Monday, 24 July 2017

A class in Precious Metal Clay

I attended a really great workshop on the weekend at the Sydney Jewellery School (which recently moved from Rosebery to Parramatta - how lucky for me)! The class was all about making silver jewellery with Precious Metal Clay (PMC). I first became aware of PMC through Marialla Walker's Instagram (here and here). There is seriously no craft this lady has not tried - inspirational!

Wikipedia tells us that "Metal clay is a crafting medium consisting of very small particles of metal such as silver...mixed with an organic binder and water for use in making jewelrybeads and small sculptures. Originating in Japan in 1990, metal clay can be shaped just like any soft clay, by hand or using molds. After drying, the clay can be fired in a variety of ways such as in a kiln, with a handheld gas torch, or on a gas stove, depending on the type of clay and the metal in it. The binder burns away, leaving the pure sintered metal."

I was attracted to this class as it is actually something you can do at home if you want -- no need for a kiln, just a creme brulee torch and you're off! I'm already dabbling in polymer clay at home so this seemed like a good "next step".

These are so of the examples our teacher brought to class - all made by her (I'm coveting the ring in the very bottom right)
Our teacher Donna was great - very very patient! And I think she brought with her every gadget and tool in her workshop which we were free to use. The first hour of the class was spent being shown various techniques in working with the clay (PMC3) and then we were encouraged to plan out what we wanted to do before opening up the clay and letting it go hard (this stuff is not cheap at ~$50 for 16g so it was very good advice).

Sixteen grams of clay is not a lot and in way I'm glad as I kept my wishlist small and simple and went for two pendants and two sets of earrings. I also had enough for a little heart (made from a mould) that I have given to Dave...he has no idea what to do with, but I can't wear it so I don't want it! I do wish I had made the shapes of the earrings different from each other as they look a bit "same same" but you live and learn!
This is the clay, once it has been rolled out and had a textured surface applied by pushing it into a rubber or metal mat. Shapes are cut out using a pin from a shaped stencil - easy!

The school has a kiln so most of our pieces went into the kiln for firing (took 30 minutes to do this). As you can also fire PMC3 using a kitchen blow touch Donna showed us how to do this too. I wasn't going to embark on this as a hobby at home but I'm kind of running out of space to put all my crafting stuff...but I feel like the seed has been sewn and it might just happen. I didn't have a go at using the blow torch but I kind of wish I had now. 

Once the clay comes out of the kiln it has become 99.9% pure silver though it still looks like white clay. Once you've gone at it with a wire brush the silver surface is revealed. In order to get a good shine on your piece you need to go at it with a bevel (?)...which I kind of did, but to be honest it all looked shiny enough to me. 

Here I am wearing one pair of my new earrings at work - LOVE them!

The Sydney Jewellery School has loads of great classes - I can see myself enrolling in more classes here. 

Flower Power McCall's 6886 - a toile (x 2)

Ever on the quest to find the "perfect dress pattern" for myself I was quite taken by Kirsten's striped version of McCalls 6886. I wasn't quite sure if the pattern (found here) would work for me as it was a bit more snug at the waist than I'd normally wear - but once I had the idea in my head I couldn't get past it.

The dress I'm wearing isn't my original toile (which I had made in the exact same fabric from My Hung in Parramatta) as my overlocker ate the sleeves when I was trying to take them in a bit. The sleeves are VERY wide (I made the size 24 based on my measurements) so I wanted them to be more slim as they made the dress look too big and frumpy as they were drafted - my overlocker had other ideas. The blade refused to cut the material and the whole thing ended up a great big mess. Luckily My Hung still has this fabric in-store so I bought a bit more and tried again.

I've sewn View C with the long sleeves and higher neckline (though I did drop the front a little bit as choking on my necklines isn't my thing at all).  The shoulders are not quite sitting where I think they should and they look a bit like "dropped sleeves" - I could fix this but I don't think it's too bad (and to be honest I'm not sure how to fix it without stuffing things up on future makes so I'll let dropped shoulders drop).

I did make a few other changes to the pattern - namely I added a neckband as the "turn over and stitch down" method never works for me...I just cannot get things to sit nicely. I also removed 1.5cm from the shoulder height and sewed the shoulder seams with my overlocker (using clear elastic to stabilize the seams) rather than using my sewing machine with a 1.5cm seam allowance (that just seems wrong on knits to me). I took the sleeves up by 1.5" and in at the wrists by 1cm on each side (tapering up to nothing under the arms). The sleeves are still a bit too wide at the wrists so I might slim them down a smidge more on my next make.

I really like the finished dress - in fact I'm wearing it to work today. My only niggle is that the neckband is not sitting as flat against the back of my neck as I would like. I did have to attach the neckband twice as the first time it was just too big (why! the neckband on my botched toile was so so perfect)!

I really like this dress and would like to find some nice fabric to make another one for winter - and of course I have ideas for summer versions of this too. I did start to sew another one at home but the fabric is not stretchy enough so it's not very comfy. Sigh.


Pattern: McCall's 6886
Size: 24, View C with the long sleeves and higher neckline
Modifications: (see above)
Fabric: 20% Polyester/78% Rayon/2% Spandex from My Hung in Parramatta
Changes for next time: none. 

Thursday, 20 July 2017

A beanie for Dave

I decided on the way to work one morning that I was going to make Dave a beanie...lucky Dave! I was just looking for a small project to take on that I could do on the commute to/from work each day and a beanie is something that I think can be relatively easy. Sadly he said a firm NO to me adding a pom pom to it.

I found the pattern on Ravelry after searching for super-dooper easy crochet beanies for beginners (it also has a youTube video which helped a LOT). The wool is from The Granny Square in Newtown - of course! I like going there as I can bring along the pattern and they'll help me pick the correct wool and hook. I find wool so confusing (DK, worsted, WTF) so getting help is wondeful!

I had SO much trouble getting this beanie started -- I thought I'd be off to a good start and then lose count of the stitches somewhere along the way. I must have started about six times but I finally go there in the end and made good progress over a few weeks.

The pattern comes with instructions on fitting for a male or female head (aka big head vs smaller head) and I did end quite a few more rows than the suggested fourteen rows as that was WAY too small for Dave's head. I had initially finished it with a single stitch but pulled that out as it wasn't stretchy and felt uncomfortable to wear. Since he's started to wear it it has stretched a bit in length so could do with being one row shorter but he's happy to leave it as is...

And here is the finished product on Dave...I think he likes it. I mean, he's worn it without me forcing him to wear it which is nice. I don't think it looks homemade in a bad would just look better with a pom pom on top!

I have a bit of wool left over from this project - enough to make a pom pom infact! And I've bought myself another ball of this wool so will make a beanie for myself.