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Course Review, Events, Inspiration, Uncategorized

2018 Round Up!

Happy New Year!

I would like to wish you all the very best of wishes for 2019 – may you all be happy, healthy, wealthy and wise in 2019!

The beginning of a new year is the time when I like to do a little reminiscing of the previous years – the highs, the lows, and everything in-between.

2018 was, on the whole, a good year for me.   I was able to combine my love of crafting, with learning new skills and techniques, and put them to (hopefully) good use!

To finish off this year of blog posts, I thought I would have a little run through of my favourite projects of the year!

1 & 2.  Early in the year I started to combine my love of embroidery with my love of beads – the first project I did was this pretty beaded butterfly.  A range of insects and creatures followed, including the little bee!

3. While learning bead embroidery techniques, I came across Shibori ribbon. This beautiful hand dyed ribbon used in jewellery creates the most beautiful effect – This was my first necklace, and I was super pleased when one of my gorgeous friends purchased it, and it went winging its way to the US.

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4 & 5.     In my Facebook group, I have a challenge post whereby group members can challenge me to design a hoop based on a theme of their choice – My two favourites this year have been the Northern Lights, and Sunset.

6. Summer saw my friend’s daughter getting married, and I was super proud to stitch this hoop to commemorate the big day. I am thinking of offering similar as a commission next year!

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7. More experimentation!   This time with beading!  I taught myself to do Peyote stitch beading, and had sooooo much fun learning how to make these little tube pendants.

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8 & 9.     This is perhaps my most favourite hoop I have ever made.  I love this fox design.  It is so pretty, and intricate.  I really wanted to push myself to work on a more detailed design, and I think I achieved it with this.  I followed this up with a whitework version!  I love how the same pattern looks so completely different just be taking away the colour.

10. If you follow my Facebook page, you will already be aware of my love of thread! I am a compulsive thread buyer, and I am not ashamed!  Hand dyed threads are my weakness – they come in the most beautiful colours, and variations, and I think the seahorse sets these off beautifully.

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11. October & November saw me making forays into the world of chainmaille! This came about following discussions in my Anglo Saxon history nightclass (have I mentioned I’m a bit of a geek!)  The first weave I learnt was Byzantine, which is shown beautifully in this copper bracelet

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12 & 13. Never satisfied with keeping things simple, I experimented a little more with the chainmaille after I came across these fabulous coloured rings!  One of my beautiful friends promptly named the first colour range unicorn, and I absolutely could not resist making a rainbow version.

14. I have been collecting (or hoarding) lampwork glass beads for literally years now! I finally decided it was about time I got to using some!  This rainbow bead came from the fabulous Sally Sutherland, and I think it paired perfectly with the Swarovski sparkles!

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15. One of the new ranges I will be working on in 2019 is a botanical range – this simple, elegant leaf design is the first in the range. I envisage this on the wall in a beautiful conservatory!

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16. My last hoop of 2018! I thought it was very fitting to end on a unicorn!  Again, this is a much more detailed design, stitched with gorgeous threads I purchased at the Knitting and Stitching show in Harrogate.

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So there we have it!  A few of my favourite makes of 2018.  Throughout the year I was privileged enough to work on a number of commission pieces for people, and I attended some fantastic classes, which have really helped to expand my skills, and my confidence.  I am looking forward to more in 2019! 

I will be releasing some new embroidery hoop ranges, which I am very excited about, I am working on some different mixed media makes, and I am expanding my jewellery range to include more sterling silver pieces, and some new chainmaille designs.  Just because I love you, here are a couple of peeks!

Well, if you made it to the end of this looooooong post – thank you!

Here’s to a fabulous 2019 – see you all soon!

Zoe x

Events, Uncategorized

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

I would like to wish each and every one of you a fantastic Christmas, and a safe and happy New Year.

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My Etsy shop is now closed, my facebook group and page are on pause, and I finish work at the day job tomorrow! 

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Christmas is the longest break I have from the day job, so I fully intend to make the most of it – plenty of food, watching bad telly, and of course, a little crafting!  The one thing I will be working on is my plan of new projects for next year.  I am scheduling a 2018 round up blog for New Years eve, and there *may* be a couple of sneak peeks at new projects in there.

Happy Christmas

Zoe xx

Events, Uncategorized

Knitting and Stitching Show

Last Saturday (24th November) I took myself off on a coach trip to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Harrogate.  That’s right – me, on a completed unsupervised day out shopping!!!!  Now obviously this trip was all for business purposes…..Honest!!!!!

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After joining my coach, which very conveniently picked up about two streets from my house, I settled myself in for the hour and a half journey to Harrogate.  After a very smooth, and relaxing journey (toilet on board – very civilised!)  the approach into Harrogate itself gave the first indication of how busy the day was going to be!  After a few quick instructions from the driver, it was just a couple of minutes walk to the Convention Centre, and the crowds were already massing!

After a quick check ticket check, I entered the centre itself – and straight in front of me was an amazing exhibition of crochet work by TOFT – the entire Edward’s Menagerie of over 300 amigurumi were there in all their glory, including this gigantic handsome fella!

As well as the over 200 trade stalls to peruse, there were a number of special exhibitions on show.  They were all extremely awe-inspiring in their own way, but these are some of my favourites;-

The Royal School of Needlework had a display showing off some of their students works – which were absolutely amazing, and so different in the styles and approach to needlework – the poppy necklace is my absolute favourite – so beautiful!  The dragonfly is stunning, so delicate. 

These boots are so fabulous!  I am not sure I could wear them without breaking my neck, but I would certainly give it a go!

Last, but certainly not least, this beautiful example of goldwork embroidery, on the Peter Pan bookcover – how gorgeous is this!

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The next part of the show I wanted to share with you is the amazingly touching display of historic pin cushions  – the story of these is told so beautifully by Diane Grant.

I then moved on to a display of caskets, by students of ornamental embroidery inspired by works from the 17th century currently on show in the Ashmolean.  These were so awe-inspiring!  I have long wanted to give stumpwork embroidery a try, and these have completely inspired me!.

For those who know me personally, you will be aware of my love/addiction/obsession with embroidery scissors – imagine my glee and delight, when I saw this!!!!

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There was obviously an awful lot of shopping involved in the day – gorgeous threads, hand dyed fabrics, silks, and speciality threads were all purchased!  I have soooo many ideas rattling around in my brain following the event – I can’t wait to get started!

All in all, it was an exhausting, but completely inspiring day – I can’t wait to go again next year!  I just need to start saving!!!!!

 

Events, Uncategorized

Thinking about the C word!

There’s no avoiding it, Christmas is rapidly approaching!  I have really tried to get organised this year, and not run around like a headless chicken in the run up to the big day, but I have had limited success!

So, what does this mean for Athena Makes?

Commission orders are now closed down until the New Year, so if you are thinking of making a purchase, here are your options;-

I will be listing in the following events in the run up to Christmas;-

LLD/PP Emporium 9th to 12th November    https://www.facebook.com/groups/LLDsEmporium/
The Makers Emporium 1st December    https://www.facebook.com/groups/498933563623248/
LLD/PP Emporium 3rd to 7th December  https://www.facebook.com/groups/LLDsEmporium/

Apologies for the short notice on the first event – I did say I had limited success in being organised!

I am aiming to have new makes ready for each event, I have a few sneaky peeks for you here, and you can always keep an eye out on the page/in the group for more.

I will be making new embroidery hoop designs, some Christmas themed hoops, some bead embroidery brooches/pendants, and some Sterling Silver jewellery, all of which make perfect Christmas gifts, or as a little treat for yourself! I *may* also be making some Christmas decorations!

If there is anything you would like to see for Christmas, or any suggestions on styles/themes just shout up!

My Etsy shop will be closing on 10th December 2018, for UK orders – if there is anything in there that has taken your fancy, drop me a quick PM, or comment below, and I will let you have a special discount code that only applies to page followers/group members.

I am currently plotting and planning for my final makes for the events, AND some new ranges which I will hopefully be launching in the New Year!  More details on that next time, and there *may* be some news about a very exciting new venture for me!  Watch this space!

Bye Bye for now

Zoe xxx

Inspiration, Uncategorized

Inspiration!

Inspiration!

One question I do get asked quite a bit, is “Where do you get your ideas from?”  and it is a question that I struggle with sometimes!  By nature, I am quite a random person, and rarely have any type of plan!  And much as I hate to admit it, quite often I just make whatever I feel like at the time!  Great from a creative point of view, lousy from a business point of view!

At any one time, I have a huge list of projects that I want to do – ideas that come to me, suggestions made by friends, or by my lovely Facebook group members.  Sometimes they involve purchased patterns – these tend to be embroidery, and are very straight forward – you buy a pattern, and you stitch it!  Even then, I do rebel against instructions, and if at all possible, I alter a stitch, or a colour, to make it that little bit more unique!  One of my favourite places to purchase patterns online purely provide an outline drawing – perfect for me!  I can choose what stitch to do where, what colour scheme to use, and even leave out sections, if I choose.  Wonderful for someone who can’t draw for toffee!

Sometimes though, inspiration does strike at the strangest of times.  I visited a town near me called Bakewell – famous for its tarts!  Also famous locally for its fabulous Monday market.  Bakewell is a very picturesque town in the heart of the Peak District, on the banks of the River Wye.  To get to the market from the carpark, you have to cross the famous Lock Bridge, and this is the view!  How beautiful is this?

I have been looking back at these photos for a while, trying to decide how I could translate them into an embroidery.  I really wanted to incorporate the water, and the trees, but with a distinct lack of drawing skills, I was a little stuck!

Inspiration struck when I was browsing Facebook, and saw a post from one of my favourite jewellery makers, Louise Goodchild designs.  Louise was taking part in the #Inktober campaign, and the prompt for that day was #tranquil  It really struck me as soon as I saw it, that it was the perfect interpretation of what I had in my mind!  Louise very kindly gave me permission to use her sketch as the basis of an embroidery, and this is the result.  I was so pleased with how it turned out.

This just goes to prove that inspiration strikes at strange times, and things come to pass in strange ways!  Now, if only I could get someone to sketch all my other ideas for me………….

Course Review, Uncategorized

Wire Wrapping Class

On Saturday I took myself off to Nottingham for the day again, to attend another class at the Nottingham Jewellery School (which is fast becoming my favourite place to visit).  This months class was Wire Wrapping, with the fabulous Angela Askins of Angleberry Jewellery.

The day started with an introduction to wire, the different types, strengths etc. and what to look for in a good working wire.  Angela had also brought her bead boxes with her, which I could have happily spent the rest of the day playing with!!!!!!

After a brief overview of the tools we would be working with, we got started.  The first task was to master turning loops and making our own ear-wires.  I was particularly interested in this, as I get through a lot of earwires!  We practised this for a little while, then moved on to making earrings wrapped with beads.

A short break for lunch, then back to it – in the afternoon session we were making figure of eight links, which could be used for so many things, then on to a wire wrapped ring!   Angela gave full instructions on how to get the sizing right, and how to make sure the ring is finished perfectly, so it is comfortable to wear.  We had a little time left at the end of the day, so practised making spirals, and adding beads.

It really was a thoroughly enjoyable day, with a lot of laughter, and I went home with two finished pieces of jewellery, and the makings for several more.  As soon as I got home I added bails to the two spiral pendants, and used the figure of eight links to make a bracelet!

I noticed today that the course is being run again next year – if you are able to get to Nottingham, I highly recommend booking yourself on it!  Pop across to the Focus Galleries website for details of all the upcoming courses.  I can’t wait for the next one!

https://www.focusgallerynottingham.com/

Until next time…….

Uncategorized

Out of My Comfort Zone

I am a creature of habit.  I don’t see this as a fault, it’s just the way I am!  But occasionally, just occasionally, I like to push myself out of my comfort zone!

I like embroidery.  Give me a needle and thread and a piece of linen, and all is well with my world!  I also love to make jewellery.  I cannot describe the pleasure I get from spending a couple of hours playing with beads!

It seems like a small step to combine the two into bead embroidery, but it is something I struggled with for quite a while!  I love my embroidery, and I loved my beads, but never the twain shall meet in my world!    I was persuaded by a very good friend of mine to give it a go, and you know what?????   I loved it!    I have made several designs now, which have proved popular, and I have an ever growing list to do!  My go to designs are always going to be animals and insects, but I was recently asked to make a skull and crossbones for a fabulous lady to attach to a hairclip for a Fairy Festival she was attending (doesn’t that sound like fabulous fun?)  and you know what?  again, I loved it!

I have also recently discovered a wonderful product called Shibori Ribbon.  Shibori is a special hand-dyed silk, which is created by folding, twisting, and binding silk ribbon during the dyeing process to create wonderfully coloured, pleated pieces of silk to add to bead embroidery projects.   I have invested in a few of these, and have made two pendants so far.  Again, this is slightly out of my comfort zone, but I am persevering, and am loving the results so much that I have an entire range of Shibori jewellery planned for later this year – so watch this space!

 

 

And the moral of this story? – don’t be afraid to push yourself, and don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone – you might just surprise yourself!

Until next time….

Zoe xx