Category Archives: shop talk

Do you like my new Call Ducks?

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As I mentioned in Hallo Again! I have a big garden here in rural West Wales, and one of the plans I’ve had for my new home is to keep poultry again, and I have made a start!

Just thought I’d show you my new call ducks – both drakes and for some reason I’ve named them George & Edward, although at the moment I can’t tell them apart.

They’ve only just been let outside in the last couple of days and its a joy to watch them wander around, getting excited about eating some of the grass for me, and even better, have been searching the ‘patio area’ for nice juicy slugs – and devouring them!

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Here’s proof – I caught this photo just as George (or Edward) had one in his beak – it disappeared down his throat just moments afterwards!

Call ducks are small, about the size of a mallard, and easy to keep in the back garden – they are usually kept as pets, and you can pick them up quite easily.

I bought them an old baby bath so they could go for a swim – I will hopefully have a pond soon – but oddly, it seems that they haven’t quite worked out what the bath is for yet – even tho’ I tossed some bits of bread in it.  I’m really looking forward to seeing them swim!

PS:

I’ve just remembered I wrote a more informative piece about call ducks for an A-Z blogging challenge I did in 2015 – If you’re interested please click HERE!

I also got a pair of very pretty bantams at the same time, but haven’t yet managed to get a decent photo of them.  Will have to give them a blog of their own when I do.

I”LL BE STARTING SELLING AGAIN IN THE NEXT WEEK OR SO –  

                   I’ll let you know what and where to find

          the listings when I put them up!

 

 

HALLO AGAIN! – it’s been far too long!

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a garden in benign neglect_Fotor

A Garden in Benign Neglect

Its been a long time since I last posted on this blog – a lot longer than I intended it to be.  I thought I was just going to take a short break from online selling, but as you can see it didn’t work out that way, and a few more changes came along too!

I did want to have some time to rethink the way I was working, because it wasn’t suiting me to be bound to the computer and the deadlines for posting out endless packages.  Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it, but I missed the personal element.

For many years, before the internet came along, I sold face to face, at craft markets and other venues, and I knew who my customers were, what they wanted, what they were making, any problems they had etc – because they would tell me! – and I would learn techniques from them too.

I was missing that part of the process, but of course, I found that there are less of these events around now, simply because its possible to sell online.  And sad to say I have found that I can no longer do the driving to venues and packing and unpacking the stock that I used to take for granted, because I have osteoarthritis in both knees and find it too tiring to do many of these events these days!

Of course I can reach at lot more people online, in other countries as well as my own, without moving from my desk.  So whilst I hope to keep my hand in with some face to face selling, I think its time to get back to selling online again!

I have tried introducing as much interaction as possible with this blog, trying to include that person to person, if not face to face, feel by encouraging people to leave comments, and with invitations for everyone to share their work here – but I have to say, that it hasn’t worked all that well, because there is an issue of trust that is missing when you don’t know and can’t meet the person you are dealing with.

However I will be keeping the “SHOW & TELL” archive section, and will always be happy to put up pictures of your own work, whatever kind of craft you work in, and wherever you are!  And you are welcome to contact me with any queries, and to tell me what you are making and what items you might need, and I will see if I can source them for you.

The other major change – 

is that I have moved to a really nice little stone cottage, with a large garden – see photo above – which needs a lot of sorting out, in the Lampeter area of West Wales.

I have not got much storage space here, and am still waiting to find some builders who will allow me to make the changes I need – such as a safe staircase, some storage space and a bit of renovation work.  (If you know anyone in this area, please get it touch – its taking far too long to find a builder that doesn’t give a start date earlier than 6 months time!)

This means that a lot of my stock is inaccessible at the moment, so when I get going again soon, I will not be featuring my full stock – but if you have been a customer of mine in the past and want to order something that I sold before, please ask and I will tell if you I still have it, and whether I can access it!

I will be feeling my way as to how much I can list, on ebay and etsy, and may try and ring the changes in the way I work too.  ie:  If you list it, you have to be prepared to send the item immediately, so I may have some weeks off here and there and take all the listings down.  However, if you do want something specific when they are not listed, you are welcome to contact me via email, or the “contact me” box on this blog.

There are also a few new ideas popping into my head at the moment, that need a bit more research, and when I have done that, I’ll try them out and see whether they work – for you and for me – smile!

So watch this space, and I’ll let you know quite soon when the listings are up again.

All the best

julz signature

Merry Xmas and/or Happy Holidays

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Wishing all my readers and customers and peaceful and happy period over the coming Xmas period.

I will be taking a complete break from selling for the next couple of weeks, and so have just taken down all my listings from both ebay and etsy, and hope I will not be inconveniencing anyone!

I will let you know when the listings go back up again!

 

all the best

julz signature

Make Your Own Silk Paper – The Ironing Method

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DSCF1868Its actually very easy to make paper out of silk, and you can get some beautiful results very quickly if you use the Ironing Method.

I tried out a few variations, and made a few mistakes, and I would suggest that you work on the trial and error method too, and work out what you prefer.

There are various uses for this handmade silk paper, and you can make is as thin or thick as you like.  Thick paper can be used for book covers and even writing paper, and can be painted or embellished and embroidered after its dry, and cut to any size you want.

The thin paper is great to add to any art textile design piece, and is especially dramatic as a window within a greetings card.   You can also make beads by rolling strips of the paper and varnishing them – so I hope this gives you some ideas for xmas gifts!

You will need:

IMG_2605silk cocoon strippings (unwashed and still containing the natural gum, that the silkworms used to make the cocoons, which is what makes this method possible)

and/or

 

throwsters wastesilk throwsters waste (again unwashed – this comes in white or various colours)

 

 

silk hankies

matawa silk hankies (these are unwrapped cocoons spread out into hemmed squares – see my post on silk worms)

other odds and ends to add in when you are making the paper, such as bits of silk carrier rods, cut silk fibres, pieces of silk lap, washed throwsters waste, glitter, small beads or anything else that takes your fancy!

an iron and board or table

non stick greaseproof baking paper – must be non stick otherwise you won’t be able to peel the paper off

small spray bottle filled with ordinary water

A4 pack with everything you need - £9.99

A4 pack with everything you need – £9.99

I have put together a pack with the basics for you…depending of what size you make, it should be enough for 5- 20 pieces.

You can either buy this direct – see here – or you can find the listings for it on etsy – here, and on ebay – here.A6 silk sample pack_Fotor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instructions:

DSCF1844Cut two pieces of the baking paper and lay one on your ironing surface, then pull out strands of the silk cocoon strippings and lay in a thin rough circle or square on top of the baking paper.

 

 

 

 

 

DSCF1847Then spray with water and place the other sheet of baking paper on top and iron the sandwich.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSCF1845Lift the top paper and add some more silk strippings, and repeat as above.  You can continue this process until you get the thickness you want – or you can …..

 

 

 

 

 

DSCF1866….. add one thin silk hankie on top of the ironed silk, then another thin layer of the silk strippings, spray and iron.  The silk hankie does not contain gum so you need to add the strippings to fuse them.

 

 

 

 

 

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The idea of using the silk hankie is to give a thin net that will allow you to keep some gaps in the finished paper.  Lift the piece up and see if you want to add some more silk strippings.  The paper will still be wet so work carefully.

 

 

 

 

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Once you are happy with the piece of paper you have made, pull it off the bottom baking sheet and allow to dry.  You will find you have made a very thin sheet of stable paper.  The edges of the hankie will need to be cut off, as they will probably not have been stabilised.

Please note, when experimenting, you need to balance the thicknesses on each side of the hankie, and if you decide to add another one, you can.  Silk hankies can be dyed before you use them and will add some lovely colours to your paper.

 

DSCF1854You don’t need to use the silk hankies – this is another version where I tried adding some white silk throwsters waste, a little washed dyed silk throwsters waste and some coloured glitter.

 

 

 

 

DSCF1860I wasn’t sure I liked it all that much, but its just to give you some ideas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This is the finished dried piece.  Its a lot thicker than the first piece, and you need to fill all the gaps before you dry it!

 

If you would like to share your pictures of the paper you make, I will be happy to put them up on another post so that others can see them and get inspiration!  Please email them to me referencing “the ironing method’.  If you don’t have my email address, please use the CONTACT ME page.

 

To make things a bit clearer, you might like to watch this video I found on U-tube!

Some pictures of Silk Worms making Silk

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silkworm and cocoon

silkworm and cocoon

As you will know, if you follow my blog, I LOVE SILK!  Not just the finished silk fabric, but the raw silk yarns & fibres, and the cheaper bits like cocoon strippings and throwsters waste.  You can find some pictures of these in a previous post – and if you go to my etsy shop or julz craft supplies on ebay, you will find most of these, and other items on sale!

I came across this post about how silk worms make silk, with amazing pictures of the silk worms and their progress – it comes from Dona at Creative Country Life and you can find the original HERE.  Dona has kindly given me permission to copy this for you.

I am planning a series of ‘tutorials’ about using some of these, especially to make your own SILK PAPER but I thought you really must see this post first – it contains an explanation of how silk ‘hankies’ are made.


Raising Silk Worms!

They say that interesting people have interesting friends. I must be pretty interesting, if you go by that!

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Take a look at what one of my friends has been up to!

She’s been raising Silk Worms! I’m so jealous…

Now mind you this is not a large scale adventure. She just wants enough silk to make some Hankies for spinning. A Hankie is the form silk is generally accepted in for Hand Spinning into yarn.

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The problem is, even at a small scale, they go through a tremendous amount of Mulberry Leaves each day.

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Handfuls and handfuls of fresh Mulberry Leaves EVERY day. Naturally it is important to have easy access to a tree. And of course what goes in, must come out… So they need to be cleaned as well.

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The commitment is not a very long one. Only about 5-7 weeks. Before long they will begin to spin. Simple toilet paper tubes or egg cartons provide the perfect, cozy spot for the worms to spin their cocoons.

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One by one at first, then several at a time until everybody is neatly stowed away.

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But seriously. How cool is this??

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Soon there is nothing left but cocoons.

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But then comes D-Day…

The cocoons are… well, roasted in a 200 degree oven for 20 minutes. I know, sounds rather harsh after caring for them so carefully. But the thing to remember is that if the moth is allowed to emerge, they are doomed to die shortly after. They do not eat or fly. They simply mate, lay eggs and die. Now that’s harsh!

The next step is to simmer the cocoons in soapy water. This removes all the gummy stuff that holds them together. The carcass must be removed and then the silk is spread out on a frame about the size of a handkerchief (hence the name Hankies).

Then they are ready for spinning or dyeing. I hope to have some photos of that process to share with you soon.

As for me – I need to find a Mulberry Tree!

Christmas Fabrics are now in stock and listed on ebay & etsy

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Harking back to my post of 21 August when I first mentioned the word CHRISTMAS for the first time this year – I have now taken delivery of the first orders of all the Christmas & Seasonal Fabrics I chose with great care – smile!

Christmas is still a good couple of months away, and altho’ thank goodness, the hype hasn’t yet started on the media, as at least some of you will be thinking of making your own personally styled gifts,  this is the time to start planning what you want to make.

I hope what I have chosen suits your tastes as well as mine!

So this is the range – they are all 100% cotton, some are a little wider than the general 45″/110 cm, and they are available by the metre, half metre and fat quarters.  I have also created a special variation to allow you to get a 6″ strip of the full width to use as a matching embellishment for say, christmas stockings, and other small gifts.

You can find them, and the quilting kits below, in the fabrics section of my etsy shop – HERE, and the fabrics section of julzcraftsupplies on ebay – HERE.

Also new in are three designs of these quality quilting kits – buy them to make yourself – or give as gifts!

3 popular quilting kits

3 popular quilting kits