Back to Vinterviken, creative embroidery and a little webshop

Now in September, I had another weekend at Vinterviken gardens. Exciting to show my jewellery and nice company with the shopkeepers at the craft shop who run the craft shop as volunteers. Marie Oredsson is a fine potter and textile artist, take a look at her website.  www.marieoredsson.se

20190914_122116I sold just a few jewels but it was so nice to meet people and talk about crafts. I hope to be back next spring when Vinterviken opens again.

I have found a society for creative embroidery and have been on a first meeting. So interesting!  www.skapandebroderi.se The members are everything from hobby makers to skilled textile artists and the purpose is to promote embroidery as a recognised art form. They have developed collaboration with various museums in Stockholm, this autumn at the Swedish History Museum. We meet there every Wednesday evening and stitch. The current subject is medieval seams and stitches. The society also organizes courses and lectures. I add a link to their website and to the History Museum. www.historiska.se

This is the embroidery I have started, inspired by medieval motifs.

 

And I have finally set up a little webshop take a look! I start with just four items but will add more further on. Webshop

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Guest crafter at Vinterviken and Stockholm in its prime

A weekend in May I had the opportunity to be a guest crafter at Vintervikens organic gardens close to Stockholm. It is a nonprofit organization with a beautiful garden, a vegetarian cafe and a craft shop among other things. It is so nice; if you are in Stockholm pay it a visit! Now I got a table where I could show my jewellery, so exciting! And in spite of bad weather ( hard wind, rain and thunder at times) and a payment system failure for some hours there was plenty of people and I actually sold quite a few of my jewels. Having only sold to friends and relatives before, this was a new encouraging experience. And best of all, I discovered that people seemed enjoyed and happy with their new jewels when they left. I hadn’t realized that my work at the bench, which I do for fun, could bring that.

 

Here some pictures of the making:

 

I am now considering the possibility to start a webshop, we wait and see.

In a recent post, I praised the beauty of Lisbon, deservedly. But, if I raise my eyes I have to say that I happen to live in a city of unusual beauty, especially in this time of the year. The architecture, all the water, the stunning parks. One of my favourite spots is Långholmen ( long island) where I like to stroll. A former prison island, now a place for crafters, garden allotments, marinas, cafes, a hostel and even a beach ( yes the water is clean).

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One of the marinas, with typical small wooden boats.
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Small beach where people swim hot summer days.

 

A garden alottment with a little wooden shed where the gardening tools are kept.

 

The Bellman museum, about the 18th-century troubadour.

Now to another stunning island of Stockholm: Djurgården. There is another of my favourite museums: Thielska galleriet. Ernst Thiel was a rich banker and art collector who donated his house to the Swedish state. The house and garden is a piece of art in itself.

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I visited an exhibition about Lisbeth and Gocken Jobs, two sisters who worked in ceramics and textile with mostly floral motifs. They became very popular and made Swedish homes blossom during the post-war period.

 

 

And at last, we do have some street art in Stockholm too, but not by far as many as in Lisbon.

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Easter crafts and my new bench buddy

Spring is early this year and the cherry blossoms have started since a couple of weeks, even in my own backyard, beautiful!

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I have knitted a sweater “on demand”.  It is my daughter’s boyfriend Simon who wanted a warm alpaca sweater to use when birdwatching in our cold climate. I knitted from my Alice Starmore book with patterns from various countries and I made a mixture but mostly Norwegian. This is the result:

 

 

 

 

Not long ago I bought a jewellery tumbler and I am so happy with it! Half an hour’s tumbling with a stainless steel mixed shot, some water and soap makes the silver shine with a gloss that is difficult to achieve in any other way. The tumbler reaches every corner and is so gentle that even delicate filigree comes out undistorted.

 

 

 

 

 

I like dragonflies and I know it has great symbolic value in other cultures. Here are a pendant and a pair of  ear- pendants:

 

 

 

 

Other things I have made recently, rings with labradorite and bracelet of chrysocolla:

 

 

 

I have bought soldering clamp strips made of titanium, very neat. You bend it to the shape you prefer and it can be used to hold items in place during soldering. Titanium is a metal with unique features: solder doesn’t stick to it, it stays strong when red. It transfers heat very slowly and it  doesn’t interfere with nearby joints and parts. I have a titanium solder stick which I can hold in one end when red hot at the other end. Very useful when it comes to “pick soldering”.

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My favourite art museum in Stockholm: Prince Eugens’ Waldemarsudde has two ongoing exhibitions: its: Grez-sur-Loing – Art and Relations and Björn Wessman, an excellent colourist. GsL was a legendary French village with an artist colony with artists mainly from Scandinavia and Anglosaxon countries in the late 19th century. This exhibition focus on relationships and highlights both women and men, for example the marvellous Julia Beck. Björn Wessman, a contemporary Swedish artist is inspired by the nature in Stockholm archipelago. Many of those paintings have not been exhibited before. These paintings are breathtaking and no photo can show the colours properly.


20190407_13471220190407_153440 Continue reading Easter crafts and my new bench buddy

Winter silver

Winter is coming, though so far more “English” than “Swedish”, that means mild, misty, rainy and windy. And I don’t mind, I am not fond of blizzards, slippery roads and chaos in public communications. But of course, we usually don’t have the wild storms and flooding that England suffers too often. But now to: what has happened in my little workshop? In fact I have mostly used leftovers of yarn ans scrap silver this month. My passion for mittens resulted in a new pair of mittens, pattern from Alice Starmore.

The beauty of autumn/winter inspired me to this necklace. I used a boulder opal from Queensland in Australia, where 90 % of opals come from. This is a cheaper stone because the opal is mixed with ironstone. I think it has a rough and rustic beauty. The chain is made of square wire.

 

 

From scrap silver, pieces of wire and granules that I melted from scrap pieces I made those rings and ear pendants.

 

Next project is a “crazy” Fair Isle knitting from Alice Starmore. I write crazy because it is very complicated with lots of colours, but lots of fun! I have just started and it will be very time-consuming I’m afraid.

Autumn leaves

This colourful month I have been inspired by the autumn in the forest. Walking, picking fungus and breathing the fresh cool air gave me impressions that resulted in a couple of weeks of intense stitching. This is some of what inspired me:

 

 

 

The red fungus is poisonous but beautiful so it was just shot and not eaten. Back home the stitching started. I made two projects, one almost nonfigurative with the autumn colours and the other is inspired from the master needlepoint artist Elian McCready. She was working many years for  Ehrman’s tapestry and in my view she was the best. It took many, many hours and many times I thought about the big differences between embroidery and silversmithing. The latter is quicker and in a way more exciting, there is always an element of the unpredictable about it.  Stitching is full control, and it is more challenging your patience than your courage. The rewarding thing is the use of colours, I love to combine different colours and see what works and what doesn’t. Colours can sing together in stunning harmony.

 

 

Framed and ready to decorate my bedroom:

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And finally some silversmithing even this month:

 

Lapis lazuli, amber and blue silk

Whilst autumn is slowly setting in, I have been busy with a few new items. Another amber ring, this time a little thicker silver and some small balls soldered on. My old torch had started to leak gas ( scary) so I bought a new smaller one which is easier to use with the left hand. Good to have the right hand free to hold the piece in place and to correct it with the solder stick if needed.

 

 

 

The next project has been to make a necklace with the three little lapis lazuli cabochon stones I bought a while ago. Lapis lazuli is a favourite of mine, beautiful midnight blue colour. This time a made the chain from jump rings from  1 mm silver thread. Well necklace completed why not sew a matching blouse? I went to the best silk fabric shop in Stockholm (Sidencarlson) and bought a piece in likewise lovely blue silk. With such expensive and delicate fabric I dare not but sew by hand, it gives more control than the sewing machine. A little embroidery along the neckline, in fact I started with that before cutting. The blouse design is super simple, it is the fabric that makes it all.

 

 

 

 

 

A trip to Amsterdam and the Hague-the city of peace and justice

Last week I visited a friend who lives in the Netherlands, in Friesland but she came down to meet me in Amsterdam. Together with her two sisters we explored some of Amsterdam and the Hague. I had made these gifts for her and for her little grand-daughter:

 

 

 

In Amsterdam there were the canals, pretty old houses, and a lot of new tall buildings growing everywhere. After some travelling the last years I have noticed a rapid change of the skyline in many cities in Europe. Development is generally good, bit is this really necessary? Coming back to Stockholm I realize how comparably modest this city is when it comes to construction projects and keeping the skyline low. And this in spite of being one of the most rapidly growing capitals in Europe. I am thankful for that. Having said that, both Amsterdam and the Hague are still very enjoyable cities.

I knew that the Hague is known for hosting international courts, but I had not realized the scale of it and how much it defines the city’s identity. “The city of peace and justice” has several courts, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and Hague Academy of International Law. The Hague has a history of peacework long before the UN was formed and monuments over this are still manifested, here the World Peace Flame:

 

 

 

 

You can’t go to the Netherlands without looking at art. One fascinating painting I had not heard of before is the Mesdag panorama painting. Hosted in a house built for the purpose it is a huge circular painting of the sea village of Scheveningen in 1881. With foreground of real sand and natural light from the ceiling it gives a perfect illusion of really being there. Beautiful!

 

 

 

Another wonderful museum in the Hague is “Mauritshuis” full of paintings from the golden age in Dutch art, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Rubens, Frans Hals and other.  Some of my favourites:

 

 

At last two pictures from Stockholm, one from my place, a nature reserve 15 minutes walk from my home. The other from the city, one of the bridges of Stockholm.

 

 

A summer course and a little silver-copper-wooden box

Two weeks ago I attended a 5 days summer silver smithing course in “Helliden folkhögskola” in a lovely 19th century setting in southwest of Sweden. The school is hosted in a castle with a beautiful park and a view over wooded hills far away. Truly an inspiring environment for creative work. The “folkhögskola” concept is in itself a special treat for making people do their very best, with its including and encouraging atmosphere where everyone is welcome.

 

 

 

Continue reading A summer course and a little silver-copper-wooden box

More jewellerymaking and a heatwave

Looking back on July I realize how industrious I have been with my silversmithing this period. Despite an unusually long-lasting heatwave that has been going on since the middle of May with high temperature and sustaining drought or maybe because of it, I don’t know…

Long lasting high pressure produces imposing thundery squalls This one went on northwards and didn’t give any rain where I live, unfortunately.

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I have forgotten to mention that I have actually tried blacksmithing! It is very different from the delicate silversmithing I am used to. It is hot, heavy, noisy and dirty. In May I had the opportunity to go with my son to his very good friends living in Lima in the north of Sweden.  As many in this region they have a farm that has been in the family for centuries. Keeping old traditions alive goes well along with a modern, tolerant and broad-minded lifestyle. One tradition to keep alive is blacksmithing and they have a forge which my son borrows from time to time. With some assistance from him I managed to make a hook from iron. I am proud!

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The farm with the sheep of an old Swedish breed in the foreground.

 

 

The result of my bold efforts and my son in the forge.

Now to the production this month. Nothing in textile just jewellery. The trip to Lisbon gave me new confidence in filigree, and the understanding that the seemingly impossible is not, it is just a matter of patience and determination.

 

 

Ear pendants in filigree.

 

Ring with turquoise and a pendant with Swedish blue slag, nice together with denim.

 

 

A pendant with granules and a beautiful stone called chrysocolla and a filigree pendant.

 

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A bracelet in viking chain style, the simple tools that are used is shown on the uppermost photo with the almost completed chain on the stick.

 

And finally a pendant with a sodalite and an amber ring in a more modern style. That’s all for now!

More filigrana, amber and new Kindle cover with embroidery

A few weeks ago I completed an amber pendant for my daughter.s graduation. Amber is her favourite stone, very beautiful but also very soft. It makes it nervous to set, it can easily crack. This pendant has a more clean and simple design than the more elaborate things I usually make. But I like it too!

 

 

Now my filigrana piece from Lisbon is done. I see it as a practise object and I have really learnt a lot. Patience, patience, it is possible to make a construction where the wires are  stuck before soldering. After popping out ten times it eventually works. The design gains on a dense pattern, necessary with those incredible thin filigree wires.

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After frequent e-book reading the cover for my Kindle was really worn out. It gave me an opportunity to make something useful in vadmal and wool embroidery. I attached a little silver clasp. just for fun.

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Filigrana in Lisbon!

June 2 to 3 I attended a short course in filigree, filigrana in Portuguese, in the wonderful city of Lisbon.

 

Portugal is famous for excellent filigrana so this was very exciting for me. As the information about the course was in English it was a big surprise to find out that it was held in Portuguese and I was the only foreigner! But, with some translation from the teacher André and a lot of help from fellow students I  got the most of it, I think at least.

Filigrana has a very long tradition in Portugal with work both in gold and silver. André had learnt his skills from a master in the town of Gondomar in the north of Portugal, the hottest district in filigrana. It takes several years to really master filigrana, so of course this was just a short introduction.

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the school of jewellery Lisbon, André in the center of photo

It was very nice to be surrounded by Portuguese and we had an enjoyable time, laughing a lot when the very tiny filigrana wires popped out all over the place. Filigrana is not easy and it takes A LOT of patience! We got a frame structure already soldered and done and our task was to fill it with filler wires. We were taught three different shapes commonly used in traditional Portugese filigrana: s-shape, escana aberta and cartäo. When we had (hopefully) secured a section of shapes, the piece was dipped in water to make the solder stick, then sprinkled thinly with powder solder, last step was heating with a torch a few seconds until the solder flowed . No pickling until the piece was finished.

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Me struggling with the filler wires

As I have a workshop I didn´t stress to make my piece finished as i can continue back home.  This was as far as I got:

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I took more time studying my fellow students work. Many of them were incredibly good, Look at this work, made by a young girl who had never tried filigrana before. She sawed her piece in two and made those beautiful ear pendants:

 

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The finishing process was: first put the piece in hot pickle to remove any oxidation. Instead of polishing this magic took place: heat with yellow flame to provide a soot layer, than heat with blue flame and it will turn white and beautiful. Finally clean with water and soap with a brass brush. Done!

Before leaving I bought some filigree wire and powdered solder (almost non-existing on the market) a black workboard and a special tweezers. The latter sadly got seized by the security control at the airport as it was considered too dangerous to take on an airplane. It felt a bit sad to say good bye to those nice people I met on the course.

I had a few days in Lisbon to explore this gorgeous city. You have to wear shoes with a good grip and be quite fit to walk the numerous steep hills though. But the beauty! Here is a jakaranda tree in bloom:

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Good bye Lisbon until next time! Hopefully there will be a continuation course in filigrana.

 

 

 

More silver, threads and yarn

It has been a while since my last post and I have been quite busy with my projects. This very long, harsh, cold and snowy winter has not inspired me to much outdoor activities I am afraid. Colourwise it is a grey time. Note that the photo above is a colour photo. Winter is not my favourite season but nestling indoors gives me plenty of time for crafts making. Which is a good thing!

One week now in March there was a blizzard that lasted  several days on end. In the heavy snowfall I found this little creature on my balcony.  The squirrel seemed to be searching for something to eat among my frozen plants, poor little fellow.

 

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From my little silversmithing workshop: a filigree pendant with knitted thread chain. Handmade lock and finding.

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The chain is made of fine silver thread 28 gauge (0,32 mm) and the other parts are sterling silver.

These are the simple tools you need  to make a knitted chain:

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I will later show more in detail how you make it. The pin with copper thread allows you to start the knitting. The draw plate with holes in various sizes is used to smooth the chain and make it straight and even when knitted. It is funny and not very difficult.

The lock and chain fitting was more complicated for me. First I fastened a ring one cm in to the chain. A tiny cylinder with a top on one side was soldered with a hole drilled in it. The ring was flattened and chain with ring pulled in to the cylinder, flattened ring through the hole. Last step was to widen the flattened ring to a loop. The clasp is a simple s-shape, but it works very well. Not simple to describe in words but a photo will do better I hope:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

IMG_20180320_111726_078I have paid a new visit to the art museum Waldemarsudde which seems to  be the current leading museum of modern textile in Stockholm. There I saw some wonderful tiny silk embroideries by Suzy Strindberg “Fine threads”. She gets her inspiration from nature and here is a motif from autumn. The size is about 10 x 15 cm.

I also have to say a few words about the exhibition  “Sigrid Hjertén- A Masterly Colourist”. She had her breakthrough in the 1930:s but in my view her best paintings were made at the end of her life when she sadly suffered from mental illness. The colours are breathtaking and reminds me of van Gogh. It you have ever seen his paintings in real life you will never forget it. It amuses me to learn that Sigrid Hjertén started her career as a textile artist. I think that textile trains  your sense of colours because textile colours have a special glow.

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Next project has taken unbelievable many hours to complete. It is a cushion with a needlepoint embroidery combined with rya technique. This is something I have planned for a long time to do. I wanted to stitch a motif with flowers in bright light with a dark background. Around it I wanted a more fluffy texture in rya technique in colours from nature. Step one : I bought a nice bunch of tulips and took a photo of it in the evening with electrical light to obtain the natural dark backdrop. Then I processed  it in  an app that made it look like a painting. It reduced the amount of shades and stylized it. Step two: make a rough pencil sketch with contours on the canvas and select the colours of yarn that I wanted.

 

 

I prefer to stitch directly from the  processed photo which I had on my tablet. It took many hours to complete but I was quite pleased with the result. Next step was the rya knotting. I bought a lovely grey yarn from Gotland and added colours from the embroidery. The rya knots were made on a fabric called aida tissue.

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Another period of patient and industrious work and finally, it was done! The only remaining steps were to mount the embroidery on to the aida fabric with miniscule stitches, and cut the rya in a relief pattern. Then sow a backing of my favourite grey felt fabric called “vadmal”. Upholstering it with a down pillow and it ended up as a cushion that has its unique look, quite what I wanted.

 

 

 

 

 

The last photo is of my cushion in the promising bright late winter sunshine. After all, spring is around the corner. Hope you got some inspiration from this to your own projects!

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A trip to Cornwall and London

29/10 I came back from my trip to the UK. Two wonderful weeks full of experiences. The little workshop Jewellery Making in Cornwall is situated among the rolling green hills between Truro and Falmouth.

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There I had the opportunity to get private lessons from Stuart and his former pupil Jasmine, now a student at Plymouth university.  His assistant Shirley was also a very nice acquaintance. People came and went all day long to see Stuart, to take part in a course or just have a chat. The atmosphere was very friendly and I learnt so much! First of all how little I know and what it means to have a teacher and not have to figure out everything on your own. Listening to Kate Bush and piano jazz music  (the Swedish group EST was a favorite of Stuart’s)  I managed with some help to make two rings with stone settings and a bracelet.

I lived in a little flat in Falmouth, a pretty town by the sea. This was the view from my bedroom. After a day in the workshop it was dinner, watching BBC and then sleep.

In London I had one  day which was spent in my favorite museum Victoria & Albert’s. It is so big that some smaller part has to be selected and I choose Jewellery and Tapestry, not surprising. The collection of silver and jewellery is amazing!

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Here a photo from the collection of contemporary silver items. In the attractive shop I fell for an embroidery kit from Ehrman’s, a motif from V&A:s collection of tile patterns. This one is pre-painted on the canvas, usually I stitch from a blank canvas and count the stitches from a model. I will also try the right way with all stitches the same way. I will report later how it goes.

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