Jul 29, 2011

A to Z of Crafts - N = Needlepoint

Needlepoint is a form of counted thread embroidery in which yarn is stitched through a stiff open weave canvas. Although needlepoint may be worked in a variety of stitches, many needlepoint designs use only a simple tent stitch.

The roots of needlepoint go back thousands of years to the ancient Egyptians who used small slanted stitches to sew up their canvas tents. Some needlepoint was found in the cave of a Pharaoh who had lived 1500 years before Christ. Modern needlepoint descends from the canvas work in tent stitch that was a popular domestic craft in the 16th century.

While traditionally needlepoint has been done to create a solid fabric, more modern needlepoint incorporates open canvas, techniques which allow some of the unstitched, or lightly stitched canvas to show through. Needlepoint continues to evolve as stitchers use new techniques and threads, and add applique or found materials.

Here are a few great examples of needlepoint work:

Jul 27, 2011

A to Z of Crafts - M = Mosaic

Mosaic is the art of creating images with an assemblage of small pieces of coloured glass, stone, or other materials. It may be a technique of decorative art, an aspect of interior decoration, or of cultural or spiritual significance.

The earliest known examples of mosaics made of different materials were found at a temple building in Mesopotamia and are dated to the 2nd half of the third millennium BC. Mosaics of the 4th century BC are found in the Macedonian city of Aegae and they enriched the floors of Hellenistic villas and Roman dwellings from Britain to Dura-Europos.

With the building of christian basilicas in the late 4th century, wall and ceiling mosaics were adapted for Christan uses. Christian mosaic art also flourished in Rome although the art gradually declined as conditions became more difficult in the Early Middle Ages.

These days the art of mosaic is once again flourishing as a popular craft - here are a few great examples of mosaic work that I have found:

Jul 25, 2011

Sunday Theme - Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

My theme this week is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in honour of my gorgeous dogs. The dog pictured above is Sasha, my youngest dog, although not for too much longer. She is currently six months old and is so full of fun. She certainly keeps myself and my older dog, Amber, on our toes. Sasha and Amber will, in a few weeks time, by joined by a black and tan puppy, born last Sunday. I'm eagerly counting down the weeks until she is old enough to join us, and trying to come up with a name for her in the meantime.

As a lover, and small time breeder of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, I always love to have a search and see what handmade items are out there that use the Cavalier as a theme. Here are a few great examples of what I found:

Jul 22, 2011

Friday Favourites


A to Z of Crafts - L = Lapidary

A lapidary is an artist or artisan stones, minerals or gemstones into decorative items such as engraved gems, cabochons and faceted designs. In modern contexts the term is most closely associated with jewellery and decorative household items.

Apart from figurative carving there are three broad categories of lapidary arts. These are the procedures of tumbling, cabochon cutting and faceting. Most lapidary work is done using motorised equipment and resin or metal boned diamond tooling is successfully decreasing particle sizes until a polish is achieved. Older techniques, still popular with hobbyists, used bonded grinding wheels of silicon carbide, with only using a diamond tipped saw.

Here are some great examples of lapidary work:


Jul 20, 2011

A to Z of Crafts - K = Knitting

Knitting has no doubt earned its place as one of the most popular and well known crafts that there is. Knitting can be done by hand, for which there exists numerous styles and methods, or more recently by machine. Knitted products can come in a variety of different feels and textures by changing the size of the needles and the type of yarn used.

The work knit is derived from the word knot, thought to originate from the Dutch verb knutten, which is similar to the Old English cnyttan, to knot. One of the earliest known examples of knitting was cotton socks with stranded knit colour patterns found in Egypt from the end of the first millennium AD. Originally a male-only occupation, the first knitting trade guild was started in Paris in 1527. With the invention of the kitting machine knitting became a leisure activity.

Knitting has gone into and out of fashion many times in the last two centuries and at the turn of the 21st century it is enjoying a revival. The current revival is less about the 'make do and mend' attitude and more about making a statement of individuality.

Here are some great knitted items by members of the Dust team:

Jul 17, 2011

Sunday Theme - Gold

Gold is a dense, soft, shiny metal and the most malleable metal known. Pure gold has an attractive bright yellow colour and lustre which, unlike other metals, does not oxidise in air and water. It has been a valuable and highly sought after precious metal for coinage, jewellery, and other arts since long before the beginning of recorded history.

Gold artifacts in the Balkans appear from the 4th millennium BC such as that found in the Varna Necropolis. Gold artifacts such as the golden hats and the Nebra disk appeared in central Europe from the 2nde millennium BC Bronze Age. Egyptian Hieroglyphs from as early as 2600 BC describe gold, which King Tushratta of the Mitanni claimed was more plentiful than dirt in Egypt. Gold is mentioned frequently in the Old Testament and was one of the gifts bought by the Magi in the New Testament.

The European exploration of the Americas was fuelled in no small part by reports of the gold ornaments displayed in great profusion by Native American peoples. The Aztecs regarded gold as literally the product of the gods. During the 19th century gold rushes occurred whenever large deposits of gold were discovered.

Because of its historically high value much of the gold mined throughout history is still in circulation in one form or another.
At the top of this post is the first necklace I made using gold fill wire - my Crystal Quartz and Gold Necklace

Here are some more great examples of the use of gold from members of the Jet team:

Snowflake Obsidian and Sterling Pendant

My latest pendant features the lovely stone - Snowflake Obsidian. It has been wire wrapped in sterling silver with the wires used to both enhance and decorate the stone.

The wires have been shaped around the stone with two wires on either side edging onto the stone for more effect. The wires then form a spiral above the stone, with wires coming from either side of the spiral then sweeping across the stone. These wires also create a heart shape around the central spiral.

Jul 14, 2011

A to Z of Crafts - J = Jewellery Making (No Surprise There!)

The word jewellery is derived from the word jewel which was anglicised from the Old French "jouel" circa the 13th century. Jewellery is one of the oldest forms of body adornment, recently found 100,000 year old beads made from Narssarius shells are thought to be the oldest known jewellery.

The first signs of jewellery came from the people in Africa where early beads were made from shells. Outside of Africa the Cro-Magnons had crude necklaces and bracelets of bone, teeth, berries and stone. The first signs of established jewellery making in Early Egypt were around 3,500-5,000 years ago. The Egyptians preferred the luxury, rarity and workability of gold over other metals. In conjunction with gold Egyptians used coloured glass and precious gems.

The Greeks started using gold and gems in jewellery in 1600 BC although beads shaped as shells and animals were produced widely in earlier times.The Romans used a diverse range of materials for their jewellery. Although they used gold they sometimes used bronze or bone, and in earlier times, glass beads and pearl.

The modern jewellery movement began in the late 1940s with a renewed interest in artistic and leisurely pursuits. The advent of new materials such as plastics, PMC and colouring techniques has led to increased variety in styles. Artisan jewellery continues to grow both as a hobby and as a profession.

Here are some pieces of jewellery from members of the Jet Team each showcasing different techniques:

Some More Offcuts

My Purple Jasper and Amethyst Wire Wrapped Earrings are another pair of earrings that I have made using offcut pieces of wire. This some time purple dyed Jasper has been treaded onto a central wire while two outer wires then encircle the bead, wrapped at either end. Loops are formed in the wires on either side of the wraps with the top loop used for the earring wire while the bottom loop has been used for suspending an amthyst bead.

I have created this style of earring before and really love it because I feel it has a real regency feel to it.

Jul 12, 2011

A to Z of Crafts - I = Illustration

An illustration is a displayed visualisation such as a drawing, painting or photograph that is used to display sensual information (such as a story, poem or newspaper article) with a visual portrayal.

The earliest forms of illustration were prehistoric cave paintings. Before the invention of the printing press, books, such as Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts, were hand illustrated. Illustration has been used in China and Japan since the 8th century, traditionally by creating woodcuts to accompany writing. During the 15th century books illustrated with woodcut illustrations became available. The American Golden Age of Illustrations lasted from the 1880s until shortly after World War 1.

Today there is a growing interest in collecting and admiring original artwork that was used as illustrations in books, magazines, posters etc. In the visual art world illustrators have sometimes been considered less important in comparison with fine artists and graphic designers but illustration is now becoming a valued, popular and profitable art form.

Here are some great examples of illustrations from members of the BrisStyle team:

Jul 8, 2011

A to Z of Crafts - H = Hardstone Carving

Hardstone carving is the general term for the carving for artistic purposes of semi-precious stones such as Jade, Rock Crystal, agate, onyx, jasper, and for an object made in this way. Normally the objects are small and the category overlaps with both jewellery and sculpture.

From the Neolithic period until about the 19th century such objects were among the most highly prized in a wide variety of cultures. The types of objects carved have included those ritual or religious purposes, engraved gems as signet rings and other kinds of seal, handles, belt hooks and similar items, vessels and purely decorative objects.

The art is very ancient going back to the Indus Valley Civilisation (3300-1300 BCE) and beyond. Chinese Jade carving can be found from the Neolithic Lianzhu culture (3400 - 2250 BCE) onwards. From the early civilizations of the near East descended the carving of vessels and small statues in Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, and subsequent western art. One of the most notable producers of hard stone carving was Faberge who made his reputation with small hardstone figures of animals and people, and small vases with a few flowers.

Here are some great examples of Hard Stone Carving that I have found:

Jul 6, 2011

BiDM - Saturday 9th July

The count down is well and truly on now for the next BrisStyle Indie Designers Market which kicks off in Racecourse Road, Hamilton at 9.00am on Saturday 9th July. Please click the above link to get a taste of all the fabulous Designers who will have a stall at this month's market.

I will have some more rings in my new range of sterling silver squiggly ring, already proving to be popular at the markets that I have attended recently, as well as some new cabochon rings, plenty of new earring styles, several new bangles and necklaces, as well as a vastly expanded range of my very popular V style earrings. I hope to see you all there. In the meantime please see below for a small taste:

A to Z of Crafts - G = Glass Blowing

Glass blowing is a glass forming technique that involves inflating molten glass into a bubble with the aid of a blowpipe or blow tube.

The technique of glass blowing was invented by the Phoenicians in approx 50BC. The earliest evidence of glass blowing comes from a collection of waste from a glass workshop dumped in a ritual bath in the old city of Jerusalem from 37 to 4 BC. Glass blowing was encouraged under Roman rule from the first century BC and this helped to see the art spread across the Roman Empire. Rome, the heart of the empire soon became a major glass blowing centre. A great variety of glass blown objects were produced, from perfume bottles, to table wear, to windows.

The glass blowing tradition was carried on in Europe from the Medieval period, through the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. The applicability of glass blowing became so widespread that glass was being blown in many parts of the world including China, Japan and the Islamic Lands.

The "Studio Glass Movement" began in 1962 when Harvey Littleton and Dominick Labino held two workshops at the Toledo Museum of Art during which they started experimenting with melting glass in a small furnace and creating blown glass art. Littleton promoted the use of small furnaces in individual artists studios. This approach to glass blowing blossomed into a worldwide movement.

Here are some great examples I have found of glass blown pieces on Etsy:

Jul 5, 2011

A Bit of Fancy

The star of my new wired bangle, Eudialyte and Garnet Fancy Wired Bangle, is most definitely the stone. I fell in love with the Eudialyte gemstone the minute I saw it with its gorgeous deep red markings. Eudialtye, as I discovered, is a fairly rare gemstone originally discovered in Greenland, but now more commonly mined in Russia.

I decided to set the stone into a bangle, and decided to use a fancy wire setting for the stone. Trialling various other gemstones, and even crystals against the Eudialyte I decided that the Garnets were the stone that produced the best match and that most complimented the Eudialyte.

I then used both sterling and 14k gold fill wire for the bangle which I then set the stone into. The wires that set the stone were then used to create spirals and swirls and also to add the garnets. The sides of the bangle were then shaped to give some balance against the focal.


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