Sunday, 23 October 2011

Diddy Becs

I must apologise for not blogging for so long... going through a change in jobs is pretty darn stressful!!  It has kept me from my creative endeavours, and means I've not had much to share with you all.  Until now, that is!
I have been crocheting a doll for quite a random purpose.  You see, I am very fond of my current manager, and he has frequently said "what I am going to do without you?" over the past 4 weeks, so I decided to make him a little reminder of me - a 'diddy Becs' doll!  Kind of like a mini-me, but crocheted!
I have to give credit where it is due, as I based the body of my doll on that of one designed by Michele Wilcox.  The pattern can be found here.

So, I sat down with some beautiful bamboo acrylic and started to crochet myself from the top down, using nothing but single crochet (with increases and decreases in the right places).  It's a well written pattern and was easy to follow.  I love amigurumi, so it was good fun to make. I decided not to go the whole hog and crochet the underwear into the body, especially as this is a gift for a man... I felt it might feel slightly inappropriate!  So, the head, body and arms were made in a beige bamboo acrylic and I decided that instead of making trousers for the doll (no idea how I'd manage that anyway!) I'd just make the legs from black acrylic!

Now I had to decide what top/dress the doll should wear - this was an easy decision to make as I have a rather unique green dress/tunic that I wear to work - it's very distinctive, and is unmistakably me!  I had a yarn to match too... but it had to look like my tunic, so of course, there was no pattern to work from.  I started crocheting a tube, starting at the bottom of the tunic, working up, tapering it as I went.  I stopped when it was the right length under the armpits of the doll, and the rest of the tunic was crocheted onto the doll, which was really quite fiddly!  To make the yoke of the dress and the start of the sleeves, I stitched around from the back until I met the arm, chain stitched a strap over the arm and joined it at the front of the dress, and continued around making a strap for the other arm.  I then worked one row of single crochet to finish off the yoke.  Then to make the sleeves... they were just single crochet tubes worked around the arms, and finished off at the wrists.  The points at the bottom of the tunic were just worked in single crochet rows, decreasing one stitch per row to make them taper.
Now to make the doll look like a diddy-Becs... hair and facial features...  The hair was more time consuming, and took a lot more yarn than I thought it would do.  I used a gorgeous chocolate coloured cotton/bamboo mix, which is a little darker than my hair currently is, but is a very close match to a colour I had for a very long time.  I have a rather asymmetric hair cut, so at least I didn't have to get it to match perfectly on both sides.  The hair was made by cutting lengths of yarn, inserting a crochet hook through the stitches in the head, and pulling the folded yarn lengths through, and forming a little loop/knot to hold it in place.  The eyes, I have to give credit to a good friend for - she suggested I made eyes from beads, as I'm well known for my beading at work... I had been planning to embroider them, but beads was a much better idea.  The other thing I was told I had to include was a BIG smile... so out came the pink yarn!!

Any representation of me without jewellery would be completely wrong, so I made a little beaded necklace from an earth-tone bead soup that I have been waiting for inspiration to strike with... it went so well with the colours of this doll, it seemed perfect!!

I also wear glasses at work - this was going to put my wire-work skills to the test!  But I managed to make a pair that look relatively like my work glasses, although mine are black, and these are silver... I didn't have any black wire in my stash, but never mind!
So, this is me, with my Diddy-Becs... I just hope my manager likes her, and she reminds him of me, and all the cheeky, things I've said and done while he has been there.  But mostly, I just want her to make him smile!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Day 2 at La Vidalerie

Day two at La Vidalerie, it was all about sawing, sawing, and a bit more sawing!
We were set a challenge to design something to make from metal - which would have curves, straight bits, and could be made from a sheet of metal.

Before I continue, there is something you should know about me... I am a hopeless romantic!  Anything mushy, or sentimental, I just love it.  So, with this in mind, I decided to make a jigsaw piece pendant, actually, I decided to make 2, which fitted together... with my initials, my boyfriend's initials and the date we met stamped on them.

As with any type of metalwork project, it's best to practice with copper first (so much cheaper than silver!), so I have actually ended up with two pairs of jigsaw puzzle pieces!
I've had a bit of experience with with sawing before, but only sawing jump rings... I did know the basics like hold it lightly, don't push on the saw blade etc, but I've never sawn sheet metal.  

Karen gave me some tips, such as leave the protective plastic on the metal, don't draw your design on the plastic, it'll just rub off... put an easy-peel sticky label on the metal, and draw the design on the label instead.  

So, this was the product of my first attempt...

As much as I loved these, there were a few problems with them (hence why you always make a copper prototype!)... I didn't like the font I chose for the initials, I messed up the order of my number stamps, and ended having to use a 4-digit format for the year, when I only wanted it to be 2-digit, and finally, the orientation of the puzzle pieces was wrong!  yup, you guessed it, I'd drilled a hole in one of the pieces that fitted into the other, so they would never fit together nicely.  Lesson learned, I got on with making my silver versions:

This shows how I cut it in a step-wise fashion... it's a good idea to start with the fiddly little bits, so in this case it was the cut out on the left hand side, and then the bottom part.

This shows the other side of the silver (complete with protective film and sticky label!) but it also shows where I started sawing next.  One thing to remember is that it is highly unlikely that you'll be able to cut out something like this in one go, and that you're probably going to have to take the blade out of the saw and move to a different starting point.  I did exactly that at this point as I couldn't go any further as the size of the silver sheet meant it wouldn't fit inside the saw frame for me to finish the inside of the curve.

Once I'd managed to get all the way round, all I had left to do was to cut along the join between the two puzzle pieces.


I made sure I marked where the two pieces join so there was no risk of me accidentally getting them the wrong way around again!  After removing the sticky labels and filing down the edges, it was time for the stamping and drilling.

This goes to show that the pieces do actually fit together, and what they look like when they're all shiny!  The one with the chain on is currently around my neck, and has been admired by many people, including a waitress at a restaurant on Friday night.  The second puzzle piece is on a temporary chain for my darling... I'm going to be getting him a more manly chain for his birthday.  But he loves it, and has worn it every day so far!  

Oh, and he has NO excuse for forgetting our anniversary now!