Monday, 3 March 2014

Magic, mysticism and Milton

Like Australia, I've been quite willing to accept the existence of silver clay without having seen it myself, but there has always been a nugget of doubt in my mind.  So yesterday I was very happy to be initiated into the dark art of turning something the colour and texture of a well-chewed wrigleys into real silver gorgeousness. This instruction came courtesy of Emma Mitchell who generously shared her knowledge, tools and goody stash with a big dollop of humour, oh and 7g of the magic stuff. 7g doesn't sound much but it goes a long way - it made all the pieces in this post (bar chain and jump rings). 

The pendant above was made from a mould taken of a large vintage button. It was quite shockingly shiny when I first cleaned it up so I was relieved when Emma had me drop it in a cup of dilute Milton for a minute or two. This took the silver back to a slightly tarnished satin finish - much more my style. So all my other pieces had the same treatment. 

Sea Urchin earrings - impressed from real urchin test fragments

teeny scraps of (not quite enough!) left over clay impressed with a with vintage button and destined to be made into stud earrings

Find out more about Emma's workshops here

Monday, 3 February 2014

New print and exhibition news

Physalis - Chinese Lanterns

I've been working on this new print since the beginning of the year. These Physalis or Chinese Lanterns have mysteriously found their way into an unproductive flowerbed underneath the privet hedge in my parent's garden. They brought a welcome shot of colour at Christmas so I am grabbed a few stems in the hope of retrieving some of the seeds. I really like the way these plants had decayed with the lower lanterns already turned to pale skeletons whilst the upper ones still glowed red.

I think this will be a very fitting piece for my exhibition at Stillingfleet Lodge Gardens in June. Click the link for the full (and diverse!) list of exhibitions at this venue this year and keep up to date by following @slgardens on twitter. 

Until then Physalis - Chinese Lanterns is available here and here

Monday, 6 January 2014


Mussels and Barnacles - the school days version
****The winner has now been selected, but if you tweeted thank you and  please feel free to use the voucher code M&Btweet in my etsy shop for a 20% discount on all purchases - valid until the 19th January 2014.****

I'm giving away one of the two impressions of Mussels and Barnacles that I made in this colourway. I originally intended to print a full edition in this  lilac/bottle green/navy blue combination but I took a sudden dislike to the pale lilac after printing just two and on the spot changed the scheme to a pale blue/mid blue/dark blue combination (as seen here). But I did persist with original colour scheme for those first two prints. I hated it more when the green went down but found the navy blue pulled it together quite nicely and now find I rather like it. I am not sure if this is because or despite it being the exact same colour as my old school uniform.

To win the print numbered 1/2 in this colourway just make sure you follow me on twitter ( @a_deegan ), tweet a link to this blog post and feel free to succumb to any other social media arm-waving that seems appropriate. Comments and new blog followers most welcome. I'll pick a winner by some suitably random method on Sunday 12th January. Cheers!

PS I am happy to ship this outside the UK too :-)

Friday, 3 January 2014

Friday, 27 December 2013

Mussels & Barnacles - a reduction lino print

A little while ago, (yikes nearly three years actually!) I wrote this post about my travails with the reduction method of lino printing in two or more colours. As an alternative I developed a way of cutting and registering multiple blocks that worked with my little nipping press and I was reasonably happy with the results on Giant's Causeway and Artichokes, amongst others. This way the lino cuts for each colour are maintained intact as opposed the reduction method where the single plate is gradually destroyed.

However although my registration (getting the different colour blocks to match in the right place) improved with each new piece it became clear that what I couldn't do was cut the same line in exactly the same way twice, let alone three of four times. So I have wandered back into the realms of reduction and actually this time around its not so bad. I am now a lot more familiar with the inks I use, the properties of the different papers that I like and how to get the best from press so more prints make it to the final edition.

Detail from Mussels and Barnacles - a 3 colour reduction lino print - the barnacles were cut out before the 1st colour was printed so as to be left white as the pale, mid and  then dark blue layers were added in turn - I could never have cut each and every barnacle in the same way on 3 separate plates.    
Mussels and Barnacles - Highlights and barnacles cut away - remainder printed in pale blue

Mussels and Barnacles - Pale blue and mid blue printed
Mussels and Barnacle - complete!

 Mussels and Barnacles is availabe in my Folksy shop and in my Etsy shop


Sunday, 24 November 2013

Something different...

A chance win of a crocheting tutorial on website a couple of week ago has led to this premature bit of Christmas on my blog today. 

Having never attempted crochet before and having only the flimsiest of grasps of knitting this Christmas Stocking seemed a bit over-ambitious. I should add to this that I am notoriously bad at taking instruction from anything or anyone.

 My first few attempts were very loose and unstructured. My first mistake was to ignore the instructions as to how to hold the hook and feed the wool. After starting the first four or five in my own rather awkward knitting-with-one-hand way I suddenly got the hang of the correct technique but the results were so different I decided to carry on in my own wrong way to make sure all 17 hexagons were similar  (Mistake #2). 

Mistake #3 was starting at the wrong point for the white circuit. I knew something was wrong because the hexagons were becoming contorted, and not just from my poor technique. At this point I should have stopped and returned to the tutorial but I was on a roll, and on a train, and nothing was going to stop me. On hexagon number 15 I accidentally started at a different point, which happened to be the correct point and everything became clear, too late! But at least they were consistently wrong, most of them.

The tutorial does assume knowledge of some crochet stitches, which left me feeling a bit lost at first but by repeatedly replaying key bits of the video I soon got the hang of it. Overall the content was clear and had some really good tips about steaming hexagons into shape (I needed this!) and sewing the pieces together (I overlooked this and had to unpick the toe section 3 times). Towards the end my main regret was having promised the stocking to my son because I think the hexagons could have made a rather nice cushion cover. Another project perhaps.


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