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Two little Magpies – Screen Printing

4 Jul

Back in May my Boyfriend & I went on a screen printing workshop at Two little Magpies in Beeston. I’ve been following them on Facebook & was delighted to see they run workshops on Wednesday evenings as well as Saturday’s. I often miss workshops I want to attend as they mostly run on a Saturday when I’m usually working, also teaching Workshops. With Wednesday’s being my day off I don’t even need to rush around getting there.

We started off by creating simple stencils from free style cut and torn paper, I kept it straight forward & created several leaves from folded paper in different sizes & then decided to arrange them around a central stalk. I love the combination of red & grey together (the colour theme of my bathroom) so for my first print used grey paint on red paper. I loved the result and my first print of the evening ended up being my favorite of the whole workshop.

Red & Grey print - nettynot blog

First Print up and framed in my bathroom.

I actually printed a couple of this design in different colourways, unfortunately I did not get my stencil quite central so I had to trim down the edges, not the end of the world, but I do quite like the rough edges on screen prints, adds a bit of charm and maintains the hand made quality. I have added some blue leaves to my bedroom picture shelf too.

Bedroom shelf - nettynot blog

Having done some screen printing before I knew what I could potentially created and I had planned to go with a pre-prepared stencil, but as these things go I wasn’t organised enough & I ran out of time beforehand. So when it came to creating a second stencil from the various prepared ones provided, I had a bit of a mental block. So just dived in and had go, as a result I didn’t really like my second run of prints, (birds in a sky full of airplane trails). I also took inspiration from another participant & printed some simple large cheese plant leave. They came out alright, but just not destined for a wall any time soon.

All was not lost with these prints as I have since turned several parts of the prints I made into birthday cards for friends, I think picking and choosing the best bits has worked well.

I really enjoyed the few hours just experimenting and producing art work in a simple and fun way, especially given that it’s not the easiest thing to set up and do at home. My boyfriend who hasn’t really done craft workshops before, enjoyed it too, though he was gutted to accidentally get some pink paint on his favorite print of the evening. However I have since managed to rescue it, I wish I’d taken a before picture so you could see what I’ve done, basically there where two smallish, but obvious splodges near the middle and top, so given their positioning I decided to add some bubbles coming from the fish, in my vast array of random paper and crafty bits & bobs I had the right colours of card to make them look at part and I think it turned out quite well. You’d never know it wasn’t supposed to be like this (except for the fact I’ve told you all here).

Rich fishes - nettynot blog

Two Little Magpies is a great little shop providing a variety of workshops, selling gifts and handmade goods, I’m sure I’ll be back from more workshops. I took the opportunity to have a good browse too, I don’t always have the funds or space to splash out on large handmade pieces. However I often buy a card or two, as it’s a great way to support local independents and they have a great range of cards. I absolutely loved all the designs by Karoline Rerrie, who’s a screen printer, her vibrant Scandi style images just jumped out at me. I spent a while choosing, as I wanted them all, but settled on these 3, I’m now on the look out for a frame (or 3) to put them in as I’m going to keep them all!

Karoline Rerrie cards - nettynot blog

Thanks for reading!


Mosaics : a new challenge

10 Feb

I’ve always liked mosaics, the more inventive and colourful the better. I dream of having loads of colourful mosaics in my garden and took a lot of inspiration from my trip to Barcelona back in October.

My trip also made me just get on a book a workshop I had been pondering doing for some time, so the same day I got back from my holiday I booked a workshop with Lily Mosaics & attended a day later!

It was a lovely relaxed day, I loved picking out colours and seeing all the different mosaic bits n bobs on offer to work with. I went with the intention of making a small plaque of an owl/bird, that I might have hung in my bathroom, but then on a whim started creating a bold geometric design on a small tray.

It is quite a time consuming activity, (well it is when you do something far from simple as a beginner), I found it very relaxing cutting and playing around with different pieces. I got most of my larger motifs done in the workshop and then took a few spare bits to continue at home. I had already acquired several mosaic tiles myself and I ended up incorporating several of these into my patterns at home, as my design evolved.

I had originally planned to do a grey background, however a went for a lighter white, as I thought it’d make the colourful tiles standout more and match the already white tray.

I rather like my finish tray and found the grouting less arduous than I expected, though some of the really tiny pieces I used were a pain in the bum (lesson learnt).

mosaic tray - nettynot blog

mosaic tray close up - nettynot blog

I have since covered a simple picture frame, I’m not a huge fan of the finished result, I didn’t think enough about the edge where the tiles meet, but it looks alright in situ and still an improvement on the boring pine (fortunately I’m not too much of a perfectionist)!

I also made a set of Rennie Macintosh inspired coasters for part of my parents Christmas present. I really enjoyed making them. It was one of those rare occasions where the idea in my head worked out exactly as I imagined!

macintosh ungrouted - nettynot blog
macintosh grouted coasters - nettynot blog
The only thing I’ve not figured out, is what’s the best way to seal them, I didn’t want to make the lovely matte tiles shiny, but equally don’t want them to end up tea stained. I gifted them as they are, but keep meaning to do further research, does anyone what any suggestions?


I’m eager to do more now & started collecting ideas on a mosaic & garden board on Pinterest. Just need some warmer drier weather now.

Thanks for reading!

Silver Art Clay Day

30 Apr

Since discovering that I teach Silver Art Clay workshops I’ve been asked by a couple of friends whether I’d show them how to make something. I casually said “Yer sure…” then a few more friends asked and so a date was set! I hired the workshop space at The Bead Shop and last Sunday got set up to show everyone.

I feel here I should tell you what Art Clay actually is; Silver Art Clay is mouldable clay make out of recycled pure silver, water and an organic binder. You can shape and manipulate the clay however you like and once it’s fired (the binder burns off and the water evaporates) you are left with pure silver – magical really! It’s popularity increased hugely after it was featured on Kirstie Allsopp‘s “Kirstie’s Homemade Home” series several years ago, although I seem to remember Kirstie’s items weren’t overly successful, she and many others watching, were blown away by this wonderful material.

Our Art Clay Day; I did a quick demo to begin, then found out what everyone wanted to make, guided them in the right direction and off they all went.

Everyone busy - Nettynot BlogI had to stop myself going into full on teaching mode, as it was a relaxed craftanoon and I was giving everyone free rein, after all we have a small picnic set up too and I was technically NOT at work –  there’s always more to do than I anticipate, with “does this look alright”, drilling holes and antiquing finished pendants, it all got a little busy towards the end. But it was ALL worth it! I find it immensely satisfying to teach someone a new skill and help them to create a unique piece of jewellery from scratch and it’s even better when you’re showing your friends! (sorry for the cheese – but it is true!)

No cheese here though, probably the only thing we didn’t have…mmm.
Picnic - Nettynot blogHere’s some pieces in progress, Margaret brought along a collection of vintage sugar craft cutters which make great pendant shapes. Rebecka took inspiration from her background in textiles and started weaving clay together and Jem went free form, creating lots of different pieces, look out on her blog for a post soon showing off her finished pieces.

Art Clay in progress - Nettynot BlogThere was much excitement as everything went into the kiln…
Pre-firing Art Clay - Nettynot BlogHere’s some of the wonderful makes! Lots of different bits n pieces – makes me happy! Anyone who is familiar with some of Amy Blackwell’s illustrations might spot her distinctive style in the form of a lovely hand.
Kiln ready - art clay firing - nettynot blog I do like a good before and after shot – although my camera was misbehaving for the finished jewellery.

Finished Art Clay Pieces - Nettynot BlogEverything was a bit too shiny for my camera, however I’ve pinched a few photos from the others, which show of the detail much better.
Some finished Items - Nettynot BlogYou can achieve so much with Silver Art Clay, it’s a wonderful material. It allows you to make anything from stunning sculptural pieces to simple items with imprinted texture. Once an item is fired you can sand and polish a piece until you get a mirror finish, giving it a high end ‘bought from a posh jewellers’ look. However I’m much more in favour of something that’s been handmade retaining a handmade element. When I finish an item I tend to give it a quick burnish, to highlight all the raised detail, which contrasts well with the matte surface of the lower detail – simple yet effective.

Rebecka’s woven pendant above was antiqued using liver of sulphur, which oxidises the surface (basically speeding up the tarnishing process), she then polished over the raised areas creating that wonderful contrast and highlighting the detail.

Button Charm - Nettynot Blog

I found a bit of time to utilise a mould I’d made from a metal button and created a small charm pendant. This is the kind of small project that’s very achievable and a great way of replicating something.

Thanks for reading!

A Colourful Birthday

10 Aug

It was inevitable and last week it happened….. I turned 30 – eek!  I had a great time, celebrations made it across 2 weeks – well why not?

30th Birthday Card made by Jem Weston - Nettynot Blog

Given that my small family are spread about the country, I gathered them up for lunch and a potter around Chatsworth gardens on a lovely Sunny Sunday afternoon – the gardens were a colourful delight!

Chatsworth Gardens - Nettynot Blog

I have always wanted to do a Murder Mystery and decided my birthday would be the perfect opportunity. So having looked at several options I decided hosting it at home and getting everyone to dress up from the 80’s would make my day! It did! Everyone made so much effort and I was thrilled. I also rather enjoyed making 80’s decorations and biscuits (yes, they’re rubik’s cube biscuits, and yes, they took ages – but worth it)!

80's Murder Mystery - Nettynot Blog

My wonderful crafty friends got me a fantastic present! They all chipped in and got me a place on the Amy Butler Colour story workshop held at the NEC as the Festival of Quilts was getting set up! It was a great day, I went along with my good friend Jem Weston and had a fun and relaxed day cutting and sticking bits of paper and fabric creating our own unique colour boards. (You can read Jem’s blog post about the workshop here).
  Jem, Amy Butler and I - Nettynot BlogMy Colour Story - Amy Butler - Nettynot Blog

I love Amy Butler’s bright vibrant patterns, so it was fascinating hearing all about her design process and where her colour inspiration comes from and how she creates her own colour collages to inform her new collections. Her latest collection called ‘Glow’ is out in the UK very soon, it was great to get a close up look on the day. My favourite fabric from the collection reminds me a little of the 80’s – in a good way – bright and bold!
Amy Butler - Glow collection - Nettynot Blog

What made my day later in the week was Amy’s Instagram image from our workshop day featuring me and a small section of my collage – slightly over excited – eeep!!!
Amy Butler's Photo CollageYou can follow Amy on Facebook here.

Basket Making

29 Aug

As I mentioned in my previous blog post I’ve been wanted to learn how to make a basket for quite some time. I’ve always been impressed with their shape and structure as well as the fact that they are robust functional structures, created from natural materials.

Willow all prepared

Willow all prepared

The interior of the lovely Admaston Village Hall, a great venue of basket making

The interior of the lovely Admaston Village Hall, a great venue of basket making

A few friends and I arranged a basket making day at Blithfield Williowcrafts our teacher Eddie was very patient & friendly and made the day feel really relaxed. We had a great time & I was thrilled to go away with a completed basket. I’m still not entirely sure what I’m going to use my Basket for, I think there are a few too many sticky out bit to store yarn in it without some form of lining, however I am currently enjoying just having it sat in the lounge where it has already been admired by visitors and it smells great.

The various stages of my basket progress

The various stages of my basket progress

Lisa & Clare hard at work & a wonderful display of baskets behind them.

Lisa & Clare hard at work & a wonderful display of baskets behind them.

A close up of my basket starting to take shape

A close up of my basket starting to take shape

Sophie snipping off her excess ends...the final stage!

Sophie snipping off her excess ends…the final stage!


My finished basket

My finished basket

Not only did I have a completed basket to take home with me, I also had a helping hand in fixing the handle on my Grandma’s basket I inherited (I say helping hand…I did end up just watching) Eddie did a great little fix for me & I really appreciate it, even though having had a go at basket making now I can see it wasn’t such a great basket to begin with – but I don’t mind, it is now rescued & I will definitely use it, without fear of it breaking!

Everyone hard at work - we took the basket making outside to make the most of the nice weather & all the space!

Everyone hard at work – we took the basket making outside to make the most of the nice weather & all the space!

The exterior of the village hall was just as nice as the outside - not sure if the curved roof tiles are visible.

The exterior of the village hall was just as nice as the inside – look at the curved roof tiles!

I’m really keen to have another go (before I forget everything I’ve learnt) and possibly make something a little more adventurous.
It might have a wait a little while as much as I love having a go at so many different things I should concentrate on maybe just 2 or 3 things at once as oppose to 4 or 5 *eye roll*! I just can’t help myself!

If anyone is reading this and thinking about trying basket making or you’re just interested I would highly recommend checking out Blithfield Willow Crafts website, if only to look at all the gallery of wonderful willow items, it’s worth it!

Creative pursuits, a yearning for learning!

22 Aug

A relatively local place to me is The Textiles Workshop in Sherwood, Nottingham. I have attended many classes there over the past few years including a couple that were set over 16 weeks, 3 hours a week, in patchwork for beginners and them printmaking which were great fun, I learnt a lot & loved having 3 hours a week dedicated to something entirely selfish, that fitted around work being available as an evening class & it’s surprising and really satisfying to see what you can accomplish when you have no other distractions.

Bit of a theme with my printing, Owls & Textile texture!

Bit of a theme with my printing, Owls & Textile texture!

I’ve also attended a day class in screen printings and a ‘make a dress in a day’ which I’ve previously written a blog post about. There’s so much on offer from them, it’s always hard figuring out what to try next. One thing that helped this year was their summer school classes, which have acted like a little taster session for their longer classes. Their 2 day silversmithing course jumped right out at me. What appealed was that it ran on a Wednesday (my day off) so few things run on a Wednesday so I was delighted. Unfortunately I didn’t act quick enough & the places sold out, but fortunately for me a few days before the class was due start I got a call to say a place had become available. At £30 for two days (not including materials) I thought that was a bargain!

My work after the first week, looking a little rough around the edges.

My work after the first week, looking a little rough around the edges.

I’ve previously done a little silversmithing, many years ago while at college and I’m familiar with jewellery making so I wanted to find out whether I really wanted to commit to a full 16 week term or whether a 2 day course would satisfy my curiosities. Over the two days we made a lovely stackable set of rings, 5 in total, some with little tops on them (I went for my favourite shape – a triangle) & some with texture to sit in between and space out the topped rings. I love the fact that although we were making a whole set to wear together you can mix & match them too, wearing maybe just the two spacer rings, or spacer rings with just one triangle… endless possibilities. We also make a pair of earrings, I haven’t quite assembled mine just yet & I ran out of time polishing them, so no photos of those at the moment.

My finished stackable rings, they photographed well on the dark surface.

My finished stackable rings, they photographed well on the dark surface, with no flash.

The 3 plain rings with their rounded triangular tops, the flash here has highlighted all the tiny imperfections - plenty of more for improvements, but I'm thrilled with them all the same & they have handmade after all.

The 3 plain rings with their rounded triangular tops, the camera flash here has highlighted all the tiny imperfections – plenty of room for improvements, but I’m thrilled with them all the same & they have been handmade after all.

My two textured, spacer rings, nicely split up my triangular design rings.

My two textured, spacer rings, nicely split up my triangular design rings.

I love the subtle contrast of the smooth rings with textured rings sat in between them.

I love the subtle contrast of the smooth rings with textured rings sat in between them.

Having completed the two days yesterday I can definitely say, Yes! I want to do more! So I filled in the forms & I’m already really looking forward to it getting started in September, so no doubt there’ll be more blog posts to follow!

Before that course commences I have another workshop to attend. The only declaration I made at New Years this year was that I wanted to learn how to make a basket & that is exactly what I’ll be doing this bank holiday Sunday. Having not been able to find a date suitable for myself I arranged a booking just for me & a few friends which Blithfield willow crafts who were very friendly & accommodating. This is a craft I’ve wanted to do for some time, I love the idea of making something so sturdy and practical out of natural materials, that I believe if done right, could last you for years & years! I can’t wait. You’ll hear all about it very soon & hopefully I’ll also be able to learn how to fix one of my Grandma’s baskets that I inherited, that currently looks a little worse for wear.

Chip chose just the right moment to photobomb my lovely basket, ah!

Chip chose just the right moment to photobomb my lovely basket, ah!

A creative jump start

24 Jul

Once a year I get roped into helping my Mum out with one of her many jobs/duties as the secretary of the Lunesdale Agricultural show, it’s usually a little frantic the day before and there’s lots of ticking things off long lists, the show itself is quite traditional and the actual day is quite fun with a great atmosphere with the odd person telling me ‘you must be Gill’s daughter & that they knew my Grandparents’ – it feels quite homely despite having never lived in the area myself.

Despite the slight bit of work involved with helping out, I do look forward to the show each year for a couple of reasons, firstly working in a city it’s delightful to escape for a few days to a place that is so far from my ‘Norm’, to a world where people are chatting about sheep passports, cattle and farming. And secondly the home industries show!

Some of last years winning items

Some of last years winning items

Every year since my Mum has been involved (I believe this is her 4th year) I have entered items into the homes industries show, usually bits and piece I’ve made throughout the year. Previously I’ve entered beadwork, a crochet rug, patchwork, felting and jewellery, on average maybe 4 or 5 pieces a year. Chatting to my Mum last weekend I suddenly felt all creative & determined, having had a little bit of a creative lull, mainly to do with the hot weather I think & the fact I’ve not being able to face tidying my craft room, so I pulled myself together, got tidying and started making lists & sketching ideas!

re-discovereed skirt to finish

I do find that tidying and having a sort out of stashed items can in itself lead to some great ideas as well as some great re-discoveries. For example I found a half finished skirt that I started making last year (but then the weather turned & so the skirt got put into hibernation, where I forgot all about it).
liberty print fabric strip

I also discovered the Kumihimo disk that I bought several months ago with the intention of having a play with braiding with different textured thread. So here came my first idea, and a perfect excuse to do what I intended to do in the first place. So I rummaged around to find some suitable fabric I could braid with and found an off cut of some thin Liberty print fabric I used for a previous project that was already in a thin strip (& also cut on the bias which makes life much easier). Using different materials I thought it best to stick to a simple pattern and one that I already knew that uses 8 threads.
Pink Kumihimo conbination
I created this pink and green braid first – picking out threads to match the colours in the fabric.
I liked how the braid turned out, I just wasn’t so sure about the colour, mainly as their not my usual cup of tea & the fabric was a little swallowed out in the overall kumihimo braiding

Version two I used a thicker strip of fabric and added in a few more beads and chose coloured I much preferred, mainly blue and turquoisy-greens.
blue kumihimo braiding
However once I’d done this braid I discovered I much preferred the original one, I liked the twisted effect it had and I decided it wasn’t the end of the world that you couldn’t see much of the fabric – the designs & colours worked well together & I may not wear it myself, but it will serve its purpose in the show and I will no doubt find someone to give it to.

If you’re interested in learning Kumihimo braiding there is a free sheet of downloadable instructions on The Bead Shop (Nottingham)’s website, where I also got the disk. There are loads of variations of kumihimo braiding on pinterest, once you’re set up with your disk & threads the braiding is quite therapeutic.

Although my blue deign didn’t work out as well as I anticipated, all it not lost. With some of the excess bits I cut off, I simply plaited together the left over fabric strip and 2 different ribbon pieces and finished them off with fold over ends and a clasp to create a simple & effective wrap around bracelet, I left the fabric ends attached, so I could tie them to disguise the clasp. It shows off the fabric and it’s perfect for summer.
Wrap bracelet clasp
Wrapped bracelet

I have loads more ideas up my sleeve for the home industries including this wire work necklace I created this week. Based on a workshop I teach at The Bead Shop, herringbone wire wrapping, I thought I’d play around with colour and created this bold necklace.
Herringbone wire wrapping

Look out for more posts about my entries.

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