On Thursday my hubby took me over to Exeter for the day, so that I could attend the annual Craft 4 Crafters show at Westpoint, the exhibition centre and county showground. Of the two craft shows, this is the better one; Creative Stitches and Hobbycrafts is very good, and I wouldn’t miss it, but I think the quality of creativity is higher at Craft 4 Crafters, with more interesting exhibitors, although some appear at both shows.
Just as the Creative Stitches show back in September was made special by my meeting up with my friend Wendy, Thursday’s show was equally special because I met two different lots of friends! Lucy from the Black Cat Forum had said she was going on the same day, and we bumped into each other for a chat, and I also met a friend from Bristol and her husband – she is a fellow M.E. sufferer and we first met at the Naidex mobility show in Birmingham about 3 years ago. It was a lovely surprise to bump into them, and we arranged to meet up at lunch time, and we had a great time.
As usual I took quite a few photos, but this year most of them were taken at Stef Francis’ stand. Stef started her unique silk and fibre business about twenty years ago when doing a City and Guilds course and could not find the colours she wanted, so she created them herself, and the business grew from there. She has a vast selection of many different fibres and silks for the creative embroiderer and textile artist, and her website is well worth a visit – be prepared to drool!!!
Here is a general view of the display wall on the stand, showing the various projects that Stef has made up, to show what can be done with the products she sells.
These are a couple of the necklaces she makes, made from silk cocoons and silk carrier rods. I fell in love with the Harlequin necklace!
This is what she calls her “Sushi” bag, also made from silk carrier rods.
These exquisite, tiny purses are made from the shells of walnuts, covered with fabric and embellished with embroidery, beadwork and tassels.
I was particularly taken with this richly textured embroidered panel which has made full use of the potential of the silk carrier rods, both in their entirety, and cut and unravelled and rolled again. The photograph does not do this piece justice; it shimmered with metallic thread as well as the natural sheen of the silk.
Here is a selection of dyed silk carrier rods for sale on the stand. These dimensional pieces are formed during the industrial spinning of silk. Fibres flying from the spinning machine tend to wrap themselves around the rods of the machine, and periodically they have to be slit and removed, so as not to impede the operation of the machine. They are quite hard as they still contain the gum from the silkworms, used in the formation of the cocoons, but they soften somewhat when dampened, and can be separated out, pieces cut off, and then rolled again in the shapes you can see in the embroidered panel above. Like all silk, they take dyes extremely well, and in the photo below you can see the richness of the colours Stef has given them. She also sells them in their natural state.
As well as selling many forms of silk, Stef also supplies bamboo fibre, which is very soft and fine, and easy to work with. You can see from this picture that like silk, it takes dye well.
Here is the display of threads of all types and colours on Stef’s stand. Drool-worthy or not?!!
When I could finally tear myself away, there was plenty more to see. At the back of the hall was a display of quilts. Here are a few of them.
After visiting my friend Lucy from the Black Cat forum a while back, I was keen to start collecting Really Useful Boxes for my ARTHaven. She has loads of them and I was very impressed with them! They are really a modular storage system – the boxes will stack, and the various sizes can mix and match and stack together, and you can get organiser trays to go inside them. I started a shopping basket on a website and it’s been open ever since – I decided to have a look at the show, and low and behold, there they were, so I bought a few to start me off.
The eggcraft ladies were at the show again, but told me that there weren’t many new ones this time that I hadn’t already photographed! This exquisite little carriage and pair was a new one, though.
I was delighted to find that Colouricious had a stand at the show this year. I am a subscriber to their Youtube channel; they regularly produce high quality videos with interviews with textile artists and workshops. Jamie Malden was there, demonstrating her famous Indian woodblock printing technique, and I succumbed and bought some of the woodblocks! I am assured that they work equally well on paper. They are hand-carved from Indian hardwood and are very detailed and high quality. It was lovely to meet Jamie in the flesh, having seen her often on the videos!
It is in association with this that I am keen to try my hand again at free machine embroidery. I did some many years ago but never pursued it, as I got caught up with other things at the time. Once you have printed your fabric, it just shouts to be embellished in so many ways! I bought a “starter” selection of various machine embroidery threads and a new embroidery hoop.
One thing I did this year, for the first time, was to attend a workshop. Alison from Ali Crafts was there with her husband (I bought some Distress Stains from him later on) was doing several workshops, and I opted to do her Tim Holtz Stamps and Stains workshop, working with Distress Stains and rubber stamps. It was tremendous fun, and this is the card I came away with:
The piece at the top is my practice piece, which I liked so much that I am going to make it into another card.
We started by swiping a piece of white ribbon with the Distress Stain of our choice (in my case, Dusty Concord). This way, you can make a matching ribbon for any project! Using the same Distress Stain, I then swiped across a piece of white card. I went over the bottom part again so that it was darker. She then produced a clock face mask and we used a Cut & Dry inking pad to go over this with Distress Ink in the same colour. We then added a texture stamp, and the bird stamp, and trimmed some card for matting and layering, adding half a small paper doily as an embellishment. I opted to colour mine with Barn Door Distress Stain, and finally assembled the whole thing onto black card.
The “sunflowers” in the practice piece were created by smacking the Distress Stain bottle down hard onto the card – it makes a fabulous spatter pattern once the pad is fully primed! Adding a texture stamp at the bottom looked like foliage. Again, I used Dusty Concord and Barn Door Distress Stains for this. (The mottled background was created by spattering water from my hand onto the Dusty Concord Distress Stain before I did the “flowers.”)
Finally, I can never visit a craft show without photographing the glitter! I will end up with a whole folder-full of glitter photos at this rate – all more or less the same!! Unfortunately the photo really doesn’t do them justice – you can imagine how very glittery such large quantities of bulk glitter would be! I bought a few little packets, including the black one at the back, which was absolutely gorgeous…
I shall do a separate post with pictures of the things I bought.
I had such a wonderful day! My longsuffering hubby was happy to take me, and spent the day with his brother, catching up on a few watercolour projects he’s working on, and they had lunch together. We had a meal in our local pub before coming home, and then I crashed out and have been pretty well worn out since then! It was worth it in spades, though. Spades full of glitter!!