Friday, 27 June 2014

How to carve a soapstone owl...

If you purchased one of Efco's rough cut soapstone owls from the Create and Craft Show here's a few pointers for how to go about carving it...

Use a rasp to shape the body, smoothing out the rough edges.

Use the shaped rasps to create the wings. Sandpaper can be used in tight corners if necessary.

Use finer grades of sandpaper to really smooth out the wings. (If you want to you can leave the body with a little texture to give a contrast to the wings and the impression of ruffled feathers.)

Use the diamond files to shape the head, carving out the eye sockets, eyes and beak. Use sandpaper to smooth the surface.

Use the diamond files again to shape the claws out of the base.

For a super smooth finish use fine grade wet sandpaper on the wings and head, and then polish with Efco's soapstone polishing cream to bring out it's natural qualities.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Changing my Blog Day...

Well, another Monday has come and gone without a blog post and I have come to the conclusion that maybe Monday is just not my day to blog. 

It had been such a simple plan... thinking that the weekends would be my own to do with what I will, I naturally thought I'd have all the time in the world throughout Saturday and Sunday to come up with some interesting (and hopefully a few awesome) blog posts! Ha ha! Life, it appears, has other plans for my weekends, namely family or recovering from family visits... how did life get so busy? 

I don't have kids of my own so naturally I never thought that I'd be the one up at 2am... and 3am... and then 4am waiting for a text message from an eighteen year old travelling to New Zealand for a rugby training 'holiday' whose mobile phone credit ran out on him just as he reached Dubai. :S (The joys of Auntyhood I s'pose!)

So I've decided to give up on the 'Monday is my Blog Day' mantra and go for another day instead....hmmm....which day to pick now... I could go for Wednesday but then Wednesday is WOYWW (What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday) but seeing as my workdesk is always so messy these days I couldn't possibly post photos of it (far too embarrassing!)... maybe Thursday or Friday? It could work out as I would have time during the week to prepare posts...but which would be best?! I think I will just have to try it and see.

So, how's everyone else's week turning out so far... enjoying the cricket (doubtful), the footie (definitely not) or maybe the tennis (possibly)... or how about the weather (definitely!). I do hope the sun has been shining wherever you are. :) Catch ya Thursday... or maybe Friday....hmmm...

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Dean Wilson, Artist extraordinaire!

I know, blogging 3 times in one week (can you stand the shock?!) but I just had to share these pics of Dean Wilson from Create and Craft tv... he was such a happy camper playing with the soapstone! I've never had a C&C presenter stay longer than it takes me to pack up after the show - he soooo wanted to finish his heart. I think if he'd had the time he would have spent the rest of the afternoon soapstone carving. :)

Busy little bee :)

Proud owner of a soapstone heart

Dean was such a pleasure to work with... thanks Dean!

Fingers crossed that if I do another soapstone show it's with, what should I get him carving next time... hmmm...maybe a fish....?

If you bought any of the soapstone kits please do send me photos of what you create so I can share them with's great to inspire others with what you create :)

I'm off to Cochester tomorrow for the Franklins felting workshop...another day of's a hard job but somebody's gotta do it eh!?! he he he!...


Monday, 16 June 2014

Create & Craft Soapstone Show

I don't believe it... for once I'm prepared, post all ready to go and scheduled to publish first thing Monday morning and what happens.... technology lets me down! This should have automatically published this morning (as I knew I'd be doing an excellent impersonation of a headless chicken - perfected over many years - getting ready for the tv show) and did it?!?.... one word... NO!.....RATS!!!!!!

Well, it's still Monday and having had such a fabulous time with Dean on Create and Craft I've decided not to throw my computer out the window (the thought did fleetingly cross my mind) and instead am manually posting it now...

Woohoo! At last, after several false starts, the Create and Craft Soapstone Show is finally happening at 5pm this afternoon... I can't wait! If you've never sculpted before and fancy trying your hand at it then I suggest you check it out as it is a really easy way to get started. Also, if you are a jewellery maker or beader then you may find it interesting to know that you can sculpt your own beads and pendants from soapstone too!

To give you an idea of what it's all about here's an example of how to sculpt a dolphin from soapstone using one of Efco's soapstone kits available on the show.

You start with the rough shape - with some of the Efco kits this will have been done for you already which is great if you've never done anything like this before.

The rasps are the first tools that you use to refine the shape more to what you want. So, starting with the coarser ends and progressing onto the finer ends remove all the hard edges and create a more streamlined dolphin shape.

You can use the diamond files to add finer detail but with the dolphin they are not really needed, so you can move straight onto sanding. Start with the coarser grade papers and finish with the finer one to remove the worst of the rasp lines.

When you are happy with it you can progress onto the wet sandpapers (again, starting with the coarser ones and progressing onto the finer ones), until your dolphin is smooth all over and any sanding lines have been removed.

At this point, if you have any Soapstone Oil you can paint it on, but otherwise proceed straight to polishing with the Soapstone Polish and polishing cloth. You will find that all the detail in the soapstone is brought out with the polish and you should finish with a beautiful shine.

Soapstone has different qualities and colours depending on what part of the world it comes from, but each region produces soapstone with it's own unique beauty.

Check out the Projects4Crafters facebook page for more soapstone inspiration :)


Sunday, 15 June 2014

Oops! I missed last Monday... sorry!

Well, I appear to have fallen at the first major hurdle and totally forgot to blog last Monday :(

Admittedly there were extenuating circumstances... namely that my whole week got turned upside down! Not to mention I was up at 4.30am on Sunday to fly my niece back from Ireland after the funeral and then had to return to the airport at 11.15pm to pick up my brother and sister-in-law so I was totally wrecked on Monday. I also had to run a few errands for them in the morning before they headed home to Belgium and then I had a lovely trip to my wonderful dentist to have one of my wisdom teeth filled... trust me I need all the wisdom I can hold onto so it was definitely vital I had it done! I also ended up having my niece out from school for the day as she was too tired to go back as usual Sunday night. At least after a day of sleeping and revision she felt almost able to cope with her iGCSE the next day...boy, they may be many (and I mean many) years ago but I still remember the days of O level and A level anxiety and stress... I'm sooooo glad I don't have to worry about exams any more, although, I don't know about you, but I think it's almost as awful watching the next generation go through the same stress now. Hey ho, nothing I can do except make sure chai lattes and pancakes are available as needed ;)

But somehow I still feel like a total fail :( At least this week I'm prepared and am all set to go for tomorrow's post :) Quite frankly I had to be ready ahead of schedule this week as I will be doing a live Create and Craft show with Dean Wilson at 5pm tomorrow, so I hope you can join me for a spot of soapstone carving then! Here's a little taster of what you can expect...

Soapstone Pendant
Simple Soapstone Fish
Soapstone Bead

Monday, 2 June 2014

Needle Felted iPad Case

Firstly, I'm sorry to have to announce that next Saturday's Soapstone Create and Craft show is being postponed... this time the delay is due to a bereavement in my family. However, I will still be doing the show, but it will now take place at 5pm on Monday 16th June.

On a happier note, I finished the felted iPad case in preparation for the Franklins workshop on 18th June...

If you've never tried needle felting then this is a great project to get you started. 

First, take the top layer of a napkin and roughly cut out your motifs.

Lay the motifs on top of some vilene and cover with baking parchment. Follow the product instructions for adhering the motifs to the vilene with the use of an iron.

Cut the vilene-backed motifs out precisely.

Lay the motifs on a 30 x 45cm piece of felt and cover with baking parchment before ironing them to adhere them to the felt. For the motifs to be on the front of the iPad cover measure 45mm from one end and position your motifs between there and 195mm (measured from the same end).

Lay the felt sheet over the felting pad, pinning it in position, and use a fine felting needle to felt the motifs with superfine merino wool fibres. (For more detailed instructions on how to needle felt check out The Felted Sheep project sheet.) Basically you need to start with a base of colour, making sure the fibres overlap and interlock, before adding your detailed decoration.

Having finished felting your motifs sew two buttons on the front, approximately 65mm from the end and 75mm in from each side.

Attach two lengths of decorative thread to the back approximately 130mm from the other end and 75mm in from each side. (Make sure they are firmly sewn on.)

Attach a couple of buttons to the back to cover where the threads have been attached. 

Use a glue gun to stick the sides together.

et voila...

Alternatively, you could use loops of elastic thread around the buttons or velcro dots as fastenings

There will be a downloadable version available in the next few days from the Fabric and Fibres section of