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Risky business

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Risky business

I’m not known for my lightning decisions. I don’t like to take risks. Spontaneity is what other people do. I’m that annoyingly cautious person who puts a fiver on each way at the races…if I go.

I weigh up the pros and cons, read and research, ummm and ahhh before taking a step towards a final, agonizing choice.

Now I’ve reached the point of no return.

Sh*t.

Soon come...

Soon come…

Onwards and upwards.

Coming soon

www.reddskin.co.uk

 

*gulp*

 

 

 

Can’t stop, won’t stop!

Oh Hai Pretty purple cloche with your tie-dye lining!

Oh Hai Pretty purple cloche with your tie-dye lining!

It’s no secret that I love to create. I just can’t help it. I am currently making yet another hat with the fabulous Katty Janneh at her millinery workshop. My latest creation is a purple cloche of perfection that I’ve worn almost constantly since it came off the block. There is now a luscious leopard print sun hat in progress. It’s an addiction for which  I hope there is no cure.

At 17 I hastily dropped A Level Design and Technology after a particularly off-putting brief that involved designing a plug. Just, NO. Up until the day of reckoning I had completed some lovely projects. My absolute favourite was a resin and brass brooch in the shape of a womans pout (it was the late 70’s…shush). Yet as far as I was concerned my foray into jewellery making stopped there.

Fast forward several decades.

I have been admiring Victoria’s exquisite creations from afar and love the quirky take she has on her silver jewellery designs. When the chance to attend her new workshop in silver smithing arose I jumped at it.

I was going to make the necklace for myself. Again. But as every hat I’ve ever made has ended up on my own head I decided to make these tags as a gift for mama. *polishes halo*

Instruments of torture or tools of the trade? You decide.

Instruments of torture or tools of the trade? You decide.

So one windy weekend we descended upon a quiet unsuspecting part of South West London. After a welcome cuppa (perfect) Victoria took us gently through our paces. We learnt to use a Band Saw without breaking a blade (oh yeah), work a bow drill (harder than it looks but so soothing once you ‘get’ it) and sand pieces of silver so that they glowed with pleasure.

Heart of Copper. Work in progress.

Heart of Copper. Work in progress.

We practised on bits of copper then moved swiftly (for us novices) on to the real thing. We frowned and concentrated and giggled and chatted whilst we worked (there may have been whistling) Victoria did an amaaaazing demonstration making one of her signature love heart necklaces that made it look so easy!

Polished to within an inch of their lives

Polished to within an inch of their lives

We drank more tea and then we ate Victorias delicious homemade cake. Lots of it. Seemed a shame not to really.

My tags stayed behind so that they could be machine-polished properly into their final shiny glory. When they arrived in the post a few days later I literally gasped with delight! Not only is it a beautiful necklace but I made it – with lots of help but even so – I MADE IT!

Yep.

Shiny Happy Necklace!

Shiny Happy Necklace!

So I’m hooked on creating. Again. That sense of achievement cannot be easily beaten.

If you want to book one of Victorias silver smithing workshops contact her here.

And/or if you want to try your hand at making hats with Katty Janneh try  here.

What about YOU? What do you love creating? Is there something new that you’d like to try your hand at this year?

Do tell… *pats sofa*

Cushions and Kindles and Totes! Oh my!

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Cushions and Kindles and Totes! Oh my!
Calm before the storm?

Calm before the storm?

They came bearing gifts.

Ready, Set...SEW!

My three fresh-faced crafters – one Nervous and Quiet, another Mature and Polite and her younger sister grinning with barely concealed EXCITEMENT – brought a huge bag full of fabric goodies…and a cushion. Not just any cushion but a ma-HOOSIVE cushion “I’d like to make a cover for THIS!”, Mature and Polite announced with a flourish and a winning smile.

How could I resist a challenge put so optimistically!

Cutting out (and sorting pins)

These lovely girls, eager to learn how to use a sewing machine properly and make something useful in the process, descended upon my kitchen workshop one Tuesday during half term.

Pattern making

Pattern making

As the day progressed their confidence developed as the projects they had merely imagined began to take shape. We talked of favourite subjects at school and ballet vs contemporary dance and Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes. We imagined a world where you could sew only using strawberry laces for thread (don’t ask). Meanwhile Nervous and Polite was morphing into another entirely different character – Excitable and Curious – whose favourite phrase became “but what’s the point of that”? Fortunately I knew the answers. Honest.

Did someone say MASSIVE CUSHION COVER?

Did someone say MASSIVE CUSHION COVER?

After a break (my trio had scurried home for lunch “to give you a rest” as one of their mothers succinctly put it) all three bundles of energy bounded back inside to finish their projects.

Colourful Kindle Bag! WOOP!

Colourful Kindle Bag! WOOP!

A couple of hours later a MASSIVE cushion cover, a colourful Kindle Bag with a strap and an hand-appliqued Tote Bag emerged. I was so pleased with their application and their relentless efforts. But, more importantly, they were thrilled and couldn’t wait to show off their creations at home!

Look what we made!

A Half Term Tuesday very well spent.

Tiring? No doubt but worth every moment. Nothing beats that sense of pride in creating something from scratch and learning a new skill – or passing one on. Priceless.

What about you? Have you made something you’re really proud of? What gives you a sense of fulfilment?

Your Sewing Machine is your Friend!

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Fact.

As with many of my ideas, this one came from a casual conversation with some friends over a glass of wine, possibly in my kitchen I can’t honestly remember. Maybe it was more than one glass. Hey ho!

Our comprehensive survey – four slightly tipsy women and their mates – concluded that many people have a sewing machine at home but haven’t a Danny La Rue what to do with it. When one friend quipped “Wouldn’t it be great if we there was a local expert who could teach us?’, aaaaaand then they all stared in my direction, I thought “Actually, they might be on to something”.

Add  one flustered neighbour  ringing my doorbell one evening who was having ‘a bit of trouble’ with her sewing machine. In a fit of thriftiness and blind optimism she had agreed to make the costumes for her children…all three … for the school play…the next day.

I  figured that it was time to don my proverbial sewing cape.

Lea and her welcome cuppa

Never one to shy away from a new challenge (Flamenco style wedding dress with 14 metres of fabric, anyone?) I set about making plans.

I love teaching – I love textiles – and I LOVE teaching textiles. This seemed like a wonderful opportunity to combine the two without leaving my cosy home!

We’ll chalk that up as a WIN.

Jo sewing and thinking “stop taking my picture!”

I have never described myself as an ‘expert’ but I do know my way around a sewing machine. I like to think I have a way of working that gets the point across without it being (too) baffling and is fairly good fun. What’s the point if it isn’t?

Fledgling Sewing Warriors ‘werking it’!

Naturally we all started with a welcoming cup of tea. It’s the law apparently.

Try as I might, Kirsty could not be persuaded to finish MY ironing!

My lovely clients were keen and enthusiastic and we had a LOT of laughs! They even did their homework!

Matching Zebra stripes! WOOP!

Jo and Lea made a fabulous zipless cushion cover. Jo would like me to highlight the fact that she made the back panels match. On purpose. Honest!

Christmas stocking complete with funky border, finished!

Kirsty made a Christmas stocking for one of her boys  so successfully she’s making another one as I write. So clever!

She did it!

Now no self respecting Sewing Course would be complete without a congratulatory certificate. My ladies are ready to go and wield their talent as fully fledged Sewing Warriors!

I’m so PROUD of them! *sniff*

There is something really special about creating. That overwhelming sense of achievement – gained from doing something you never thought possible – takes some beating….in adults as well as children *turns death stare towards the current Education Secretary*

I raise my glass to Jo, Kirsty and Lea, my FIRST Sewing Warriors. May they share their zest for crafting with many more!

Sewing classes are popping up everywhere – as the combination of penny saving and new challenges kick in. If this whets your appetite, why not make finding a local sewing class your New Years Resolution?

You’re WELCOME!

x

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