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:

 

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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