This page has moved to a new address.

Glittering Shards

Glittering Shards: August 2009

Glittering Shards

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Eco-dying your own fabric in 5 minutes!

One of the famous Liberty Print fabrics

Last Sunday we went to one of our local 'beauty spots' that we go to lots. Merton Abbey Mills is a lovely permanent market near the river Wandle, based on the site of an old (now buried) ancient abbey and also the place where William Morris (founder of the Arts and Crafts movement) made his famous Liberty fabrics. So much history all in one place.

An organisation called River and Cloth is running projects to re-discover how the fabrics were dyed. It was here that I discovered this very simple and quick way of dying your own fabrics to make gorgeous patterns - and also an ideal craft activity for even young children. If you visit the River and Cloth website there are loads of factsheets on this and other eco-dying methods.

Hapa-zome eco-dying method

Here's what you do:

Get a piece of plain calico (or similar).

Gather leaves and flowers - you will need to experiment as some work better than others. Check out the River and Cloth website factsheets.

Place pieces of leaves, flowers, stalks etc... on one half of the calico.

Fold the other half of the fabric over the flowers and leaves

Using a rubber mallet (or something similar, guess a stone will do!), bash the flowers and leaves so that the colour seeps into the fabric. You will need to experiment with the amount of pressure.

Open up your material and admire your work!

When it is totally dry, iron the material (removing any remaining bits of plant). This will fix the plant dye.

The results are beautiful. I am told it will fade a bit with washing but I am intending to turn mine into a cushion cover so won't wash very much. I have to add that I have never made a cushion cover before and sewing is not a huge strength of mine! I am eagerly awaiting Amanda Soule's 'Handmade Home' - her new book, which Amazon tells me will arrive on Tuesday. Hurray! Maybe there will be simple instructions on cushion making there...if not, if anyone has a link, I'd be glad to know.

Have fun printing your own fabrics!


Friday, August 28, 2009

Making Mosaics with Children Part Six - suncatchers

This is a lovely toddler mosaic method we have tried out that has produced a beautiful suncatcher. Like the other mosaics in this series, it easy for little toddlers as well as slightly older children to do.

You will need:

  • a picture frame with glass (not perspex as it will flex and the nuggets may pop off). We used cheap IKEA ones. They have bendy metal clasps in the wood of the frame so that when the back is removed, the glass can still be kept in place with the clasps.
  • glass nuggets
  • PVA (white children's) glue
  • Two small hooks
  • String for hanging

Take the back out of the frame so that it is clear glass and the light can shine through

Spread glue quite thickly on the glass. Or if you want to be tidy (depending on the age of the children doing it!) the glue can be spread on the back of each nugget.

Place your glass nuggets on the glass. When the glue dries (a few days) it will go clear.

Isabella couldn't resist and added pieces to the frame too!

When it is dry, attach the small hooks on the side of the frame and attach hanging string (we used see through thread).

If you have a rock tumbler you can also tumble small pieces of stained glass to take away the sharp edges and use these for this suncatcher mosaic project. That is what we are going to try next with my new rock tumbler I have bought for £10!

The finished sunchatcher looks so effective and has very different effects at different times of day - a lovely addition to our kitchen. Isabella beamed from ear to ear when she came home yesterday and saw it hanging there! Lovely, lovely.

Sun catcher at night!

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Making Mosaics with Children Part Five

I have been working extremely hard trying to finish a piece for the exhibition - the pieces will be hung next Wednesday. In the spaces in between, Isabella and I have worked on her mosaic projects too (she jumps up and down with excitement when I suggest that we do some mosaics together!) and she has made three lovely pieces of her own. We have experimented with three new methods of these that I will present on this blog over the next few days.

This project involves replicating the idea of cement adhesive to push mosaic pieces (tesserae) into. Instead of using cement, we used air drying clay ('das').

You will need some air drying clay and 'tesserae' of your choice. Isabella used shells and beads, but you can use a wide range of things - for a list of the things you can use to make children's mosaics see my previous post (titled 'Making Mosaics with Children Part Two').

Roll out the clay. Make sure it is thick enough so that pieces can be pushed in sufficiently to hold (say half an inch).

Cut the clay into the shape you want - we made a rectangle. Use a piece of straw to make a hole for hanging the finished piece.

The tesserae can now be pushed into the clay to make the mosaic picture. The beauty of using the clay is that you can create lovely effects by putting pieces in at different angles and heights - you can see how Isabella chose to put some of her shells in vertically which looks lovely and creates shadows as you walk past it.

We will definitely be trying this method again with different types of tiles - it has worked really well and is very easy for even young children to do.

Labels: , ,

Monday, August 24, 2009

Passing it on

Friends kept asking me to run a workshop to teach them how to mosaic - this is something I have thought about doing and the request focused my mind and helped me turn the thought into action!

Two weeks into the workshops (nice small class due to size of my workshop)and I am watching, quite amazed, at how my 'students' are getting the mosaic bug and in many ways jumping straight into thinking about mosaics in quite an advanced way. They have really got the thing that the materials make their design evolve and all three are spending time playing with, tilting and manoeuvring a range of materials to see what effects they can create. I am seriously impressed. They have been off to buy materials from rock shops and tile shops (we are lucky to be in the same town as Udny's) and are considering a range of materials from vitreous and ceramic tiles, to beads, china, van gogh glass, slate, stained glass, mirror and bits of dolls! Two of them are also going for ungrouted mosaics with cement so that they can create texture and 3d effects. Wow!

Labels: , ,

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Getting ready for the exhibition

The group show I am organising with a group of other south London mosaic artists is fast approaching and there has been a lot of frenetic preparation going on. Our lovely publicity has arrived - above is a picture of the front of the card!

I have been finishing off pieces - grouting, framing, painting the backs of pieces. It's all very exciting. Here is a sculptural piece going in the exhibition, called "skygazer".

For any of you in or near London during September, the exhibition is from 5- 27th Sept (open Thursdays to Sundays) at the Jeannie Avent gallery in East Dulwich. I have created a web site where you can get more details and see the profile of all the other artists participating. It is at Hope to see you there!


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Creative Evenings

For the last few months, several local mums and I have met in my workshop to sit and 'make' together. Everyone just brings something that they want to work with - paints, paper, canvases, needlework, beads, mosaic... we have done all of these.

Vicky, our neighbour and friend, has re-discovered her creative talents and has painted these beautiful watercolours which she is rightly, very proud of.

As a mum, I know how important creativity and making is for me - as an outlet for my talents that can easily get buried in the busyness of parenting, as self-expression and to create space for 'me'. Vicky has also found a real satisfaction in showing her talents to her daughter, who is discovering that there is more to mummy than she may have previously noticed! I know that this form of modelling is also a hugely important thing to me - I want my children to grow up in an environment that is full of creativity and the satisfaction that comes from making more than buying.

Labels: ,

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday thoughts

I thought this was very beautiful. It comes from the inward/outward daily mailings that you can subscribe to at inward/outward.
Wage Peace

Judyth Hill

Wage peace with your breath.
Breathe in firemen and rubble,
breathe out whole buildings
and flocks of redwing blackbirds.
Breathe in terrorists and breathe out sleeping children
and freshly mown fields.
Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.
Breathe in the fallen
and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.
Wage peace with your listening:
hearing sirens, pray loud.
Remember your tools:
flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.
Make soup.
Play music, learn the word for thank you in three languages.
Learn to knit, and make a hat.
Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,
imagine grief as the outbreath of beauty
or the gesture of fish.
Swim for the other side.
Wage peace.
Never has the world seemed so fresh and precious.
Have a cup of tea and rejoice.
Act as if armistice has already arrived.
Don't wait another minute.

Source: Written in response to September 11, 2001

Add your thoughts at inward/outward

Saturday, August 15, 2009

In the spirit of things

One of my big motivations is finding use for things that may otherwise get thrown away. In that spirit, here is a new project I started this week, to turn some dragonfly lights that no longer work (thanks to the squirrels!) into beautiful, shiny, mosaic dragonflies for the garden.

The old dragonflies have a lot of flex so the first step I have taken is to cover them in Mod Rok (known as Rigid Wrap in the USA) to get rid of the flex. The next step will be to give them a coating of cement to make them ready for the outdoors, then mosaic away. I will of course post the finished beauties.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pre-schooler mosaic stars finished!

Some of you have been following the 'Mosaics with Children' series I started a few weeks ago. There will be more to come in the next few weeks, but in the meantime, here's a pic of the mosaic stars that I helped a bunch of toddlers make at their pre-school (which is a little Montessori nursery where my children go). They are hung in the sleep room and the whole ceiling is now covered with these beautiful stars hanging (and hopefully helping the little ones on their way to their post lunch nap!)


Sunday, August 09, 2009

Oh I DO like to be beside the seaside

Picked from our friends garden on holiday and made into crumble (yum!)

Back from our week at the sea. I needed more faith - the wellies and mack's were unnecessary - we had warmth and sun almost every day. And, oh how lovely it was to be by the sea again. The sea is in my soul from childhood having a week of the smells, sounds and feel of sand and sea has been blissful.

As soon as I hit the beach, my search for beautiful pebbles began - it is so instinctive, I have been doing this for years and years. Examining stones for the shades in colour that are so easy to disregard because they are 'just pebbles'. Several years ago I brought 11 kilos of pebbles back from a Greek Island - mad I know - but there were white ones, grey ones, sand ones and then those that were tinged with green, pink, purple. I made an amazing garden table from them, unfortunately without the level of technical knowledge that I have now so it only lasted a few years.

The mosaic itch didn't leave me this week either - I thought it would be nice to make our friends, the Sandersons, a thank you mosaic for letting us use their house, with pebbles from the beach (and an old paving slab I found at the bottom of their garden!).

Here it is, and a few holiday snaps:

Toby playing with Drackshan at the seaside

Isabella hiding behind daddy so the waves wouldn't get her!

Toby doesn't care, he just turns and runs!

Labels: , ,

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Face painting

There will be radio silence for the next week as off on holiday (to the British seaside, God help us! Macks, wellies and windbreak are packed!)

Here's a parting creative snapshot of the kids doing face painting - this activity absorbed them like two little cherubs for over half an hour of serious concentration. First I did Isabella's face, then she did Toby's and lastly they did their own 'babies'. Now, check out the last photo and spot the difference - look closely at the dolly's faces. When godmother Ju Ju saw this, she couldn't stop laughing!

Da da! Didn't we do a good job?!