Projects of 2023

This year I’ve been all over the place creatively and, well, so has life in general. I didn’t seem to get much done at times, but when I look closer that was because I tackled single projects that took up a lot of time. I did a bit of sewing, a bit of weaving, delved into some occasional crafts like jewellery-making and air-dry clay, finished some long-term WIPs and culled several kinds of hobby supplies. It feels like my mind began to jump from hobby to hobby in the latter months of the year, new shiny things taking my attention before I’d finished with whatever had last attracted me, as if Covid 19 gave me some king of creative ADHD.

January & February:

The Print & Paint With Natural Dyes workshop took up all of my creative energy at the beginning of the year, partly because so much else were going on, including having Dad and his very naughty cat staying with us.


Using the knowledge I’d gained in the workshop, I painted/dyed three tops and a scarf. I also sewed a shirt out of a sarong.


I didn’t include the Ink-Making workshop in my 2022 summary, but I think I should have. Six months after, I made some more inks as some sources dependant on season became available.


A bit more sewing happened, first when I turned Motto Skirt into a top…

… and made a Chambray Dress.

And I returned to the loom to finish the Bouclé Chains Scarf.


I finished a coiling fabric basket, made while visiting Mum.

More exploration of Deflected Doubleweave with bouclé yarn happened with the Baroque Scarf.

I also culled my mosaic supplies and did an illustration commission.


And another DDW project finally using a design I drafted a few years ago: the Electricity Scarf.


We went to Lord Howe Island, and I did some sketches.


The fourth and favourite DDW bouclé scarf: Copper Roses.

I tried making watercolour paint, and felt a bit ‘meh’ about it.


A bout of finishitis set in. I lengthened Slinky Ribs and made it all rib:

We went to Norfolk Island on an artist holiday.

A bout of Covid 19 somehow led to me culling things. First my jewellery collection, which led to jewellery-making.


I finally, at long last, finished the Pin Loom Blanket.

I wove a Honeycomb Scarf and Tapestry Beret.

The jewellery-making also included a dive into air dry clay.

I finally, at long last, finished the dishcloths that had been on the Jane loom for a year.


Watching Project Runway and The Great British Sewing Bee had me itching to sew. After culling my sewing materials, I made Paul a bucket hat and me some shorts.

And then got the itch to crochet. This Granny Beret seemed a good warm up to something bigger.

A big yarn cull moved the flannelette strips meant for rag rugs into the fabric stash intended for quilts. I sewed a single bed sized quilt.


This year was also the year of the artist subscription box. I tried one Paletteful Pack but decided against signing up because the postage was too expensive, then gave SketchBox a go and stuck with it. They proved to be a very entertaining and interesting monthly treat. It allowed me to try some art supplies I’ve never encountered before. It’s likely after a year I’ll stop the subscription because there are only so many kinds of art supply so the rewards will eventually diminish, but it has been fun and I suspect I’ll miss it if I do.

I also did a lot of oil painting, mostly in the plein air group but also lots of still life both at the art society and at home. I decided to stop posting pictures of my art, however, until it was clearer how plagiarism software (AI) was going to affect everything.

Feat of Clay

For the first few weeks after having Covid I didn’t feel any urge to paint. Instead I either tidied up or organised my art supplies. And then I had two of those dives into a craft I only occasionally dabble in. The first was jewellery-making, which led to ideas for making brooches, which led to me unearthing my small supply of air-dry clay.

Well, it’s been a long time. It turned out that the terracotta version I’d used to make some macrame beads years ago was now too solid and crumbly to use. After consulting the internet, I crumbled it up into a container, added water to soak in overnight, then spent an afternoon pushing it through a sieve then spreading the resulting paste out to dry on the shiny side of the glass slab I use to grind up pigments for ink.

That was going to take a few days, so I opened a pack of white clay and started to play. Even though it had to be over ten years old, it was still in good condition. The first pieces I made were simple flat shapes to paint later, so I could get a feel for how the clay worked. Then I made circles, a square and a heart with an edge, with the intention to make little mosaics.

I haven’t yet made anything from the flat shapes, but I had fun painting the ‘frames’ and filling them with tiles. They have brooch pins glued to the backs.

Having opened a pack of clay, I was worried it would dry out in the years that were likely to pass until I got the inclination again. I hadn’t used up much clay, so I tried making something bigger: a brush holder, which isn’t the most attractive thing I’ve ever knocked together but works.

Then I went even bigger and made a mug-sized candle lamp. Not something I’d normally use, but I thought I might be able to hang earrings on it. The mistake I made was to not let the side panel dry a bit before attaching it to the base. The holes reduced the integrity of the clay, too. The side slumped in on itself and the holes started closing up. Fortunately, the plastic cup I was using for water was exactly the same size as the vessel, so I wrapped it in baking paper and inserted it inside the piece, then turned everything upside down. Now gravity was in my favour, stretching it out again – though I still had to re-cut the holes. The next day the vessel was dry enough to remove the cup. When it was dry I painted it black on the outside and silver inside. The sides are too thick to get earring hooks into, so I guess it’s going to have to be a candle lamp after all.

In the meantime I’d had more brooch ideas, I made a paint tube and paint box…

… and a pair of abstract shapes with round hollows in them. I filled one with glitter and the other with scraps of wire and beads.

I also made some mushrooms and abstract flowers that were painted with some of the terracotta clay paste thinned a bit to make a slip. The stems are florist wire. No idea what I’m going to do with them.

When the terracotta paste had finally dried to the consistency of clay, I gave it a good knead. By then I didn’t have many ideas left to try, so I decided to use it up all in one project. To do this I made a a flat leaf shape and pressed that into a bowl covered in cling wrap. When it had dried enough to hold its shape I took it out of the bow. It took aaaages to dry.

This whole clay adventure took a lot longer than I had expected. Much longer than my enthusiasm lasted, unfortunately. On the day I sanded the white clay items I was really over the whole clay thing, but it got more interesting once I began painting things and glueing in mosaic tiles, glitter and jewellery scraps.

But I’m done. I’ve put the unused flat shapes in among my jewellery making supplies until I know what I want to do with them, and both clay and jewellery-making supplies have been put away. Now, with the craft table cleared, I’m free to dive into the next thing.

Left Dangling

During the first few days after we returned from Norfolk Island, I had that feeling of inevitably slipping back into the old routine but quietly railing against it. Yet also acknowledging that remaining unsettled would be quite unpleasant, so I ought to embrace the return to normality.

Then we caught Covid 19 for the first time.

Well, that wasn’t fun but we got over it and, more importantly, didn’t pass it on to anyone vulnerable. I didn’t need being stuck at home for ten days to tell me normal life, post Mum’s decline and joining an artist society, involves quite a bit more going out than it did even pre-pandemic. Though I’d had no trouble staying at home during the long lockdowns, by day seven of isolation I was going a bit stir-crazy. A big part of that was not feeling alert enough to do anything mentally challenging. There’s only so much Project Runway I can watch in one sitting, or books I can read, before I get a bit bored.

So when I did regain some energy, I culled my jewellery collection. I’d done a major clothing cull just before Covid hit, and it turns out I was still in that frame of mind a week later. It had been a loooong time since I’d looked at my jewellery, and I hadn’t worn much for a while, mainly because it’s almost all necklaces and I now have what I call ‘old lady spots’ on my neck that get irritated if something rubs against them.

Out went lots of necklaces, most of my rings, a few bracelets and most of my hair clips. Usually when this happens I take some of the old pieces and attempt to make something new. I tried to resist that, but once I’d done a bit of mending and tweaking of things I was keeping I found myself converting some necklaces to bracelets and earrings.

I have very few earrings. I haven’t worn them on a regular basis since my 20s, because my hairstyle hid them. But my new hairdresser keeps cutting my hair quite short and I kinda like it. I even bought two pairs of earrings on Norfolk Island, in a kind of holiday fling with earringness.

As for bracelets, I do rather like wearing them in warmer months when they don’t get caught up in long sleeves. Brooches used to leave me cold, but I’m starting to appreciate the fact that they don’t touch my skin therefore no itchiness. And there are so many modern, stylish pieces out there. They need to go on robust fabric, however, so maybe more suited to cooler months.

So here’s a few photos of what I made:

Bracelet and earrings from old necklace
Earring using beads from old necklaces
Bracelet from old necklace + bracelet combo
Bracelet from old necklace section

Section Necklaces

The jewellery making itch has well and truly passed, now. The last few pieces were section necklaces. I’d bought a mini beading mat, which was great for the short sections and bracelets but too small for the longer sections. So I ordered a full size one, and it made designing much easier:

I finished the black one:

I now have three necklaces with interchangeable lower sections. The green one was made by a friend with a few sections made by me. The purple I made out of beads I had and some given to me by another friend. The black one is mostly made from jewellery I bought from an op shop:

That’s enough, I think. I’m keeping them in these old wooden dishes because there’s no room left on my costume jewellery pinboard and the pins don’t hold heavy pieces well:

Stringing Along

More jewellery-making has been happening here. I’ve wrapped a gemstone slice with wire, strung a bag of tiger-eye pieces onto wire to make a necklace, and joined more spacers together to make a bracelet:

I like the tiger-eye one, but the other two aren’t me so I’ll see if friends want them.

I made more sections for my green bead necklace, then more section necklaces. I’d already added a chain to the black bead necklace to mimic the structure. Next I made a purple version with two options for the short section:

I’m now gathering beads to make black and red version. Or a black and red version.

But I can feel my interest in making jewellery is waning, now. I’ve been weaving the runner in pod-cast length sessions. (Not even halfway done yet. About a third, I reckon.) There’s been some work on the knitters loom, too, but that’ll go in a separate post. I want to weave the summer and winter placemats on the Katie loom, and for that I need to clear the craft room table of jewellery things.

Big In, Small Out

A friend of mine makes really cool customisable necklaces and when I asked if she’d make me one if I provided the materials, she agreed. So when I saw a multi-strand bracelet at a destash market containing lots of beads I liked, I knew it was a great opportunity to have that necklace made. The result was fabulous…

What I like about this necklace idea is that the main part can be a shorter necklace on it’s own, and the short section could be a bracelet. I could even clip on a pendant. Since the spirit of the design is that you can swap out sections to suit your mood, I got out my jewellery-making box to see if I could make some from the supplies I had. I found that I needed to order more bead stringing materials, like crimps and jump rings and a pearl doubler.

Well, if I was going to order jewellery supplies, I’d better look in the bag of unfinished jewellery projects to see what I needed for them. Some I could do straight away, so once the order was made I started working, and soon had a few completed pieces:

When the supplies arrived, I finished more:

I started making swap-out sections for the new necklace, but got stalled because the beading wire and crimps I bought were waaaaay too fine, and the bead mat I’d bought was too small for the longer lengths. So while I waited for a new mat, I had a big clean out of my supplies.

You see, I’d learned something while finishing all those projects: embroidery isn’t the only craft I have to rethink post eye surgery. My new eyes really don’t cope with smallness. I made a huge mistake in my ordering, buying that really fine beading wire and crimps. I simply couldn’t see the crimp holes or the ends of the wire, and was reduced to moving the wire in the vague direction of the bead and hoping to eventually thread it. Yes, I could use a magnifying glass, but when I did that with embroidery I just got a headache.

I’m not interested in craft that is uncomfortable. I know now that small beads are out and soft lighting is vital. Nearly all the seed beads, some larger beads I didn’t care for, beading needles and thread, and the mistake purchases, went into a bag to destash. Then I reorganised the rest. Since I’d finished most of the unfinished projects and a few new ones, my jewellery-making box suddenly had room to spare.

Which may not last for long. Small is out, which means big is in. And refashioning second hand is pretty much my thing these day. A few days ago I bought some necklaces and bracelets with medium to large beads and charms from a charity shop to cannibalise.

Because this isn’t about giving up a craft, but taking it in new directions.

Which is why I’ve also got out the silver metal clay kit I haven’t had the courage to play with yet and started playing with that.

Briefly Beading

Happy New Year!

I’ve still got a few posts from last year waiting to be published. Aside from this one, there are three weaving posts to come. Better get to it!

Having banned the phone from the bedside table, I’ve noticed some interesting benefits. Aside from an improved memory and sense of calm, I got to looking at the jewellery pinboard hanging over the dressing table. There were pieces on it I didn’t wear or needed altering. That led to a bit of jewellery-making, refashioning and repairing.

In the process, I noticed a bead in my jewellery making supplies that I’d bought at a Viking museaum in Denmark last year. Matching it with some cones led to this very simple choker:

I also saw a resin pendant from a necklace I’d bought on another European work trip. It had been culled a while back because the wire it came on wasn’t comfortable to wear. I noticed the metal in it was copper, and I had a length of copper chain. And some medallions. So I got this:

And the leftover chain was long enough to make a matching bracelet.

Finally, I tackled a more complicated piece. I used the beads from a string I’d culled and some others in my stash to make this:

It was the perfect Christmassy bangle to wear to lunch with my parents.

The Art Necklace

Sometimes it takes being a bit fed up with a project to push it through to the end. In this case, I had painted a couple of pictures within the frames, but I wasn’t liking most of them and had lost enthusiasm. A few weeks ago I decided I wanted to wear the necklace to an event, which meant finishing it quickly. The idea came to paint all the inserts black. I had a vague idea that I could then paint skulls and other bones in them later, but I like the result so I’m sticking with it for now.


More Blingle, With Tinkle

A late jewellery-making post, delayed because this was a gift and I kept forgetting to give it to the recipient…

Ages ago I bought some colourful Tagua Nuts, otherwise known as ‘vegetable ivory’, and made this necklace:


While I liked it, I never wore it. Mostly because it didn’t go with anything I was wearing. It was dismantled, and I was considering putting it and the other tagua nut pendants among the jewellery supplies I’m culling, but when I put them all together, I realised the colour combination reminded me of a friend. What could I make that used all pendants in the one piece?

A bracelet, it turns out. A charm style bracelet:


It makes a very satisfying clatter, this one. Unlike the one I made for myself a year ago, which makes a wonderful tinkle. Sound is an under-appreciated aspect of jewellery. I’ve bought pieces because they made a lovely noise. Maybe I should consider other, more deliberate musical jewellery designs next time I get the itch to make some.

The Seed of an Idea

I’ve been watching the Classic Car Show of SBS and, probably only because I’m in jewellery making mode, I’ve been fascinated by Jodie Kidd’s. In one episode she was wearing very long chain earrings that just about brushed her collarbones. I haven’t work earrings in years. There hasn’t been much point since my current haircut hides my lobes. But what if I made them long enough that the sparkly ends dangled below my hair?

Of course, I had to make a necklace to match.


I seem to be at the end of the jewellery-making twitch. There’s something I’d still like to make, but after that I think I’ll pack it all away again.

At the moment the dining table is covered in my carved and commercial stamp collection and my head is full of ideas for making greeting cards.