Stuff for people who are still a bit untamed, young at heart and full of dreams.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Scraps, Bits and Pieces and Broken Spoons Part 1 - Reste, Papierfetzen und zerbrochene Löffel Teil 1

How on earth can three weeks have flewn past just like this... It's not that I haven't done anything creative the last few weeks. Quite on the contrary. I just never got around to communicate.

Before I go ahead, I will follow the advice of Avarra and make this blog bilingual. The German version of the blog will be written in orange.

Hallo, Avarra! Ich habe Deinen Rat befolgt, und hier ist der Blog nun zweisprachig. Der deutsche Text ist in optimistischem orange gehalten...

Wie um Himmels Willen können drei Wochen nur so schnell vorbeigehen! Und wie konnte ich diesen Blog nur so vernachlaessigen. Nicht, dass ich keine kreativen Schübe gehabt haette. Ganz im Gegenteil. Aber irgendwie bin ich einfach nicht dazu gekommen zu kommunizieren.

When I was rummaging through my drawers, I found a box with old silver spoons. They were really lovely with their handles shaped like a rose. Unfortunately two of them were broken. So I decided to have a go at altering them into jewellery.

Also, da war ich doch gerade so am Aufräumen (Gott, wie ich das hasse!), als ich über eine kleine Schachtel mit alten Loeffeln gestolpert bin. Die waren eigentlich recht hübsch mit ihren Griffen in Form einer Rose. Leider waren einige davon zerbrochen. Ich dachte mir, sie noch länger in einer Schublade herumliegen zu lassen, macht eigentlich keinen Sinn. Und da beschloss ich, sie in Schmuck zu verwandeln.

First I hammered the spoon part flat and polished it with very fine steel wool until it looked nice and shiny. Not all blemishes didl disappear completely, and actually, they didn't have to. After all these are vintage spoons which had another life before.

Zuerst hämmerte ich den Löffelteil flach. Anschliessend wurde das Teil mit feiner Stahlwolle poliert bis es schoen glänzte. Nicht alle Unebenheiten und Kratzer gingen weg, aber das sollten sie ja auch gar nicht. Immerhin hatte dieser Löffel eine Vergangenheit und die darf man ihm schon ein wenig ansehen.

The first spoon was broken just where the handle and the spoon meet. So I had to use a file to remove any sharp edges. My first thought was to collage a picture onto the flat spoon and to turn the handle into a charm. For the latter I had to bend the handle into an eye shape, and that went completely wrong. I ended up with a strangely twisted handle which refused to be bent into any eye-type shape. Slightly frustrated I played around with the whole thing and came up with the idea of fusing the spoon and the handle together. The spoon part fitted exactly into the gap between the rose part and the end of the handle. I glued everything together with metal glue
and had a very Victorian looking pendant.

Der Löffel war an der Stelle, wo sich Griff und Löffelteil treffen, gebrochen. Also musste ich zuerst alle scharfen Kanten glatt feilen und polieren. Als nächstes wollte ich den Löffelteil in eine Collage verwandeln und den Griff mit der Rose in einen Anhänger. Also begann ich den Griff zu einer Oese zu biegen. Nur wehrte sich das Teil mit aller Kraft gegen meine Versuche und auch alles Erhitzen half nichts. Ich endete mit einem seltsam gebogenen Teil, das mit guten Willen als Oehr hinhalten konnte, aber nicht geschlossen war, sodass eine Kette einfach herausgefallen wäre. Ziemlich entnervt spielte ich mit den beiden Teilen herum, bis ich den Löffelteil durch die Oeffnung im Rosenanhänger schob. Und siehe da, es passte ganz genau! Mit einem Metallkleber befestigte ich die beiden Teile aneinander, und ich finde, das Ganze sieht sehr Viktorianisch aus.

The next step was to drill a hole at the bottom of the spoon. And all that was left afterwards was to attach short pieces of chain with Baltic Amber chips, freshwater pearls, an amber coloured glass leaf and a dragonfly charm.

Als naechstes bohrte ich ein Loch am unteren Ende des Löffels und hängte mehrere kurze Ketten ein, an denen ich Bernstein Chips, Süsswasserperlen, ein bernsteinfarbiges Blatt aus Glas und eine kleine Libelle aus tibetischem Silber befestigte.

Hung from a velvet ribbon or a chain the whole thing looks very Victorian/Edwardian.

An ein Samtband gehängt, sieht das Ganze doch ganz schön retro aus...

And that was the moment where I went hunting for more spoons...

Naja, und das war der Moment, an dem ich beschloss, dass ich mehr Löffel brauchte.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Back to Jewellery Making

The sea outside is churning, no sight of anything beyond 100 meters. It' raining, cold and the slates on top of the roof are rattling vigorously. Since neither the dog nor the cat can be lured to go outside I have returned to my workstation and try to work on some jewellery pieces for little girls and those who still want to be little... Making jewellery for children is really fun. You can play with colours and use funny beads. The right thing for anotherwise quite dull day!

I just can't get enough of colours!

Sunny, isn't it?

With freshwater pearls

And they could come with matching bracelets, like these:

Friday, 2 April 2010

Colouring eggs on Good Friday

Shiskine Valley on Good Friday

Yesterday was Good Friday, and it almost got me by surprise. Last year at this time I was already planning what I would plant in my wee garden. Not this year, its far too cold. The snow is slowly, slowly creeping up the hills but there is still a wintry chill in the air. But in sheltered places, there are signs of spring just waiting to burst into action. I saw masses of fresh wild garlic in Kildonan and Whiting Bay. Must make a few jars of pesto.

This years Easter eggs dyed with onion skin, turmeric,
beetroot and red cabbage.

Since I've been a little girl, Good Friday has always been the day when we were dyeing Easter eggs. Although on the Continent you could get all kinds of dyes, my mother preferred to dye our eggs with natural dyes. Around Easter the drugstores would sell different kinds of roots and woods which would transform your eggs into many lovely shades. If you never have dyed your Easter eggs yourself, here is a little instruction. You can't get dyeing roots and woods everywhere (at least not on Arran) but that's no reason to avoid colouring your eggs! There are more simple ingredients you may even have in your cupboard and if not, they are available just around the corner. Dyeing eggs starts with very light coloured, preferably white eggs. In Britain it can be difficult to find white eggs in the shops. Luckily I have quite a few enthusiastic hen keepers living near me. And some of them keep hens which lay white or very pale beige eggs. This year I went for duck's eggs. They're usually white or very light blue. And they're ideal when you work with kids. Their shells are much stronger and won't break easily. And they taste as good as a hen's egg.

Lovely eggs from Laura's adorable ducks

The next decision you'll have to make is for what colours you'll be going. This year I choose to have red, pink, purple and yellow eggs. But you can easily have violet, blue, green and orange eggs as well. The following ingredients are easy to come by: lilac/purple - purple grape juice, red cabbage, blueberries, reddish purple and violet hues - red wine, red onion skins, yellow - turmeric (kurkuma), green tea, brown - strong coffee, onion skins, pink - beetroot, orange - yellow onion skins, paprika, red - onion skins, some red wines, green - boiled spinach leaves.

For my colour scheme I decided to go for turmeric, beetroot, red cabbage and onion skins. Unfortunately I did not have enough red onion skins (I started a little late to save them) so I had to mix in a few yellow onion skins which made my eggs not go red but a shade of reddish brown. But I think, they're still lovely.

If you would like a pattern on your eggs, you can for example arrange herbs and grasses on top of your egg.

Chickweed and strawberry leaf

To fix the herbs to the eggs, you get yourself a pair of old tights or stockings. Cut yourself a tube about double the length of your egg from one of the legs and close one end with a knot. Now slip your hand into this bag, like this:

Then grab your decorated egg like this:

and pull the stocking over your hand and seal it tightly with another knot.

I know, I know, you are tempted to use the foot of the stocking. But don't do it! There are usually seams, and often it is tighter woven which might destroy your lovely pattern. Actually, you might even get a bit of a pattern from the knots. If you want to avoid that from happening you would have to ask somebody to tie the stocking closely with a piece of thread or string.
You can achieve patterns by wrapping string or cotton thread around your egg. That goes easier if you wet the string before you start wrapping. Make sure it is sitting tightly around your egg and handle it with care when you fix it in your stocking!

You can also work with a resist technique by drawing patterns all over your egg with a wax crayon. The dye will not cover areas you have drawn.

Of course, you can try with different coloured wax crayons but there is not much guarantee that the spared lines will keep the colour of your crayon. They will just be much lighter than the rest of your egg. It's a very subtle pattern that you will achieve. These eggs will not have to be wrapped in stocking.
Finally comes the big moment of dyeing. Place your prepared eggs into a suitable pan. Cover with water, add 1 - 2 tsp of vinegar and your dying material. I used the skins of about 5 onions, respectively 2 tbsp of turmeric, three beets or the chopped half of a small red cabbage in a small pan since I was only dyeing two to three eggs at once. With time you will gather more experience.

Now bring your eggs to the boil and then let them simmer for at least 15 minutes. Then check how they look like. If they are too pale, add more dyeing material and let them cook a little longer. You can actually take them out, rinse quickly under cold water (so they will peel better), put them back into the sieved dyeing liquid and let them stand over night to achieve a deeper colouring.

These are some of my onion and kurkuma dyed eggs. From left: Knot pattern on turmeric dyed egg, plants and herbs on an egg dyed with red and yellow onion skin, another turmeric egg, then a string pattern on an onion egg and at last a scribbled pattern.
The time you need to do all this? Not more than an hour altogether. I started first thing in the morning and had enough time to spend the rest of Good Friday cleaning up the garden, cutting back shrubs and watch my teenage son cutting the hedges with an electric hedge trimmer... And then - it got very cold and started raining again...

Thursday, 1 April 2010


Watch out for my Easter craft ideas over the next two days

Today's weather lives up to the definition of April. Within an hour we had snow, rain and now bright sunshine. The sea started the day with rolling waves, and now there are only a few white horses left and it presents itself impeccably blue. Ailsa Craig and the South Ayrshire/Galloway coast seem nearer today and so seams the Mull of Kintyre. Yes, and there was that short moment when I could vaguely see the outlines of the Irish coast a few moments ago...

But let's not get too optimistic. The hill behind the house is still wearing a snowcap.

Today's weather and its incredible play of light and shadow got me back to my stash of Amber. I really felt like playing with it. My friend Coral brought me a bounty of semiprecious stones back from her holiday in Thailand. And all of a sudden I felt like combining unusual coloured stones with my sunny Amber pieces.

I like this simple necklace of vintage Amber nuggets (from Latvia where my mother's family comes from) and Chinese Jade. I call it Helsinki Sunset because I remember a beautiful evening in Helsinki when the sky and the sea took on this almost Caribbean colours.

I just like the contrast between the cool blue and the warm yellow, and I think the silver spacers bring the whole thing nicely together.

And then I went over board. I had a deep dive into Coral's stones and came up with a piece which I call Tropical Lagoon. This time the Amber got surrounded by Amethyst, blue-green chinese Jade, Swarovski Crystal rondelles and some Czech glass leaves, all held together by twistet wirework.

Obviously, when it comes to colours I can't get enough. Here comes number 3, called Dream of the Reef. Yes, I know, it sounds all very Southern hemisphered... I just can't wait to sit outside and work with my beads or to simply potter in the garden. This illusion necklace is an ecclectic mix of semiprecious stones and Tibetan silver charms, thought to brighten the mood on rainy days. Actually, all these jewellery pieces are available in my Arran Gems internet shop.

I set few lovely precious stones aside to produce this simple necklace. It reminds me much of some jewellery my mother used to wear. Therefore, I'm going to call it Wild Sixties.

I can just hear Junior walking through the door, as cheerful and happy as most probably any Scottish kid, enjoying the fact that this is the start of three weeks holiday. And I think, this is a good reason to celebrate. I think, I'll head for the kitchen and magic up a nice carrot cake...