blow more blobs, this time with ink.

I find I am mean with paint, so rather than throw it away, we put washes of it onto paper and added what was supposed to be fine sea salt. It was rather coarse (I think it had got damp in the cupboard). I will use them as backgrounds. This is my effort.

We all decided that we are lucky to be living in this time (and I suppose in our culture). Our forbears had to spend so much effort in staying alive that they didn't have the opportunity to have the fun that we can have. I can't imagine what the future will be like though, things have changed so much in my lifetime; I was born in 1958 and have just seen a face-book post from a colleague of mine who is the same age:

"If you were raised on mince and spuds, played in the dirt, got slapped when you misbehaved, had 3 TV channels & no remote, school started with the Our Father, shops were closed on Sunday, watched TV without thinking it was real, recorded the top 40 from the radio by blocking the holes on cassette tapes, drank water from a hose, didn't know what a Happy Meal was, and still turned out OK, re-post this!"
and boy does it ring true!

Fun Foam printing with my friends

My ex-colleague Mandi who lives in Spain has spent the week crafting with me. Our friend Ann came along as well for crafting on Tuesday and a visit to a health spa on Wednesday.

I was given an excellent book on printing for Christmas: "Print and Stamp 52 ideas for handmade, upcycled print tools" by Traci Bunkers. We spent Tuesday morning creating stamping tools from Fun Foam. Ann made a complicated roller stamp, inspired by one of those in book. Mandi then took Ann's off cuts, amended them a bit, and made her own stamp. Clicking on the images will show you a larger image and you will be able to see the detail of the roller.

Ann was inspired yet again and made the stamp below.

We thought about using them on T-shirts or a bag, but didn't have time.

Tammy's Digital Dreams Workshop - Week 5

I was very pleased with the final piece and I will be creating more. If you are interested in taking this workshop, Tammy will have it available on DVD at the end of August. Visit for details. I recommend it.

Tammy's Digital Dreams Workshop - Week 4

This is work in progress. I do like dodging and burning in Photo-shop. You will see that she is standing at a strange angle! I have fixed this by the time I got to the final piece.

Tammy's Digital Dreams Workshop - Week 3

Stripes, Text and drawing a simple "creature".

Tammy's Digital Dreams Workshop - Week 2

In January this year, we had a "works" outing to visit ex-colleagues in L'Escala, Spain. We spend a day in Girona. Mandy and I travelled from Bristol, Kelly and Marcun travelled from Belfast, and Mandi is incumbent in L'Escala. We had a great weekend. The second week of the Digital Dreams course was about creating collages and pdf documents. I also created my own photo-shop brushes for the background.

Dave took the photo (thanks Dave). I tried to squeeze him into the collage but nothing worked. We should have accosted a stranger and asked them to take a photo of us all.

Tammy's Digital Dreams Workshop - Week 1

The Digital Dreams Workshop has now finished. During week 1 we learned how to use brushes to make a background, along with text and using the dodge and burn tools to turn a flat circle into a sphere. This is certainly easier than using "real" paint! The course is based on Photo-shop CS but I did it successfully with Photo-shop Elements 9.