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Made in Earley Exhibition

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The jewellery classes I attend are at Maiden Earley School in Reading. This week I submitted a piece for display in the Made in Earley exhibition.

The Exhibition blurb:

“Adult silver jewellery students and RGA Fridays artists attend classes in our studios.  This joint show of their diverse work is inspired by major London exhibitions such as The Cheapside Hoard and other, more local, themes.”

My piece was inspired by the Cheapside Hoard. One piece that really caught my eye was a tiny emerald pocket watch:

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The watch is over 350 years old and was designed so that the time could be read even when the lid was shut!

My clock (which I’ve titled “The White Rabbit’s Pocket Watch” for the exhibition) is much bigger,  at 20cm across diagonally. It’s made from copper which I patinated and silver for the dial. It even works! It took probably half a term to make and is full of imperfections to my eyes, but I’m still quite pleased with it.

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It is both quite exciting and nerve wracking having work in an exhibition for the first time ever! However I’m pleased that I have and am pleased that I tried something completely different to my usual makes.

If you’re local, pop along to the exhibition.  If not, I hope to show you some other gems after the private view this Friday night.  Eeeeeeek!

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Did you know that every year, 2.3 million children die because they don’t get enough of the right food?

In recent years, millions of children have been saved from preventable diseases by the world taking action. But despite major progress, hunger is still the root cause of a third of all child deaths.

We all know, and are experiencing the rises in food prices. It feels bad to us, but try to imagine just how bad it must be if you are one of the world’s poorest people? How hard must it be?

Our Prime Minister, David Cameron has announced that he will lead the way in the Race Against Hunger. Save the Children want him to use his G8 presidency in 2013 to set ambitious plans to tackle hunger and save millions of children’s lives. 

Do you support this? Sign the petition here . Thanks to Save the Children for the facts and for coordinating the petition.

Crafters who have want to be part of the solution, not the problem, have been working hard to get hunger towards the top of the G8 summit agenda. They have been doing this by joining the Craftivist Collective Jigsaw Project. Crafters are invited to make a jigsaw piece with embroidered with a provocative message to support Save the Children’s Race Against Hunger campaign.

The project will create an art installation using all the jigsaw pieces to raise awareness of the issues of world hunger and injustice. It will be displayed in London initially then the plan is to for it to be displayed at the G8 to raise awareness and show how the craft community wants the government to use it’s power.

If you want to join in, you can find jigsaw piece templates, a story to reflect on and suggested phrases here.

All over the country craftivists are organising stitch ins to help publicise the cause. When I found out through Jelly that Roo from Little Stitch Blog was organising one in Reading, I had to take part. We were very lucky that jigsaw pieces had already been cut out and we were provided with a pretty tin full of embroidery thread to use.

My embroidery after a long day at work wasn’t anyway near as well stitched as other people’s, and as I started small, I had to continue small, but it seemed appropriate for the phrase I chose:

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The lighting wasn’t great, which made threading a needle and taking a photo difficult!

All together we made all of these:

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There were some more experienced embroiderers there! I will share better photos if someone posts them…

I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening, helping to make a difference piece by piece. Many thanks to Roo for organising!

Winter mice

Sadly, this may be the last post where I share with you the delights of a window display by Jacksons of Reading. I have previously shared with you the delights of previous window displays for the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics.  Local papers announced last month that the shop would be shutting after 137 years. It will be a real shame as it is an icon of Reading and is a real gem. The wool department is huge and the crafting section is the only place in the centre of town where you can get both DMC and Anchor embroidery threads. They also sell a big variety of aida and evenweave off the roll. Unfortunately it doesn’t surprise me in some ways as when I go I am often the only person there buying bits 😦

Anyway, enough of the sad. Here is their cute window display of mice ice-skating:

Christmas Gift Bags

There isn’t a much better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than being crafty, having fun and learning some new skills at the same time. I treated myself to a Christmas Gift Bag workshop at Creative Crafts and Workshops and spent a few hours doing all the aforementioned.

The workshop went through the basics of using your machine, which I knew, but was very useful to those who didn’t. To make my clutch bags all I needed to do was to sew in straight lines, with only one curve.

I sewed hems for the first time (well maybe I did them in textiles classes at school, but as that was  20 years ago, it doesn’t really count!):

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They are not perfect, but they’ll do!
Don’t you just love the fabric?

I have appliqued by hand, which takes ages. I dread to think how many hours it took me to applique the alphabet cushion, flower cushion and Christmas stockings last year! I cheated and just decorated ready bought items for these, but I didn’t have a sewing machine at the time.

Applique by machine is definitely quicker than by hand. The basics are the same. To make life easier I used bondaweb to keep my shapes in place.

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Then I used the machine to sew them in place. You really just need to have the confidence to have a go!

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With a button as embelishment and some more sewing, complete with the addition of ribbon for a tie,.I had one Christmas gift bag!

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I had a few hiccups whilst making it, but I was helped and encouraged along the way. These bags are actually quite easy to make. I had time to make another.

I went for Christmas pudding applique the second time:

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When the bag is open it looks like this:

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And shut:

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The second bag took me considerably less time than the first. I am considering filling them with chocolates for those hard to make for men in my life. I have some Christmas fabric in my stash, so am tempted to kick Mr M and his laptop off the dining table and set my machine up!

Reading Stained Glass

My stained glass class is carrying on, so I need materials for my next project. I bought everything for my first project from my tutor and had the opportunity to do again, but chose to go to the shop myself for a wider range and some inspiration.

What inspiration there was too. I saw all of this (and more) before even entering the store:

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I love this lamp! (So much so that my twitter and Facebook followers will recognise it!).

I found the shop to be way bigger than I imagined. Downstairs was a showroom full of stained glass for sale. Look at all of these lightshades:

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The last two really caught my eye!

They also sold fused glass. I had a go at this back in the summer and the products for sale were way more impressive than mine:

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I spent a very long time trying to choose my glass. The ground floor is covered in lots of cabinets like this:

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There are huge sheets of glass at the bottom, glass in front of a light so that you can see what it looks like in the middle and small sheets at the top. This cabinet is approximately a quarter of that on display, and then you also had the bargain box!

I spent probably an hour looking at it all, before coming out with just three colours (one of which is clear!) for the design I have in my head. I still haven’t finalised it, but know essentially what I want and it is going to be quite simple. Saturday was the only day i could go to the shop, so it had to be done! I was originally going to go for reds, but didn’t want something too dark (hard to see where to cut!) and I couldn’t find two that i decided went very well together. I changed my mind and went for blue instead. My parents collect blue and white china of a particular design, so that would work. I bought water glass as that was relatively cheap. I also bought lead, despite not needing it for a few weeks.

Now I must really finish my design!

Halloween Necklaces

A lot of people have been crafting like mad for Halloween. I have seen amazing costumes and decorations whilst reading blows recently, but the whole Halloween thing virtually has passed me by. When I was little Halloween was thought of as an American thing, and when I was a student it was a good excuse for a party. However nowadays it is definitely getting bigger over here!

On Wednesday 31st October quite a few places are doing events. I wish I was little and able to take part in all the Halloween activities. A unique idea also happening that afternoon is live window modelling at Creative Crafts and Workshops. Adriana asked if I had any black or purple jewellery for them, so I raided my bead stash and made these:

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I seem to be making more long necklaces than shorter ones at the moment (I even sent Hannah one!). I hope the models like some of them enough to wear them, after all, they have a lot of wonderful things to choose from!

Another charity shop crochet find…

If you remember a few months ago I found the first issue of Art of Crochet in a charity shop. I thought it was a good bargain, but when they rereleased it a few months later I found that wasn’t such a bargain after all, as for the same price when new I would have also got a crochet hook and a dvd too. Oh well!

I often browse in charity shops if I have time when shopping. The town I live in is only three miles from Reading town centre with all of it’s shops, so our little town centre has a few essential shops and six (if you count the Oxfam and the Oxfam bookshop separately) charity shops. This is what I found in one of them recently:

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Whole balls of crochet wool all the way from South Africa! There were only these two colours at £1 a ball. They seemed quite Christmassy, so I now have both colours (leaving some red behind). What I am going to do with it, I don’t know yet, but I do have a size two crochet hook in my roll