Saturday, 29 May 2010

Shopping - just for me!

I first discovered Etsy and the whole business of buying (and selling) handmade online nearly 3 years ago now. Since then, I have done a fair amount of buying as well as selling and I though you might like to check out some of my favourite shops.

The first seller I am going to show you is RoseLullabyDolls.  I first came across her on Etsy but she has a shop on Folksy too.  Her shops are full of her handmade puppets, each with their own individual personality.  I fell in love with Alice - isn't she lovely?

I have a confession - I bought her as a gift for a friend but in the end I couldn't bear to part with her...

A shop where I could quite happily buy everything is HodgePodgeArts on Etsy.  If you belong to any sort of art or textile group there is almost always a moment when work is being shown and you think 'I wish I had made that' - I feel like that about this whole shop!  At Christmas I treated myself to set of ceramic hearts - I love them!

And last but not least is Beau Papier, a fabulous UK based vintage shop on Etsy.  I am not always a big fan of vintage (it's my age - what's vintage now is the stuff I didn't want when I was younger!) but I couldn't resist these buttons, complete with their own box (and I'm not old enough to remember when these were in everyday use!)

Look, there are even some teeny tiny dorset buttons - brilliant!

Of course, there are loads more great shops I haven't featured - if I have bought something from you but you're not here, don't worry, I have loved every single one of my purchases!

Friday, 21 May 2010

Daisy Chains

Did you ever make daisy chains? Carefully splitting the stems and threading each flower through the next? This crown is a more durable version of those delicate daisy chains - great for a summer party or dressing up - or even every day wear for a girl of a certain age!

handmade daisy chain crown by ffflowers

Now available on etsy and on folksy.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Working Hard

I seem to have slipped a bit with the blog - I have been working hard at my college final project.  It is coming along very slowly but I can give you a sneak preview of some of the samples...

'Paper' made from red cabbage, boiled and  pressed

Strips of leek, boiled and pressed

Strips of courgette with grated carrot, boiled and pressed

All of these vegetables have dried into very nice 'paper' and it is quite easy to do this flat - it is less easy to coax them into the lovely shapes of my plaster moulds but I am working on it!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

iPod Cosy

When I first became a mature student last autumn the family bought me an iPod for my birthday - they said I couldn't be a student without one.  I was deeply sceptical at first - what on earth did I want one for?  But I have to say they were right and it is great!  I have found it really helpful in screening out background noise when I want to concentrate, and there have been times when calming music has been very helpful - especially in the life drawing class!  Like a lot of people I have struggled with drawing in the past, but both my drawing and my confidence in my drawing have come on in leaps and bounds over the year.

Anyway, last night I got out my crochet hook for the first time in a long time to have a go at crocheting a change of clothes for my precious iPod nano.  I love the way you can crochet something like this without needing to do any sewing up - the sewing up part being something I generally take a very long time to get around to.  On the third attempt I finally got the size right (too big, then too small, then just right)!

handmade iPod nano cosy by ffflowers

I spent a long time looking for the right button - I have a lot of buttons to look through - but then I spotted the tiny flower left over from making my rainbow daisy chain bracelet and it just seemed to be the perfect finishing touch, plus it works just fine instead of a button.

handmade rainbow daisy chain bracelet by ffflowers
(rainbow daisy chain bracelet available in both my etsy and folksy shops)

The teenager wandered in and said "Ooh, an iPod sock - can you make me one?  Only... a cool one..."  Hmm... I have yet to find out what he would consider to be a cool iPod sock but I will forgive him after he rescued my facebook page the other day.

So my question is, should I list these 'maybe not quite cool' iPod socks in my shops?  There are plenty of larger handmade iPod/iPhone size cases out there but there aren't that many iPod nano cases - I know,  I looked  before I resorted to the crochet hook!  Plus, of course, none of them have one of my flowers on the front.  What do you think?

Friday, 7 May 2010

ffflowers on Facebook

handmade ribbon flower by ffflowersI have managed (with a little help!) to set up a page for my ffflowers on facebook - come and take a look!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Smoke Firing Ceramics - part 2

I just thought I'd show you how the best pieces from this batch turned out.  I have finished them with some wax polish and the surfaces are now very pleasingly like sea polished pebbles.

I think we are definitely going to be burning things again this weekend!

Monday, 3 May 2010

Smoke Firing Ceramics

I have a collection of pieces of biscuit fired ceramic from college which have been waiting for me to do ‘something’ with them. They are nothing fancy, just a few experimental bits and pieces made when I was getting used to what I could do with the clay – the pace of the foundation course has been such that there was really no time to become expert in any new skills.

Anyway, after discussions with my college tutor I decided to have a go at smoke firing them – which is basically burying them in something that burns and setting fire to it!

There are potters who do the most amazing things with smoke firing

Smoke fired vessel by Sally Bradley.

Smoke fired vessel by Sian van Driel.

The monochrome colouring is so subtle and, I think, quite beautiful.

Personally, I was going to be happy if I managed to get any colour at all on my pieces, and at least some of them came out still in one piece!

For my ‘kiln’ I used one of those incinerators which look like an old-fashioned dustbin. I put a layer of newspaper in the bottom with a layer of sawdust on top. Then I put a few of my ceramic pieces in, packed around with more sawdust. One of the pieces I wrapped in newspaper with a handful of grass – just to see what happened. And I set fire to it!

I was surprised how much flame and smoke there was – next time I will do it at the bottom of the garden! And I may dampen the sawdust and try to include some slower burning material to try and slow the burn down. So, when it had finished burning I was left with a pile of ash and, amazingly, still whole pieces of ceramic!  Really I should have left it alone overnight but I was so impatient to see the results – fortunately nothing cracked when I took them out.  (The ash is hopefully going to keep the slugs away from our runner beans - apparently they don't like ash?)

So this is what I got – please excuse the dodgy photographs on the concrete – the pieces were still too hot to move! You can see markings where the grass stopped the colouration on the piece on the left – and one of the smaller pieces took the colour only on half of it, which I like very much.

They are actually much more coloured than I expected but all in all I am pretty pleased with them for my first attempt.  I will be coating them with a wax polish (when they have cooled down) to protect the surface and give them a subtle sheen - it will be interesting to see how much, if any, of the colour comes off then.  And I shall try again, wrapping some pieces so they are only partly coloured and burning different stuff - I have heard banana skins are interesting...  Watch this space!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Art with Natural Materials : Marian Bijlenga

I have a passion for art made with natural materials – the more unusual the better. So I was thrilled to come across Marian Bijlenga’s flickr photostream.  I was already aware of Marian’s beautiful stitched work incorporating horsehair

But what I really love is her more recent work using fish scales

It is such an unusual and beautiful material – so delicate and translucent, and I love the way the shadows become part of the work.  Marian says “For me transparency is a pre-requisite.  By leaving some space between the structure and the wall the object is freed from its background and interacts with the white wall. It becomes what I call a ‘spatial drawing’.”

Do take the time to go and look through her flickr photostream – it is wonderful!


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