Monthly Archives: May 2013

My week in photos

I have been busy experimenting and making with my Polymer clay all week. Rather than write anything I’ll just show you what I have been doing ..if you want to know more then ask away.

Mosaic a pot and cheer up your garden ..

My geranium in her new home. My geranium in her new home.

Hopefully from the end of this month until September/ October I should be able to eat outside on my little terrace. Although my vine is getting greener by the day, my terrace is still a little bare, and so the other week I bought a few plants to brighten it up a bit.

As I still had loads of bits of tiles from my wall mosaics, I decided to decorate a dull terracotta pot I had for my geranium, to jazz it up a bit.

It is simple to do, does not need much in the way of equipment, and if you are impatient like me, it can be done in a day.

So why not have a go ?

WHAT YOU NEED
A pot
An assortment of coloured tiles of a similar thickness (the amount depends on the size of pot)
Some sort of rough sketch or design idea – simple shapes or straight lines can look great
Glue / tile cement)
Grout – (one that will contrast with the coloured tiles)
Varnish or PVA to seal the terracotta pot before mosaicing
Plastic gloves
Paint brush
Tile nippers( optional )
Spatula or old credit card
Hammer
Sponge
Dry cloth

WHAT TO DO

First cover the area where you are working with newspapers as it gets a bit messy !

Paint the inside and outside of the pot with varnish or acrylic sealant so that it is not porous. Leave to dry.

Whilst it is drying, smash up your tiles using a hammer. For safety it is best to wear gloves and safety goggles, or wrap the tiles in newspaper.
OR buy small mosaic tiles which don’t need smashing

If your design needs specific shapes, then use a pair of tile nippers for cutting
individual pieces.

START TILING

Spread tile cement onto the outside of the pot using a spatula, or old credit card a small amount at a time ( about 5cm 2) then press the pieces of mosaic into the cement.
Alternatively you can spread it onto the back of each tile, which takes a bit longer.
If you are using a PVA type glue then paint the back of individual pieces as you stick them on.

Make sure you leave gaps of around 2- 5 mm between tiles, for the grout.

When the glue/cement is semi dry, clean away any that is filling the gaps or is higher than the tiles, as there needs to be space for the grout to surround each piece of tile.
Any small thin tool can be used to clean out the gaps, I use the side of my spatula or a small knife.

Now look at the overall pot and fill any large gaps with small bits of tile, and re glue any that are not firm.

Leave tiles to dry. The length of time depends on the glue used and the temperature.

Mix up tile grout until it is the thickness of whipped cream, and with an old credit card spread it over the tiles, working it in different directions, and pushing it into all the gaps.

I cover about 20cm2 before wiping over the tiles with a damp sponge, pressing and smoothing the grout into the gaps as I go.

Make sure your sponge is not too wet, otherwise the grout will wash out again.

As the grout starts to dry, wipe a dry cloth over the tiles to take off any grout on the tiles. It is important to rub quite hard, as small pieces sometimes become buried under the grout. Take the time to do this well, as once the grout is set it won’t budge !

I love the cleaning part, and seeing the beautiful shiny colours and patterns of the finished pot start to emerge for the first time.

Once the cleaning is finished, wipe it over a few times with a dry cloth, and once the grout is dry ( leave over night if you can ) it is ready to plant.

Hey presto … a lovely colourful pot for your garden or terrace

making a moulded leather camera

I first got into working with leather after enrolling on a residential course with Val Michaels, who along with her husband Neil MacGregor, are two of the most amazingly talented and skilled leather artisan/ crafts persons in England today.
Whilst on the course one of the skills I learned was, how to make a moulded leather bag .

THE CORRECT WAY TO MOLD LEATHER
The wet leather is stretched over a hardwood former and tacked onto a baseboard before a second piece of wood, with the former shape cut out, is placed over the top. It is left over night to dry, and the end result is a smooth perfect shaped hard leather shell which can be stitched onto a flat back piece to create a bag.

WHEN YOU DONT HAVE A WOODEN FORMER

When I decided to make a moulded camera case, my biggest problem was not having a wooden former the size of my camera to stretch the leather over, and not being able to make one myself.
I decided to give it a try using the camera as the mould. I wrapped it in lots of cling film, and after soaking the leather in water I stretched it over the camera, and pressed down as firmly as i could with my hands.
As the leather started to dry I repeated the stretching and moulding process a few more times, and then left it over night to dry .

DID IT WORK ?

Although the leather was not as firm and as smooth on the corners as when I used a proper mould, I did end up with a camera shaped moulded piece of leather that I was able to use

THE NEXT STEPS

1. I trimmed around the moulded piece of leather leaving an edge of about 6mm.
2. I drew around the moulded piece onto a flat piece of leather, with a scratch awl, and cut it out for the back
3. I glued the edges ( apart from the top) and stuck it to the back, using bull-dog clips to hold it together until dry, and then I rounded off the corners
4. I set my dividers to 3 mm and drew a line around the edge where the stitching would be
5. Using a number 8 pricking iron I marked out the stitch holes along the line made with the dividers
6. I put it in the stitching clam and sewed it together using Saddle stitch
7. I burnished all the cut edges until they were smooth and shiny
8. I punched out holes and added a Sam Browne brass stud
9. I made a simple punched pattern on the flap, then waxed and polished it.
10. FINISHED – JOB DONE

I now have a lovely unique leather case, that I think will probably out live the camera inside !

A busier week …..

This week has been a lot more productive. Here are just a few photos to show you what I have been up to.

In my next post I will explain in more detail how i made the moulded leather camera case.

Enjoy your week-end .

POSITIVE THOUGHTS = POSITIVE RESULTS ( and vice versa)

Last week was a week I am choosing to forget. Although I managed to drag myself over to my workshop most days, I felt a bit “lost” once there, and managed to get very little done. I made some “fake jade” polymer clay pieces, but my oven decided to burn most of them, which didn’t help.

Do you ever have times when you find a day has gone by, and you have managed to get absolutely nothing done, and have not even had an idea for most of the day ?
Well most of last week felt like that for me. When the internet decided to pack up, on top of everything else that was happening, I gave up trying to do any thing. The best day of my week was spent at the river beach reading .

It got me thinking about how much my STATE OF MIND, affects what I get done, creatively and otherwise. Last week felt like a long line of dominoes one toppling onto the next, until they all fell down, and I just watched. Everything that happening last week seemed to steam roller over me, and I felt powerless. Although It was a horrible feeling at the time,
I now realize that I had lost my positive state of mind.
Every little thing suddenly became big, and stuff that I normally take in my stride started getting to me.

I could have handled last week differently, but the fact is I didn’t, and so I have written it off. The good thing is I recognised what was happening, and have had a very busy week of thinking lots of things through that were affecting it.

Today is the start of a new week, and after giving myself a good talking to( and a bit of a kick up the bum ) I am starting to feel a bit more upbeat again.
I have told myself that my positive state of mind is back, and had just gone AWOL for a while, and this week has started off better already.

The new router arrived this morning, and I felt quite pleased with myself as I managed to understand the Portuguese instructions enough to configure it. So the internet is back !
I am also feeling more in the mood to start a few things in the work shop that I have been putting off for a while. So that is another good feeling.
Tomorrow , I am going to start making a moulded leather camera case which is long overdue, and then I’ll see what they rest of the week brings !!