New eco printed silk scarves

As part of my plan to work with the seasons I have been eco printing silk scarves in plenty time to stock my shop for Christmas.

I normally steam all my scarves but I’ve bought a huge aluminium pot for fabric dyeing so I thought I’d boil some scarves to see how they would turn out. I love the effect of the twine  from tying the bundles. I got some beautiful and unusual asymmetrical scarves, that  also have a mirror image effect from the folding.

Eco Printed Scarves

This is all one scarf, it has sweet chestnut leaves and geranium.

Close up of a sweet chestnut leaf.Eco Printed Scarves

This shows a print from the other side of a leaf, with twine marks.

Eco Printed Scarves

I love the way the pattern is graded along the length of the scarf, almost like 2 scarves in one, the other end is much lighter. Eco Printed Scarves

I think this scarf is my favourite out of this batch, I love the asymmetrical ends, the rose leaves and the twine marks. Can you see the ‘butterflies’?

Eco Printed Scarves

Eco Printed Scarves

The folding with leaves and onion skins create symmetry. Eco Printed Scarves

Eco Printed Scarves

Eco Printed ScarvesI steamed some scarves as well, these two have been dyed with a food based dye before placing the leaves.
Eco Printed Scarves
Eco Printed Scarves

This one was left the natural silk colour, this scarf has some gorgeous leaf prints showing the detailing from the veins.

Eco Printed Scarves

 

Eco Printed Scarves

There are more photos and more silk scarves over in my Etsy shop if you would like a look.

I love the eco dying process so much, working with foliage connects me with nature, and sometimes a memorable walk, but also I love not being totally in control and working with serendipity, but of course I don’t always win them all. I printed a cotton T shirt and it looked like someone had washed the floor with it. Not a good look.

I have to prune my apple trees  soon, I hope to make a dye from the shoots and leaves, then make a Japanese cross over back apron top, more to follow.

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Working with the seasons – trying to keep up

A lot of the work that I enjoy doing involves working with the seasons, using the leaves and foliage available at certain times of the year. Last year I only got a couple of hosta pots made before the leaves fell victim to the frosts. So this year I patiently waited for them to come into leaf. But then we had a couple of trips away so it’s only now that I have had the time to make some more pots. I made some small incense stick holders and tea light holders, or they could even be used as a ring tray.
UntitledI made some ‘fossil’ tiles too, but I missed the buttercups and late spring flowers that I wanted to use so I tried some new ideas like clematis and lavender as well as seed heads.

Working with the seasons

Working with the seasons
UntitledAnother thing about working with the seasons is the weather, it’s been quite hot so I’ve worked in the garden, playing mud pies and recycling some clay.
Working with the seasonsIt’s firming up nicely now.

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I took some time in the shade to make some fish, hares, and soap dishes for my handmade soap. I think I need to make a few more for the shop. I had to work quickly in the heat and keep everything damp while I was working. Handling the clay kept me feeling cool, I love playing with mud on a hot day.
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I’ve been out collecting leaves for eco printing too, more on that later.

 

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Making a boiled wool hat from leftover fabric

I made a hat with the leftover fabric from my boiled wool jacket.

I chose a plate that was about the size I wanted the crown and cut out a circle. Then I measured a length of fabric that went around my head, but I made it a bit deeper than I wanted the hat so I could add some tucks, and of course the seam allowance.
A jacket in a dayAfter joining the seam 3 rows of pin tucks were stitched , the bottom one became the hem because when I tried it around my head it looked right. My original plan was to add a band but I like it as it is.

A jacket in a dayThe crown was pinned, first dividing into quarters, then dividing again and again to deal with the ease, then stitched in place.

A jacket in a dayFinally a steam pressing for a good looking finish.
Boiled wool hatThis hat could easily  be dressed up with a flourish in the form of a felt flower, or leaves, a brooch or some feathers etc.

If you would like to see how it looks on then have a look on my facebook.

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Art Elements July Theme Challenge – Flowers.

I have missed not participating in the Art Elements challenges lately but life seems so busy these days. The theme this month is flowers.

Whilst sitting in the garden watching the bees on the lavender bushes I had an idea that I thought might suit the challenge but not take up too much time. It’s a little different to what you might think I would do for a flower challenge.

You may already know I like to make my own soaps, lip balms, lotion bars etc. One thing I find with soap is the scent doesn’t last as well as I would like. While I was sitting I was thinking if I could infuse my olive oil for soapmaking with lavender flowers, and would it last longer. Then I started thinking about the huge rosemary bush and some Corsican thyme that was flowering right by my seat. I love the way the smell wafts up when the breeze catches it.

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I went to pick some lavender, which is not an easy task, the bushes are at the other side of a low fence, which I had to climb over. From here the ground slopes off to a wall and a 4 foot drop to the road. It’s a nightmare to garden, it’s south facing and dry so it has become a low maintenance rock garden, lavender thrives there.

I started cutting my flowers, I have 3 varieties of lavender but some looked past their best, I happily cut and smelled the flowers taking in their scent, then I felt my foot stinging, when I looked down I had ants crawling up my legs and biting my foot where they had gotten into my flip-flops. I made a hasty retreat with a meagre bunch of lavender flowers. It was so much easier picking the rosemary and thyme.

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These were all left to dry for a couple of days before infusing in oil. The rosemary and thyme were put in a pan with oil and warmed up, then left to stand a while before straining.

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The lavender flowers went in the slow cooker with the oil for a couple of hours, then it sat overnight to cool before straining.

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The scent wasn’t as strong as I’d hoped but it was definitely there, maybe I needed more lavender, but I wasn’t going to pick more with those pesky ants about.

Next I set about making ‘crockpot’ castile soap (google to find tons of recipes) using my lavender infused oil. Here it is at the start of cooking, having blitzed it with the hand blender.

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After about 40 minutes, (stirring every 10 minutes,) it becomes translucent, thick and jelly like, ready to go into a mould. I forgot to take the photo 🙂 but here it is cut into bars, it has a light lavender smell, I hope it lasts but only time will tell.

UntitledBack to the rosemary and thyme oil; my intention was to make some lip balm and use the rest for cooking but my family said they didn’t like it. So I could make more soap with it, or just use the oil on my hair and skin. My husband’s Aunt told me a long time ago rosemary was good for the memory, I believe the quote “Rosemary for remembrance”comes from William Shakespeare.

UntitledHaving looked on the internet it seems to be good for a lot of things, I’m going to try it as a tonic for my thinning hair, it’s also good for arthritis and Raynauds syndrome which affects me in the winter. I think it smells, and tastes lovely, I like it drizzled on bread.

I made some lip balm, it’s 1 part beeswax to 1 1/2 parts oil, melted in a double boiler. I used a lot of lip balm last winter, it’s great for the hands as well. If it’s too stiff when it sets just melt it down and add a few more drops of oil. The little jars get reused, and are so easy to slip into your pocket or handbag.

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Now I’m off to see what everyone has made for this lovely floral theme, why not go and take a look?

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Making A Boiled Wool Jacket In A Day!

I have a bit of a thing for boiled wool, but don’t tell anyone 😊 I had a search on the internet for boiled wool jacket patterns and I was pleased to discover Tessuti Berlin jacket pattern, which you can download and print yourself.

So when I say it took me a day to make the jacket the sewing part actually took an afternoon, my morning was taken up putting the pattern pieces together. There wouldn’t have been any problems but for some reason half my pages were a slightly different size. But which pages were the wrong size? After printing some test pages I eventually worked it out and reprinted those pages.
A jacket in a day

A jacket in a dayI checked the measurements and decided to make the medium size, I thought the sleeves might be too long but as the jacket has a drop shoulder and  couldn’t  work out where the seam would be I decided to shorten the sleeves once I could try the jacket on.

A jacket in a dayI cut out my fabric, making sure I had nice neat edges, the raw edges are visible so you want a nice clean cut for a professional finish.

The pattern has really clear step by step instructions. They suggest a walking foot on your sewing machine but I don’t have one. Sewing with the ordinary foot was the most tricky part of making the jacket, the overlapped seams tended to slip so I decided to tack everything. It was a good decision as the stitching would be almost impossible to unpick.

A jacket in a dayFirst the cuffs were sewn onto the pockets and edges trimmed.

Pocket were sewn onto fronts.
A jacket in a dayBack neck was joined, then shoulders and neckband were stitched to the back.
A jacket in a dayThe facings were joined then stitched in place.

A jacket in a daySleeves were attached.
A jacket in a dayNext I tacked the side seams and tried on the jacket, I thought it was too big so I increased the seam allowance to an inch, and I shortened the sleeves by an inch. The seams were trimmed down and pressed open. A rolled up towel inserted into the sleeve makes pressing much easier.

You can see here the seam might be visible when wearing the jacket.
A jacket in a daySo I trimmed them as a slight angle, problem solved.
A jacket in a dayAll that was left to do was sew on the cuffs and give it a good steam pressing. My Mum always said a good finish is all about the pressing.

A jacket in a dayI love this jacket, it will be so versatile, and it’s very warm, cosy, and easy to wear. I might  make another bright coloured jacket. It seems the sewing bug has returned.

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Series Of Nine Painting Challenge

I discovered Wendy Solganik aka @willawatercolours over on Istagram having listened to a podcast interview with Laura Horn Art.

I decided to take up Willawatercolors Instagram art challange and make a series of nine paintings.

So where to begin?

I wanted to practice what I’d learnt from Laura’s classes, but I wanted to make these paintings my own.

I took inspiration from my photos of Northumberland, the cup and ring marks and rock carvings, rock formations, striations and carved channels in the rocks, boulders, foamy elderberry flowers and grassy tussocks, snaking lines, the sea. I made mental notes as I flicked through my photos.

I set my intention, to stick to the same simple colour palette and use my Northumberland photos as loose inspiration. Also I have a mantra when I paint this way which I learned from the artist Arnold Lowrey, it is “Repetition with variation”.

I knew if I was to keep this up without changing too much I would probably need to try different composition structures so I refreshed my memory.

I chose a simple colour scheme, Payne’s grey is my go to colour , the purple came from the heather in the landscape of Northumberland, a couple of inktense sticks and a few pens and inks were all I would need.

Number 1.

I thought I would keep things simple for the first one, circles with ring marks, but once I got into it my rings became spirals, which I love to use in my work.

Series of nine painting challenge

Number 2.

This time I went for a more in depth painting. I like the end result and I enjoyed the process. I  subconsciously called upon images in my mind that I wasn’t aware of until I stepped back from painting.

Series of nine challenge

Number 3.

Now I was having to think how to change things up, I chose a different composition. I struggled with this painting, my interest was starting to ebb, maybe series of 3 is more my thing.

Series of nine challenge

Number 4.

I wasn’t sure where to go next, should I add another colour? I decided not to, I went back to circles / blobby composition to give myself some breathing space.Series of nine painting challenge

Number 5.

I had another look at my photos, some of the carved rocks had channels , these reminded me of a technique from Laura Horn Art classes that I had taken not so long ago. I’m not sure if this painting hangs together, maybe a square mount would be better.

Series of nine painting challenge

Number 6.

I’m getting bored with the colour scheme now maybe it’s time to introduce a touch of yellow ochre, back to the circles to try it out.

Series of nine painting challenge

Number 7.

I chose a calming linear composition for this one.

Series of nine painting challengeNumber 8.

When we climbed Simonside there was a place where a rock was just hanging there between the huge boulders.

Series of nine painting challenge

Number 9.

I finally got there, to finish I couldn’t resist some stacked pebbles of Millstone grit.

Series of nine painting challenge

Here’s my series of nine all together, now I need some titles, if anyone has suggestions how to name a painting I would appreciate it .

Series of nine painting challenge

Which one is your favourite painting?

 

 

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Cup And Ring Marks In Northumberland

If you have visited Northumberland you will know it has some amazing beaches, rolling countryside, moors, hills, and lots of castles, more on those later.
IMG_5790If you delve deeper into the history of Northumberland there are Iron Age hill forts, Bronze Age burial sites, also quite a few rocks with Neolithic and Bronze Age cup and ring marks which I’ve read about but I’ve never actually seen them before, even though they are the most important collection of prehistoric art in Britain.

There are over a 1000 examples of ancient rock art in Northumberland, we visited two sites at Lordenshaw and Old Bewick.

Lordenshaw carvings are easily accessed by car, they are situated near Simonside, which we climbed to enjoy views of most of Northumberland, and found a rock carving which gave me the chills, it looks like it’s  designed to catch liquid which would then flow off the rock via a lip. Maybe I’ve just watched too much TV, a scene in “The Vikings” came to mind. There are also rocks with long carved channels which must have allowed something to flow along them.

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IMG_5468And lots of cup and ring marks.
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It was more difficult to find the carvings at Old Bewick, having to walk through heather and bracken, there’s a lot of history here, Bronze Age burial cists. IMG_5768Two Iron Age hillforts, as well as the rock carvings. There’s  also a WW2 pillbox, but it’s the cup and rings that interested me most.

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IMG_6067We found a quite large rock cut into a round basin, which on research happens to be the biggest known cup mark in the world.
IMG_5815I hope the cup and ring marks will inspire some of my art in the near future, I certainly enjoyed seeing them for the first time. Hopefully I will go back and see some more next time we go home to Northumberland.

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Loosening up my watercolour style.

For a long time now I have wanted to ‘simplify’ my watercolour painting style, breaking away from the traditional methods I learnt so long ago, and maybe even venture into mixed media work.

When I saw Lesley Watt’s post on Art Elements about online watercolour classes with Laura Horn I thought this could be just what I needed, so I ordered some classes to take on holiday with me.
I enjoyed Laura’s classes very much and watched them several times over while I was away but I didn’t work through the videos as I was going as I prefer to watch several times, digest for a while then do my own thing. I tend to do this with books as well.

Inspired by what I had learnt from Laura and with my island trip fresh in my mind I jumped in and painted, and painted until my paper block ran out.

Zen Art by Jill EganZen Art by Jill Egan

Zen Art by Jill Egan

Zen Art by Jill EganIt took me a while to adjust to different ways of working, I’ve never been happy working on watercolour paper that wasn’t stretched but using a paper in block form suited me perfectly.  Also I was finally giving myself the freedom of allowing ‘cauliflowers’ or ‘blooms’ to form in my paintings, which was definitely a no no when I went to watercolour classes. I love those blooms in the paint.

Zen Art by Jill Egan

Zen Art by Jill Egan

Zen Art by Jill Egan

Zen Art by Jill EganI discovered Posca pens, which I now love, and I got to use acrylics and inks which I haven’t used very much in the past. I have always loved the flowing serendipitous qualities of watercolours, also texture and pattern are my ‘thing’.

I’ve been aware that I’m spending less time working these days , I’m slowing down, I think it’s an ‘age thing’ or just life happenings. I am relaxed, and deliberately taking more time to enjoy the ‘Zen’ aspects of life and connect with mother nature more.

Zen Art by Jill Egan

Zen Art by Jill Egan

Zen Art by Jill EganI have been thinking about how I will define my creative self as I get older, I’m planning on going back to my roots with watercolours and stitching, but seen through ‘new’ eyes, 20 (or for some things even 40+) years on. It’s a transition that I won’t rush. 🙂

Zen Art by Jill Egan

A new website is on it’s way, for my art which isn’t ‘kiln fired,’ more on that later when it’s up and running. I need to think up some titles for my new paintings, I find this very difficult indeed because when I paint I’m obviously influenced by something that has touched me, but I don’t articulate through words, I do it with my brush, words don’t come easy.

But now I need to decide………

do I make prints ………

or ………

sell the original paintings?

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My Upcycled Ecoprinted Top

My friend came over for a few days, we usually do something crafty, this time I decided to make a top where I’d eco printed the fabric myself. This has been on my to do list for a while so it was good to finally get round to it. It took 3 days to complete, on the first day I dyed the fabric. I downloaded a free pattern for the York top from Seamwork  

Upcycled ecoprinted top
The fabric is recycled 100% cotton ( I’ll tell you more at the end of this post), I cut the fabric slightly larger than the pattern pieces so there would be plenty wiggle room after dyeing just in case something didn’t work out and needed to be avoided.
Upcycled ecoprinted topThe fabric was rolled on copper pipes, tied with yarn and boiled for 2 1/2 hours. I threw a couple of handfuls of onion skins into the pot thinking I would get a golden brown colour.

Upcycled ecoprinted topI have to say I was surprised at the colour, which wasn’t brown, but I wasn’t too sure the leaves had printed very well. I left the fabric to dry overnight.
On assessment the next day I realised I had some lovely delicate green leaves as well as some darker cotinus prints. What I liked most was the patterning from the onion skin dye which ranged from pale lemon yellow to ochre. It’s hard to tell from my pictures but the light background colour is lemon not white.
Upcycled ecoprinted topOn the outside of my bundles serendipity gave me a lovely graded colour effect, also the pink yarn I’d used to tie my bundles had transferred to the fabric, I hoped to use this effect as a border at the hemline front and back and also on one edge of the cuffs when cutting my pattern pieces so I took care to match up the front and back so the ‘border’ was the same depth . There’s a lovely pattern centre front as well.
Upcycled ecoprinted top

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Mirror image cuffs,look how the geranium leaf front and back prints differently.Untitled

And sleeves
Upcycled ecoprinted topI haven’t made clothes in years but I was taught well by my mother who had served an apprenticeship as a dressmaker and who sewed and taught dressmaking all her working life. It all came back to me very quickly, it was like she was sitting on my shoulder telling me what to do next.

I  made my own bias binding for the neck.

Upcycled ecoprinted topI had to wait a day for this nifty little tool to arrive but it makes things so much easier.

You slot your strip of fabric into the tool, pin the end to the ironing board and as you pull the tool along you iron the fabric.

Upcycled ecoprinted top

Upcycled ecoprinted top

The pattern had a tie fastener at the back neck  but I thought it would be too bulky. In the middle of the night I woke up knowing how my Mum would finish the neck, with a thread loop which is barely visible. I don’t know if I have ever done this before but I had watched Mum do it many times in the past.

Using double thread I made a couple of loops which the button would go through but not too loose.

Upcycled ecoprinted top

Then I buttonhole stitched over the loops of thread and finished off the ends securely on the back.Upcycled ecoprinted topPerfect!

Upcycled ecoprinted topHere’s my finished top, I think it turned out well 🙂

Upcycled ecoprinted topIt’s a little on the large side but the next one will be perfect.

Upcycled ecoprinted topI have to say this turned out far better than my expectations, the top wouldn’t  look out of place in a boutique in Positano. I am looking forward to making more eco printed clothes, maybe a skirt or another top.

I said I would tell you about the cotton fabric at the end of this post. I’ll let you into my secret, it’s made from a cotton sheet that I used to cover my craft fair table, shhh don’t tell anyone 🙂

I’m wearing it to go out to dinner with my friend next week. 😀

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Sketchbook fail, but still finding inspiration from Luing

While I was away I had such intentions of taking my sketching things out on my walks and filling up the pages as fast as I could. OK I come clean, that didn’t happen very often. I felt I just wanted to be a sponge soak the island into my soul. I did a few sketches plein air, using sea water on my finger to blend the colours.
Luing inspirationI tried to capture an otter but to be honest I just wanted to observe them.
Luing inspiration
I think the dry weather prevented me doing much crafting in the cottage as we went out every day. On the one day of rain I did a stitched sketchbook page, and some eco printing, as I wanted to capture the sycamore flowers and small leaves before they were gone.

Luing inspirationSome ACEO sized eco prints are making their way into my Etsy shop. I think they work so well with my little ceramic ring dishes over on Etsy.

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I did some studying in the evenings when I was too tired to do anything but read and watch online videos, I signed up for some lessons with Laura Horn. I was taught traditional watercolour techniques all those years ago, I’m working on loosening up and painting with mixed media at the moment.

I’m having a blast, this is my “Island of Dreams” painting, I can hear the surf. 😊

UntitledHopefully there will be more mixed media work to show you soon.

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