Lutradur Lampshade

While I was working on the Lutradur Michaelmas Daisies recently I realised that the semi transparent nature of the Lutradur fabric meant that it would probably be great for making lampshades.  I felt quite excited by the idea of attempting a lampshade – quite a challenge and all that lovely problem solving is good for the creative soul!

I headed for the local charity shops to buy a small drum shaped lampshade.  It had definately seen better days.  I didn’t get a photograph.  It was so dusty that I threw it straight into the kitchen sink for a good wash  even though I was about to take it to pieces.

Removing the fabric was easy.  Removing the glue from the frame proved to be difficult.  I tried very soapy water, neat washing up liquid and a pan scrubber, nail polish remover and surgical spirit.  The glue stuck fast.  Finally, I found something that worked; WD40 (or UB40 as it’s known in our house).

Next, I cut the Lutradur.  I measured the fabric I’d removed, adding enough for the seam allowance and tothe overlap around the frame.  The Lutradur was coloured with inktense and the stitching commenced.  I used the same die cutter for the flowers as I’d used previously for the Michaelmas Daisies.

Once the stitching was complete I used Wilko’s Fabric Glue to glue the seam and to stick the fabric onto the frame (two rings, one normal ring and the other with spokes and a light fitting).  This was the tricky part.  The lutradur is fairly open, and the glue did go through in places.  Luckily it dries clear.  It took about 40 mins to dry the seam (holding it in place initially was awkward and I ended up with more glue on my fingers than on the seam).  I used pegs to hold the fabric and glue over the rings.  This is the final result (no lamp, just a small LED battery operated light):

Michaelmas daisy lampshadeAs a first attempt I managed to solve some problems and to actually produce a lampshade.  However, the Lutraur is not quite strong enough to hold the firm shape required for the lampshade.  In retrospect I think I should have used some lampshade pvc, though this seems to be quite expensive.  I’m going to think this one over for a little while, maybe an alternative will come to mind.  Can anyone suggest another fabric please?


Crawling Back to Creativity

Though I haven’t posted for a while, I’m pleased to report that I have recently managed to get back into stitching.  Last week I gave a talk to Huddersfield Embroiderer’s Guild.  I was asked to talk about computers and embroidery.  I agreed to do it not only because it was a great opportunity, but also because I knew it meant I would have to finish some pieces, create a few new ones, and make them presentable i.e. I would have to frame them too.

Firstly, I finally finished the poppies.  Originally the stems were too thin.  I added thicker stems (by stitching down thicker yarns) and they just looked false.  I removed them and added more stitching, particularly pink down the side of the stems.  Here’s the finished picture:

poppies blogThe following piece was inspired by Warm Tides by Sharon Cummings.  I loved the colours and the apparent movement in the original.  As part of my distance learning machine embroidery course I was required to use bonding techniques.  I used dyed and painted strips as the basis of the work, then attempted to use the machine stitching to give the impression of movement:

warm tides stitchedI also stitched a few more leaves (one of my favourite subjects).  The first one was inspired by a leaf I dried long ago.  I drew the outline, then a border, and added the word leaf.  The stitching was freemotion ‘go with the flow’:

Leaf 1 blogThe second leaf was based on a photograph I took some time ago:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I used photoshop to find the oultines and made a print.  The print was painted with transfer dyes, and the image transferred onto polyester fabric.  Lots of machine embroidery followed:

leaf 2 blogFor the next piece, Michaelmas Daisies, I used lutradur and a die cutter.  The lutradur was coloured with Lyra Aquarelle, then stitched:

Lutradur and die cut michaelmas daisies blogI liked the translucent nature of the lutradur when it was held up to the light. I’ve already bought a small, second hand  lampshade so that I can take it to pieces and then hopefully create something special.  Let’s hope it doesn’t take quite so long.

Ziggy Stardust

I was so shocked to hear the sad news about the death of David Bowie this week.  As a seventies teenager I spent many happy hours singing along to David’s songs.  After wandering around for days feeling as though there was something I should do, I finally realised what it was.  I allowed Ziggy to possess my mind, my hands and my sewing machine.  This is the result:

Ziggy Stardust Julie Broad

Long live Ziggy Stardust!

Recycling Wallpaper

You may remember that some time ago I had collected wallpaper samples to use in a collage project with children at Rabbit Ings.  The leftover samples have been bumbling around my craft space and annoying me ever since.  It was time to do something with them.

For some time I’ve been promising myself that I’d do some weaving. I’m going to point the finger at Irene Donovan for origin of the weaving idea.  Irene has produced some beautiful woven wall hangings, and ever since I saw them I’ve wanted to bring weaving into my little craft world.   There was something else I’d seen too.  Ages ago I went to Holmfirth.  I visited the Up Country shop and saw some amazing woven cardboard baskets.  I managed to get hold of some corrugated cardboard last week, but I wanted to try out the technique before cutting the cardboard.

I’d found this tutorial by The Frugal Crafter (Lindsey Weirich has some wonderful craft ideas).  I didn’t particularly want to have to get out the paints to cover newspaper at this point, so I looked for an alternative coloured paper that I could use.  I realised I could use up the wallpaper samples that were rolling around the house.  They were thicker than newspaper, would produce a sturdy basket, and I could select colour combinations from those available.  I wanted to weave square or rectangular baskets, something I could use in my pantry to hold the small bags of dried fruit, nuts and various sachets that tend to fall off the shelves.  A bit more searching and I found another tutorial by Lisa on

The wallpaper was cut into 4 inch wide strips.  Each strip was folded to produce a 1 inch strip (fold in half, open and fold the edges into the middle, then fold again so that each strip is 1 inch wide).  Then it was just a matter of weaving the base (the baskets are 6 x 6 strips) and gluing with pva along the way.  Three more strips were used to weave the sides (pegs are really useful for holding the strips while the glue sets) and finaly the top edge strips were cut to about 1/2 inch long and a final strip placed over the top of them.  These are the baskets I made:

woven wallpaper basket 1 woven wallpaper basket 2 woven wallpaper basket 3 woven wallpaper basket 4Thought the baskets are not perfect squares, they are perfect for the job I need them to do.  After a few trials the fiddly process became easier.  I’m still building up to using the corrugated cardboard though.

I also managed to complete a folder cover inspired by Anne Brooke.  Strips of torn wallpaper were glued onto a background of brown paper and stitched:

stitched wallpaper picture 1A layer of leaves were stitched onto the background:

stitched wallpaper picture 2And a second layer of leaves:

stitched wallpaper picture 3Flower petals were added and stitched:

stitched wallpaper picture 4Finally the piece was cut (about half an inch longer than the folder top to bottom, and each edge folded inside the folder by abouallowing about 6 inches) to fit a folder .  The edges were stitched, and the edges were again folded in and stitched in place so that it would would fit over a folder.  This is the front:

stitched wallpaper picture 5And here is the back:

stitched wallpaper picture 6Easy!

Thankfully my craft space and my pantry are a little tidier.  I’m now wondering what to do next.  Maybe it’s time to get back to the machine embroidery course.

September Foraging and Preserving


This month my focus has shifted onto food.  September is a great month for foraging and making preserves, though I hadn’t made jam for years.  I have a vague memory of making jam with my mum years ago, going through the process of boiling the fruit and sugar, skimming, testing for set in a saucer filled with cold water etc.  I also made several batches of jam about 5 years ago.  The first was a ‘hedgerow’ jam; a mixture of whatever fruits were available.  My friend Sandra proclaimed that it was the best jam she had ever tasted.  She took the whole batch and said ‘I hope you have the recipe’.  Of course I didn’t.  I followed up with a small batch of Lavender Jelly, which also went down really well.  Unfortunately everything then went down hill.  I made mint jelly, which no-one really enjoyed, and finally I made more fruit jam (I think it was plums) which tasted of burnt sugar (I’m still wondering how I did this – maybe the jars were far too hot when I filled them with jam).  Since then I avoided jam making.

A few weeks ago I went walking with my friend Sandra, and we picked a batch of Damsons.  I searched online for recipes, and found this easy looking recipe for Tamsin’s Damson Jam (she really did look like she knew what she was doing).  I’m pleased to say that it turned out really well, friends and family have all proclaimed the lovely, tasty, tangy jam a success, and I made a second batch a few days ago:

making damson jamAfter the first batch of Damson Jam I made Mirabelle Jelly (I’d spotted the small yellow plums on the way back from the Damson trees, and returned to collect a batch).  The jelly making was easier than I remembered, so again I was spurred on to do more.

A couple of years ago, while I was out walking with my friend Kathy during September, we both agreed that it would be good to go foraging and to make preserves to give to friends and family for Christmas.  Last year we never managed it, but this year I set the ball rolling by sending a text to Kathy asking how she was, and I telling her I’d made Damson Jam.  Straight away she responded with ‘what are you doing this weekend?’  On Saturday she turned up with a wonderful River Cafe Chocolate Nemesis Cake (a beautiful, moist, chocolatey treat enyoyed by all – sorry, no photograph as we’ve eaten all the evidence), and after charging our batteries with my homemade cookies (which were going to be cranberry and white chocolate, but after finding dried sour cherries and dark chocolate in the pantry the plan quickly changed – this often happens when I bake cookies).  The basic recipe I used was Millie’s Cookies Recipe.  In the past I’ve baked cookies with the same recipe, but replaced the chocolate chips with all kinds of treats (try Cadbury’s Chocolate Orange and grated orange rind, Smarties, and other favourite sweets to convince the kids and adults that you really do bake the most excellent cookies) and they always dissapear within days (I made about 30 cookies from this one recipe).  This is what remained of the batch I baked on Friday:

sour cherry and chocolate cookiesPoor little cookie sat all alone in the tin – it was just begging to eaten, so after I took the photo….

Back to the story, Kathy and I went in search of fresh, free food which we could use to make preserves.  This is where I started to worry.  I’d convinced Kathy that my surroundings are full of the best damsons, mirabelle plums, blackberries, elderberries, rosehip and crabapples.  The question is, could I live up to it?  To cut a long story short, we returned a few hours later with huggings of damsons, blackberries, elderberries, a little lavender and a punnet of hazelnuts.  The mirabele plums were past there best,  We were hungry, so we had lunch, and then another short walk to pick the crabapples and rosehips.

Let the cooking commence!  On Saturday we cooked Elderberry Cordial, Rosehip Syrup and Lavender Jelly.  We also made Damson Vodka, which I’m hoping will be ready at Christmas.  I insisted that Kathy took this home with her as it wouldn’t have lasted ’till the weekend in my house!  My favourite of the batch so far is the Lavender Jelly.  It tastes beautiful.  If you spot any crabapples, pick them quickly and make lots.  I cannot believe how wonderful those sour little fruits can taste when cooked with sugar and a little lavender.  Kathy left around 10pm with half of the goodies.  I left the cooker cleaning until the following morning.

My journey into the world of preserving continued a few days ago with Piccalilli and Delia’s Spiced Damson Chutney.  The Piccalili was really quick and easy,  but you have to allow for the fact that the vegetables have to be soaked in brine over night.  Delia’s Spiced Damson Chutney was easy enough, but took about 4 hours to cook (the recipe said 2 – 3, but I found that it took longer to boil off the vinegar).  At the end of the session I reeked of vinegar.  My kitchen reeked.  The whole house reeked.  The neighbours and their houses reeked.  The whole street reeked.  There was a noxious cloud of vinegar hovering over Royston for at least 24 hours following.  If it had rained, the resulting acid rain would have eaten through the mortar of all buildings within a 1 mile radius, and I would be sat with my laptop writing this post on top of a pile of rubble.  I’m hoping the chutney will taste wonderful when it’s matured, but it will be many years before I try making it again.

I spent a few hours yesterday afternoon rearranging my pantry and labelling jars.  This was a section of the top shelf as I was stransferring jars:

jam on pantry shelfAnd more jars requiring labels:

jams and pickles waiting for labels

As you can see this was quite a mammoth session.  At the end of it I’m left feeling confident about jam and chutney making, but ready for a few days rest from it.

Did I mention that I’ve taken on half an allotment?  This must be a story for another day.  I’m off to do some weeding!



Earring Storage Book

Not so long ago I mentioned that I’m always losing earrings, and that I’d made a wire tree so that I could hang my dangly earrings on it, and place it next to my bathroom mirror.  It didn’t work because the earrings fell of the tree, and sometimes the tree fell over.  I didn’t want to search for earrings in separate boxes, and I’d already tried hanging them on a wire mirror and suspending them on plastic canvas.  I’d thought about using a picture frame with fabric instead of a picture (thank you Dee Priest), but decided that would also end up flying off the window ledge.  Thinking cap on, I came up with the idea of a ‘book of earrings.’  I’ve had this a few weeks now, and so far it’s worked.  Here are the instructions:

For the separate pages (about 8 of these) I used even weave fabric, 5 1/2 inches x 9 inches)  folded over a piece of computer paper (nearest paper to hand) measuring approximately 5 1/4 x 4 1/4 inches:

Earring book 1The edges were stitched with cream threadMy idea was that I could hang the earrings through one layer of fabric, or studs could be pushed through all layers on a page at the back of the book :

Earring book 2I used a ruler and a pencil to mark out a grid of four rectangles.  The idea I had in mind was that a pair of dangly earrings would fit into each rectangle so that they would be stored neat and tidy:

The grid was stitched the grid in black thread (actually it was dark brown because I chose the thread during an evening stitching session and, as usual, I couldn’t see the difference due to the light – minor detail and I’m still trying to convince myself that cream and brown look better than cream and black – it’s not working):

I was undecided as to where I was going from here.  Maybe a stab stitch book?  I had to get the pages neatly together, so I took a strip of paper the length of the page, folded it in half three times and used a ruler to mark points 1/4 of an inch from the edge.  The paper was then used to mark points on each of the pages:

Earring book 5The pages were stitched together through these points, using cream thread, so that they were positioned correctly, and they were held together securely:

Earring book 6Next, I needed a cover.  I started with a little colour inspiration from my colour sketchbook.  I have an envelope at the back of the book where I keep pictures with colour combinations that appeal to me.  Eventually I take out a picture, stick it in the book and then test paints, search for threads etc, generally play with anything I can find that is in keeping with the colour scheme.  A bit like mood boarding on a small scale.  This is the combination I chose:

Earring book cover colour schemeI cut a piece of thick fabric (cheap charity shop find, probably curtain lining) and used acryic paints that were in keeping with the colour scheme to paint the fabric (roughly stripes made in my usual headless chicken I don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m going style):

Earring book cover paintedOnce it was dry I used stamps and a chinese brush (any pointed brush will do) to add another layer with the same colours.  I’d also tried some puff paint, but i didn’t like the effect so I scraped most of it off:

Earring book cover stamped and paintedThen for the stitching.  The fabric was placed onto lining paper (which acted as a stabiliser) and threads were chosen from the same colour scheme.  Lots of free motion stitching on and around the shapes and on lines on the background.  Unfortunately, this is where I had an issue witht the blurry photos, so I’ll explain how I put the book together before showing the finished photos.

Once the stitching was complete, I cut a piece measuring 6 inches (1/2 inch longer than the pages and 11 inches wide (this would wrap around the stitched pages from edge to edge).  Bondaweb was ironed onto this, and the whole thing was then ironed onto a backing fabric (again use a colour from the colour scheme).  The backing fabric was cut to the same size as the cover, and a zigzag stitch used all around the edge to secure the fabric.  The marker paper (which was used to mark the position of holes in the pages) was used to mark positions of holes on the front and the back of the cover.  A long piece of embroidery floss (you could use cord, string, anything in line with your colour scheme) was then used to stitch through the holes to secure the cover to the book.  If you start in the middle you will be able to tie the ends so that you can then wrap the thread around the book to hold it closed.  I hope that makes sense – if not please leave a comment and I’ll try to explain.  This is the finished earring storage book:

So far it has been a success.  I haven’t lost any of the stored earrings.  I have lost the book once – but that is because I hadn’t allocated a place for it.   I think I might have cracked the earring storage this time.  I’m now wondering what other little niggly issues I can deal with.  I’m sure I’ll think of something.


Art in Nature Collage and Doodles

Following on from my last post, Art in Nature with Air Dry Clay, here is another idea to get the kids thinking about shape, colour and pattern.  Feeling inspired still by Anne Brooke, I wondered if I could simplify and adapt her ideas so that children of different ages could create something simiar after a walk around Rabbit Ings.

I collected together some wallpaper samples (you can use any paper that you have available) from local shops, especially brighter colours that children would find attractive.  I then set about producing what started as a poppy picture.  The background was cut first, then red circles for poppies – edges cut in slightly for the petals, and stalks cut out too.  Then I decided I needed something larger in the background, so half circles were cut for cow parsley.  I felt the need to add daisies at the front, more circles, edges cut with pinking shears. The shapes were stuck down with a glue stick (working from the larger, higher ones at the back to the smaller, lower ones at the front), and then I used a fine sharpie to doodle on top of the stems and circles:

Simple!  On the nature walk you get the kids to look out for colour,shapes and patterns, that gives them ideas for their own pictures.

Here is a second picture completed in the same way:

The worksheet can be seen by clicking the link:

Art in Nature Paper Collage

Although I did have everything ready for this project at Rabbit Ings, we were up to our necks in air dry clay and never got around to it.  The parents went away with the worksheet, and we have the project ready for the next session.

I think you will see a follow up of this very soon, a stitched version of something similar, maybe more detail.  Watch this space!

Art in Nature with Air Dry Clay

I think I’ve mentioned previously that I’ve started to do a little voluntary work at Rabbit Ings, our local nature reserve. When I first started there the rangers told me there was an ‘Art in Nature’ session running in a few weeks time, and said they would appreciate any ideas/support that I could offer with this event.  What a perfect place for me to start.  Off I went in search of cheap, easy and colourful ideas to get the kids interested in nature.

Many eons ago I bought some air dry clay.  My intention was to use it in mixed media projects.  I did use a little of it, but it been sat on my shelf ever since, occasionally coming out for a little fresh air. I took my little batch up to Rabbit Ings, along with a rolling pin, pastry cutters, cocktail sticks, brushes and acrylic paints.  I had a short walk around Rabbit Ings to search for leaves, grasses, anything that would leave an impressing in the clay, and set about creating some examples:

Art in nature air dry clayI also created an information sheet with step by step instructions on how to make these.  If you would like a copy of the pdf just click the following link:

Art in Nature with Air Dry Clay

When the day arrived the kids and parents had a great time. They had an enjoyable walk with ‘Ranger Tom’ (every time I see him I have to chuckle to myself because inside my head I’m singing ‘Ground control to Ranger Tom, your circuits dead, theres something wrong, can you hear me Ranger Tom’ – growing up with Ziggy Stardust and Major Tom must say a great deal about my age) and myself, searching for suitable items in the wood and along the footpaths.  Once we were back in the Rangers hut the clay and paints were out and the kids were strainght into the crafts.  I’ so glad that there were other adults there to help.  I didn’t manage to get pictures of the finished products as the kids took them away when the left for the day, but I can honestly say that despite the fact that they went away with items which were of varying degrees of success (ouch) they all had a good time and went home boucy and happy!

From Sketchbook to Travel Tags

I’m sat here in front of my laptop thinking ‘I can’t believe it was July when I last posted on the blog.’  Where did the time go?  More importantly, why didn’t I at least write a few posts every week during August?  Though I have been very busy I cannot find a good enough reason to offer to my friends who kindly spent their time reading my blog posts.  I apologise and starting today I am going to put things right.

I’m pleased to say that I have found a little time for crafts during the month of August.  Most of the time was spent finishing off little projects I stated in July.  Today I’m going to give an update of the project for Ackworth Embroiderer’s Guild.  You may remember this sketchbook page from my previous post:

I had attended an Embroiderer’s Guild meeting where Anne Brooke presented some of her work and told us her story.  Anne produces some beautiful work in her sketchbooks – I was lucky enough to spend a few minutes admiring one of them.  Don’t you think there is something really special about being allowed to look through someone’s sketchbook?  To me it feels like the individual is allowing you to look into their soul – everything is out in the open for you to see, sketches, thoughts, feelings, raw ideas – it makes my skin tingle just thinking about it!  Since then I have been thinking of my sketchbook as my ‘everything book,’  the place where I store little snippets, ideas, develop some of the ideas etc.  It’s turning into a little treasure, not because the art is brilliant, but because I know where to find what I’m looking for.  Previously I started a number of sketchbooks for different themes, and they are still sitting mostly empty on my shelves, apart from my colour sketchbook which has swatches from my different paints, crayons etc. and any colour theme ideas.

Anyway, back to the sketchbook page.  The challenge (presented that same evening) was to produce three gift tags to represent a country which was randomly chosen by members selecting a sealed envelope.  As soon as I opened the envelope I felt pleased and inspired by the name of the country I had chosen randomly.  Lots of ideas started buzzing around my head, and some of them can be seen on the page above.

I wanted to use a few different techniques to produce designs for the gift tags.  Here are the finished tags:

Travel tag 1 – hand stitched design on a plain background:

Stitched travel tag 1Travel tag 2 – Machine stitched papers:

Stitched travel tag 2Travel tag 3 – Sheer fabric on cotton, the design was machine stitched, bondaweb ironed on the back, the subject was cut out and ironed onto velvet and the outline was stitched again:

Stitched travel tag 3There is a competition for the best tags, and due to the high standard of some of the members I’m not expecting to be a prize winner, it wasn’t what I was aiming for.  Members are also going to be asked to guess the country represented in the tags.  I am hoping this is going to be fairly obvious.  What do you think?

Sketchbook and Photographs

We’ve had some beautiful weather here in Yorkshire these past few days, and I’ve taken advantage of it by going out as much as possible.  Today was perfect for walking, not too hot with a nice cool breeze.  I took my camera with the intention of trying to take a photo which would be worthy of entering in a local competition.  I was snap happy for hours on end trying to chase bees and butterflies.  I’m pleased to say I managed to snap several which were really quite outstanding when compared towith my usual photos.  These are the best of the photos I’ve taken in the last few days:

Tortoiseshell butterfly

Comma butterfly


Bumblebee on a thistle

Bumblebee on hogweed?  (I’m not 100% certain, please don’t take my word for it).

You would not believe how much these little beasties had me running around, jumping up, crouching down, cursing and spitting feathers.  It looks so easy doesn’t it.  Just creep up behind them, get as close as possible, point and click.  Of course, every time I do that the little critters fly away laughing their cute little heads off and I’m left with a blurred image of a butterfly or bee’s butt!  After this session though I know I do have a chance of snapping the photo occasionally.

This past few days I’ve also done something very daring for me; I actually took my sketchbook outdoors and dared to draw and paint in it whilst outside.  My intention was to do a scribbly sketch and add a little colour.  I went to and Embroiderers Guild meeting at Ackworth earlier in the week.   The speaker was Anne Brook, and very good she was too.  I spent a bit of time admiring her beautiful sketchbooks and decided it was time to make the effort with mine.  These are the quick sketches/paintings I did whilst outside – the pages are not finished yet, but I wanted to show that I had the guts to do it:

Sketchbook poppy

Sketchbook alliums

Sketchbook hollyhocks

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  Sitting in front of the plants sketching, rather than taking a photo, really makes you look closely at the subject.  Suddenly I don’t feel too worried that I’m not producing a work of art, it was all about the focus and learning about the plant.

Finally, I also had to do some research for a little project for Ackworth Embroiderers Guild.  I was given 3 luggage tags and the name of a country.  I have to decorate the tags with ideas/images etc relevant to the country.  This is the sketchbook page from this morning:

In the past I’ve started quite a few sketchbooks on various themes.  I think the idea of placing everything in one sketchbook is much better.  I’m going to be taking this sketchbook out more often in future.