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.

Monday, 30 November 2009

The process of making hand painted velvet scarves

I thought, I'd show you the process of making my hand painted velvet scarves. Several customers had enquired about this at the weekend fairs and it's hard to explain without pictures in the middle of a craft fair.

I had some purple dye already mixed and, not one to waste anything, decided to dye some white velvet purple for later screen printing. Having left it, or should I say 'forgotten', for a few days I removed it from the dye and washed in a special solution to remove excess dye. Then it was ready to start work.

Here it is securely taped to my work table. Next task was to screen print it with the rather disgustingly named 'discharge paste', which i mix up to my own recipe ...

... I had a frame ready prepared. Once screened I prepare the scarf for steaming. Discharge paste doesn't take all colours back to white, the colour of the fabric before dyeing. It tends to remove some of the colour but not all and often leaves mysterious colours that are dependent on the colours that made up the dye in the first place. My black velvet often goes back to silver, gold or copper tones

but the purple surprised ....

... and horrified me by turning yellow! Something tells me this will not be a popular colour combination with my customers so I shall over-paint the yellow stripes with dye when the fabric is dry, much as I do with the black velvet.

Each scarf is hand painted with usually more than 8 different dye colours, then is again left to dry before thorough washing to remove excess dye and stitching to make a double sided velvet scarf. Although, due to lack of space, I tend to screen several scarves at a time, then dye, paint and sew, I have worked out that it takes about 5 hours to make each scarf. This and the high quality of the raw fabric, as I explain to my customers, is why my scarves cost more than a mass-produced item from the High Street. Each is handmade, no two will be identical.

For the next few days the day-job gets in the way of my creativity so I will be in my studio until probably 11pm each evening hand painting and sewing these scarves, ready for my next fair on Friday evening and Saturday at the Create Centre in Bristol.

These scarves are one of my most popular items this winter! It's sometimes hard to keep up with demand for them but I have plans for a different pattern in the next batch, which may or may not be ready for this weekend.

As well as the scarves, I've been busy drilling sea glass for my next delivery of bottle stoppers, another item that has suddenly become very popular at fairs. They make great presents for men, wine drinkers and original presents for the 3rd wedding anniversary (crystal or glass) or any celebration where a bottle of wine is involved! The sea glass for these has been personally picked and selected from beaches around the English coastline, before being cleaned and carefully drilled ready for making into these lovely wine stoppers. They are not just for keeping wine left over at the end of the day, the look great used as a presentation piece at the table.

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