September 10, 2013

Jewellry Projects

From the age of 10 to my late teens, I made most of the jewelry I wore. I loved making friendship bracelets, bracelets with my name on it with little alphabet beads and macrame necklaces.

Ten years ago I began seriously investing in good quality beads to string jewelry as a way to make some money during my summer's home from university. I had a little fan base of women who loved what I was making and would buy up every piece, but it just wasn't practical to keep it up at uni and later in my interning years.

Since my Mo'ma's visit in July I've been making a lot of jewelry. I have had constant deliveries from the states full of jewelry making supplies and I am really excited about projects I have planned. I wanted to learn wire wrapping and knocked out my first project in about five hours and I really love it.

I had to relearn simple loops to make earrings with headpins as I haven't made any jewelry since migrating to the UK. I have been sketching out ideas for bead loomed projects, more wire wrapping including a ring!

I am considering taking a silversmithing class in the next few months as a lot of the jewelry I want to make will require a bit of soldering. Mo'ma (pronounced like the Museum of Modern Art because my husband's Scottish tongue doesn't allow him to say momma with a southern twang) makes her own glass beads in her home studio in Florida and I'd like to work with her beads in my own jewelry. She doesn't think her beads are good enough to sell online, but I really disagree.

Mo'ma makes beautiful glass beads that she fires in her own kiln and I think between us Anderson Women we can make some nice pieces. In fact most of my family has the jewelry making bug including my 18 year-old nephew who made my mom an amazing necklace out of chainmail.

I will hopefully have a lot of pieces to put up here in the next few months in my attempt to have jewelry to go with all my outfits.

August 27, 2013

Playing Catch-Up

I know, I know, it's been way too long. Four wholes months have passed since my last post and to recap what's been going on I have compiled a series of lists.

Here goes:

Number of Holidays Went On:    1 

My mom and her partner Gregg came over in July for two weeks and in that time we all fly up to Edinburgh and spent a few days doing touristy things and visiting old friends. Then we rented a car and I drove up to the highlands. I booked a remote cottage in the middle of the Glencoe mountains and my in-laws ventured down from further north to meet us for a few days. 

We had an amazing time staying smack-dab in the middle of the most stunning mountains I have ever seen. We celebrated the 4th of July grilling hot dogs and burgers in the Highland rain with haggis, neeps and tatties. It was a very odd mix but it worked! Then we can back down to England… boo.

Number of Books Read:    6

Wildwood, Under Wildwood, Where'd You Go, Bernadette?, The Penderwicks at Point Mouette, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Penelope

Number of Horrible Job Interviews:    1 

No comment.

Number of Exotic Animals I've Cuddled:     1 Troop

I went to Colchester Zoo to photograph the Director. We wanted to get photos of him with animals and he took me in to the Lemur enclosure. I didn't realize we'd be right in among them and I was blown away by the critters!! They have the softest pads on their paws. I was in love!!

Number of Crafty Things I've Made:    7+

My mother's visit rekindled my love of jewellery making while she was here and I've played around with a few pieces (see next post) while planning some cool ones. Did you know my mother is super talented and makes her own glasses beads at her house in Florida.

Number of Music Festivals Attended:    1ish

I've only paid to go to one festival, Field Day, in London back in May, but I have covered a few for work. Billy's best mate Brian and his boyfriend Matt came over from Belfast for the weekend so it was really fun! Oh and I got to see Animal Collective for the first time. Here's a little Su fact: I picked one of their songs to walk "down the aisle" to at my wedding.

Number of Sick Days:    2 1/2

I came down with some bug the week after mom's left and I chalk it up to all the traveling I did and forgetting to take my vitamins regularly.

Number of Buildings I've Scaled:     1

I went to photograph the mayor of Colchester abseiling down Town Hall for charity one Sunday. I asked to take photos from the top 100 feet up in the air and they had to strap me in to get the shoots. After I was done they said they quickest way down was to climb down the facade. Without hesitation I said "YES!" and proceeded to learning how to do it while passing my camera gear off to one of the men in charge. 

Lets say I've never done anything like this and I thought I had to keep my feet on building and when I came down a ledge my feet came away and my shoulder hit the building while the crowd collectively sucked in a breath. But I'm alive and I did it before the mayor! 

Number of Athletic Pursuits:    3 (almost 4)

I am super in to cycling these days. Billy and I try and get out on our bikes as much as possible during the week and we average a ten mile ride at the weekend. I want to work up to a huge cycling trip next year. I am also really loving pilates. I am going once a week now but I think I'd like to up it to two to really see the benefits. Apart from going to the gym (not as regularly as I should) I am starting a yoga class next week too.

Number of times I went to write a blog post and then procrastinated:    87

April 18, 2013

Pillow Talk- Final Quilt & Finished Bedroom

1) Patchwork quilt

It took me a year but I’ve finally finished my patchwork quilt. It was the first project I undertook to make over our bedroom and the last thing to be finished

I used this pattern, which was really easy to follow and nicely laid out with a ton of photos. I’d highly recommend it to others and I only went off the pattern twice. I didn’t buy all my fabric at once; instead I bought multiple fat quarters here and there which resulted in some patches not being repeated throughout the quilt. I don’t mind this too much though because I think it looks more like a vintage quilt like the kind women used to make with scraps and old clothes. 

I don’t think I really realized how much work I had to put in to this sucker. Cutting into squares, piecing them together, and resewing the pieces that I messed up. I cut some of the squares badly resulting in some of the squares not matching up. I finally got the top finished in November, but I had to wait ages to buy the wadding (£40), the walking foot (£30) and then the back fabric (£50 for white fabric!!). 

I really disliked the sandwiching process. All the flipping safety pins did my head in and I ran out half way through. I had to roll the whole thing back up and repeat the process with other pins. Note- I first bought fancy safety pins that were curved especially for quilting. When I ran out I bought super cheap normal pins for a fraction of the cost and they worked just as good as the expensive ones.

I CAN NOT sew straight lines to save my life. I quilted one side first and half way through I realized I was actually enjoying myself. I entertained myself with episodes of the Walking Dead and Molly Ringwald movies and got on with it. I originally planned on using extra fabric to bind the quilt but on second decided to go with a solid blue. I wanted a dark blue, but on the day I went the shop didn’t have any so I settled for a light blue.

Here is where I went off pattern the first time. I absolutely refuse to hand stitch the binding. I absolutely hate hand stitching! I find it annoying and boring and bleck. Instead I watched many you tube videos on machine binding and it was pretty easy. I don’t mind have a top stitch on the binding and I actually think it goes with the quilt just fine.

The second time I went off pattern came at the end. When every thing was done I was supposed to stick it in the washing machine and then the dryer. Well, I wasn’t in the mood to take my hard work and wash it immediately so I decided I’d do this step when the quilt gets dirty. And besides, in the UK our washing machines are tiny and have really bad dryers built in.

All in all I’m super chuffed with my quilt and I’m really proud of myself. My mom’s first quilt still sits undone from when I was small. I think my grandma would be pleased with me even though she’d probably think I’m a heathen. Its okay, you can still use quilts in hell! 

2) Curtains
I made these curtains myself without a pattern. I got the fabric on the sale table at the fabric shop and had it sitting under my bed for months. When I got my headboard and side table I decided it was time to get going on the curtains.

I laid the fabric next to the existing curtains that came with the flat and then I cut them out, did a basic hem and added the curtain stuff at top. I don’t know what it is called but it has a series of strings that you pull to give the nice pleated affect. All in all it took an hour to make then and they really cut out the light and since they were super thick they didn’t need to be lined.

3) Embroidery and cross stitch

These are blogged about here.

4) Side table
I am so kicking myself that I didn’t take a before picture of this side table. It was a hot mess when I found it at this charity shop in town. I bought it for £20 and spent about £5 fixing it up. Before it was an faded white with a really disgusting mauve velvet underneath the glass on top. I had been looking for a nightstand and this, despite its state at the time, totally fit the bill. I wanted a concealed area where I could put extra books, magazines and my earplugs, which I’ve slept with every night since living in Edinburgh where empty lorries would barrel down the road to the brewery at 5 am everyday.

I dismantled the glass on top and took off the fabric revealing an unfinished top and then I painted the whole thing in a Habitat paint called mustard. It took two of the little pots of paints to cover the wicker, as it was difficult to get through all the layers.

While at Homebase buying my paint I looked for contact paper that I was going to use for the top under the glass, but its not that big in the UK. I ended up in the wallpaper aisle and I tore a small amount of wallpaper from the sample (they let you do this for free so you can take it home and see if it is right for the wall). It was also from the Habitat line so the colours matched perfectly. I do not feel guilty about doing this because people take loads of samples they don’t end up buying and the man who worked there said I could take as much as I wanted.

I ended up using the wallpaper on the top and on the back wall so that you can see it through the opening. I kept the plastic rope trimming that originally covered where the nails secured the fabric. I almost tossed it out because it was spray painted a horrible gold colour but after giving it a wash and a coat of mustard paint it was good as new. I also kept the originally knob and coated it in the paint and let it hang upside down on a clothespin that had a suction cup attached. I was really happy with how this project came out and I honestly think it was one of my best diy projects to date.

5) Picture frames

While at Homebase I perused the sale rack and found some frames. They were an unfortunate burgundy colour and therefore super cheap. I took them home, sanded them and painted them in the same Mustard and threw some black and white prints I had in my huge print bin and viola- instant art.

The other frame holds a print from an English artist that Billy and I like and my darling husband surprised me on one of my weekends I worked. When I came home he bought two prints and painted the frames and they were hanging in our room.

6) Bed Frame

While at the charity shop buying my side table I spotted this vintage wicker headboard hanging on the wall covered in the shop’s jewelry. I had already purchased my table when I caught site of the headboard and my jaw dropped. I had been looking for something like this FOR-EVER! I had intended on making my own headboard from this amazing (seriously this woman is incredibly inspiring) blog but had failed to source peg board, which is non-existent in UK home improvement stores.

But when I saw this I had to have it. The bad thing is my husband was not going to let me get two pieces at once despite my juvenile pleading. I think it was £20 but I can’t remember for sure. I knew that I would of paid more for it even though it was missing some pieces of spirals.

I spent the rest of my weekend on my side table and when Monday rolled around, my husband was sick of me whining about the headboard and he told be to go and get it if it was still there. Obviously it was, but the staff was none too happy to clear off all the jewelry to get to the head board. It was a bit of a disaster really.

I didn’t get to work on it till a few weeks later but I did try it out and it fits our bed frame perfectly! Honestly it fits like a glove. When I examined the head board more closely I realized it was really in bad shape. I went into my tool box and got out my wood glue and masking tape and went to work fixing spirals that were hanging on by a thread, breaking off pieces that didn’t have matching counterparts and using those to replace other missing pieces. It took awhile but the glue was super sturdy and the head board looks almost perfect.

I used a midnight blue I picked using a scrap piece of curtain fabric and it matches quite nicely. I am so happy with my head board!

February 28, 2013

Developing B&W Negatives

I finally purchased the chemicals I needed to develop black and white negatives. On Monday I processed a roll of 35 mm from a trip to Cambridge last year and two medium format rolls shot with my Hasselblad a few weekends ago in Felixstowe.

When I was a teenager, developing negatives was my least favorite part of hand development. The agitation with my old tanks used to do my head in but now I have better tanks and all, with darkroom gear super cheap these days, I have all the bells and whistles to make it a bit easier. And now with the stopwatch feature on my iPhone its a cinch. I'm even thinking about putting together a basic tutorial on how-to develop the negs for my photo blog.

You can see the rest on my photo website or on Flickr.


Also, my quilt is nearing completion. I had to wait ages for my walking foot to come in at my local sewing shop and I ordered my wadding (or batting in the US) on line. Now all I need is my backing material and thread, which I'm hoping to pick up this weekend.

I think I am going to end up getting plain white backing material as I can't find any fabric used in the patchwork that is wide enough (or cheap enough) and I'm still not sure how I will bind it. Hopefully it will be done soon and I will have a lovely post for my neglected blog.