Filtering by Tag: felt dress

Week 27: Creative Challenge 52

How to make a ring

A friend came over yesterday to learn a bit about jewellery making. I taught her how to make her own ring and, while I was at it, I thought I'd show you too. You can make gorgeous pieces with some basic equipment and for very little cost.

make your own ring

If you've followed this blog or looked at my photo galleries, you'll know that I love bold, signature pieces. My friend Kayleen does too, so I thought we'd start with large 'urban edge' style rings. I taught Kayleen how to make one version, and I made a different version myself using the same techniques to show how versatile a basic method can be.

make your own ring steps 1 and 2

Step 1: Cut your silver to size. Silver comes in sheets of different widths. Kayleen and I used silver that was 0.8mm thick and we cut it 2cms wide so the ring bands would be fat and funky. The final step involves cutting your silver to fit the diameter of the finger you want to wear it on. We cut Kayleen's silver to 59mm and mine to 62mm. Note that you need to add an extra 1mm in length when you make wide rings, otherwise they won't fit.

Step 2: Before you do anything else, you need to soften the silver so it's malleable. You do this by applying heat. I use a jeweller's torch now, but I used a cheap propane torch that I bought from Bunnings for a few years before I upgraded my equipment. You'll need a honeycomb or charcoal base with a large brick underneath to place your silver on. Slowly move the flame back and forth over the silver until it begins to glow red. Plunge into cool water and then jeweller's pickle to remove oxidation (this is cheap and easy to obtain from a jewellery supplier).

make your own ring steps 3 and 4

Step 3: Add texture to the silver. Kayleen used the round end of a hammer to create texture on hers and I made scratches on mine. Because my silver was only minimally handled, it stayed nice and malleable, but Kayleen's hardened and needed to be heated again as per step 2.

Step 4: Use pliers to twist the silver so the ends join. Make sure the join is flush or your solder won't take.

Step 5: Your rings are now ready to solder. Apply flux and 'easy' solder (readily available and inexpensive from jewellery suppliers).

Step 6: Heat the ring carefully under dimmed light (so you can clearly see the process unfolding) until the solder flows.

Step 7: Shape your ring on a mandrel. You can use a piece of round dowel if you don't have a mandrel.

make your own ring steps 5 and 6

Step 8: File any added shape you want around the edges of your ring. Kayleen shaped the back of hers so it would be more comfortable to wear, and I created a flowing shape around both edges of mine. Once you're happy with the final shape, file the inside of your ring and the outer edges, starting with coarse files and using increasingly fine files, until the edges are nice and smooth. Take care, also, to file off any excess solder at the join.

Step 9: Soak your ring for a couple of minutes in Liver of Sulphur to get an aged look, then brush the patina back with 0000 steel wool until you get the finish you want. If you take too much off, just soak it in the Liver of Sulphur and start again.

Step 10: Wear and enjoy!

Kayleen's finished ring

Kayleen's finished ring

Scarlet's finished ring

Scarlet's finished ring

Telena Routh

telenas felt dress

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has been experimenting this week with different colours of prefelt, creating this gorgeous two-toned dress.

She's also been making felted hollow beads, cones and flat felt for jewellery. She's building up a collection of these so she can make some colourful accessories to brighten up her winter wardrobe.

Telena's final piece this week is a felted bracelet with slits to reveal the inner layer.

With her daughter's wedding only two weeks away, it's a miracle Telena found time for any creative output at all.

telenas felt jewellery

Trish Urquhart

Trish Urquhart, who runs Allaboutwriting, works as a documentary producer for Left-Eye Productions, and tries her best to live up to the title chef extraordinaire, has been at an indie book fair this weekend with an Allaboutwriting exhibit. Their short story book,  36 Hours, was delivered to the fair on Friday and Trish is pleased to report that quite a few copies were picked up by interested readers. Richard gave a talk about the contract between reader and writer, and he also moderated a panel discussion. So...a successful weekend!

36 Hours

With the book fair consuming much of her time, Trish found herself with a creative challenge at an impromptu supper she and Richard held on Friday night - she needed an emergency dessert. Trish had bought some Brie and Camember, but after the main course, she thought the plain cheese seemed boring and she wondered how she could make it more special and festive.

She whipped through her cupboard and found preserved figs, quinces and ginger. Trish poured the syrups into a pan and added bay leaves, black pepper, star anise and cinnamon. She let the syrups bubble away for a while, then added the fruits and heated them through. Then she simply poured the whole lot over the cheese and added some almonds. Delicious!

Check out Trish's fabulous food blog for more of her exciting food adventures.

Trishs Festive Dessert

Kanen Breen

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has been up to his impressive sequin tricks again. He's loving his creation this week, largely for the unintentional irony he generated. The choice of sequins for this delightful project initially gave him some concern - too pale and pastel. Three letters in and he feared an unpicking was on the horizon, but then he had a change of heart and thought, 'what could be less intimidating and more ridiculous than this t-shirt in pastel sequins?'

So Kanen persevered and he felt happier and happier as he neared completion. Now he thinks it's a masterpiece of understatement, irony and glamour.

kanens sequined shirt

What the photos don't show is the gorgeous opalescent sheen on the sequins which really catches the light with a pale blue/green flash - perhaps not so understated after all.

Kanen thinks he'll wear his creation to Jacqui's Aida opening night next weekend, possibly even with the gold lapel jacket. 'Too much of a good thing?' he asks. Never!

Security in Sequins

Keryn Clark

keryns floral shoe fetish
keryns babys breath

South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, decided, this week, to get creative with some vessels that were lying around the shop, and also with a few bunches of baby's breath from the fridge. Remy argued that they needed to keep the baby's breath in the fridge in case an order came in. Keryn insisted it would be better out forming some kind of display. Ad break for clash of the titans - Keryn won. No sooner was the baby's breath fluffed out and in the vase when someone walked in and said 'I have to have them'. The five words retailers most like to hear.

Keryn has appealed to Kanen's shoe fetish for her creative challenge with this artistic interpretation of flowers on the soles of her foot. One foot sold within moments of being put on display. That leaves just one more to go...

kanens floral feet

Stephen Bennett

Steve was very excited to find a Lubitel Twin Lens Reflex roll film camera (1960) for $35 in a secondhand shop last weekend, and he couldn't wait to put it through its paces. Fortunately, Georgia was all dolled up with a new outfit and fresh from the hair salon, so she agreed to pose for a series of photos. The camera worked perfectly and here are a couple of the shots of Georgia.

singer songwriter Georgia Bennett

Steve also found time this week to process films shot in the Blue Mountains a few weeks ago. These photos are of the Cathedral of Ferns at Mt Wilson, taken with his beloved Hasselblad.

Cathedral of Ferns

Week 24: Creative Challenge 52

Trish Urquhart, who runs Allaboutwriting, works as a documentary producer for Left-Eye Productions and tries her best to live up to the title chef extraordinaire, is always up for a challenge. She's thrown herself, this week, into a Food Bank Challenge, a real boon for us because of the delicious recipes she can showcase here.

Trish's challenge was to buy a recipe from Food Bank South Africa for 40 Rand, cook the dish, and then tweet a picture of the dish to #FoodBankRecipe, with a prize of two business class trips to London on offer for some lucky entrant.

Trish bought four recipes and has made three of the dishes already. First cab off the rank was Dominic Pain's non-stirred seafood risotto. Trish says she'll definitely be making this dish again and she'll keep it in mind for when she's short on cooking time too - it was quick and easy as well as delicious.

Seafood risotto

Trish's next creation was tamarind chutney followed by chicken breasts in ginger tamarind chutney with cauliflower tabouleh, both of which came from Ishay Govender-Ypma. The tamarind chutney and cauliflower tabouleh were so popular in Trish's household that she's declared them future staples. A ringing endorsement indeed.

Chicken in ginger tamarind chutney

Trish has included a photo of daughter Maria's caramel toffees (see the first photo on this blog) to give us a glimpse of the wonderful petits fours project that has consumed their household over the past few weeks too. Yum!

Do follow Trish's fabulous food blog for recipes and news of Trish's exciting food adventures.

Kanen Breen

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has sworn off shoes for a full week now. Instead, he's been overhauling a set of drawers in an afternoon of paint, glue and wallpaper.

He loves the shape of these drawers, but he felt that they needed a splash of high-gloss (high-stink) off-white paint to get them looking schmick. He's also fond of the drawer handles but, alas, the same could not be said for the faux wood formica drawer fronts. They had to go.

Ever the tech wizard, he managed to delete the "before" shots from his iPhone. 'But,' he says, 'trust me. They weren't very me!'

The paper Kanen used is not actually wall-paper, but an unusually thick wrapping paper from a gorgeous shop on King Street called Pentimento. It didn't wrinkle at all when Kanen slathered on the wallpaper glue, which is always a risk with flimsier stock.


Kanen is quite chuffed with the outcome, and he says he has quite a few more pieces of boring furniture sitting in Jacqui's garage awaiting his attention in coming weeks. These are going to be something to see.

Keryn Clark

The biggest challenge for Keryn this week involved the transformation of her personal living space into something that wouldn't depress her the moment she walked in the front door. Keryn has always lived in character houses, so her new modern townhouse has provided something of a culture shock.

She was sitting in her lounge/dining and kitchen area - the "white box" as she calls it - having a "what have I done?" moment, when the idea of a green feature wall sprung to mind. Everything else flowed from there.

The biggest challenge with Keryn's new living space is the size of her couch, which completely overpowers the room, but with the help of a few of her favourite collected pieces (and some roses), she thinks it all came together well. Keryn still can't walk out the back door to look at her cement box of a back yard, but that's a challenge for another day.

Keryn also made two particularly fine floral arrangements during the week. One came home with her - don't you hate it when that happens? - and the other sold within an hour. So, all in all, Keryn has had a pretty good week. So good she's thinking of heading into the kitchen to bake...

Telena Routh

With a car full of felting equipment, much more fleece than needed, and her freshly dyed swathes of silk, Telena set off last weekend with great excitement for a three day felted garment workshop with a wonderful felter, Pam de Groot.

Her first challenge was to turn her dyed silk into prefelt, and after making about five metres in a single sitting, she turned in for the night, barely able to move her aching limbs.

The next morning, revitalised and ready to take on the world, she formed the fabric into a rough dress shape, while quietly muttering about future diets! Further construction of the dress took careful planning because you can never completely predict what will happen during the felting process. Sounds a bit like life, doesn't it?

Telena has not yet decided what to do with the loose silk left draping around the dress, as she thinks it's too much on such a short person, so the dress is still a work in progress.

On a musical note, she managed to get up early enough to practise for an upcoming quintet concert each morning before setting off for the workshop. What discipline!

Georgia Bennett

Singer, guitarist and song writer, Georgia Bennett, has taken a well earned break this week. She caught the bus to Sydney on Friday night for Soundwave. It's been a hot weekend in Sydney, but that hasn't dampened her enthusiasm. She's out in the sun (hopefully decked out in hat and sunblock!) as I write, enjoying the music, and I'm sure to hear all about it late tonight.

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett has found some time this past week to process some of the photos he took in Narooma during his brief summer sojourn. Always a fan of black and white, he's started with these landscapes of Handkerchief Beach. These are going to be hard to trump when he decides to process the rest of his Narooma collection.

Scarlet Bennett

I've been sick with a heavy head cold this week - one of those tedious bugs that just won't budge - and I've had a lot of work commitments too, so I've been much more interested in the call of my bed than in doing anything creative.

I made a silver cuff yesterday to get my weekly challenge across the line. Cuffs like this are quick and simple to make, and always a pleasure to wear. They look good with everything and they never go out of vogue. And they're terrific emergency creations for sick people, as it turns out. Timeless elegance. You really can't beat it.