Sunday, 25 January 2015

City and guilds

As I come to the end of my three years studying with the City Guilds, with Artybirdcarnforth I know that I am keeping up a family tradition. I did not know this when I started. In the 1940s , after the war, when my Grandfather was no longer working in munitions , he returned to his profession as a dental technician by studying with the City and Guilds. He had kept his hand in with his profession during the war by making false teeth at the kitchen table, which was Ilegal at that time - hard to imagine that now !

My and my grandfather.

In the 1960s my mother who was a health professional , who had always had an interest in dressmaking and dress design , studied advanced dressmaking and design with the City and Guilds in Liverpool. She recalls a 6 hour practical exam while she was 7 months pregnant with my sister. That sounds a bit like a very hard version of the Sewing Bee. Her father was extremely proud that she also got a City and Guild qualification.

So what is this , City and Guilds , organization ?. Well a a little research shows their motto is " Believe you can ". I had no idea but I love the power of this motto.

Today the City and Guilds organization is a global leader in skills development offering 500 courses and operating in 81 countries . Founded in 1878 in London with the aim of improving the education of craftsmen , technicians , technologists and engineers. They wanted to create a institution in London and a system of qualifying examinations. In this respect I think , they have had a significant effect on the system of qualifications in the UK and probably the world , and the fact they still exist after nearby 150 years is amazing. Today 2 million people each year start City and Guilds qualifications.

So I am proud , and quite emotional in reality, to be part of this 2 million and to have kept up the family tradition.


Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Felted jewellery

Over the last few months I have quite some surprising success selling my felted jewellery. My pieces have been sold through Box of Beautiful Things, based in Carnforth , UK. I had made two collections , one using some shetland tweed and one based around turquoise beads.

Here's an example of the shetland tweed pieces.

I love the ridged effect you get as the shetland tweed is forced to shrink into the wool fibres.

The turquoise beads were matched simply with black fibres and some turquoise threads.

Now I need to make some replacement pieces. As usual my ideas change and I thought I should try and make something lighter and more summery. I therefore decided to start using some indian silk, I bought in Mumbai in 2013.

Pieces are still being made , but here a glimpse of work so far


Sunday, 11 January 2015

An old grey bag

At Woolfest in 2013 I bought some Gotland fibre . Beautiful carded batts in soft grey shades. Just perfect for a sturdy bag. Which I made and actually wrote 2 blog's about !!! Well I have to now be honest, this bag was not so good really as it was very thin across the bottom and a bit floppy.

For 18 months it's hung on my studio door handle , looking sad, and has never been allowed outside. So I decided to revamp it . I soaked it for a couple of days , and started re fulling. In a gentle sympathetic way you understand, not throwing it at the floor. Persuading it to shrink where it wanted it too.

I quickly cured the thin bottom , and then further shrunk the whole bag to give a more sturdy felt, it reduced in size by about another 15% . My records are a big thin but overall it has now shrunk about 40% Which I think is still debatable for a hardwearing felt . What do you think ? It has turned from a shopping size bag to a large handbag sized bag .

I decided to fit magnetic fasteners for security and remodeled it with more curves. A slimmer and firmer version all round. I even gave it a shave before it faced the world again.

Here is the new version.

And just for information here is the old one, looking strangely sepia!