About Me

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North Somerset, United Kingdom
My parents were worried when I ran around with scissors – now I play with fire and (intentionally) break glass! Based in the beautiful South West of England, close to the sea and often the scene of beautiful sunsets, I am inspired by the countryside around. Working with sea glass collected from remote beaches, soda lime glass from Murano, Italy, Europe, USA and beyond, I create artisan beads, for use in my own jewellery or for you to enjoy in your own creations. But I couldn’t stop there; continuing the theme from round rods to flat sheets, mostly from the USA, I break large sheets of transparent, opaque, multi-coloured and dichroic glass into much smaller pieces to make a kiln-formed range of bright, colourful jewellery and home decoration. Each piece I make is individually designed around the shape, size and beauty of the materials and intended to be unique, wearable, usable and affordable. All my glass work is kiln annealed for strength and durability and designed to give pleasure for years to come.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Shibori dyeing techniques kits and workshops

One of my most popular items at craft fairs and open studio events are my shibori dyeing technique kits. Shibori dying is a Japanese technique where the fabric is rolled, folded, stitched, twisted and tied before being dyed. When the fabric is unravelled, exciting patterns appear.

I've made silk scarves using shibori dyeing techniques for a number of years but increasingly I was being asked how I did it. I decided to make up a few kits and see if they would be something that would sell well. I started by writing down my
instructions, photographing each stage and then tested my instructions on my 'no practical skills at all' husband. I figured if he could follow them and make a scarf, then anyone could. It also meant that any bits that were not clear could be sorted before they went on sale. I was surprised how hard it was to write down something I can do without thinking so that someone else could understand my technique. I managed it and DH made a great scarf which he planned to give to his Mum for Christmas; until I forgot and sold it!

I mix my own colours from commercial dyes, which can be fixed in a microwave. It's a lot quicker than steaming something for 2-3 hours. I don't steam Christmas puddings either! Having produced and tested my own instructions and thought up some names for my colour ranges, I made up just 10 kits and took them to a busy 2-day craft fair just before Christmas. Although I have samples of what the colours will look like when dyed, the beauty of shibori is that everyone's scarf will turn out different so everyone will have made their own original. People seemed to like that idea and I found the 10 kits I'd made sold out in the first 2 hours. I'd still got a few more hours before I could go home! I spent the rest of the evening printing, bottling and making up kits ready for the 2nd day of the show, thinking that 20 kits would be enough. Amazingly these also sold out in a few hours. We had to take orders after that, which kept us busy for some nights to come.

The kits are a great introduction to shibori dyeing techniques and, because you are making a scarf, you not only have the fun of learning something new but also have the end product as well. For this reason they make lovely gifts for 'arty' friends. I also sell my kits on my on-line sites or by mail order, follow the links from my blog or from the home page on my website www.blueboxstudio.co.uk .

I also run 1-day workshops on shibori dyeing techniques from my garden studio. These too are great fun. My workshop can hold between 2 and 4 people so everyone gets lots of individual attention. We work through 4 to 6 different techniques and then, choosing their favourite, or a combination of favourites, everyone dyes a silk scarf. Lunch is included as are the fabrics to work through the examples and the scarf. More is available if people want. If the weather is kind and there is time we sometimes also cover heliographic dyeing, where the dye is fixed by sunlight, or indigo dyeing. Everyone works at their pace and there is no pressure on anyone to perform. The only skill needed is the ability to think that you can make something lovely by the end of the day. Again, there are more details on my website http://www.blueboxstudio.co.uk/Workshops.htm .

I am planning to 'design' if that is the right word, some basic
devoré velvet scarf kits, so people can learn how to texture velvet using devorant and then double dye to again make an individual item. More on that later.

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