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Another use for old plastic bags, weave a wall hanging

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I purchased a simple frame loom from a thrift shop but the similar can be found at Hobby Craft or Tiger or you can make your own using a picture frame and some nails.  I displayed  the hanging from a broken branch I found in the garden.

Materials

Plastic bags in a variety of colours

Cotton warp thread or string

Fat twig or thin branch for hanging

Equipment

Loom

Weaving shuttle

Scissors

Tape measure

Step 1

Cut the bag into strips  0.5cm wide. Knot the strips together so you have one long strip.1 cut strips of plastic

Step 2

Thread the loom by tying on the thread at one side and then going backwards and forwards between the top end and the bottom end of the frame. It is important to maintain an even tension. Tie off the thread in the same way as you tied on the thread.2.thread loom

Step 3

So that the weaving doesn’t fall out when you finish you will need to make a twisted header. Cut a piece of warp thread about two and a half times the width of the warp. Twist the thread round each warp thread in turn. As in the image.

3Making a twisted header

Step 4

When you get to the end of the warp return in the opposite direction push the threads down and tie off at the end.

4Return in the opposite direction

Step5

Thread the plastic onto the shuttle and then starting in the middle of the warp take the shuttle under and over until you reach one end, then go back the other way.

5thread the plastic onto the shuttle a.JPG

Step 6

As you work push down the weft to cover the warp. When you have made a stripe of one colour change to another.6push the woven pieces down to cover the warp

Step 7

To make tassels cut strips of plastic (blue)about 20cm long. Choose a middle section of the hanging and put the blue plastic behind two warp threads at the same time. Wrap one side round one thread and the other round the other , pull the threads through to the front of the hanging. Add as many of these as you like. Mine  was so bunchy that when I hung it up I gave it a bit of a trim.7constructing the tassels

Step 8/9

Weave another block of flat weaving. Repeat steps 3 and 4 to finish off.9Add another block of colour

Step 10

Pull the ends off the loom and then thread onto the branch. Cut off the warp threads from the other end of the loom and knot them one to the next one.

10Pull the ends of the yarn off the loom

Tip

Check that you are not creating a waist by pulling in the sides of the warp as you work.

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Blog, Makes

Quick and easy chair transformation. Continuing with ideas for those stuck at home. This is a fun project for an adult to do with a ‘well covered’ child.

The made over chair in Annie Sloan Antibes green
The before shot looks quite nice, but believe me, the chair was not in a good state.

Recently a friend was throwing out a very old wooden child’s chair. It had been left in a shed for the last fifteen years and the seat was lifting up from the frame and the paint was peeling.

To restore the situation and to make a suitable chair for my grandson, first of all we tacked the seat back onto the frame. 

Always wear a mask when sanding

Then my grandson and I sanded the chair.

Next we painted it with Annie Sloan pure chalk white , and once it was dry we painted it with Annie Sloan Antibes green paint. To finish off and give it a smooth finish, we gave it a coat of Annie Sloan chalk paint wax clear.

A happy boy sitting on his new chair
Blog, Makes

Quince Jelly fit for a Queen

I was recently given some enormous, if somewhat bruised, windfall quinces. So as a great lover of cheese I decided to make some quince jelly,  sometimes  known as quince cheese. Suffice to say as soon as I wanted to make the jelly I couldn’t find a recipe. Then I found buried amongst all my other cookery books a slim volume called   WI Book of Jams and other preserves written by Pat Hesketh and published in 1984.  It has over 100 recipes tried and tested by the women’s institute.

So I turn to the page for Quince Cheese, on the same and facing page were recipes for cumberland rum butter, apple butter, marrow orange cream and bramble cheese. Fruit butters are a softer consistency than cheeses and are usually spiced and should be hermetically sealed. They are usually served as a spread. Cheeses are cooked to a stiff consistency and set in small moulds so that they   can be turned out for serving and cut into wedges.

Quince Cheese 

500g quinces chopped into roughly 1cm pieces

500g sugar

water

Instructions 

  1. Wash the quinces and cut up into pieces
  2. Place in a pan and barely cover with water.
  3. Cover and cook until reduced to a pulp.
  4. Pour through a sieve and weigh the liquid. (discard what is left in the sieve).To each 500g of liquid add 500g of sugar.
  5. Cook over a low heat to dissolve the sugar.
  6. Continue cooking until a thick consistency is obtained.
  7. When a spoon is drawn across the base of the pan, it should leave a clean line.
  8. Pour into prepared moulds. I used small glass pots used for ‘Gu’.
  9. Make some fabric tops by cutting out circles with pinking shears.
Makes, Uncategorized

Oxfam urges shoppers not to buy new clothes for a month. So this September I show you how to up cycle, preloved garments, starting with a Smoking Cap.

Second Hand September aims to raise awareness of fashion’s environmental impact

Create a twenty first century version of a nineteenth century, Smoking Cap from an up-cycled 1980’s jacket. I made this for my brother who loved wearing smoking caps. Here it is modelled by the beautiful Elsa.

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The embroidery on the Jacket was beautiful but the style was somehow lacking. So I chose to turn it into, what used to be called, a Smoking Cap. This is in essence a pill box shaped hat often with a central tassel.

jacket

You will need

Old lined jacket

Tape measure

Pen and paper

Sewing machine

Pins

Thread

Scissors

Thin wadding

Calico

Optional a tassel

Instructions .We made a pattern with the crown, top of the hat having a 18cm diameter. The brim of the hat is 8cm deep x 59.5 cm long including the seam allowances. Cut a paper pattern and then cut a calico pattern and sew the calico brim onto the calico top. Try it on for size and adjust as needed. It should be a little bigger than the finished hat, as the finished hat as a layer of wadding in it.

hat pattern

Cut the jacket into pieces and then lay the pattern pieces on them so they use up the best parts of the pattern. Pin and cut out the pattern pieces. Remember to add more seam allowance if you need to make a join.

pin band onto fabric.jpg

Cut the interfacing so that it is slightly smaller than the pattern pieces. Pin it onto the wrong side of the hat’s crown and brimSew the wadding onto the brim. Pin the crown onto the brim, and sew them together, including the wadding around the crownpin top side.jpg

Using the jacket lining, make a lining for the hat as you did the one from calico. With wrong sides together, and the bottom edges turned under to neaten, sew the lining  into the

.sew wadding into the top piece.jpg

outside cap. Sew a tassel into the centre of the cap.

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Waxed Cloth Food Wrap

Useful Presents

Make Waxed Cloth Food Wraps and give them away as  presents.

Do away with all that plastic cling film and make something that really works By Juliet Bawden 

Photographed by Antonia Attwood  MA RCA

This project is very easy to do, it smells delicious and it works. I had been reading about food wrap for a while and was curious, when happenstance made me do something about it. My neighbour, who keeps bees in my garden, presented me with a large piece of beeswax. I knew just how I could use it. I read lots of posts on line about different methods and possible additives to create the cloth, but in the end decided to do the simplest thing, just use the bee’s wax unadulterated on the cloth. Please note if you choose a white or pale background fabric and use bee’s wax, the yellow colour will come through into the design. Personally I like this as a look as it gives it a home spun feel. I recently wrote a post on this subject on 91 Magazine  blog. Since writing that I have been experimenting and found an even easier way to impregnate the cloth with wax and that is by ironing  it in between two layers of baking parchment.  

You will need

Closely woven cotton fabric, similar to a bed sheet in feel.

Wax – either grated, from a large block as this has been, or you can buy wax pellets on line.

Baking parchment 

Pinking shears

Step 1

 Using pinking shears cut round the edge of the material. By using pinking shears you will not need to hem the fabric.

Step 2 

Using a cheese grater, grate the bees wax. Wax is tougher to grate than cheese and it will stick to the grater. The wax will come off the grater when it is washed. 

Step 3

Cut out 2  pieces of baking parchment larger than the piece of fabric.  Place the fabric on top of one of the pieces of  baking parchment and sprinkle the bee’s wax evenly on the fabric.

Step 4

Place the other piece of baking parchment on top of the fabric and using a medium temperature, iron over the paper. You will see the wax melting and if the coverage isn’t even you can always lift the paper add more wax pieces and then recover with the paper before ironing again. Hang the fabric up to dry. Once the cloth is dry it will still feel slightly sticky and waxy but that is the nature of the beast. 

Blog, Makes, Uncategorized

Mini Makes – Envelope back notepad

This is a very easy and practical way of using up old envelopes to create a notepad. Useful  for writing shopping lists and phone messages. I would love to say this is my idea but I must be honest and admit to having seen similar elsewhere. I have one friend who creates wonderful works of art from old envelopes so that are really worth taking a second look at and also why waste them.

You will need a collection of old envelopes, split open to reveal the patterned inside, a hole punch, paper scissors, charity shop key rings with easy opening rings.

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Instructions

Cut the envelope backs to roughly the same size. Punch a hole in one corner and then thread on the envelopes, with the patterned side facing upwards, onto a key ring.

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Blog, Exhibitions

British Surrealism

As I write this and the whole of the world seems to be shutting down and self-isolating, I am delighted that I was able to visit the British Surrealism exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery. 26 February -17 May 2020

Marion Adnams, Aftermath, 1946, Photo: 2006 Christie’s Images Limited, © The Estate of Marion Adnams 

         I love the Picture Gallery and it has hosted some fabulous exhibitions including the recent one on Rembrandt and light. DPG has a great modern extension that was completed in 2000, designed by architect Rick Mather described here by Don Cruikshank:

         “Mather’s work at Dulwich is a masterpiece of subtle, informed understatement where the feel for Soane has been combined with a flair for, and awareness of, the potential offered by new forms and new materials.”

 Edith Rimmington, Family Tree, 1938, The Murray Family Collection (UK & USA) © Estate of Edith Rimmington

         Dulwich Picture Gallery was founded in 1811 and was the world’s first purpose-built public art gallery. It gets no regular public funding and It cares for and displays an outstanding collection of Old Master paintings within Sir John Soane’s pioneering architecture. It runs fabulous and inclusive events programme that engages with as many people as possible, of all ages and backgrounds. So having laid out my pitch and said that I am a keen supporter of the gallery, I have to say I am not a keen supporter of this exhibition. Yes it does what it says on the blurb, It marks 100 years since the birth of surrealism. There are over 70 eclectic works from 42 artists including Leonora Carrington, Francis Bacon, Henry Moore and Paul Nash.  There is even a piece of work by none other than Desmond Morris who is better known for his work as a zoologist, broadcaster and writer than as a painter. 

Edward Burra, Dancing Skeletons, 1934, (1905-1976). Photo © Tate, Copyright: © Tate 

         The exhibition curator Dr David Boyd Haycock describes surrealism as ‘Probably the most exciting, transgressive and bizarre art movement of the twentieth century”  

 The Dulwich picture Gallery’s Sackler Director, Jennifer Scott says

“ Visitors will be invited to embark on their own adventures into the illogical through some spectacular loans and inventive exhibition design; it is not to be missed.”

         The positive thing about this exhibition is that it includes poets and playwrights from the 17th -19th centuries who shared and inspired the subversive qualities and absurdities of the movement. The exhibition includes works by the, so called, ‘Ancestors of surrealism’ including William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Henry Fuseli, Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear. Their inclusion feels as if they are there to bulk out what would otherwise be a rather thin offering of work.

 We are shown the echoes and elements of the uncomfortable, rejecting order and chronology to channel mischief and provocation of the movement.

Arranged to reflect the modes and methods of surrealism, with themes of war, dreams, the unconscious, the uncanny, radical politics, sex and desire. The common creative urge, between all artists, are highlighted throughout, revealing the power of the subconscious, and the liberation of the imagination.

Conroy Maddox, The Lesson, 1938/1970, © Christie’s Images Limited, Given with the kind permission of the artist’s daughter

         There are a few stunning of pieces of work such as Marion Adnams  Aftermath, and her painting called  The distraught Infants and  Edith Rimmington’s  Family Tree.

But where are the equivalent of the masters such as Salvador Dali, Max Ernst and Rene Magritte.   Conroy Maddox with his Typewriter is a close second to the work that was made by Marcel Duchamp.

Conroy Maddox, Onanistic Typewriter, 1940, Photo credit Murray Family Collection (UK & USA) Given with the kind permission of the artist’s daughter.

         It appears that many British artists ‘had a go’ at Surrealism but it feels as if their hearts weren’t  really in it as a movement. There is a truly awful painting called Landscape with Birds painted in 1940 by, one of my favourite artists, Lucien Freud. Freud was attending surrealist meetings during the Second World war. But as he later explained. “ I objected to the fact that under the laws of doctrinaire surrealism …… it was easy for people of no talent to practice art.’

         The Sunday Times described this current exhibition as a “Pythonesque celebration of British Eccentricity” and indeed there is a truly Pythonesque  black and white graphic  piece on one of the floors with long black intertwined arms ending to white hands that point in different directions with words such as Desire, Exit, Coincidence, Conflict, Politics, The Impossible “

         There is a small excellent book and gift shop and great café selling delicious food. The museum staff go out of their way to help and engage visitors even small boys, who want to wear the head phones that guide you round the exhibition. So if you have an afternoon to spare I would recommend visiting to find those true gems that are hidden amongst the dross.

Makes, Uncategorized

Customized seed storage jars

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As we are having such glorious weather I thought it would be fun to create some interesting storage jars for any seeds you have hanging around. I searched for small  toy animals  in a charity shop, where  I found these wooden bunnies that I thought would be perfect for this project. I then  discovered Rustoleum’s wonderful Universal paint that works on all surfaces, and doesn’t even need priming, and can be left outside. I thought that’s perfect for this project and so easy to do.

You will need

Jars to store seeds

Universal paints in bright colours

Chalk board paint (optional)

Labels to write on

Glue gun and glue stick

Child’s toy

Step 1

Using the universal paint, spray the toy and the lid of the jar in a bright primary colour.

Step1

Step 2

Using the glue gun, stick the toy onto the center of the lid. Take the string out of the label and spray with blackboard paint. Leave to dry. Stick a binder reinforcement over the hole and re thread the string and then using chalk write the names of the seeds on the labels and tie round the jar.

Step2
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Blog, Makes

Another recycling easy to make idea, reuse old plastic bags to make Pom-poms

Photographs by Antonia Attwood

Being very aware of all the plastic and rubbish that lands up on many of our beaches, and in our parks and roadsides, I thought I would come up with a project that could put some of that plastic to good use. The result is pom-poms created from plastic bags. I suggest you use and reuse the bags until they start to get holes. When they are finally  of no further use, make pom-poms out of them.

Image 1

You need very little in the way of materials, just scissors, plastic bags, cardboard and string or twine. You will also need something to draw round to make a large circle with a smaller one in the centre.

Image 2

Draw round a small saucer or a large roll of tape onto the card to create a circle. Use something like an eggcup and draw round it to make a circle in the center. Cut out the two cardboard shapes, with a hole in the centre. Cut the plastic bags into a long strip about 1cm wide.

Image 3

Place one cardboard circle on top of the other and then start to wind the plastic strips round the two circles as in the picture. Carry on until the whole of the cardboard is covered. The more strips you add the fluffier the pom pom will be.

Image 4

Cut a piece of string or cord and put to one side. Holding the plastic covered discs, insert the scissors between the two outer circles and start to cut. This is the tricky bit as you don’t want to end up with a load of plastic on the floor. When you have cut all the way round the outer ring insert the cord and pull the two ends together, drawing together the pom pom at the same time. Tie the string ends together.

We used our Pom poms to decorate a basket, but you could use them to decorate anything. Have fun creating crafting and recycling.