Monday, 21 April 2014

Jewellery making with Katherine Richmond

For the Christmas of 2012 I bought my mum a jewellery making workshop at Unit Twelve Gallery. Partly due to lack of organisation and also the fact the courses seemed to get booked up really quickly, we finally managed to get ourselves along to one in late January this year. 

The studio, a contemporary craft workshop and exhibition space in a stunning rural location in Staffordshire, is somewhere that I have wanted to visit for ages, ever since being introduced to the wonderful work of Jennifer Collier. The studio houses Jennifer and her work alongside a number of other studio artists and a regularly changing programme of exhibitions.

The class was taught by the very talented Katherine Richmond and was a wonderful introduction to making with silver. The course, run over a day, allowed us first to experiment with various different techniques on small pieces of copper, including applying textures, pressing, rolling, drilling holes, cutting and soldering.

Mum (not wanting to waste any of her work) chose to make all of her experimental pieces into earrings. Her final silver earrings are also below.

I made a pendant out of my copper, using two pieces, one with a texture creating by rolling the copper with sandpaper, I then used a soldering process to fuse to an untampered piece to bring out the different qualities of the metal.

As most who know me will know, I like to push myself when learning new things so I really wanted to experiment with everything that I could do with the metal. Huge thanks to the very patient Katherine who put up with my constant questioning and showed us techniques, which we probably didn't really have time to learn all in one day! 

My silver earrings were created by rolling the metal (using several methods of trial and error) into small tubes. The texture I had applied to the metal first being on the interior of the piece. I probably should have drilled the holes for the fixings into the metal first but kindly Katherine helped me make what are quite fiddly pieces into wearable earrings, of which I am really proud!

In the afternoon we applied the techniques we had learnt in the morning to make a ring. Mum made a beautiful ring (below) with a texture on the outer face made by rolling the metal with a leaf.

I continued to use the sandpaper texture, which I really liked the effect of, and also continued to experiment with bending and shaping the metal to see what forms I could create. It was more difficult than I expected to create something wearable and I needed to heat the metal several times to get into a shape that I was happy with, but I think for a first attempt it worked ok?

It was a great and really inspirational day with some lovely people. You can see more of the work created by others at the workshop here. I truly would recommend a trip down to the wonderful gallery space in Staffordshire either just to look at the amazing work and meet the makers, or to do a workshop, whether in jewellery or one of the other wonderful courses they run. 

Mum's collection of jewellery.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

The littlemandesigns touch

Recently I was asked to create some invitations for a press day event for a well known online retailer. I was most excited to get the email, it means my designs really are reaching the wider world and better still they are being well received!

Based on my petal invitations, the theme was gold with mint green inserts and gold lettering. For privacy reasons I've not included the full text but you can catch a glimpse of the effect below. 

I was really pleased with the finished product, especially in having to work to an extremely tight deadline. It's also nice to think my invitations were in the hands of some of London's most fashionable!


Monday, 2 December 2013

Book review - Makery by Kate Smith

Two of my favourite things are making and books, so when I was asked by the lovely people at Octopus Publishing Group if I wanted to review some craft books I was most excited! It also gives me something positive to get me back into the blogging, especially now I seem to be having so much interest in the blog! 

I shall be reviewing 'Makery' by Kate Smith as my first book. This book seems very apt to review at this time of year when we are all thinking about Christmas gifts, and not only are handmade gifts a great way of saving some pennies, they also make for really personal and thoughtful gifts.

Over 30 Projects for the home, to wear and to give. 
Kate Smith
Published by Mitchell Beazley
Paperback £14.99 
Also available in eBook format £7.99 

The Makery Workshop and The Makery Emporium, both in Bath, are havens for all crafters. It has been described as ‘a fabulously warm and welcoming workshop space’ (Mollie Makes) and in its ‘gorgeous surroundings you can learn everything from how to restore a mirror or update a tired sofa’ (Elle Decoration). Here, you can while away your afternoons with a craft workshop or two, immersing yourself in all things buttons, pretty fabrics and the whirr of sewing machines. Makery guru Kate Smith has finally put her amazing skills to print, and her first book, Makery, is here to show you how it’s done. 

The beautifully put together book is divided into 3 sections; fashion, gifts and home. However after reading through the book, I think that the three really overlap, as some of the gifts I would love for myself and some of the fashion and home items would make wonderful gifts!

Fashion is where Kate reveals her stunning fashion pieces from knitted accessories such as crochet slippers to handmade items of jewellery. I love this découpage pendant, which would make a wonderful present for a friend. The page layouts and illustrations are absolutely gorgeous and so inspirational, they just make you want to make!

Gifts include a fun, fabric cuckoo clock and a very useful make-up roll for brushes. Kate also provides great ideas for custom made decorated gift tags and printed bags, perfect for adding a personal touch to your gift giving.

Finally are the projects for the Home, where Kate reveals clever ways to create pretty tea light tins, a cute fifties frilly apron and a chunky rug, among many other exciting projects. I just love this fabric stag head, which is very much on trend if the Country Living Christmas fair I recently attended in Harrogate is anything to go by?!

The ideas are wonderfully presented, the pages filled with stunning full page photographs and illustrations complemented with beautifully hand drawn, friendly instructions and handy tips to guide you in creating so many wonderful things. 

Kate believes that, as with cooking, the ingredients you use in crafting are key to the end result. Choose your ingredients well, follow her clear instructions, and the end result will be stunning. 

I have already chosen to have a go at this tape measure rosette, which I hope to use for my own Christmas wrapping and these lovely tea light tins, which I know my mum will love for Christmas (I may have ruined the surprise though!).

I will be featuring my own attempts very soon, so watch this space!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Lovely layered lace invitations

I was so flattered when I was asked by a very stylish childhood friend (with a very creative mother) to create her wedding invitations and delighted when she told me that her favourites were the ones I made for our wedding (you can see these here). 

I thoroughly enjoyed reliving the process that I'd used to create these collaged layered invitations using lace textures to tie in with her dress and photos of the venue.

The cards were bound together tied up with string in an origami brown paper envelope, which made opening the parcel an event in itself.

With that extra attention to detail the cards were double sided so that the lace on the front of the invitations could almost been seen through the back of the card. 
We also carried the theme through to the order of services and name cards. The order of services were hand bound books containing the order of the day and readings chosen by the couple. 


Saturday, 16 November 2013

More origami and Tube Map style table plan

In doing a bit of a sort out of my creations I realised I never shared these pieces I created for Jenni and Tom, who I originally created the paper cut folded petals for.

The name places were origami flowers in the colours the theme of the wedding day, the wedding was on remembrance weekend and the bridesmaids were in navy.

For the groom, the bride asked me to create an origami Yoda as an alternative to the rose. It was a bit of a challenge but one I enjoyed (helped very much by online videos). I even provided her with a choice of colours!


The table plan was based on a london tube map, as the couples had chosen the tube lines as their table names, again something which I had lots of fun creating and looks really effective.

Save the Date Magazine

I am truely delighted to be mentioned in Save the Date magazine for the laser cut invitations I created for Tamsin and Rob, who's recent wedding in Matlock just looks absolutely gorgeous!

Congratulations and well chosen suppliers!

For more inspiration check out their wedding here.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Recent Creations...

I know I noted in my last post but for my regular followers I wanted to say I'm sorry it's been so long since I last posted and thank you for encouraging me to continue! It has been a crazy busy time both in work and play, but I also had a difficult experience with a recent commission which threw me a little and made me take a step back to think about me, and what I wanted to get out of this. 

I started this blog because I really enjoy what I do and I wanted to share not only my creations but things which inspired me and hopefully would inspire others. When I created our invitations it was because I couldn't find that unique product to suit our day. It is my belief that the invitations play a huge part in giving your guests a flavour of the occasion. Stationary which reflects the couple makes the occasion so personal for your guests and often these items will be kept as a keepsake of the momentous occasion.

I love creating bespoke designs for others. I probably don't charge what my hard work and effort deserve sometimes but I believe people can have beautiful creations on a budget. I love the whole process from sourcing the papers to sharing the final designs. I especially like getting to know my clients, understanding a little a bit about them, what sort of thing they are into and most of all who they are as a couple. I have created all sorts, both traditional and contemporary, from vintage packages to incorporating skulls into the design.

I decided to take a bit of time out, to spend some time working on my own creations and just concentrate on some special commissions. I've shared some of them below and I have a couple of close friends weddings coming up for which I was honoured to create not only the invitations but some pieces for their special day. I will share these shortly in a separate post.

'origami petals'

These are a take on an invitation I've created previously but I love the vibrant pink which is revealed when the petals are opened up. I really do love the effect of this design. For something which is so simple, they are so tactile and a beautiful experience to receive. 

'brown paper packages tied up with string...'

Starting from a theme of vintage love letters, I created this package of invitations for a couple who had contacted me wanting to create bespoke invitations for their wedding but were struggling to find something to suit. The main invitation was letterpressed onto brown card in a vintage poster style format. 

I also created a vintage style map for the wedding location, an updated version of a historic map of Glasgow which I had sourced, folding this to pop out of a small book. The cards were all tied up with string and a vintage style sweetie bag in the overall theme was used for the envelope.
'laser cutting'

Another interesting request I had was to create a laser cut invitation. I have a small printer with a blade which allows me to do reasonably detailed designs, but for this request I needed to source a laser cutter. I created the design based on a hand drawn sketch produced by the bride and sourced the help of an architectural connection Try B4U Die who has created his own laser cutting machine and makes not only beautifully intricate creations but also wonderful architectural models. 

The invitation was backed with grey fabric with printed information cards behind, all tied together with a ribbon in the corner. 

Lastly a glimpse of one of my most recent creations, more to follow in a future post!

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