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  1. You may have seen those little clear glass christmas ornaments with impressed stars and other pretty shapes... it's done with fiber paper.

    For mine, I use 3mm thick fiber paper (not sure what that is in inches!). The thicker the paper the more obvious the impression.

    I cut the star, or tree, or heart, or other pretty shape out of the fiber paper, then put it on the primed kiln shelf with two layers of 3mm glass on the top and a little loop of wire between them to hang it from later. You could also add another loop at the bottom to hold beads or other decoration. You can obviously make your glass any shape - squares, rectangles, tree shapes, diamonds, circles, you name it!

    You can use nichrome (high temperature) wire, or copper wire (which goes black but can be revived by soaking in a layer of tomato ketchup ... what is IN that stuff??!). I don't advise using galvanised wire as this gives off nasty fumes when you fire it. You could always drill a hole in your ornament instead, if you prefer.

    If you decide you're going to use thinner glass (e.g. one sheet of 3mm) then you need to use more of a slump firing than a "full fuse" firing, as otherwise it can get really thin at the joins if you fire too long. Also you'll have to drill your holes rather than fusing your wire inside.

    Once it has been fired, you'll find that the fiber has somewhat stuck to the bottom of your glass when you pick it up. Making sure you are wearing your breathing mask, I tend to dunk my ornaments in a pot of water and let them soak for a bit, then scrub off the fiber, then rinse. This way you can let the ceramic residue sink to the bottom of the pot and dispose of it properly (bag it and bin it) rather than letting it block up your sink trap.

    To make your items 3D, you can slump them (if you want your design to stay nice and sharp then you need to slump gently) - It's not such a good idea to leave the fiber behind the glass when slumping as it can fall out! But if you're adding additional tack fused decoration to a flat piece then I'd leave the fiber behind the glass to help it hold the shape.

    You can put more than one layer of fiber on if you want a more 3D effect, but be aware that higher piles of fiber can make the glass really thin if fused too long, so you'll need to do a bit of experimenting to make sure it holds well.

    There are a range of fabulous free tutorials available on the web, including Bullseye Glass's fantastic kiln carving tutorial. Glass with a Past has one about kiln carving with bottle glass. Here's one with the basic process from Glass Fusing Made Easy and another one with some images for inspiration. Paul Tarlow has also written an ebook about it which you can buy.

    Have fun!

  2. Excitement! Thanks to the lovely people at Farnham Maltings, I have a pair of tickets to give away to Thread: a festival of textiles at Farnham Maltings on Saturday 24th September. I'll be there on the Guild of Silk Painters stand. If you'd like to win these then please email by 15th September, with the title THREAD TICKETS. Good luck!

    Everyone who gets in contact will be added to my email mailing list to receive occasional emails. There will be one winner, who will be drawn on the 16th September 2016 and who will receive two tickets. The winner will be contacted by email and asked to provide their UK postal address. The tickets will be sent out by post. If the winner does not respond by the 19th September another winner will be drawn.

    You can find out more about Thread here ...

  3. Plushie Denim Dinosaur

    Hello everyone! I decided it was about time for another random craft project. I was browsing Pinterest (yeah, hand me a picnic basket and come back in a week!) and found a plushie dino pattern so I just HAD to make it.

    The dino pattern I found was originally designed as a taggie toy, but I have made a few changes...

    Many thanks to for the original design.
    I took a pair of my husband's old jeans, which were no longer suitable for wearing, and cut them up to liberate the fabric. I kept the legs for later and used the offcuts from around the top for this project.

    I printed the pattern out as large as it would go on a piece of A4.

    I cut out two dino shapes. Then, rather than adding strips of ribbon for the spikes, I cut out a curved strip of denim with spikes on as I thought this would be more fun (and less hassle!). The denim will fray a bit but I quite like that it's going to do that (If I'd thought about it I would probably have sewn around the tops of the spikes to control the fraying!).

    The original tutorial told you to make your toy in the traditional "right sides together with spikes facing in on the inside, sew most of the way round, turn right side out, stuff, sew up" way. I decided I couldn't be bothered to try turning denim inside out tonight so did it a bit differently...
    Cutting out
    Cut out fabric, leaving seam allowance as suggested on the pattern
    Cut out curved strip with spikes on
    Cut two tiny coloured felt ovals (about 1/4 inch) for eyes (You could use beads if you don't want this to be child-friendly)
    (You could sew the eyes on at this point, if you want to machine sew them on and know exactly where you want them to go...)

    Assemble dino right sides out with spikes sticking out of the top

    Sew most of the way round along the pattern line, leaving the seam allowance sticking out. Leave a space along the tail for stuffing (this will be sewn up in a moment!)

    Get your soft toy stuffing (or random felt / fleece / fabric scraps) and fill your dino as full as you like.
    Use a pencil or knitting needle to push the stuffing into the head and feet and tail.

    Once full enough, squeeze dino back into your sewing machine again and sew up the gap (or you could do this by hand if you're neat at hand stitching!).
    Now it's time to sew on the eyes and sew one stitch on each side for the mouth. I used the knot in the end of the thread in the centre of the eyeball, but you could always use a bead (not child friendly) or a proper french knot.

    The raw denim edges will gently fray as time goes by, giving your dino a lovely shabby chic look. To speed this up, pop him in with your next "40 wash" in the machine.

    Things I would do differently next time ...
    I'm not sure there is anything I'd really do that differently next time. I love the silhouette look with the white thread and the black denim. I think the little blue eyes and the mouth give it a lovely personality.

    The only thing I might do is sew round the edges of the spikes as well, possibly in matching thread, so that they don't fray so much.

    Other options:
    • Try using felt - then you can sew round it in blanket stitch. If you do this then you don't need the seam allowance and it's a great project for children.
    • Make tiny ones and string them up as a mobile. If you're doing this then I'd cut the spikes out as part of the main dino body rather than adding them separately.
    • A bigger one would make a great statement sofa cushion or could be made in bright colours for a child's room!
    • Make it in patchwork, even in denim patchwork as a big hard wearing floor cushion! If you made it ultra huge you could put beanbag beans in it and lie on it!
    • ... the possibilities are endless!



    14/9/2016 11:11:22

    This is so sweet, perfect for any dinosaur lover. It's good to see you've reflected on what you would do next time - personally I think it looks like you've done a great job.